Want to write romance? We have a writing workshop for you!

Jane Lovering and I are running a course on writing romance. And it’s in York. Why should people in the south have all the fun?

Writing Romantic Fiction workshop Oct 17 , York

If you’ve always wanted to write romance but didn’t know where to start, or if you’re just a bit stuck in your writing, then this is the course for you. Come along and have a fun day learning about the basics of plot and writing. It’s ideal if you want have a go at NaNoWriMo in November.

Jane and I are both published romance authors with Choc Lit Ltd. Jane won the Romantic Novel of the Year in 2012 with her book Please Don’t Stop the Music and writes a regular column in The Yorkshire Post. We are both mentors for the New Writer’s Scheme run by the Romantic Novelists Association – about half the books I’ve critiqued have gone on to get publishing contracts. We’ve both been through the scheme (as have a lot of romance novelists. Even the totally awesome Katie Fforde!).

The poster for the course is below. If you want more information, just ask in the comments below!
Writing Romantic Fiction
A workshop led by the best-selling novelists
Jane Lovering and Rhoda Baxter

At Miller’s Yard, York
Saturday the 17th of October 2015 (10am – 4pm)
Price: £80*
*Price includes one to one feedback on a piece of your writing.
Book now by contacting either: rhodabaxter@gmail.com  (@rhodabaxter) or janelovering@gmail.com (@janelovering)

Bestsellerdom and the power of mailing lists

A couple of my books – Please Release Me and Girl Having A Ball were reduced to 99p over Easter on the UK Kobo site. Amazon was (still is) price matching. And then, earlier this evening, this happened:

Screenshot 2017-04-20 at 20.01.06

Which means I’m a bona fide bestseller (in fantasy, if not romance). The book has a ghost as a main character – hence the fantasy listing.

Girl Having A Ball, on the other hand, is languishing much further down the charts.

What made the difference? Kobo included the cover of Please Release Me in a message to their mailing list.

Um… there isn’t really a point to this post as such. Just a little squee on the ranking and a nod to the power of mailing lists.

Speaking of mailing lists, you can get a free short story (which is not available elsewhere) if you sign up to mine… hint, hint.

Inheritance Books: Lynne Shelby

This week on Inheritance Books, I’ve got fellow romance novelist, Lynne Shelby. Welcome Lynne, why don’t you make yourself comfortable while I get a brew on. Help yourself to Easter eggs. While I’m doing that, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

Lynne Shelby with her debut novel French KissingI’ve always lived in or near North London, apart from three years as a student at Leicester University, studying history. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer, but over the years I’ve done a variety of day jobs, including stable girl, child actors’ chaperone and most recently legal administrator. I now write full-time, and I have to say that being an author is the best job ever. I enjoy travelling, especially exploring a foreign city for the first time. In my teens, I was a keen amateur actress – I met my husband at a drama group – and these days I love visiting the theatre and do so whenever I can. I write contemporary women’s fiction, but I read books in any genre from SF to detective novels. My debut novel, ‘French Kissing,’ won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition, and I’m currently working on a series of books set in the world of show business.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special? 

AngeliqueIt was hard to choose just one book that I inherited from the generation above, so I hope I’m allowed a series. Neither of my parents were voracious readers, but my mother did enjoy historical novels, and passed onto me her enthusiasm for the ‘Angelique’ books by Sergeanne Golon. This feisty heroine’s adventures in 17th Century France, were not only a great read, but also gave me a passion for reading historical novels, and for history itself. In my final exams at uni, I answered a question on Louis XIV based on historical facts I learnt from ‘Angelique and the King.’

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

Great GatsbyThe book I’d like to pass on to future generations is ‘The Great Gatsby.’ The first time I read F Scott Fitzgerald’s exquisitely written novel, I was instantly captivated by the story of the fabulously wealthy yet mysterious Jay Gatsby and his obsessive love for a girl he knew in his youth. Since then, I’ve read the book many times, and on each reading I’ve seen something new in it, a nuance of character, a wonderful sentence that I wish I’d written myself. It’s a short book, but with so much in it for the reader to discover – a classic that is accessible to all. Written in 1926, it still has so much to say to contemporary readers, and I’d like to think that future generations will continue to read it and marvel at the way so many themes – cynicism and romance, illusion and reality – are effortlessly woven into the deceptively simple yet wonderfully crafted and intricate plot.

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Lynne. All the best with French Kissing (the book, I mean).

4Lynne’s book French Kissing is available to buy now. You can find out more about Lynne on her website, on Facebook or by tweeting her @LynneB1

 

 

Goodreads Book Review: The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

The Summer of Impossible ThingsThe Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a sucker for a time travel novel and this one’s a good ‘un.
While visiting her late mother’s home town, Luna starts experiencing these weird episodes where she’s transported back to the 1970s at a crucial point in her mother’s life. She could save her mother from a terrible event in the past (which in turn could save her mother’s life in the present). However, in doing so, she would erase herself from existence.

The writing is brilliantly evocative of the a hot Brooklyn summer and, in places, incredibly poignant. The story was incredibly compelling. The bits about Saturday Night Fever were really fun.
The only niggle was the ending where all that had changed about the narrator was her eye colour (not terribly likely, but then again, the book is about impossibly things, I guess).

All in all a compelling and immersive read.

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Dear Microsoft: absolutely not.

As those of you who’ve read Doctor January will know, I agree with most of this. Science is often a confrontational sexist place.
I now work in academic support, which gives me the double whammy of being female and not being an academic. I once had a physicist try to mansplain genetics to me. I had to correct his knowledge at one point. Bless (rolls eyes).

monica byrne

And it has nothing to do with your software. It has to do with your new ad campaign, which I happened to see while I was at the gym last week. Here’s the gist: brilliant young girls express their ambitions to cure cancer and explore outer space and play with the latest in virtual reality tech. Then—gotcha!—they’re shown a statistic that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees. They look crushed. The tagline? “Change the world. Stay in STEM.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Microsoft, where’s your ad campaign telling adult male scientists not to rape their colleagues in the field? Where’s the campaign telling them not to steal or take credit for women’s work? Or not to seriallysexuallyharasstheirstudents? Not to discriminate against them? Not to ignoredismiss, or fail to promote them at the same rate as men? Not to publish their work at a statistically…

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Inheritance Books: Lesley Cookman

This week, I’m beyond excited to have Lesley Cookman visiting Inheritance Books. I’ve put extra cushions on the sofa in celebration. Hi Lesley, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please make yourself comfortable. Tell us a bit about yourself while I go make some tea.

Me at Alimos(1)I’m an ex-actor, feature writer, model, night club DJ, editor and a current mother of four and grandmother of two. I live with two cats and an occasional boomerang child on the Kent Coast.

Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?

I inherited my parents’ entire book collection of Golden Age mysteries, which I was let loose on at the age of nine. They informed my later reading choices and eventually, my writing choices.ME1

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why? 

Gosh, there are so many! Can I say Complete Works of Shakespeare? Or is that too obvious? If not, Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat, which can still make me laugh out loud, and is about the only book which can.

I’m reading Three Men In A Boat at the moment. It makes me laugh too (especially Montmorency).

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Lesley. All the best with your book.

9781786154415_FCLesley’s latest book is available to buy now. You can find out more about Lesley on her website and find her on Twitter (@LesleyCookman) and Facebook.

Goodreads Book Review: Generation Decks by Titus Chalk

Generation Decks: The Unofficial History of Gaming Phenomenon Magic the GatheringGeneration Decks: The Unofficial History of Gaming Phenomenon Magic the Gathering by Titus Chalk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw this on Netgalley and picked it up because I used to play Magic back when I was at uni (in the mid 1990s) – not at any professional level, just sitting on the floor of my friends’ rooms. So when I saw a history of the game, I was intrigued.

The book is part chronicle of the journey of Wizards of The Coast from start up to global behemoth, part memoir/love letter to the game that changed the author’s life.

I hadn’t appreciated just how popular the game was/is. It was fascinating reading about the ragtag beginning of it and the various commercial decisions that made it stand out from the rest of the roleplaying/table top games available at the time. The evolution of Magic:The Gathering and the evolution of the internet seem to have coincided and helped each other out.

I was particularly interested in the section about how women playing the game are treated (and how WOTC is trying to fix the gender balance at professional level). I only ever played with friends (mostly male, all of them nice), so I never really had to face the misogyny described. On the other hand, I have had the odd ‘a girl in the comic book shop’ moment. It’s a shame that a game that embraces outcasts has created outcasts of its own.

This is an interesting book if you know about the game already. If not, it’s still an interesting book about a business.

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Book Review: The Little Teashop of Horrors by Jane Lovering

Little Teashop of HorrorsLittle Teashop of Horrors by Jane Lovering

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a fan of Jane’s books – I like the mixture of comedy and darkness. I wasn’t expecting a teashop book from her, to be honest. Anyway, we have a book about a tea shop. In Yorkshire. So there are scones and fairy cakes and raspberry crunch. There are also birds of prey. Owls! Hooray!

The heroine, Amy, had grown up being told that she’s nothing much to look at and not terribly good for anything. She has a pretty best friend, who isn’t very nice to her, and a grandmother who has old fashioned views about, well, everything. In reality, Amy is clever and capable and very, very kind, but she’s been taken advantage of so often, she’s pretty much come to expect it.

The hero, Josh, is oh, so broken. He’s very sweet (and good looking, although he does his best to hide it). He’s in love with Amy right from the start, but too messed up to do anything about it. As you know, I love a beta hero. I thought Josh was wonderful.

Amy runs the cafe in Monkpark Hall – a stately home that is open to the public. I loved the view of a stately home from behind the scenes. The staff (many of whom come from generations of people who worked at the Hall) feel that the house somehow belongs to them as much as they belong to it – something the new administrator who comes in fails to recognise until it’s too late.

I really enjoyed reading about Amy and Josh (and Skrillex). I especially liked the fact that, by the end of the book, they were healing each other, but the problems had not miraculously gone away (because deep seated problems rarely do that!). All that talk of cake has made me hungry now. I shall have to go and hunt me down some pudding.
The usual note – Jane is a friend and we both write for the same publisher. I was a fan of her writing before I even met her. I got a review copy of this book from Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

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nest review.

An Evening Out at the RoNA Awards 2017

This post is a bit late, but hey, better late than never. As I may have mentioned before, my book Girl Having A Ball was shortlisted for Romantic Comedy of the Year in the 2017 RoNA awards. I was delighted with this. The RoNAs are run by the UK Romantic Novelists Association and are a pretty big deal. They’re the UK equivalent of the RITAs. Also on the shortlist were some well known authors – Cathy Bramley, Penny Parkes, Ali McNamara and Joanna Bolouri. Here we are (minus Joanna, who was poorly) looking all glamorous.

RONA17_Comedy_Romance_Shortlist_1

I rocked up at the fancy venue unfashionably early, so I got to take a picture of it before it was jam packed with glamour2017-03-13 16.06.47. Once people started arriving, I was too busy chatting take many more photos.

I’m always surprised at RNA events how many people there are to say hello to and how genuinely warm and friendly everyone is. Even people who are in competition with each other are friends – I chatted to my fellow shortlistees and liked them. It always takes the sting out of losing, if you like the person who won!

2017-03-13 18.40.34

I wish I was sitting at this table – three of the people there won awards!

A number of my friends were also shortlisted, in different categories, so the excitement factor was running high.

I didn’t win my category (Penny Parkes won, with her excellenet, Out of Practice). But my mates Janet Gover (Epic Romance Category, with Little Girl Lost) and Kate Johnson (Paranormal and Speculative Fiction Category, with Max Seventeen) both won awards. After the official event finished, there was a mass trip out for pizza to celebrate.

I had a totally amazing time at the RoNAs. I might even go again next year.

 

 

 

 

 

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

Inheritance Books: Sam Russell

Today on the Inheritance Books sofa, we have Sam Russell. Hi Sam, make yourself at home. Why don’t you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

IMG_8576I was born in London but grew up in a rural Essex village, with the freedom to run free. Idyllic childhood is a cliché, but it was absolutely that – an Enid Blyton adventure with a gaggle of village children beside me, and I have no doubt that it was our outdoor life which fostered my love of the countryside.

As an adult I trained and worked as a riding instructor. I lived overseas for a while, then came home and married a farmer. Thirty-two years later and we’re still farming together. Our three children have grown up and moved out of the farmhouse now but we’ve still got the dogs, a geriatric cat and an aged pony in the paddock. (I watch him through the window when I’m writing.)

 

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

DSC_0810My special, inherited book is The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. I adored this book as a child. My mum bought it for me. She was, and still is, a genius at finding exactly the right book for the moment. The story of Maria enchanted me and Elizabeth Goudge gifted a magical world where all my passions combined: A plucky heroine, adventure, wonderful characters and a pony thrown in for good measure! There might be a theme developing here…

The copy shown in the picture is actually an exact replacement of the book I originally owned. The original having been eaten by a Welsh goat many years ago! My favourite books travelled with me when I was a kid, and on a family holiday I stacked them on a shelf next to the window. That pesky goat stuck his head through the window and ate the lot! I was inconsolable! We didn’t have a lot of money going spare back then, but Mum sourced and replaced every single book in that goat-chewed collection and I treasure them all to this day.

Which book would you leave for future generations? Why?

DSC_0811It’s so much harder to decide which book I would leave for future generations. Fiction is so personal, and there are too many brilliant titles to choose from. I considered bequeathing the volumes of Maya Angelou’s autobiography, for the sheer inspiration of her joy and talent in the face of adversity, but then I noticed the books I’d kept since my children were babies, and nostalgia won the day.

Once There Were Giants by Martin Waddell and Penny Dale is an exquisite children’s book. Holding it in my hands again takes me straight back to curling up with a little person and reading bedtime stories. And that little person is completely absorbed. It was ‘the book of the moment’, because it told the story of their lives, with warm illustrations and sympathetic words:

I would like to think that Once There Were Giants will pass to my grandchildren when the time comes, and that it will give them the same pleasure it gave to my children.

Maybe I’ll be lucky, and I’ll be the grandma with DSC_0809a little person curled on my lap absorbed in the story, because what I would most like to leave to future generations is the absolute joy of reading. (Amen to that! R)


The copy in the photography is worn and water-curled. I believe it survived the bath!

Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us, Sam. Best of luck with The Bed of Brambles.

A Bed of Brambles Cover MEDIUM WEBSam’s latest book The Bed of Brambles is available to buy now. You can find out more about Sam on her website or meet up with her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Book review: One Dark Lie by Clare Chase

One Dark Lie

One Dark Lie by Clare Chase

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a spate of reading fantasy novels I was in the mood for something darker. This is a murder mystery with a hint of gang violence thrown in to up the level of menace.

Ruby writes books about real people. When she is offered the chance to write the life story of murdered academic Diana Patrick-John and she can’t help but drawn into the mystery of who killed Diana.
Nate is trying to trap his sister’s killer. He’s playing a dangerous game whilst trying desperately to keep the people he loves – including Rudy – safe.

This is a tense and atmospheric book. It’s worth mentioning the Other Place city of Cambridge, which is almost a character in itself. Beautiful. I also loved the way Ruby found academic rivalry and a low level of sniping in the academic community.

I hadn’t read the previous book in the series, but that didn’t really stand in the way of my enjoying this one. It’s a good old fashioned murder mystery – not too dark, but tense and gripping.

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This review is part of a blog tour that Clare is doing to promote One Dark Lie.

One Dark Lie - high resYou can buy One Dark Lie now. You can find out more about Clare on her website or catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.