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)

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.

View all my reviews

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.

 

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

Inheritance Books: Carolyn Hughes

This week’s guest on the Inheritance Books sofa is history buff Carolyn Hughes. Welcome to Inheritance Books Carolyn, make yourself comfortable. While I put the kettle on, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

carolyn-publicityI’ve come to writing, or rather publishing, quite late in life. I’ve written creatively on and off all my adult life but, for many years, work and family were somehow always the main focus of my life, and it wasn’t until our children flew the nest that I realised writing could now take centre stage.

Even then, although I wrote some short stories, and one and a half contemporary women’s novels, my writing was rather ad hoc, and my tentative attempts to approach agents met only with rejection. Thinking that a Masters degree in Creative Writing might give me more focus, I enrolled at Portsmouth University. It worked! I wrote the historical novel that is now published as Fortune’s Wheel.

Why an historical novel? Well, when I had to choose what to write as the creative piece for the MA, I mostly just wanted a change from the contemporary women’s fiction I had been writing. But the choice I made was somewhat serendipitous… In my twenties, I’d written about 10,000 words of a novel set in fourteenth century England. By chance, I rediscovered the fading, handwritten, draft languishing in a box of old scribblings. Although, to be frank, the novel’s plot (and the writing!) was pretty dire, I was drawn to its period and setting. The discovery gave me one of those light bulb moments and, a few days later, I was drafting an outline for the novel that is now Fortune’s Wheel.

It was true that I’d long been intrigued by the mediaeval period, for its relative remoteness in time and understanding, and, I think, for the very dichotomy between the present-day perception of the Middle Ages as “nasty, brutish and short” and the wonders of the period’s art, architecture and literature. I wanted to know more about the period, and, through writing an historical novel, I’d have the opportunity both to discover the mediaeval past and to interpret it, to bring both learning and imagination to my writing.

Having written Fortune’s Wheel, I’d enjoyed being back at university so much that I decided to read for a PhD at the University of Southampton, and the result was another historical novel, as yet unpublished, The Nature of Things. By then, the historical fiction bug had well and truly bitten me. I soon realised that I had more stories to tell about the world I’d created for Fortune’s Wheel – a fictional manor, called Meonbridge, situated in Hampshire’s Meon Valley – and I started to plan a series of sequels. So, when Fortune’s Wheel was published last November, it was as the first of “The Meonbridge Chronicles”. I hope that the second will be published later in 2017.

 

Which book have you inherited from the generation above?

What an interesting question. I assume the thought behind it is to tease out possible img_1357_1influences on my writing life? (That is, indeed, the intention! – RB) However, in trying to find an answer, I realised that I couldn’t recall either of my parents (or their siblings) ever reading, or encouraging me to read, fiction! We certainly had books in the house, but, apart from the usual run of children’s books (Enid Blyton, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Hans Andersen…), they were mostly reference (although, as a child, I would pore over them avidly for hours). But there was no Plaidy or Seton to inspire a love of historical fiction!

So what special book might I say my forebears passed down to me? I’ll choose one that perhaps inspired my love of history: This Land of Kings 1066-1399. A children’s book, published in the 50s, with bright illustrations, it was a school prize – I was nine – attained for “Progress”! As it covers the Middle Ages, perhaps, long ago as it was, it sowed the seed that grew into Fortune’s Wheel?

 

Which book might you like to leave to the next generation?

img_1358I will take “next generation” to be my children, one boy, one girl – both very much adults now. I think I will leave them a “history book” too, one that has more recently inspired my plunge into writing historical fiction. I have a facsimile of The Luttrell Psalter, a wonderful fourteenth century religious tome that is full of illustrations of medieval life. I love it, and I’d like to think my children would love it too, knowing how much it has meant to me these past few years…

 

 

 

Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us, Carolyn. All the best with Fortune’s Wheel.

9781781325827-300dpi-cmykCarolyn’s book Fortune’s Wheel is available to buy now. You can find out more about Carolyn on her website, Facebook (CarolynHughesAuthor) or Twitter (@writingcalliope)

 

 

 

Would you like to share your own Inheritance Books? Email me or mention it in the comments.

 

 

Inheritance Books: Annmarie McQueen

This week’s Inheritance Books come from blogger and YA author Annmarie McQueen. Take a seat, Annmarie. While I put the kettle on, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself. 

H20161013_201557i, I’m Annmarie. I’m a 22 year old writer, blogger and photographer living in London. I enjoy instagramming food, taking selfies with dogs I meet and being that annoying friend who always has a camera to hand. I currently work in event marketing. I’m a graduate of Warwick University with a BA in English/Creative writing and an MA in cultural policy. I also really love tea. I currently have 18 different types of tea in my room and I’m immensely proud of this fact.

Yay, tea! Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

The book that I’ve inherited that I would like to shine a spotlight on today is ‘Northern Lights’ by Phillip Pullman. Published in 1995, it’s a YA fantasy classic that deals with a whole range of fascinating themes including freedom, destiny, religion and childhood innocence. This book was first given to me by my dad, and since then I’ve read it many times over.15940513_10154945598084451_7491591450245079483_n

I love the gothic feel to the book, the fact that it’s unafraid to deal with dark themes and the stunning descriptions of the fantasy world it’s set in. I also found the ‘Adam & Eve’ allegory and the biblical references really interesting. Though I’m not religious myself, I liked how cleverly religious ideas were subtly entwined in a story set in an alternate universe. It just gave it a whole other dimension that really made it stand out from any other children’s book at the time.

Also, I loved the daemons. I used to wish desperately that daemons were real when I was younger, thinking I’d never be lonely again if I had one. I used to imagine mine would be some kind of wolf.

Which book which you leave for generations below you? Why?

The second book I’ve chosen is one I would like to pass on to future generations. I’ve picked ‘Boys don’t cry’ by Mallory Blackman for this one. Though I’ve only recently finished reading it, I was completely blown away by this book and thought that the message it carried was so relevant to society right now.

p1260733The story follows Dante, who’s about to go off to College, until his old ex-girlfriend shows up with no warning, tells him he’s a daddy and then leaves the baby with him. Dante, with the support of his dad and younger brother Adam, must figure out how to adjust to this sudden turn of events and deal with this huge change in his life.

I find it so rare to find a book that deals so well with relationships between men. At times hilarious, at times heartbreaking, Blackman does a fantastic job of completely breaking down gender stereotypes and examining what it means to ‘be a man’ in this society. It’s such a controversial and difficult subject to get right, especially without sounding preachy, but Dante is an incredibly relatable and likeable character. Not only that, the story is thought-provoking and deals with other stigmatised issues such as sexuality and mental health without trying to sugar-coat or romanticise them.

In a society where people are expected to conform to certain social roles and repress who they really are, where being violent and aggressive is considered to be ‘masculine’, I think a book like this should be taught in secondary schools. Literature and story-telling is a powerful way of changing social norms and spreading new ideas. It’s a way of fighting back against injustice without actually causing conflict.

Fabulous choices. I loved Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series.

Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us Annmarie. Good luck with your own book.

pieces-2Annmarie’s book This Really Happened is available now. You can find out more about Annmarie on her website or chat to her on Twitter (@Annmarie_writer).

How to find new authors to read

If you enjoy reading my books, you’ll probably like the work of some of the other UK romance novelists… but how do you find them? Easy, you check out the samples that we’re giving away for free – just click the book cover and download a sample in the format of your choice. All of the books in this giveaway have been shortlisted for the RoNA (Romantic Novel of the Year) awards.
www.rhodabaxter.com/instafreebie

rona-if-giveaway-main

 

The giveaway runs 1st – 14th of March. RoNA winners will be announced on the 13th of March.

The giveaway includes a sample to my own Girl Having A Ball (which is shortlisted in the Best Romantic Comedy category).

If you find a new writer that you like, everyone’s a winner!

Goodreads Book Review: Light On Snow by Anita Shreve

Light on SnowLight on Snow by Anita Shreve

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely, atmospheric book. Told from the point of view of a grown woman looking back at her 12 year old self, it’s a story about a father and daughter who find a baby in the snow. Ostensibly the story is about what happens to the baby and her mother, but it’s really about the bond of grief and love that links Nikcy to her father.
It’s a quiet study of emotion. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Goodreads Book Review: The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5)The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a novella. I’m reading my way through this series and this one is probably my favourite so far. Serena is sitting outside the Duke of Clermont’s residence, not speaking, but not leaving either. Hugo is the Duke’s man and it’s his job to get rid of her. Hugo can be ruthless if he needs to be.

I loved the characters in this book and the respect that grows between them. I’m a sucker for good dialogue and character driven humour and this book has definitely got those. It’s nice to see a romance between two intelligent, well rounded character who both grow by the end of the book.

I read this book in an afternoon and went straight on to read the next in the series. Brilliant.

View all my reviews

In conversation with Rhoda Baxter, romantic comedy writer

Today I’ve visiting Annmarie McQueen’s blog. Pop over and read the interview.

Annmarie McQueen

Today I’ll be shining the author spotlight on romantic comedy writer, Rhoda Baxter! 

Hi, please can you give a brief introduction of yourself?
Hi. I’m Rhoda. I write romantic comedies which are published by Choc Lit Publishing. I also write short fiction. In real life, I trained as a microbiologist but now work in university technology transfer (which is the most fun way to keep in touch with the science without having to do lab work). I drink far too much tea and am partial to a bit of cake.

When did you first start writing?
I’m not sure. Apparently I wrote a story about parrot when I was about seven. When I was in my early teens, the Sweet Dreams romance novels were incredibly popular. I wasn’t allowed to read them, in case they gave me ‘ideas’ and distracted me from my studies. So I started to write my…

View original post 981 more words

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

Inheritance Books: Rachel Cathan

Today on the Inheritance Books sofa we have Rachel Cathan. Hi Rachel, grab a seat. While I get teas and cake, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

author-pic-1Hi Rhoda, thanks for the invite; it’s a real treat to be here. [It’s a treat to have you here.] 

I am a writer from Bedfordshire and have recently published my first book, 336 Hours.

I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember and have always tried to weave them into my personal and professional life wherever possible.

I studied Writing and Publishing at university and began my early career in publishing before moving into wider communications-based roles in my twenties and thirties. In terms of my personal writing, I’ve started many books over the years, but 336 Hours is the first one to reach completion. I guess the subject matter, and its connection to an intense period in my own life, gave me the focus I needed to see this one through.
I lived in London for many years but recently moved around ten minutes away from my childhood home, where I live with my husband, two small children and a cantankerous elderly cat. Alongside writing, I am currently training to be a counsellor.

 

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

I probably need to begin by explaining that my dad was an avid book collector, and by ‘avid’ I mean that we needed to have a loft conversion when I was a teenager so that he could bring some order to what had effectively become a small library.

threemenWhen I was young, my dad and I used to set out on ‘book hunts’ (this was long before the days of Amazon!), searching for an elusive Little Miss or Meg and Mog title that was missing from our collection.
A little later, like most children of my generation, I became a devoted Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake fan, and I will always treasure the signed copies of their books that my dad has passed down to me. He even wrote to Quentin Blake to ask if he might draw a picture of me with my pet hamster for my tenth birthday. The illustration sent in response is still framed on the wall of my mum’s living room. It’s a wonderful illustration, not only in its own right, but also of the life lesson: Ask; you might just get!
It’s difficult to single out just one book from this extensive back-catalogue of inherited books, but if I had to pick one it would be Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.  I must have been seventeen or eighteen when I read it for the first time, and I remember my dad handing it to me with the words: ‘You’ll like this. It’s funny’. My teenage self was skeptical on both counts. It was written in 1889; was I really going to like it and find it funny? Could I even admit it if I did?

Almost twenty years later I still laugh out loud if certain sections of that book enter my head. It is a bottomless tonic that can brighten the dullest of days. And another important life lesson: that good writing and good comedy are timeless and will connect with a human of any background and age.
Now, fast approaching the age of thirty-eight, with two small children to run around after, I am reminded of this book often, as I shake my legs back to life after extended periods spent scrunched up on the floor, and wonder if I might in fact be developing housemaid’s knee!

Funnily enough, I’ve just been given a copy of this book by a friend who was horrified that I hadn’t read it! It’s on my TBR pile.

 

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

 

A difficult question to answer, but I’m going to say Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Whilst I have lifeofpifallen in love with hundreds of books in my lifetime, I am usually hard-pushed to remember much of their content when I look back upon them years later. This one I remember in incredible detail; it captivated me in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I love the stunningly dramatic setting of the story, taking the protagonist from a zoo in Pondicherry, to the vast Indian ocean, where he drifts, hopeless, aboard a small lifeboat with only a Bengal tiger for company. And I love the themes explored: human endurance, ingenuity, hope, and the desire within all of us to believe in the unbelievable. The final paragraph moves me to tears of joy just thinking about it now.

I look forward to passing my copy to my children, and I suspect they will fall in love with it just as I did.  

I’ve searched high and low for Life of Pi, but typically can’t put my hands on it now I need it – so I’ve improvised with a few toys I found in the playroom…

I love your improvised picture. I also love Life of Pi… and Lego (Duplo counts).

Thank you so much for sharing your favourite books with us Rachel. All the very best with your book!

336-hours-cover1

 

Rachel’s book 336 hours is available to buy now. You can find out more about Rachel by visiting her website, Facebook page or chatting to her on Twitter (@rachelcathan). 

Girl Having A Ball nominated for a RoNA award

Girl Having A Ball is on the shortlist for RoNA awards for best romantic comedy. Look, they sent a fancy graphic of the category nominees: 

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FRomantic.Novelists.Association%2Fphotos%2Fa.461385497261051.103036.239304392802497%2F1307296942669898%2F%3Ftype%3D3&width=500

The results will be announced on the 13th of March, so there’s over a month to wait to find out what happens. The other people on the shortlist are Cathy Bramley, Joanna Bolouri, Ali McNamara and Penny Parkes – all of whom write fantastic books. It’s an honour to be in their company.

If you haven’t read Girl Having A Ball yet,  it’s on special offer for 99p on Kobo,  iBooks (UK) and Amazon until Valentine’s day. If you want a sample, you can get the first 3 chapters for free on Instafreebie

If you have read Girl Having A Ball, I’d be super grateful if you could leave a review. The number of reviews a book has really makes a difference to how well it sells. I know I read reviews before I buy anything, I guess everyone else does the same.

 

Have a lovely day!

Rhoda