Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Get Writing 2011

Well, what a fantastic weekend! Saturday was spent in the company of writer and twitter friends at the Verulam Writers' Circle Get Writing Conference.

Get Writing 2011

The day consisted of talks and workshops, with some souls who were much braver than me pitching their novels to publishers and editors.

The first session was 'How to impress us' an agents and buyers talk and Q&A with John Jarrold (literary agent and editor specialising in SF, fantasy and horror), Robert Dudley (literary agent representing non-fiction authors) and Matt Bates (fiction buyer for WHSmith Travel).

John Jarrold's advice on finding an agent is to do your research and send them what they ask for. If they want three chapters and a synopsis make sure that’s what you send them. Address your query letter by name and not ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ or ‘to whom it may concern’. Also mention any relevant background information in your covering letter.

Robert Dudley gave some insights into submitting non-fiction. Robert likes to be approached by email. He wants concise details of what you want to write about and why it needs writing. State what your qualifications are for the subject, ie published in journals. Your proposal must be a subject you are equipped to write about.

Matt Bates told us what he looks for when deciding whether to accept a book for WHSmith Travel. The cover is the first consideration, so leave jacket design to your publisher’s design team and don’t insist too much on your own input. The professionals (usually) know best. The back cover blurb is important. A big turn off is overuse of quotes instead of blurb, which is also one of my pet peeves – I want to know what a book’s about, I’m not concerned about what Elle Magazine think of it.

After this we all went our separate ways to the various optional talks and workshops. Jean Fullerton gave an excellent talk called 'From Critique to Bestseller'. She talked about the benefits of using a critique service, but warned that you have to be careful choosing the right service as there are plenty of people out there willing to rip you off. The best recommendation is word of mouth. The overriding message of Jean's talk was – you have to learn your craft.

Jean Fullerton

'Beyond the Revolution' publishers' panel Q&A with Simon Taylor (editorial director at Transworld), Marlene Johnson (managing director of the Children’s Division of Hachette UK) and Gillian Green (editorial director for fiction at Ebury Press). This was all a bit depressing and along the lines of epublishing is killing the book industry.

After lunch it was time for the presentation of the 'Get Writing' Cup, and the lovely Sue Cook did the honours and also gave us a talk about her writing background.

As I wasn't pitching I had the opportunity to attend Sarah Duncan's talk - 'The Hooker's Story' on how to keep your readers reading. If you don't already subscribe to Sarah's blog then I advise you to do so as you'll find some excellent advice there. Sarah talked about pacing and being careful what events you put next to each other. Two big events side by side will diminish each other. She talked about ending chapters on a climax so the reader is compelled to move on to the next chapter and paragraph hopping.

Sarah Duncan

'With The Innovators' a panel Q&A session with Scott Pack (director of digital product development with HarperCollins), Raymond Tallis (poet, novelist and philosopher) and Ian Skillicorn (founder of Short Story Radio) was a good upbeat antedote to the morning's Publishers Panel. The highlight of the talk was when Raymond Tallis said 'Twitter is the suicide of the mind' and Scott Pack got his phone out and tweeted about it right there on the stage.

The final talk was 'Growing Together: the independent choice' with Lyn Vernham (marketing director of Choc Lit), Choc Lit authors Sue Moorcroft and Christina Courtenay and the lovely Matt Bates of WHSmith Travel. Matt and Lyn talked about how they had worked together to get Choc Lit books into WHS Travel.

I had a wonderful day and came home feeling re-inspired and determined to book up for next year's conference. It was lovely to catch up with so many online friends but there were too many people to say hello to everyone I wanted to. Some people I could only wave at from afar.

If you want to read more about the conference take a look at Lucie Wheeler's excellent round up on her blog. Also check out the Verulam Writers' Circle website and keep an eye out for Get Writing 2012.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

New Release: My Boyfriend's Back

Check out this new release from fellow Romance Diva Chrissy Olinger. The novella launched on Valentine's Day and sounds like such fun I just had to download a copy. Can't wait to read it and I'll post a review later.

Buy It Now

My Boyfriend's Back
A Short, Sweet Romance

by Chrissy Olinger
Paranormal/Fantasy Romance

15,826 words
Available on Kindle
from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
"Fear not! I bring you tidings of... DAMMIT!"

With those few words, Jack Lynch's world was turned upside-down. Once the nerd everyone loved to torment, he has returned to his home town for his twentieth reunion. Now a multimillionaire, Jack has everything but the one thing that matters: his true love. Twenty years ago he let her slip away. Now he's back, and determined to win her heart.

But screeching tires on an icy road change everything. If being temporarily dead weren't bad
enough, Norman— an angel in training— returns Jack's spirit to the wrong body— the class bully, John Lydon.

With the rockin' hot bod of his former nemesis, the help of a nerdy angel, and his own wits,
Jack has to get Rori to see him, love him, and bring about a miracle... without revealing this true identity. The clock is ticking, and he only has three days.

Jack's got the brains; his new body has the brawn; and Norman's got his back. What could possibly go wrong?

*This book contains some mild language, no strong sexual content, and an excessive amount of silliness.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Pure Passion 2011 : Romantic Novel of the Year Shortlist

The RNA Pure Passion Awards celebrate the very best in romantic fiction. Over 200 titles were submitted for this year’s four categories, from the long-standing and hotly-contested Romantic Novel of the Year, to more recent additions which recognise the breadth of romantic fiction – the Historical Novel Prize, Romantic Comedy Award, and Love Story of the Year.

‘This year’s short list represents the whole gamut of romantic fiction,’ said Katie Fforde, RNA Chair. ‘We have royalty, love letters, history and humour, from both newcomers and established authors. A truly impressive list.’

The Romantic Novel of the Year shortlist of six titles has been selected by a panel of 85 readers from the general public. The winner will be selected by three independent judges – Amanda Craig, author and book reviewer, Foyle’s War actor and contributor to the blog Vulpes Libris, Jay Benedict, and fiction buyer for Waterstone’s, Janine Cook.

The shortlist, in alphabetical order by author name, is:
  • To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick (Sphere)
  • The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean (HarperCollins)
  • Kissing Mr Wrong by Sarah Duncan (Headline Review)
  • The Jewel of St. Petersburg by Kate Furnivall (Sphere)
  • Amazir by Tom Gamble (Beautiful Books)
  • The Last Letter From Your Lover by JoJo Moyes (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Romantic Comedy Prize shortlist:
  • The Way to a Woman’s Heart by Christina Jones (Piatkus)
  • I Heart Paris by Lindsey Kelk (HarperCollins)
  • Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Bantam Press)
  • Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell (Headline Review)
  • Katy Carter Wants A Hero by Ruth Saberton (Orion)
  • A Date in your Diary by Jules Stanbridge (Little Black Dress)
Historical Novel Prize shortlist:
  • To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick (Sphere)
  • Trade Winds by Christina Courtenay (Choc Lit)
  • The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean (HarperCollins)
  • The Wayward Governess by Joanna Fulford (Mills & Boon Historical)
  • The Jewel of St. Petersburg by Kate Furnivall (Sphere)
  • Heart of Stone by Jane Jackson (Severn House)
The Love Story of the Year shortlist:
  • The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst by Louise Allen (Mills & Boon Historical)
  • Mother of the Bride by Caroline Anderson (Mills & Boon Romance)
  • Bride in a Gilded Cage by Abby Green (Mills & Boon Modern)
  • Moving On by Valerie Holmes (Linford Romance)
  • Fortunate Wager by Jan Jones (Robert Hale)
  • The Captain’s Mysterious Lady by Mary Nichols (Mills & Boon Historical)
The winners for each award will be named at the Pure Passion Awards 2011, Monday, 7th March 2011 at a champagne reception at One Whitehall Place, Westminster.

Read more here and here.

Congratulations to everyone on the shortlists and to those who were on the longlist. Well done!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day to Embrace Books

Today's the day! The most romantic day of the year and, more importantly, the launch day of UK publisher Embrace Books. I'm so excited, I can't wait to get my hands on those new titles.

Congratulations to executive editor Jane Holland and all the Embrace authors, especially twitter buddies Sally Clements and Rachel Lyndhurst.

I have my sparkly dress, a glass of Bucks Fizz and I'm on my way to join in the fun at the launch party over at the Embrace blog.

Here's hoping you all have a fabulous Valentine's Day, and I'll catch you later.

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