Saturday, 30 May 2015

Award Trip to London & My Paperback is Out!

I had an amazing time on my trip to London for the Romantic Novelists' Association Summer Party and the presentation of the Joan Hessayon New Writers’Award.

First up was meeting my author friend, the lovely Jules Wake, who I’d got to know at the last two RNA Conferences, for coffee and a catch up at Waterstones Piccadilly, before we were due to meet our publisher for the first time. We headed across the road to the swanky Le Meridian Hotel, to meet our editors Charlotte Brabbin and Charlotte Ledger from HarperImpulse, for prosecco, nibbles and a chat with the other Harper Collins authors (5 of us in all) who were also nominated for the award. Hello to Nikki Moore, Brigid Coady and Kathy Jay! (As well as me and Jules). It was really lovely to meet you all. 

It was soon time to walk down to the gorgeous building of the Royal Overseas League. The next hour passed in a whirl of having photos taken, thanks to Katrina the professional photographer, meeting and chatting with other authors – the room was buzzing - and having a glass or two of wine to settle the nerves a bit! It was wonderful to talk with other recently published authors, and some more established - the lovely Katie Fforde was there, and hearing their writing journeys.Then it was time for the nominees to go up to the front and be introduced with an image of us and our book on a big screen behind us.

And the winner was… Brigid Coady with the novel “No-One Wants to be Miss Havisham”! Though it wasn’t me, I hadn’t really expected to win, after all 15 talented new authors were in the running. But it was wonderful that it was an author from our team – go HarperImpulse! And like me, she’d had a long journey to publication, and gave a lovely speech which was very moving. Well done, Brigid!

The rest of the evening flew by. I suddenly realised the room was emptying and I hadn’t taken a single photo of the event at all. So I gathered my Harper Collins team as best I could for a couple of photos, enjoyed a glass of G&T, met some more authors, and then headed next door to another very swanky hotel for more prosecco and some late evening snacks - with all the buzz at the award ceremony few of us had managed to eat anything much at all.

All too soon, I was on the train back to Tring, for an overnight stay with Jules (Thank you!) – trains back to Northumberland do not exist at that time of night! We were both shattered but managed tea, toast and more chat before bed. (Surprised my jaws weren’t aching from all that nattering!) And finally back to reality and Northumberland the next day.

And today, just a week later, I finally got to hold my very first copy of my novel “The Torn Up Marriage” – here it is! Wow – what a feeling!

I can’t tell you how precious it feels to hold my real book in my hands. It’s the culmination of a long journey, my love of writing, hard work, a huge learning curve and meeting some lovely people along the way! I DID IT!( I’ve even written that in the front of the book). Hmn, just wondering whose book to place it next to on my bookcase? Someone famous, naturally. Could wedge myself between Jo-Jo Moyes and Shakespeare? David Nicholls, Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy, C S Lewis, Maggie O‘Farrell? I might just have to keep swapping it about. But it’s HERE!! A DREAM COME TRUE!

Thanks for all the support along the way everyone!

Best wishes,

Caroline x

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Posh Frocks and a Trip to London – I’m a Contender for the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award!

So, lovely people, guess who’s one of the final 15 contenders for the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award with “The Torn Up Marriage” – me! I have a train ticket booked for the award ceremony at the RNA Summer Party night, 21st May, at the gorgeous-looking Royal Overseas League in London. Canapes and fizz, and I believe a new posh frock is the order of the day.

Who knows what the result will be, I can only cross my fingers and wait and see, but the wonderful part will be to meet up with other just-published, those still trying to get published, and some very established authors. In my many years of trying to find an agent and publisher it was the support of the RNA that really helped me to persevere; providing friendship, advice, inspiration, laughter and lots of tea, cake and on occasion fizz.

If anyone is writing away at home, and not sure whether to join an organisation such as the Romantic Novelists' Association, I would absolutely say GO FOR IT! There are local chapters you can link up with, so it’s not all down in London if you live elsewhere in the UK, and I wasn’t aware initially, but if you haven’t yet managed to get into the New Writers’ Scheme (as there is an annual membership application time from 1st January each year and you need to get your skates on for one of the 250 places!), you can still go along to most of the local groups, and join in events even as a non-member. You need to be writing some form of love/relationship story, but it’s not all “Romance” in the narrower sense of the genre, saga writers and women’s fiction, historical, erotica, also young and new adult, are also at home there. Full details are on the RNA website, see link below.

Here’s a picture of my local RNA Chapter. For two years running we’ve had a fantastic Writers’ Retreat Day at Shepherd’s Dene, a wonderful country house in stunning gardens, set in the Northumberland countryside:

In my experience over six years with the RNA, writers are a friendly, supportive and generous bunch. Even longstanding published writers remember what it’s like to be trying to find that break with a publisher, many of us will have a pile of rejection letters or e-mails under our belt – me more than most!!

Writing is a very different occupation – you probably won’t earn a penny for years, it’ll take hours and hours of your time, your house will degenerate to a dusty hovel, your family may think you are a little nuts, your friends will be really interested but then imagine you are making a mint the minute you get a book deal – very rarely the case. So come along find your tribe and get some fantastic support and a few new friends along the way!

Wish me luck for the Joan Hessayon Award on the 21st – and look out for the photos on my next Blog – wonder if there’ll be a Red Carpet?! And, before I dash off to buy my frock, a big THANK YOU to the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and in particular to my support group of friends with the Border Reivers RNA Northumberland Chapter.

Best wishes,

Caroline x