Romancing The Romance Authors with… Emma Jackson

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today, I am delighted to welcome to the blog to discuss all things romance writing, one of my very good friends and fabulous author, Emma Jackson.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write romantic comedies with (I hope) a touch of honesty and the bittersweet mixed in along the way to my characters’ happy-ever-after. My fourth book, One Kiss Before Christmas, has just released and I’m coming up to the one year anniversary of my debut novel, A Mistletoe Miracle, being published with Orion Dash! I’m not quite sure what the future holds at the moment, as I’m out of contract now – and it’s been one hell of a year! – but I do know I have many more romances to write and stories I want to share with readers.

51Fc8nG5MsL

Why romance?

I became an official romance fan when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I was tired and I didn’t want anything that might unexpectedly upset me after having a bad experience with a Karin Slaughter book I’d been recommended. Great book but it gave me nightmares! So, I sought out stories with lots of emotion and guaranteed happy endings; where I could enjoy the thrill of falling in love again and again. All the different sub-genres of romance from historical to fantasy to contemporary, also mean there’s always something to suit my mood. I’ve always written stories, so it made sense for me to write what I enjoyed reading.

What inspires your stories?

It’s usually from one little ‘what if’ thought that comes to me. It could be from a place I’ve been or listening to a song or visiting a shop or reading a newspaper story. It then grows as more ideas come to me or characters become a little more solid. I’ve just started planning out and tentatively drafting another Christmas story, which weirdly came to me because of a comment another author (Isabella May) made about my debut in a review.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I love Tessa Dare and Mhairi McFarlane. They are auto-buys for me. They both write laugh out loud books but also cover some heavy themes with such skill.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

This is so hard, but I think one of my favourite reads this year, Beach Read by Emily Henry, was fantastic. The hero and heroine are both writers of very different genres who challenge each other to try and write the other’s way. It’s very funny – extremely meta for romance readers and writers – but even if you aren’t a fan of romance already, I think it would do an amazing job of helping you understand why people love romance so much, and why it isn’t something fluffy or frivolous to try to have a bit of hope. It’s also very sexy and heartfelt. It works on so many levels!

41F1Tv9PSiL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

He doesn’t believe in happy endings.
She’s lost her faith that they exist.
But could they find one together?

January is a hopeless romantic who narrates her life like she’s the lead in a blockbuster movie.
Gus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.

But January and Gus have more in common than you’d think:

They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
And they need to write bestsellers before summer ends.

The result? A bet to swap genres see who gets published first.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

Is it really terrible if I say one of my own heroes? I think I’d love to spend a weekend with Olivier from One Kiss Before Christmas because he’s so easy-going and fun, and also because he could take me to Paris to give me a tour around the museums and galleries, cook gorgeous food for me, and then we could snuggle up and watch old movies. Bliss.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The sense of community. I have found so many amazing friends since I joined and been given so much support. It’s transformed my knowledge of the industry because there is always someone willing to offer advice and it’s turned what can be a very lonely profession into one where I feel genuinely connected.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Keep going. Perseverance is as much one of the tools you need to keep in your arsenal as an ability to think up great hooks. From getting from ‘chapter one’ to ‘the end’, to sending out queries, it’s so important to find a way to keep yourself going that works for you.

Tell us about your latest book.

One Kiss Before Christmas is a gorgeously romantic festive read guaranteed to warm your heart this Christmas and you can buy it here! (I reviewed One Kiss Before Christmas on the blog a few weeks ago, and you can read my review here.)

One Kiss Before Christmas_Cover

Could it be the start of her happy ever after?

Ashleigh could use a little Christmas magic. She’s still living in Brighton with her Nan – who could give the Grinch lessons in how to be miserable – her acting career has been reduced to playing one of Santa’s elves, and not even the prospect of a friend’s winter wedding can cheer her up…

That is until Olivier, the gorgeous French chef, reappears in her life. Or more accurately, next door.

When they were teenagers, Olivier would spend every Christmas with his mother, who just happens to be Ash’s neighbour and owner of the best chocolate shop in England.

If anyone can bring a little sparkle back to Ash’s life, it’s Olivier. All she needs is one kiss before Christmas…

About Emma Jackson

RNA Conf Head Shot

Author of the Best Selling A MISTLETOE MIRACLE and contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. SUMMER IN THE CITY, was released in June, and her latest festive romance, ONE KISS BEFORE CHRISTMAS is now available.

Emma also writes historical and fantasy fiction as Emma S Jackson. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE was published by DarkStroke in February 2020.

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://esjackson.co.uk

Facebook: Emma Jackson Author

Twitter: @ESJackson1

Instagram: @emma_s_jackson

A Little Book Problem banner

Romancing The Romance Authors with… Kendra Smith

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today I am delighted to be quizzing author Kendra Smith on what being a romance author means for her.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write commercial women’s fiction. I try to write the kind of books that I like to read. A bit funny, a bit sad, books with a dollop of hope and ones that I’d like to think reflect life – and always with one or two characters looking for love – maybe that’s to love themselves, or someone else, or exploring the love in and of their family. That’s an important theme for me. I’m published by Aria Fiction, and I have written four books (fourth due out next year, just gone to editor, so fingers crossed!)

Why romance?

I think some of the best stories are romantic. It doesn’t always have to be happy ever after, but aren’t we all looking for a bit of romance? It’s the glue that binds us all together as humans; who’s not looking for love in their life?

What inspires your stories?

Real life! And also there may be snippets I overhear, a soundbite from the radio, or something that piques my interest from a feature I’ve read in the Sunday papers (that’s when I get the chance to read them…) and I think, ‘I wonder,’ or ‘what if..?’ and then I start toying with ideas, car journeys or walks become thinking time, figuring out what my characters would do in various situations. And, of course, when I read other writers, that inspires me too.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I used to read Jilly Cooper’s novels as a girl, ones like Imogen or Harriet at home, then while at school it was Jane Austen’s Emma and Pride and Prejudice. On the other side of the spectrum, along came Helen Fielding who made 20-somethings laugh out loud as she charted Bridget Jones’s romantic escapades… and of course I love Marian Keyes who writes about life and love; and Jojo Moyes and Jill Mansell, Sarah Morgan, Sue Moorcroft, Lucy Diamond and I loved Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare, oh and so many more!

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

One romance novel: That’s too hard, sorry! (see above!)

Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

Now, the problem is that I have created romantic heroes in my books that I’d like to spend time with – and I feel I know them so well! Daniel, in A Year of Second Chances would be someone I’d like to get to know. He’s the Indiana Jones who comes home… I’d go white water rafting with him!

COVER; A YEAR OF SECOND CHANCES:KENDRA

Three Women. Three very different lives. One life-changing adventure.

Charlie is a single mum unlucky in life. Her multiple jobs make barely enough to feed the family cat, never mind being able to give her son the life he deserves. So when an opportunity to make a lot of cash comes along, she simply has to take it.

Suzie has always wanted to be a mother. But fate has been cruel and now time is running out. Soon her final frozen egg will be destroyed and her last chance of having a baby will go with it. With her husband resolved to their childless life Suzie takes matters into her own hands.

Dawn is about to turn fifty and seems to have misplaced her mojo along with the car keys. But with an interfering mother-in-law and a gaggle of judgemental mums at her children’s school, it’s proving harder to find than a decent fitting bra. Especially after a series of highly embarrassing incidents…

Over the course of a year three lives are about to collide and as they do be prepared to laugh, cry and fall in love with these women as they discover how life can give you a second chance.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

I love being part of the community there – whether it’s the New Writers’ Scheme I was part of for a time, the parties , the Conferences, and of course the online support. It’s like a big, extended family! I have met lots of friends through the RNA, and received so much support from the whole organisation and of course it has led to useful talks and meetings with industry professionals to help my career. They also provide that boost when you least expect it. This year I was shortlisted for the Elizabeth Goudge Award for my fourth book. That was a real treat.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

One piece of advice? Enjoy your writing!

Tell us about your latest book.

Take A Look At Me Now is an uplifting, romantic adventure and you can buy a copy here.

Take a look at me now_final (1)

Out with the old…

Maddie Brown has spent most of her life putting everyone else’s needs above her own. But with her marriage crumbling and her nest scarily empty, she realises it may be time to spread her own wings and fly.

In with the… ex?

At a university reunion, Maddie meets Greg. He was the love of her life – and the one that got away. Some things never change, and neither of them can deny the feelings that linger between them. But there are so many reasons they can’t be together… not least the massive secret she has been keeping from him all these years. 

Maddie is SO ready for a brand new start. But what do you do when the past just won’t stay in the past?

About the Author

1.IMG_kendra b&W

When she is not writing, Kendra spends her time looking for odd socks and other random duties associated with being the mother of three boys. She has lived and worked in Sydney and London and has been a writer and journalist for over 20 years. She currently lives in Surrey and moves from keyboard to cooker with ease. She can rustle up a 90,000 word novel, but finds it hard not to burn boiled eggs. 

Connect with Kendra:

Facebook: Kendra Smith Author

Twitter: @KendraAuthor

A Little Book Problem banner

Romancing The Romance Authors with… Alan Williams

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today is a very exciting day on Romancing The Romance Authors because I have a MAN, yes, an actual male author talking about writing romance. There are too few of these rare, unicorn-esque beings around, and they tend to bit a little shy, so I am delighted that I have managed to lure one out and on to the blog. Please welcome, Alan Williams to tell us all about why he writes romance novels.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

Firstly, Julie, many thanks for this opportunity. As for me, I write adventure/mystery/drama/romance/thrillers usually all rolled into one neat package, always for My Weekly Pocket Novels. I’ve had ten accepted and or published in three years and am very proud of that. I have been a successful short story writer for womags since 2012, mainly in Australia but, with the diminishing markets, I chose to try novels Virtually and every one I’ve written has been sold. I’ve been lucky.

Why romance?

Pourqoui pas or why not. I’m a romantic at heart, always wanting the good guy or girl to win. I wanted to write and be read by a wide audience. That’s Life in Australia was a starting point. This year I’ve had 4 published out of the 11 fiction stories in That’s Life Mega Monthly. It has an average readership of 415,000. That’s a lot of people reading my ideas.

What inspires your stories?

My life, my family my imagination and strong female characters. My latest one Moonlight Rising is based on my wife’s experiences as a croupier in Manchester in the sixties. She’s the heroine and the locations are real but I’m a fantasist so reality blurs into other possibilities, seamlessly, I hope.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I was afraid you’d ask that. I don’t read ‘romance’ per se (saying that I do read other My Weekly novelists like Jill Barry, Dawn Knox, Susan Jones and Niddy Reece among others.) I did read Jane Austen at school back in the days when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. I write what is my style and it’s not conventional. That’s why I feel guilty to be part of RNA.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

I’ll have to give that a miss unless I was very cheeky and said one of mine Christmas Down Under as it’s about how I met and fell in love with my wife (roughly).

Which romantic hero/heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with?

Where would you go and what would you do? You do ask hard questions, don’t you? It would need to be a platonic rather than romantic weekend. I’m tempted to choose a character from comics with their ‘will they-won’t they’ relationship with their boyfriends, my initial introduction to romance. My story writing began with comics and I learnt so many skills there. I still do. Wonder Woman. Not to go anywhere or do anything in particular but sit down with a couple of milkshakes and discuss how her character has developed so much in the eighty years of publication, television and movies. I write my female characters as having those same inner strengths and ideals.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

Being a part of a group with so many talented, accomplished writers. I was hoping to attend conference and network this year. Hopefully in the future.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Be yourself in your voice and style. If a male Australian (the most unromantic creature in the world) can find a niche market and be successful there, then there is a place for you. I write in the first person as a female and whilst there are those who might say that’s disingenuous as well as unusual, it works for me. Don’t do what everyone else does and don’t be afraid to step outside of the conventional boundaries.

Tell us about your latest book.

It is an Australian-set romance called Firestorm. You can find it here.

9781444845761

1973: Debra Winters has started a new life for herself as a teacher in a small Australian outback town. Given the responsibility of updating the school’s fire protocol, she is thrown together with volunteer firefighter Robbie Sanderson, and there’s a spark of attraction between them.

Meanwhile, things are heating up: it’s bushfire season, and there’s an arsonist on the loose. Debra and Robbie find themselves in danger. Will their relationship flicker out – or will they set each other’s worlds alight? 

About the Author

IMG_1897

Alan is a widely published Australian author, concentrating mainly on women’s magazines where he pushes the boundaries way past ‘boy meets girl’ love stories. He has had over fifty short stories published in Australia’s That’s Life. Since 2012, he’s sold stories published in Ireland, Canada and Britain where he is also a regular contributor to Take a Break magazine.

His tales cover crime, fantasy, science fiction, romance and thrillers, usually set in the here and now.

In the past three years, Alan has chosen to include novels in his writing repertoire, selling, at time of this publication, ten novels set in England, America and Australia. They have been distributed and sold country-wide as paperbacks throughout Britain and Australasia. To date, eight of these are available in libraries worldwide in large print published by Linford Romance.

2020 might have been a difficult year for us all in many ways but Alan has had the following published; a short story collection ‘The Rain, The Park and Other Things’ by Ginninderra Press in Australia.  

Additionally, four My Weekly Novels and four Linford Romance books.

He had vowed never to write a western but recently ‘accidentally’ wrote Love in the Golden Sun– a bushranger story set in the Australian colonies. It will be published in Jan 2021.

Despite being both male and Australian, he is a member of the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) and the RWA (Romance Novelists of Australia). It seems that, like many of his stories, the impossible is possible after all.

Alan is a retired Science teacher and Financial Services Manager, currently exiled and living in France, residing in a 17th century stone farmhouse with his long-suffering wife, Anne, and maniacal cat, Zorro.

Connect with Alan:

Website: https://alancwilliams.wordpress.com/home/

Facebook: Alan C. Williams

A Little Book Problem banner

Romancing The Romance Authors with… Tracy Baines

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today author Tracy Baines has kindly volunteered to undergo my grilling on what it means to be a writer of romance.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

My books are WW2 sagas set in Variety Theatres. It’s something I know well but more importantly, something I love. I used to work in stage management and my husband was a variety entertainer.

My first two novels, The Variety Girls and Christmas With The Variety Girls, have been published this year by Ebury Press – an imprint of Penguin. For many years I wrote short stories and articles because our life was chaotic and I could always find time for them. All the things I learnt writing short stories have been invaluable in the long run – especially learning to get over the rejection. I learnt that it was nothing personal, I just hadn’t got it quite right that time.

The Variety Girls - final cover

Why romance?

I think every story is a love story. Whether it is between two people or between a character and their dream. Passion in anything is attractive. The energy that drives you towards your heart’s desire is my idea of romance.

What inspires your stories?

My love of theatre, but mostly of my family and home. My books are set in Lincolnshire and Norfolk the place of my birth and that of my ancestors. I haven’t lived there for over 30 years but when I go back home to visit my mum and sisters everything becomes so clear and pronounced and I carry all the sensory memory back to Dorset with me. When I work at my desk I am hearing the voices of the past. It’s the sense of community, of people facing hardship and pulling together to overcome it.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I don’t have a particular favourite – I just like discovering stories. I’ve enjoyed so many great books over the years that it’s hard to choose.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Canopy of Silence by Margaret Graham. It’s set in Australia in the 1920s and covers the Group Settlement Scheme devised to develop a self-sufficient dairy industry. I was absolutely swept away by it. Those people endured such hardship and their struggle is conveyed so piercingly. My heart ached for dear Debs, that she world find love and happiness. It is brilliantly written with tension that keeps you turning page after page. It stirs my emotions just thinking about it.

51x5BBf-A+L._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_

Deborah Morgan, an only child, is unwanted by her parents, who only have time for each other; as a result, she leaves Somerset and follows sheep farmer Patrick Prover to Australia, but finds herself an outsider there too, especially when Patrick leaves her to run the farm alone.

She embarks on an ill-advised affair but soon returns to her loveless marriage, pouring all her love into the care of her baby son.

Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

It would have to be Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind as played by Clarke Gable in the film. Was there ever a finer hero? Devilishly handsome and undoubtedly dangerous. We’d go to the theatre, to a musical or preferably back in time to the golden age of the Crazy Gang and Gracie Fields. Dancing afterwards and then a meal in a cosy backstreet restaurant that stayed open just for us; then a walk through Hyde Park until the dawn broke. A day on the Thames and dinner at the Ritz the following day. It would have to be something perfectly glamorous – and so not me!

download

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The support and encouragement is second to none. I have two local chapters within easy distance and it’s great to meet up and chat with people who know exactly what you’re going through.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Keep going and keep learning. Writing a book takes a lot of mental energy and it’s easy to get disheartened. Nothing is ever wasted. I learn more with every piece I write and I hope it always stays that way.

Tell us about your latest book.

It is the latest in my Variety Girls series, Christmas with the Variety Girls and you can buy it in all formats from Thursday here.

Christmas with the Variety Girls

Will Christmas bring an unexpected reunion?…

Frances O’Leary has always dreamed of being a dancer. But after war is declared and the theatres begin to close, Frances and the variety girls must search for work elsewhere.

However, Frances is hiding a secret. As far as her best friend Jessie knows, Frances is a young aunt who adores her niece, Imogen – but what she doesn’t know is that their relationship runs much deeper. Now, with the sweetheart who cruelly abandoned her returning to England, will her secret finally be revealed?…

About the Author

Tracy_Baines_bright

From the age of sixteen, Tracy Baines worked summer seasons, pantomimes and everything else in-between at the local end of the pier show. She met her husband when he was appearing with the Nolan Sisters and she was Assistant Stage Manager.

Her knowledge of the theatre world from both sides of the stage and the hierarchy that keeps the show running really bring this saga to life. She’s also written articles and short stories for key publications for this audience including Woman’s Weekly, Take a Break, The People’s Friend and My Weekly.

Connect with Tracy:

Website:  www.tracybaines.co.uk

Facebook: Tracy Baines Author

Twitter: @tracyfbaines 

Instagram: @tracyfbaines         

A Little Book Problem banner

Romancing The Romance Authors with… Arabella Sheen

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today I am grilling author, Arabella Sheen, on all aspects of writing romance.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I’m Arabella Sheen, a British author of Contemporary and Historical steamy romances, published with Beachwalk Press, and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Having graduated from the RNA’s -New Writers’ Scheme in 2016 when my debut novel, Castell’s Passion, was accepted for publication by Beachwalk Press, I haven’t looked back.

Beachwalk Press is a publisher of romance novels with heat levels of sensual and higher. They are fantastic to work with and generously supportive when throwing professional comments back at me during edits.

I’ve also travelled the self-publishing route, and even though to date I’ve had seven novels published, I feel I still have a lot to learn about the art of writing.

Banner - Arabella Sheen

Why romance?

Oh, this is an easy question to answer…I love a happy-ever-after ending.

What inspires your stories?

Anything and everything.

There were a couple of factors that inspired the writing of A Gentleman in Love.

One was a visit to the United Kingdom’s buzzing capital, London, where classical ‘old’ buildings such as the beautiful Palace of Westminster and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office are situated. Another creative trigger was a desire to write a Christmas romance.

Domestic and foreign diplomatic scandals have hit the news headlines recently, and the urge to delve deeper and create a fictitious world involving an embassy, an ambassador, and a political protocol gone wrong intrigued me.

A Gentleman in Love follows the sizzling romance of Shelby and Sam as they come to terms with the problems they face and the unexpected passion they feel for one another. Shelby wishes to clear her father’s name of political blame and Sam needs a wife to secure the adoption of his ward – Nicola. The question is: can Sam and Shelby join forces and help one another achieve their goals?

As for Christmas, well, who doesn’t love a steamy Christmas romance?

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

In my teenaged years, Georgette Heyer was my go to author for romantic and historical satisfaction. She still is.

At the moment, my nose is buried in Helen Dunmore’s Birdcage Walk. I was born and bred in Clifton, Bristol, and the story features Georgian life in this area during 1792. Helen weaves a dark, sinister tale about Diner and Lizzie’s marriage and turmoil in Europe. I’m not sure this book can be classed as a true romance novel as I’ve yet to read to the end…so no spoilers, please.

51t-K-BQDVL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence.

Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in Radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol’s housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war.

Diner believes that Lizzie’s independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him: law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants.

But as Diner’s passion for Lizzie darkens, she soon finds herself dangerously alone.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

I’m not sure what your taste is in romance. There are so many sub-genres to choose from. Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, LGBT, New Adult romance, etc, etc, etc.

Saga Author, Rachel Brimble has a delightful romance series about Pennington’s, Bath’s finest department store you might enjoy.

Brimble_ All Penningtons

Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

Can I cheat and say romantic hero and film star- Denzel Washington. If it means I would get my man, I’d be prepared to travel back in time and experience the perils of Déjà Vu with him any day!

download-1

(Blogger’s Note: Apologies for interrupting your viewing but I could not let this opportunity pass to include a completely gratuitous picture of handsome men in leather trousers. As this is shot from Much Ado About Nothing, it counts as romantic literature and is, therefore, completely relevant to the subject matter of this post. Now back to Arabella.)

But if it’s to be a hero in literature, then it would have to be the Marquis of Alverstoke from the Georgette Heyer novel Frederica, and we’d have the pleasure of a balloon ride across the undulating green fields of Somerset.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

My favourite thing about being a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association is knowing I have one thing in common with other members…the love of romance and books.

And to answer the question about what I have gained from my membership…I’ve gained friends.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Learn the craft of telling a good story. Not just the mechanics of writing and penning a story, (although these skills are important), but unearth the ability that comes with sharing a story around a campfire. Learn how to captivate and hold your readers spellbound to the last word.

Write because you have a story to tell. And don’t worry about becoming an instant bestselling author. Some wise words from an author friend have carried me forward on my writing journey: “Persist. It took me twenty years to become an overnight success…”

So, perhaps there is hope for me yet.

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is a contemporary romance called A Gentleman in Love and you can buy a copy here.

AGentlemanInLove_Ereader - Arabella Sheen

A Christmas wedding and a growing passion. Will a political scandal destroy their love?

Desperate to exonerate her family name of any wrongdoing, Shelby Chesterfield gate-crashes the Foreign Office Christmas party to ask her father’s accuser for help. When Ambassador Samuel Hardwick refuses to cooperate, Shelby is determined to ruin his diplomatic career any way she can, and a chance to do so arrives sooner than she expected.

Caught in a passionate embrace, Shelby puts Sam on the spot and tells journalists they’re engaged. But her plan backfires when Sam turns the tables on her.

Sam wants no commitment to anything or anyone except his career. But when his best friends are killed in a violent terrorist attack, leaving their daughter orphaned and in his care, he has the daunting task of finding a wife and substitute mother, or he will risk losing his newly acquired ward into the foster care system. With time running out, when Shelby asks for help to clear her father’s name in a political scandal, Sam offers support in exchange for a Christmas wedding.

The trouble is…Shelby knows about his ongoing affair with Lady Donna Ruston.

Can Shelby and Sam work together to achieve their goals, or is their winter romance fated to fail before it’s begun?

Content Warning: contains sensual love scenes

About the Author

Arabella Sheen - Author

Arabella Sheen is a British author of Contemporary and Historical sensual romance. Published with Beachwalk Press, she is also a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

One of the many things Arabella loves to do is to read, and when she’s not reading or writing romance novels, she is either on her allotment sowing and planting with the seasons or she can be found curled on the sofa pandering to the demands of her attention-seeking cat.

Having worked and lived in the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands for nearly twenty years, she now lives in the South West of England with her family.

Connect with Arabella:

Website: http://www.arabellasheen.co.uk/

Facebook: Arabella Sheen Author

Twitter: @ArabellaSheen

Blog: http://arabellasheen.blogspot.com/

A Little Book Problem banner

Romancing The Romance Authors… with Jessica Redland

Romancing The Romance Authors

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write uplifting stories of love and friendship set in Yorkshire. There’s always a romance in them but I place a lot of emphasis on exploring friendships and family relationships too. Friendships in particularly fascinate me in the way they can change with time and circumstance.

I went through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and secured a publishing deal with the book I put through that but, after releasing four books with that company, they ceased trading. I republished those titles as an indie author and released several more but decided in 2018 that I wanted to try for a traditional publishing deal again. I was one of the first twenty authors to join the newly-formed Boldwood Books last year and my first book with them, The Secret to Happiness, was released in September 2019. Boldwood acquired my back-catalogue so I’ve had a whopping seven books released through them this year, which included six refreshed re-edited books. Next year, the final two from my back-catalogue will be re-released and at least two new titles.

51iClBa4P3L

Why romance?

I love reading romance books so it felt like a natural choice to write in this genre when I first considered writing a book. I love that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you finish a really good romance novel and the leads whose journey has gripped you have their happy ever after or the promise of it. Lovely. It makes me feel uplifted and happy and who wouldn’t want to feel like that?

What inspires your stories?

Different stories have been inspired by different things. My debut novel, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, tells the story of Sarah who finds a lost recording of a clairvoyant reading from when she was eighteen. Everything has happened so far except one thing: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams and his name is Steven. She relocates back to her childhood home of Whitsborough Bay to take over her auntie’s florist shop and becomes obsessed with meeting Steven. This is inspired by a real-life event where a clairvoyant told me I was going to meet Mr Right and he’d be called Steven. I opened up a specialist teddy bear shop at the time and suddenly Stevens were everywhere. Did I meet him? No. I met (and married) Mark instead so I didn’t find my Steven but I certainly found the inspiration for my story.

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is now the second book in a four-book series and the other three were all inspired by main characters from Sarah’s story, each becoming the main focus of another book. As their characters developed in Seaside Blooms, their stories came to me and I realised I had a series in the making. Most unexpected!

The inspiration for The Secret to Happiness came from the lyrics in a Leona Lewis song. On her ‘Glassheart’ album, there’s a song called ‘Unlove Me’ and, in the chorus, she laments “wish I could tell you goodbye”. It’s all about needing her partner to unlove her/let her go because she loves him too much to make the decision to walk away even though she knows the relationship is toxic, they’re both unfaithful to each other and it needs to end. This got me thinking about other scenarios where someone might have to let go but is struggling to do so and I came up with quite a few. This became the premise of The Secret to Happiness in which there are three women who are each struggling to say goodbye to someone or something. It explores whether, when they meet at a beach-based bootcamp run by one of them, the power of friendship can help them say goodbye.

I’ve had a couple of lovely moments where a random character I’ve introduced in a book has arrived fully-formed with an entire story of their own. Boldwood have re-released two of my Christmas books – Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café – which were both developed in this way. Very serendipitous!

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

When I was in my twenties, I read my first Jill Mansell book – Millie’s Fling and absolutely loved it. I’d never read a romcom before. Shortly after that, I read Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes and loved that too. Those two amazing authors inspired me so much and I still read and love their work today.

I have been a fan of Lucy Diamond, Paige Toon, Lisa Jewell, Alexandra Potter and Sophie Kinsella for many years but, more recently, have enjoyed books by Samantha Tonge and Holly Martin. I’m really good friends with Sharon Booth and am lucky enough to beta read her books which are absolutely gorgeous. I’ve also been reading a lot of books by fellow Boldwood authors and have discovered some amazing writers, some of whom are debuts and others who’ve had many books out there. I’d better not name them all as it would be a long list and I’d be mortified if I inadvertently missed someone out!

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

Oh my goodness, that is a hard question! There are soooo many so I’m going to completely narrow it down to the last handful I’ve read. I’ve loved them all but I actually laughed out loud at Time Out by Emma Murray and it’s very rare I do that with a book so I will go for that one as we all need a little cheer in our lives just now.

41RjzqktczL

Mother of one and professional writer Saoirse (pronounced Seersha, not Searcy – thanks a bunch Game of Thrones!) is still adjusting to the demands of motherhood, four years after the birth of her daughter, Anna.

Living in the claustrophobic London suburb of Woodvale, and being surrounded by passive-aggressive mum-wars, isn’t helping. Neither is her increasingly pent-up anger at her once-perfect husband. Her only comrade in arms, best friend Bea, is the one thing keeping her sane.

When Saoirse’s agent asks her to pitch for a book, she is horrified to discover the topic is motherhood. How can she possibly write a ‘warts and all’ account of being a mother without giving away what it’s really like?

Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

Another super tricky question! Like so many authors, I completely fall in love with all of my leading men so would happily go away with any of them (just don’t tell hubby!) As for more famous ones, I’d need to go back to one I read a very long time ago and a different era: Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery. I loved the books and I adored the TV series from the mid-80s. Jonathan Crombie, RIP, was so dreamy in that role and really brought the character to life.

For my romantic weekend with Gilbert Blythe, I’d love to spend it in a gorgeous wooden property with a wrap-around porch on Prince Edward Island as it looks beautiful. I honeymooned in Canada in British Columbia and would love to go back and explore a different part.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

I’m going to be greedy and pick two things.

I joined the New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) in 2012 and put my debut novel through the scheme twice and the sequel through in my third year, after which my debut found a publishing deal. I found the feedback from my first two readers absolutely invaluable in shaping my novel and giving me the confidence to send it out into the world and hopefully secure a publishing deal.

My second thing is the people I have met. I’m part of a ten-strong writing collective called The Write Romantics. We were all unpublished NWS members when we met virtually and we’ve been together for 7.5 years now. We don’t blog or do much collective promotion anymore but we provide a support group for the highs and lows of the writing journey and I value that so much. I’d never have met my little writing family without the RNA.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Specific to this genre, I’d say to really think about the type of romance writer you want to be and the best way to do this is to read widely in the genre. What type of book excites you and makes you turn those pages? Perhaps that’s the type of book you might want to write. There’s so much variety across the genre and thinking about where you see your fit will help shape your characters and your story. A publisher will typically want to see a clear fit but if you’re going down an indie route, you do have more flexibility on doing something a little different.

I know it says one piece but my other piece of advice is related. It’s to write from the heart, not to try and chase a trend, and to write because you couldn’t imagine not doing so. If you’re passionate about, and believe in, what you’re writing, that should come across to readers.

Tell us about your latest book.

My first nine books are all set in a fictional North Yorkshire seaside town called Whitsborough Bay but I changed location for book ten and the start of a brand new series. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow was released in July and, although the protagonist is from Whitsborough Bay, the location moves inland onto the Yorkshire Wolds. You can buy the book in all formats here.

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow

Can love really be found when you stop looking for it…? 

As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.

But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas – a lonely, grumpy elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow – her life is about to change forever.

Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfil Thomas and his wife, Gwendoline’s, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and to open a hedgehog rescue centre.

Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it…

About the Author

Hedghog to side

Jessica lives in Scarborough on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast – the inspiration behind the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay – with her husband, teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel, Ella.

She’s a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn’t love her), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.

Her career has mainly been in HR as a trainer and recruiter but, in June 2020, she became a full-time author. She’s so very grateful to anyone who has bought or borrowed her books in whatever format, helping her fulfil a long-held dream of writing full-time. She still can’t believe she gets to spend every day chatting to her fictional friends and making stuff up.

Connect with Jessica:

Website: https://www.jessicaredland.com

Blog: https://jessicaredlandwriter.wordpress.com

Facebook: Jessica Redland Author

Twitter: @JessicaRedland

Instagram: @jessicaredlandauthor

Pinterest: jessicaredlandauthor

A Little Book Problem banner

Romancing The Romance Authors… with Stefania Hartley

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today I am welcoming to the blog, author Stefania Hartley, to be forensically grilled on being a writer of romance.

Welcome to the blog, Stefania. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey. 

I write contemporary romance/romantic comedy and short stories for women’s magazines. Sun, Stars and Limoncello is my first full-length novel.

Why romance?

I love reading romance and I love writing it. There’s nothing like the thrill of falling in love!

What inspires your stories?

Most of my characters are inspired by people I’ve known or met and found interesting. Once I’ve decided on my hero or heroine, I imagine who would be the last person they’d want to fall in love with, and I put them in a situation where they just can’t help it.  

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I love Helen Fielding for her amazing humour, I fell in love with Beth O’Leary’s incredibly sweet hero in The Flatshare, I enjoyed Helen Hoang’s steamy The Kiss Quotient, and I’ve just discovered Talia Hibbert with the Brown sisters series. I was swept by Elizabeth Enfield’s Ivy and Abe, and I like Sarah Morgan’s style. There are many other romance authors that I like, but I’m leaving out all the ones that I know personally, just to make sure I’m being objective.

I adored The Flatshare! (Cute fact: Helen Fielding and I went to the same school, although not at the same time. Joanne Harris also went there!) If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

This is another difficult question, because I would probably recommend Bridget Jones’s Diary, but I guess that you have already read it.  

51x2jkdVnRL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

A dazzlingly urban satire on modern relationships?
An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family?
Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

As Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.

Welcome to Bridget’s first diary: mercilessly funny, endlessly touching and utterly addictive.

Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I would spend my perfect romantic weekend with Mr Darcy at his ‘place’, possibly frolicking in the pond while he wears the famous white shirt. 

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The RNA is a wonderful family. I have never felt so understood as in the RNA. I don’t think that family and friends can ‘get’ a writer like another writer can, because we are all a little obsessed. And nobody can understand a romance writer quite like another romance writer or a romance reader, and in the RNA we are all both things. 

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Read a lot of romance books because there is an enormous variety within the genre, and readers have specific expectations from each subcategory of romance. A tip to writers in general: develop a thick skin against rejections and arm yourself with shiploads of perseverance. 

Tell us about your latest book.

Sun, Stars and Limoncello is my first full-length novel and it is set in Sicily. You can buy a copy here.

978-1-83943-410-5_SunStarsAndLimoncello_200x320

Sonia believes that men equal heartache and disaster. Brad has sworn never to love a woman again. It’s a pity they’re so irresistibly attracted to one another.

After her traumatic teenage years, Sonia’s teaching job would be the best thing that has happened to her if it weren’t for Brad Wilson. Her arrogant, standoffish colleague never fails to rub her the wrong way. But when she’s faced with the choice between canceling the school trip to Sicily or accepting his ungraceful help, she swallows her pride and resigns herself to spending an entire week in close quarters with him. Little does she know just how close.

A tragedy from his past still haunts Brad, and he’s sworn never to let his heart be shredded by grief again. Loving another woman is not in the cards. That’s why his petite olive-skinned colleague is so very dangerous.

What could possibly go wrong when their mutual destination is one of the most romantic places in the world?

About the Author

Profile picture April 19

Stefania Hartley, also known as The Sicilian Mama, was born in Sicily and immediately started growing, but not very much. She left her sunny island after falling head over heels in love with an Englishman, and she’s lived all over the world with him and their three children. Having finally learnt English, she enjoyed it so much that she started writing stories and nobody has been able to stop her since. She loves to write about hot and sunny places like her native Sicily, and she especially likes it when people fall in love. Her short stories have been longlisted, commended and won prizes. Sun, Stars and Limoncello is her first novel and is a contender in the Joan Hessayon Award.

Connect with Stefania:

Website: https://www.stefaniahartley.com/

Facebook: Stefania Hartley Author

Twitter: @TheSicilianMama

A Little Book Problem banner

Romancing The Romance Authors… with Suzanne Snow

Romancing The Romance Authors

Very excited to have my next guest on my new feature where I quiz romance authors on what inspires them. This week I am joined by author Suzanne Snow.

Welcome to the blog, Suzanne. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write contemporary romance and my books are set in rural and/or village locations. After joining the RNA two years ago, I was offered representation by Susan Yearwood Agency following the 2019 Conference and signed a 3 book deal with Canelo this year.

Why romance?

I love the expectation of following a developing relationship to an uplifting ending and a romantic or inspirational setting is a big part of the story for me. 

What inspires your stories?

Very often it’s a landscape; perhaps a walk I’ve done in a beautiful area or an old house and garden with a story to tell. Sometimes it can be character driven, when a person pops into my mind and I begin to think of their life and where that might be taking them.

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

I loved Jilly Cooper and Danielle Steel in the early days; now I read everything by Karen Swan for her ability to bring a setting to life and craft a love story from unexpected circumstances. Audrey Harrison for Regency and Ella Hayes for Mills and Boon are two new favourites and I’ve discovered many wonderful authors through the RNA, Kate Field and Christina Courtney being just two examples.

So many of my favourite authors mentioned there, and the odd RNA friend! If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

The Perfect Present by Karen Swan, it was the first of her books I read. I loved it for the world unfamiliar to me that she depicted and the developing love story between characters with no obvious place to go. 

51uvLMMI2SL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

Haunted by a past she can’t escape, Laura Cunningham desires nothing more than to keep her world small and precise – her quiet relationship and growing jewellery business are all she needs to get by. Until the day when Rob Blake walks into her studio and commissions a necklace that will tell his enigmatic wife Cat’s life in charms.

As Laura interviews Cat’s family, friends and former lovers, she steps out of her world and into theirs – a charmed world where weekends are spent in Verbier and the air is lavender-scented, where friends are wild, extravagant and jealous, and a big love has to compete with grand passions.

Hearts are opened, secrets revealed and as the necklace begins to fill up with trinkets, Cat’s intoxicating life envelops Laura’s own. By the time she has to identify the final charm, Laura’s metamorphosis is almost complete. But the last story left to tell has the power to change all of their lives forever, and Laura is forced to choose between who she really is and who it is she wants to be.

Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

It would be with Frederick Wentworth from Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I like a hero who is sensitive, and I think he would view marriage as a partnership as far as he was able in those days. The perfect weekend would be spent in walking in the countryside with time to relax somewhere scenic or a city break exploring galleries and museums. I’d probably include dinner at The Old Stamp House in Ambleside as it’s one of my favourite restaurants

Oh, I love him. Writer of possibly the most romantic love letter that exists in literature! What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The community of friendship and support I’ve found in the RNA and the brilliance of Conference for learning and making friends. I’ve definitely learned a lot since joining, and the 1-2-1’s at Conference gave me both confidence in my writing and the opportunity of agency representation.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

If they’re not in the RNA, then join as soon as possible! And if they are, then do get involved via social media and absolutely go to Conference if they possibly can. The RNA offers so much in the way of teaching, community and being amongst people who love and understand what we do.

Tell us about your latest book.

The Cottage of New Beginnings is a heart-warming village love story for fans of Julie Houston, Victoria Walters and Trisha Ashley. It is out now as an ebook and you can buy it here.

The Cottage of New Beginnings Cover

One crumbling cottage. One broken heart. A chance to start over?

When Annie returns to Thorndale, the village where she spent much of her childhood, she’s looking for a new start. All she wants to do is fix up the cottage her godmother left her and fix up her broken heart.

When she clashes with local hero, Jon, Annie can’t help but wonder if coming back to Thorndale was a mistake. The village has clearly changed and the last thing she needs is more drama. But avoiding the distractingly handsome Jon is proving impossible, especially when Thorndale seems to be conspiring to throw them together…

Annie is looking for a fresh start with zero romance – but what if the only way to learn to trust again is to take a risk on love?

About the Author

Suzanne Snow Headshot Low Res

Suzanne Snow writes contemporary, romantic and uplifting fiction with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of her characters. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found in a garden or looking to the landscape around her for inspiration.

Connect with Suzanne:

Website: https://www.suzannesnowauthor.com

Facebook: Suzanne Snow Author

Twitter: @SnowProse

If you are a romance author and think you would enjoy answering this random assortment of questions about writing romance, please do get in touch and you can take part in a future instalment of Romancing The Romance Authors.

A Little Book Problem banner