Romance writers blog central

After two terrific festivals, here’s a round-up of essential blog posts for budding writers – straight from the horse’s mouth, the pen nib, the authors’ fingers… and don’t forget to check out We heart new talenta competition to bag a publishing contract.

Tips and tricks for the writing process

Promoting yourself and your book


Drawing on the personal

Perseverance and support

Looking at the market

Romance fan blog central

Here’s a round-up of blogs for romance fans from many wonderful authors – blogs about romance fiction in all its guises, about all genres and full of tips for your own romantic lives. (If you’re a writer, there are lots of very valuable tips and tricks here)

Romance has many faces

Writing Romance

Tips for your romantic life

We Heart New Talent!

Three imprints. Three winners. Three future romance stars.

carina logo Print RGB-HarperImpulse-3

Digital first imprints HarperImpulse, Avon Maze & Carina UK are joining forces to bring exciting new talent to the romance world! The three lucky winners of our We Heart New Talent competition will win a publishing contract with us!

The competition comprises of three romance categories –

Avon Maze: Comedies

Carina UK: Weepies

HarperImpulse: Seasonal

All you need to do is pick the category you think will best suit your book! One winner will be picked for each category and the prize will be a publishing contract with the corresponding imprint.

To enter please send a synopsis, three chapters of your novel and your contact information to either for HarperImpulse & Maze or for Carina with the subject line ‘We Heart New Talent’ BEFORE midnight BST 1st March 2015.

Need help making the decision? Well find out a little bit more about the categories below…

Welcome to Carina UK. We love authors. We love books and we can’t wait to read your story!

As a boutique imprint of a much larger publisher, we regularly hit the digital bestseller charts – all around the world, finding your fans wherever they may be!  Our passionate team are dedicated to working with authors to build up your author brands, delivering the most competitive digital cover and implementing innovative and bespoke marketing campaigns. Our goal is simple – to make your book the success it deserves to be.

‘Weepies’… A word we associate with soppy romances that have us all reaching for the tissues…but during this Romance Festival we want to redefine ‘weepies’! It’s not just about getting your readers to have tears streaming down their faces, dripping onto their eReaders, it’s about having the reader so involved with your characters and your plot that they can’t help but get emotionally hooked on your story. We are looking for a story that will have our hearts thumping and our fingers tensed over the next page button desperate to know what will happen next. A story full of characters we cannot stop talking (raving!) about. This can come in the form of a novel about family, love and heart or a sweeping romance between two people – as with love there are no strict rules… So here we go, let’s write outside the lines and redefine this word – claim it back as our own!


Maze is the brand new, innovative digital-first imprint from Avon books. For the past seven years, Avon has been the market-leader in commercial fiction, with bestselling authors including Mhairi McFarlane, Miranda Dickinson, Julia Williams, and Claudia Carroll amongst many others.

More recently, they have seen stand-out success with their ebooks, and this lead to the formation of Maze in September 2014. Whilst it may only be a young imprint, Maze has already seen standout success with Catherine Ferguson’s runaway Christmas bestseller, Humbugs and Heartstrings.

Maze publishes a wide range of fiction but right now we’re on the lookout for anything that will make us laugh. We’re looking for fresh, fun and memorable stories that will warm our hearts and make us smile in equal measure. So if you think that you’ve got what it takes to be the next fabulous author on Maze’s list then get in touch. We can’t wait to hear from you!


Winner of the Festival of Romance’s Publisher Innovation Award & the hosts of the UK’s first online Romance Festival, since it’s launch in May 2013 HarperImpulse has led the trends of digital publishing and hit the bestseller charts, including Christmas #1 this year with Debbie Johnson’s Cold Feet at Christmas!

Publishing an exciting new range of romance fiction brought to you from the women’s fiction team at HarperCollins, we’re leading the way in being digital first and print second with every novel we publish also going into print. Our aim is to break new talent from debut authors and import the hottest trends from the US, bringing you the very best in romance and commercial women’s fiction. Whether that is through short reads for your mobile phone or epic sagas that span the generations we want to proudly publish romance fiction that gets everybody talking. And everyone is talking about HarperImpulse!

Yes yes yes… when you say the word seasonal you immediately think of Christmas. And we love the festive season just as much as the next cotton-headed ninny-muggins. December comes round (well, September, let’s be honest) and we can’t get enough of eggnog lattes, mince pies, the warming aroma of mulled wine and all the glitz and glamour of party season. It’s also a time for being with your family and friends, remembering and being thankful for what you have… who didn’t cry at that Sainsbury’s advert last year?! And there’s nothing more romantic than a secret kiss beneath twinkling fairy lights as the snow falls softly all around… Christmas really lends itself to romance, doesn’t it?!

BUT seasonal can mean other times of the year too…


Yes we are also looking for seasonal stories besides Christmas. So all the OTHER holidays too. Mother’s Day. Halloween. Easter. Kwanza. Hanukkah. Galentine’s Day (see Parks & Rec if you don’t know the reference). Not to mention all those gorgeously summery beach reads.

If you have a beautiful, unique, intriguing love story set at a particular time of the year then we would love to read it. HarperImpulse is looking for seasonal stories and we want yours!


For full terms and conditions click here.

Announcing: Cressida McLaughlin & HarperFiction Deal!

Kate Bradley at Harper Fiction has bought World rights for two books from debut author Cressida McLaughlin. The first will be published as a series in four separate e-book instalments and will tell the heart-warming and witty story of a young woman, Cat, who sets up a dog-walking business in and around the locale of Primrose Terrace. The series will follow the lives and loves of the residents and their adorable doggy charges and will appeal to fans of Lucy Diamond, Cathy Bramley and Trisha Ashley.


The first e-book, Wellies and Westies, will launch in spring 2015 and will be followed with Sunshine and SpanielsRaincoats and Retrievers and Tinsel and Terriers over the coming year. A complete physical edition, Primrose Terrace, will feature all four instalments plus extra bonus material and will be published in November 2015.

Bradley says: ‘Series publishing has really taken off recently and readers in the commercial women’s fiction market have shown that they love consuming their fiction in this way. Dogs are always a perennial fiction favourite, and this has been a real labour of love for Cressida; her natural warmth and her boundless love of dogs totally spill out of every page. I’m utterly thrilled to be publishing in this exciting area with such a knock-out concept and with such a great new voice in the genre.’

Cressida has been a reviewer for the book blogging site Novelicious, and in 2014 her short story was published in the second edition of the Sunlounger anthology. Primrose Terrace is her debut novel. She says: ‘I’m over the moon to be working with Kate Bradley and HarperCollins on such an exciting new project. I’ve enjoyed reading some of the recent, bite-sized fiction, and I can’t wait to share my stories with readers in this way. It’s definitely a dream come true!’

Cressida will be taking part in the HarperCollins Romance Festival 2015 this weekend, in a Google Hangout with author Katy Regan tomorrow at 7pm. For more information visit the WordPress here or follow #Romance15 on twitter.

Catherine Ferguson’s Book Deal Moment – #Romance15

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by books – reading them and writing them. I devoured everything by Enid Blyton as a kid and was always trying to write my own full-length mystery/adventure stories.

At university in Dundee, I studied English then landed a pretty cool job as Fiction Editor on Patches teenage magazine. After that, I worked as a sub-editor on a couple of newspapers in Scotland, before moving to Surrey where – in a complete change of career direction – I established Surrey Organics, delivering fresh organic fruit and veg to people’s homes. (My veggie adventures were the inspiration for my very first attempt at a book, which is still in a drawer.)

Then five years ago, I had a bit of a mid-life crisis/wake-up call. It involved a Big Birthday looming on the horizon and the fact that a spell trading the financial markets (yet another career change) was proving stressful and ultimately rather scary. Did I really want to spend my days glued to a computer screen watching financial indices going up and down? Wasn’t it high time I actually got down to business and finally tried writing that book? So that’s what I set out to do.

When I started, I gave myself a year in which to write a book and find a publisher (duh!) Looking back, I can’t believe how ridiculously naïve I was. It ended up taking five times that long!

Those years were pretty bleak, financially. When my savings ran out, I knew I’d struggle to find a job that would fit around school hours, so I set myself up as a self-employed cleaner. I went out cleaning during the day and used every spare minute in between jobs – plus evenings and weekends – to work on the book. It was exhausting but something kept driving me on – although there were definitely times when I questioned my sanity! I had embarked on a mentoring course with The Literary Consultancy (TLC) which was tremendously helpful – and by the end, I had my first completed manuscript. Becky at TLC decided it showed promise and began sending it out to agents. Seven months of nail-biting and four rejections later, I finally got a ‘yes’ from the wonderful HHB Agency. With their support and guidance I wrote Humbugs & Heartstrings – which took another year – then Elly, my agent, began sending it out to publishers. That was the most nerve-racking time of all. To have come so far but not to make it all the way would have been devastating. Three rejections rolled in as I held my breath.

Then . . . on 26th August 2014 I received a very special phone call from Elly. She told me that Avon editor Helen Huthwaite loved the book and wanted to publish it. Not only that, but she was setting up a brand new ‘digital first’ imprint called Maze – and she wanted Humbugs & Heartstrings to be the book to launch it! I was so elated, I could barely speak.

The house was frustratingly empty at the time (no-one to hear my disbelieving squeaks of delight) so I went for a long, fast walk in the woods to try and get my head round the fact that finally, finally it was happening! I think I floated most of the way. I got back to the house an hour later and there was still no-one home – so I did the walk again. I couldn’t think what else to do. I had so much nervous energy, I just had to burn it off otherwise I might have spontaneously combusted!!

I’ve been celebrating ever since . . .

Catherine Ferguson is the author of Humbugs & Heartstrings. You can find her on Twitter @catherine_ann_f.

Think Like a Man: The Guy’s Romance Playbook – Nic Tatano #Romance15

Nic Tatano is a male author writing romance – here, he talks about the reactions he gets about writing from the female perspective… 

Nope, we’re not talkin’ about the movie with Kevin Hart. This is about your fictional heroes, the ones you create who will live happily ever after with your heroines. As you’re writing these imaginary guys, have you ever wondered what’s going on inside the heads of real men? (Long pause for your sarcastic comments like “Not much!” or “Beer!”)

As a guy who writes romance, I’m always amazed at the reactions I get from female authors when they discover I do so by writing my heroine in the first person. They basically ask, “How does a guy get inside the head of a woman?” as if you gals have some impenetrable force field. This is generally followed by a look of fear which says, “Oh (expletive), a man has cracked the code and figured us out! Change the combination!” Trust me, it would be easier for the average guy to decipher the Rosetta Stone.

But step back a minute. All writers create characters of both sexes. Female romance authors do whip up Mister Right from scratch all the time. Yet no one ever questions how a woman author can write from a man’s point of view. Why it surprises people that I do the opposite still amazes me.

Okay, you didn’t read this far unless you wanted a peek into the male romance playbook, which is what we’re going to discuss during this week’s festival on Sunday. I’ll answer any questions about why men act the way they do, how guys think about women, dating strategy, the dating type versus the marrying type, fear of picking up the phone, and anything else you can think of that will help you take up residence inside the head of your hero.

For example, I might discuss the different kinds of lies men tell on first dates, since they’ll pretty much agree with a woman on anything to let her think they have stuff in common. There’s the casual bending of the truth: “I’ve heard great things about Downton Abbey, I’ll be sure to watch it.” Or the say-anything-to-get-a-second-date bold faced lie: “I’d love to go with you to the Celine Dion concert.”

We might talk about things that strike fear into men, like women who talk about having children during a first date. That screeching sound you heard is one of the man leaving skid marks.

So what wheels are turning in our heads? How sentimental are we? Do we really like your cat? Are we actually listening to you or just giving you the bobblehead? Would we like it if you took the initiative in the romance department? What do we look for in a soul mate?

So drop by and let’s chat. Hopefully it will help you get inside our heads. (But you probably won’t stay long, since, let’s face it, we’re all basically sloppy.)

Follow Nic on twitter!