The end #BFILoveFest

BFI The ENd image

A HUGE thank you to everyone who has taken part in this weekend’s #BFILoveFest. It’s been great fun, hasn’t it?

We only know if we’re on the right tracks if you tell us – please answer 6 questions to help us keep improving these festivals. HERE 

Do find out more about the authors and bloggers involved in the festival.

If you’re a writer and want tips, ideas and inspiration from other romance authors and editors check out these blogs now.

And if you love romance in all its guises, you’ll enjoy these blogs

BFI events and films

There are many wonderful events happening at the BFI running until the end of December 2015, check them out hereAnd they also have wonderful films available on the BFI Player 

If you want to find out more about the Romance Festival, our authors or books, then email us at romancefestival@harpercollins.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Inspiration

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

The Magic Mailbox by Lisa Fox #Romance15

Where do you get your ideas from?

Every writer on earth is asked that question at some point. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, the answer is, “everywhere.” And while it is the only honest response I can give, I know it’s completely unsatisfying. It lacks mystic. Drama. Passion. Story.

But ideas really do come from everywhere and everything. Even the most mundane and trivial things can inspire great stories. And just to illustrate how true it is, allow me to offer an example—a walkthrough of sorts—of how an idea is formed.

Imagine this if you will:

A woman is walking down her street, headed for home. She carries two plastic shopping bags filled with the ingredients for her evening meal. The day is gorgeous. The air is warm, the sun is shining. There is a light breeze to cool her brow as she walks, and it brings with it the delicious scents of spring, of fresh cut grass and flowers and barbeques. Children run through the yard across the street, screaming and squealing with glee as they play, and the woman smiles as she passes them.

She mounts the steps of her home and pauses by the mailbox. It is a plain, black box, mounted next to the front door. The cover is a slightly ajar, which probably means there is mail inside. The woman generally does not get actual, physical mail anymore, all of her bills come to her online, and almost all of her correspondence nowadays is through email, so this is something of an anomaly.

Her eyebrows furrow. What could possibly come by the regular mail that can’t be sent electronically instead? Most likely it’s going to be ads or some other kind of junk, but then again, maybe not. She sets the groceries down and reaches for the lid. She opens the box and peers inside…

What does she find in that mailbox? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to know!

Lisa Fox’s latest book is Her Perfect Lips. You can get in touch with her on Twitter!

Using Your Experiences to Fuel Your Stories #Romance15

My latest release, HER KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR, starts off with the hero and heroine camping in a national park. Not only do I have a lot of experience with camping, I know the park it’s set in quite well.  My father loved camping and our summer vacations were spent camping while I was growing up.  We went to a lot of great places and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to see and do so many things.  But here’s the thing…  While camping has elements that make it romantic in a story, the reality for me is, I don’t like it.  Pretty much loathe it.  Since I left home, my vacations have been spent sleeping in a hotel.  Therefore, I thought I’d share a list of five things I hate about camping.  I could come up with a lot more than five, but we don’t have that kind of time!

1.  Scary Animals

Bears in tent

This is a picture of a bear in a tent, but there are more scary animals in the woods than just bears!  Mountain lions, coyotes, moose, elk, etc.  I have a bear and a buck do some damage in my story.

2.  Creepy crawlies

spider tent

Or in other words, BUGS.  On one of our camping trips when I was about ten, the mayflies had just hatched and they were EVERYWHERE. I had nightmares about them that night and for years afterwards.  Never mind nasties like scary spiders and blood-sucking ticks!  And let’s not forget those annoying ants and mosquitoes.  I’ll never forget that scene in Arachnophobia where the guy is sleeping in a tent and the spider… Well, enough said.  Don’t want to think about that anymore.

3.  No bathrooms

outhouse

Some people don’t really care about this, but I’m not one of them.  I hate outhouses, I hate going to the bathroom in the woods (see reasons 1 and 2).  One year, we were camping in a tent trailer and my mom had a portable toilet set up in the middle of the room for us kids to use during the night.  Not only was I a little freaked out by the lack of privacy, when I was desperate enough to use it, it fell apart and you-know-what went all over the place.  EW!

4.  It can get stupid cold!

I don’t tolerate cold very well, so this is a bit of an issue for me.  Freezing my butt of while trying to sleep is not my idea of a good time.  Sorry!

5.  Cooking outside

I really should have been a princess.  I don’t like cooking, I don’t like cleaning, I don’t like being uncomfortable.  All these things go hand in hand with camping.  So, having to cook outside on a campfire or camp stove.  No thanks.  I’m supposed to be on vacation, I don’t want to cook.  And now I have to do it under more difficult circumstances?  Outside?  Where’s the closest restaurant?

Here’s the crazy part in all this.  I love reading stories where the hero and heroine are in the wilderness whether it’s in the mountains or the rainforest or any other kind of wilderness.  I enjoy writing them too and thanks to my father’s love of camping, I know plenty about the subject and the places you go to do it.  Something about it seems so romantic, even though living it, for me, is far from it.  Let me know what you think.  How do you feel about camping? Yea or Nay and why?

Follow Robyn on Twitter!

5 Things I Have Learnt From Writing My Debut Novel – Julie Stock #Romance15

Julie Stock

Now the euphoria of having finished my debut novel From Here to Nashville has died down a little, I have no more excuses to stop me from starting the rewrite of book two. Just so you know, this is the book that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month 2013, yes, nearly 14 months ago! After NaNoWriMo and a few more writing chunks some months later, it stood at 80,000 words. Not bad for a first draft, I hear you cry!

However, when I got to that point and read it all through, I could see that the story had veered off in the wrong direction and that I was really going to have my work cut out to get it back on track. So it has been really easy to put off doing anything to move book two forward, especially as I’ve been so busy with finishing my first novel and getting it ready for self-publication this month.

Last weekend, I decided I had to get on with it at last. I have been thinking about it on and off for weeks and adding new thoughts to my outline so when I went back and reread it, things didn’t seem so bad. By the end of the first day of work on it, I had almost finished my first rewrite of chapter one and I was buzzing with excitement for my new story, which was a great feeling. I could also see that I’d grown as a writer since the very first rewrite of From Here to Nashville and it was a pleasure to implement some of the things I’d learnt from that experience as I was actually writing.

So here are some tips I’d like to share with you today.

  1. You don’t need to write your characters’ names into every single line of dialogue. As long as it is clear who is talking, your reader will be fine without the reminder. When you think about it, you hardly ever say the name of the person you are talking to because it’s not necessary. I only use my husband’s name for example, if I’m calling him from afar. I certainly don’t use it in texts or on the phone but my writing was littered with names. I have been really brutal about cutting them out and the result is much more realistic dialogue. Similarly, don’t put in too many examples of ‘er’ and ‘oh’ etc because they clog up the dialogue.
  2. The reader does not necessarily need to have the timeline spelt out for them, even if you need to know it to make sure it’s consistent. I had put in dates for all my scenes in From Here to Nashville, partly to help me keep on top of the timeline but also to show the whirlwind nature of the romance. I have now taken them all out because I could see that I had explained the timeline in other ways so the dates weren’t necessary. I have also put days into my second book, which I’m going to keep there for now but as I progress through my drafts, I will finally remove them. As well as this, my scenes often started in the morning and ended in the evening to give me a structure to work through and to show time passing so I had to work hard to vary this and not start and finish the same way all the time.
  3. To help with pace, it’s a good idea to check the length of your sentences and your paragraphs. A shorter sentence every now and then moves the action forward and keeps your reader reading. If you start a new paragraph every time a new action occurs, it makes reading easier and maintains the pace and excitement for the reader. You don’t need an empty line between paragraphs either, you just need to go to the next line. This formatting issue took me ages to put right. An empty line signals a new scene.
  4. As a new writer, it is very easy to fall into the trap of over-describing physical movements. By this I mean, the ‘then I did this, then I did that’ style of writing. More often than not, you can cut this and jump straight to the action because that is what your reader will do and if they’re skimming your words, not reading them, they’re going to feel disappointed when they get to the end of the story. This is especially useful at the start of chapters, which don’t need to be bogged down with interior monologue like ‘The next day dawned bright with another beautiful blue sky,’ for example. Instead, jump straight to the action and draw your reader in.
  5. By the time I sent my book to be professionally edited, I still hadn’t included enough detailed description of people and settings. Even my hero, Jackson needed to be better described the first time Rachel saw him. I think that I’d made it a glimpse for the reader like it was for her but the reader wants more than that so I had to rewrite that first sight of him to include a lot more detail. Similarly, I needed to develop some of my descriptions of settings, from quaysides, to weddings, to apartments and much more detail about Nashville and its iconic sights.

These are just a few of the things I had to deal with when I got my final edit back but they are all things I’m taking on with me to book two. The new book is set in France, in the picturesque region of Alsace, which is near the German border (see the photo above). It is a story about self-discovery, as well as being a romance. I hope you find these tips helpful and I would love to hear your comments on them.

 

You can keep in touch with Julie via her website, ‘My Writing Life’ www.juliestock.wordpress.com. She is also on Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook.

Her debut novel From Here to Nashville is out on 16th February, 2015: 
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1tdMhqX
Amazon US – http://amzn.to/1C5yzJT

Genevieve Gannon’s PR Tips for Authors at Any Stage – #Romance15

Genevieve Gannon is an Australian journalist and eBook author who used her knowledge of the media to attract national news and television coverage for her debut novel Husband Hunters. Here she shares some tips.

As a digital author you may have been told not to waste time approaching newspapers or major websites for coverage. While it’s true editors are bombarded with press releases every day it is also true that they are always on the lookout for a good story. The key is to sell it to them.

There are a lot of ways do this. But the most important tip I have is this:

Sell the content not the book.

Pick a few themes your book addresses and write pieces that you can use to promote your work. You will have a far greater chance of placing an article if it explores an issue, rather than if it’s a glorified ad.

For example, my book’s themes are: the man drought, marriage, single professional women, dating and friendship.

I wrote stories about marriage trends and dating that were published nationally. None of the articles directly sold my book, but they did include a promo and a link to my website that were seen by thousands.

The best bit is the publishers will promote them – and you – through social media in a bid to drive traffic to their site.

Call for back-up.

Find the relevent voices for your chosen topic and line up some interviews. When writing a story on dating apps I interviewed a people who had used them and two app creators. As a general rule, if you rely on your own voice as the only “source” for your articles you will be less likely to find a publisher.

Personalise it.

When pitching to big publications don’t send anything to the general email address. Find a selection of writers you think might be interested in your story and write tailored emails to them. If their email addresses aren’t published with their bylines and a quick Google search doesn’t help take yourself over to Twitter and search their name. Most journalists put their email address in their profile.

Pitch like a pro.

Writing a press release is the opposite to writing fiction. Authors start with a little information then build to a climax. News stories and by extension press releases are the opposite. They have to grab a reader’s attention immediately. Pick the most interesting thing about your book, or the theme you have selected, and start there.

Good luck!

Genevieve Gannon’s debut novel Husband Hunters was published by HarperCollins Australia. You can find her on Twitter @gen_gannon or visit her website genevievegannon.com. Her second, as yet untitled novel, will be released on May 1.