Friday, November 24, 2017

Maxine Morrey: Why Romantic Fiction Novels Are Important

Today we welcome Maxine Morrey to the RNA Blog. 

Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first, she won a handful of book tokens - perfect for a bookworm! 

As time went by, she continued to write, but 'normal' work often got in the way. She has written articles on a variety of subjects, as well as a book on Brighton for a Local History publisher. However, novels are what she loves writing the most. After self publishing her first novel when a contract fell through thanks to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities. 

In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK's 'Write Christmas' competition with her romantic comedy, 'Winter's Fairytale'.

Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words loves to read sew and listen to podcasts. As she also likes cake she can also be found either walking or doing something vaguely physical at the gym.

You can find out more about Maxine on her website, facebook, or on twitter, instagram and pinterest @ScribblerMaxi. 

Over to you Maxine...

A few months ago, there was an article in The Guardian that alerted us to a new genre of books now proving serious competition for the incredibly popular ‘grip lit’ and its domination of the book charts. This new genre is about empathy, kindness and hope. It’s been christened ‘Uplit’.
Except it’s not a new genre at all. Not really. All these attributes are at the forefront of romantic fiction. The article may have specifically excluded romance in its description but ask any reader what romantic fiction means to them and the most common answer is ‘hope’. And in a dark world, hope is exactly what we need.
For years, romantic fiction has taken a bit of a bashing by those who feel that what we write has no relevance to the world we live in. Which just goes to show exactly how uninformed these opinions are. Romantic fiction is entirely relevant to the world, and it has been offering empathy and hope, love and kindness to its readers for generations.
Romantic fiction is escapism. That’s the point of it. It’s really the point of novels as a whole. They take us to places. With darker fiction it may not be a place we want to go. It’s a place we read about and are thankful not to be there. But romantic fiction is total escapism. We read the words and are absorbed, drawn into the world created so carefully by the author, and we want to be there. We feel a connection with the characters, laughing when they laugh and feeling their pain when hearts are damaged. Romantic fiction authors work hard to create empathy – the exact thing that the article claims as a new aspect in fiction. It’s not new. It’s just been overlooked until now.
What seems to be so misunderstood is the range that romantic fiction encompasses. Some books tackle incredibly deep, traumatic issues whilst others are lighter in tone, but this doesn’t mean they should be dismissed. We want books that explore things but we also want books that makes us laugh. Sometimes we want books that do both. And if we look, we will always find exactly what we’re looking for. The breadth of the genre is expansive.
And the most brilliant things about this genre is something people always accuse it of with derogation in their tone. They call it  predictable. I prefer the term ‘dependable’. If we have a hero and a heroine, we want them to get together. Yes, they will need to work for it. There will be conflict and barriers to that love but in the end, they’ll be together. And that’s exactly what we want. If a reader got to the end of the novel and the hero or heroine just walked out, the disappointment for that reader would be immeasurable!
People accuse the genre of being predictable like it’s a bad thing. It’s not. It’s a good thing. It means we can rely on it. We know these two characters will end up together – the enjoyment comes from seeing how that’s going to happen. That’s what critics of the genre seem to wilfully misunderstand. 
In today’s world, nothing is reliable. It’s dark, and unsure and sometimes downright frightening. It’s no wonder people are turning to books that step away from that with this ‘new’ genre of UpLit. But if they open their eyes – and more importantly – their minds, they’ll see there’s nothing new about ‘Uplit’. It’s been here all along.

Maxine's latest book, The Best Little Christmas Shop, is available now.

Home for the holidays…
Icing gingerbread men, arranging handmade toys and making up countless Christmas wreaths in her family’s cosy little Christmas shop isn’t usually globe-trotter Lexi’s idea of fun. But it’s all that’s keeping her mind off romance. And, with a broken engagement under her belt, she’s planning to stay well clear of that for the foreseeable future…until gorgeous single dad Cal Martin walks through the door!
Christmas takes on a whole new meaning as Lexi begins to see it through Cal’s adorable five-year-old son’s eyes. But, finding herself getting dangerously close to the mistletoe with Cal, Lexi knows she needs to back off. She’s sworn off love, and little George needs a stability she can’t provide. One day she’ll decide whether to settle down again – just not yet.
But the best little Christmas shop in this sleepy, snow-covered village has another surprise in store…

Thank you for that Maxine. So what do you think? Is UpLit a new phenomena or romantic fiction by any other name? Why do you think romantic fiction matters?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Introducing the New RNA Social Media Co-ordinator

Hello! For those of you who don't know me already, I’ve been a member of the RNA for the past four years. I joined the New Writers’ Scheme initially, after lots of other writers recommended it to me. I've loved every minute of being on the Scheme, and have learnt so much as well. During those four years, I've self-published two contemporary romance novels, with some more on the way, and as a result, I'm just about to graduate from the Scheme to become a full, independent member of the RNA.

I thoroughly enjoy being a member of the RNA and have thrown myself into the social life it offers its members with great enthusiasm, attending conferences, parties, afternoon teas and chapter meetings all around the country. I've also been very lucky to make lots of new friends as a result of being a member, something I didn’t expect to be doing at this stage in my life. I love the way the RNA welcomes everyone as equals, so newbies can find themselves talking to big names, and mixing with writers and publishing folk at all different stages of their careers.

In my life outside writing, I work part-time for a local charity as their communications officer, overseeing their marketing, PR, social media and website activities. I also work freelance as a proofreader, website trouble-shooter and occasional supply teacher – a real Jill-of-all-trades! I live with my husband in Bedfordshire. We have two daughters; one is now away at university and the other is studying for her ‘A’ levels.

Since autumn 2016, I have been supporting Adrienne Vaughan, as deputy editor of Romance Matters, the RNA’s wonderful magazine, and now I’m taking on the role of social media co-ordinator, with responsibility for the blog, Twitter and the RNA’s Facebook page. Elaine Everest has done a sterling job for the past five years, and we’re all very grateful to her and her wonderful team for raising the RNA’s profile in that time.

I have a great blog team to support me and we're planning to keep blogging two or three times a week, with a mixture of regular blog posts about your favourite items – competitions, new releases, interviews with book reviewers and authors – as well as news items as and when they crop up, and some new ideas too. If you have any ideas for features you’d like to see, please do let me know and we will do our best to bring the subject to you.

I look forward to taking on the blog completely from Alison May in the New Year, and to taking it from strength to strength as we move forward. Thank you for all the support you have shown the blog in the past – I hope you will continue to do so for many years to come.


My latest book The Vineyard in Alsace is available now.

Is there really such a thing as a second chance at love?

Fran Schell has only just become engaged when she finds her fiancé in bed with another woman. She knows this is the push she needs to break free of him and to leave London. She applies for her dream job on a vineyard in Alsace, in France, not far from her family home, determined to concentrate on her work.

Didier Le Roy can hardly believe it when he sees that the only person to apply for the job on his vineyard is the same woman he once loved but let go because of his stupid pride. Now estranged from his wife, he longs for a second chance with Fran if only she will forgive him for not following her to London.

Working so closely together, Fran soon starts to fall in love with Didier all over again. Didier knows that it is now time for him to move on with his divorce if he and Fran are ever to have a future together. Can Fran and Didier make their second chance at love work despite all the obstacles in their way? 

A romantic read set against the enticing backdrop of the vineyard harvest in France.

Connect with me here:

Monday, November 20, 2017

November Competition Monthly!

There are a number of speculative fiction competitions this month, featuring fantasy, science fiction and the supernatural. Maybe it's because of the long nights we're now facing, but at least it might get you in the mood for writing one of these stories.

It was a couple of years ago now I mentioned record keeping on the competition monthly, so it's
worth bringing the subject up again. I'm certain I'd have got into a right mess with my submissions without my spreadsheets. I used to add the competition entries to the sheet for my magazine subs, but eventually created a new spreadsheet especially for the comps, which I found much more useful.
These are in date order. I also keep a paper system. This is an exercise book set out by story. This does include the magazine submissions and allows me to see exactly where each story has been sent.

Novel competition entries likewise go on the competition sheet, but I also add them to the spreadsheet for each novel. It sounds complicated but really makes everything much simpler. Since at times I've had up to sixty 'out theres' of various kinds, whether competitions, magazine subs or novel subs, it's important to keep control of it all. I'd hate to send a story or novel out to the same place twice, and incur the annoyance of the competition or publisher concerned.

Best of luck with the competitions you enter, and don't forget to let us know of any competition success you have.

**Closing very soon**
The Creative Competitor Temptation Writing Competition
Theme: Temptation, 500 words max
Prize: £400 / £250 / £100
Closing date: 25 Nov 2017
Entry: £3.50

**Closing soon**
Fields of Words Feature / Genre Competition
Theme: Ghosts / Hauntings, 1,000 – 2,000 words
Prize: AUD$500 / $125
Closing date: 30 November 2017 (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
Entry: AUD$20

**Closing soon**
Ink Tears Short Story Contest
Theme: Open, 1,000 – 3,500 words
Prize: £1,000 / £100 / 4 x £25
Closing date: 30 November 2017
Entry: £7.50

**Closing soon**
Writers' Bureau Flash Fiction Competition
Theme: Open, 500 words max.
Prize: £300 / £200 / £100 plus WB course for all winners
Closing date: 30 November 2017
Entry: £5

Creative Competitor 'Storm' Writing Competition
Theme: Storm, 700 words max.
Prize: £400 / £250 / £100
Closing date: 5 December 2017

Writing Magazine Other Worlds Competition
Theme: SciFi and Fantasy, 1,500 – 1,700 words.
Prize: £200 plus publication in magazine / £50 plus publication on website
Closing date: 15 December 2017
Entry: £5 / £3 subscribers

Audio Arcadia's Science Fiction Short Story Competition
Theme: SciFi, 5,000 words.
Prize: 10 winning stories will be published and each winner will receive a royalty percentage of sales.
Closing date: 31 December 2017
Entry: £5.50

Writing Magazine Open Short Story Competition
Theme: Open, 1,500 – 1,700 words.
Prize: £200 plus publication in magazine / £50 plus publication on website
Closing date: 15 January 2018
Entry: £5 / £3 subscribers

Retreat West First Chapter Competition
Theme: First chapter of an unpublished novel, up to 3,500 words. Open theme.
Prize: First 3 chapters, cover letter and synopsis reviewed by a literary agent.
Closing date: 28 January 2018
Entry: £15

The Creative Competitor Now or Never Creative Writing Competition
Theme: Now or Never, 800 words max.
Prize: £600 / £400 / £200
Closing date: 28 January 2018
Entry: £4

Bath Novella in Flash Award
Theme: Open, Adult or YA. 6,000 – 18,000 words.
Prize: £300 / 2 x £100, all 3 published.
Closing date: 29 January 2018
Entry: £16

The Fiction Desk Ghost Story Competition
Theme: Supernatural, 1,000 – 7,000 words.
Prize: £500 / £200 / £100
Closing date: 31 January 2018
Entry: £8

Writers' Forum Short Story Competition
Theme: Open, 1,000 – 3,000 words.
Prize: £300 / £150 / £100
Closing date: Rolling competition.
Entry: £6 / £3 subscribers

The Writing District Contest
Theme: Open, 3,000 words max.
Prize: $50
Closing date: Last day of every month.
Entry: Free

Francesca Capaldi Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a number of competitions including Winchester Writers' Conference, Retreat West, Meridian Writing, Wells Festival and Writing Magazine. She's had stories and a serial published in magazines worldwide and in three anthologies, including Diamonds and Pearls and 100 Stories for Haiti. She is a member of the RNA New Writers' Scheme and the Society for Women Writers and Journalists. Francesca runs a writing blog along with RNA member Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.

This blog was prepared by blog team member, Louisa Heaton.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The RNA Industry Awards 2017 Celebrate those who Champion Romantic Fiction


London: 15 November 2017 The Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) is delighted to announce the winners of its annual industry awards, which this year feature the addition of a new category, Librarian of the Year. This new award recognises the important work that librarians do in supporting the romantic fiction genre, and the Association in particular. Six awards were presented during the RNA’s Winter Party, held in the Library at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in London.

Librarian of the Year
Shirley Everall, Librarian of the Year
Shirley Everall, Librarian of the Year
The inaugural award was presented to Shirley Everall, Audience Development Officer, Hertfordshire Libraries, for hosting a great number of events for RNA members, and promoting romantic fiction in Hertfordshire Libraries.
Runner-up Rachel Gee, from Tiverton Library, was nominated for her continual support and proactivity in promoting romantic fiction.

Romantic Bookseller of the Year
Kearan Ramful, Sainsbury's
This award recognises booksellers promoting and championing romantic fiction in a positive and proactive way throughout the year. This year’s winner, Kearan Ramful, book buyer for Sainsbury’s Plc, was awarded the title for his continuing support for romantic fiction by selecting many romantic titles for Sainsbury’s stores. 

Runner-up was David Headley and team at Goldsboro Books.  

Best Adaptation of a Romantic Novel
Debbie Horsfield
The award for best adaptation of a romantic novel, whether for stage, screen (TV or movie) or radio goes to Debbie Horsfield for Poldark Series 3 (BBC TV).  The adaptation must have been broadcast/screened from September 2016 through to the end of September 2017, at any time and for any duration.  After three series, Poldark remains a fantastic series with stunning scenery, excellent casting, and still stays close to the original text. It is one of those can't-be-missed programmes, with a charismatic but flawed hero and heroine.
Runner-up was Whit Stillman and Jane Austen for Love and Friendship, a film based on Jane Austen’s novella.

Media Star of the Year
Blogger Linda Hill was awarded Media Star of the Year for her continued support for romance novels through retweeting, reviewing and blogging. Friendly and professional, even when her TBR pile is overflowing, she’ll take more books on, going above and beyond the call of duty, and all with a smile. This award recognises those who have helped raise the profile of romance writing and/or the RNA in a positive way.  
Blogger Kaisha Holloway was runner-up and was nominated for her great support for authors and her honest, detailed and reflective reviews which are constructively critical.

Agent of the Year
Broo Doherty, DHH Literary Agency
For the literary agent who has striven to support, mentor, nurture and promote their authors’ careers, the genre in general and the RNA in particular. This year’s winner, Broo Doherty, DHH Literary Agency, was nominated for her championing of romantic fiction and support for the RNA. With a list featuring several authors in the genre, she provides guidance and great support to her clients, being honest and tactful, as well as kind, supportive and savvy about romantic fiction. 

Runner-up Rebecca Ritchie, AM Heath Agency, was nominated for her dedication, warmth and genuine passion for the genre. A great editor and all-round fantastic partner, a great listener, offering wise words and sound advice.

Publisher of the Year
Charlotte Ledger, Publisher of the Year
For the publisher who embraces the genre, mentors writers to produce their best work, and is innovative, creative and visionary in the marketing and promotion of romantic fiction on every level.  This year’s award goes to Charlotte Ledger, HarperImpulse, for her tireless championing of romance novels at Harper Collins, giving many debut novelists their first break. Open and honest, she provides transparent dealings with those authors under her wing and many nominated her, citing that working with Charlotte is a team effort, and she has a real personal touch when it comes to developing writers’ careers.
Runner-up was DC Thompson, a stalwart and steady publisher of a great number of members over the years. Both The People's Friend and My Weekly magazines have pocket novel imprints and their editors have mentored and published RNA members over many years, following a long tradition of nurturing writers of romance.

The RNA Industry Awards are decided by the membership, with every member eligible to nominate within each category. The awards were presented at the RNA’s Winter Party at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Birdcage Walk, London on 15th November 2017. 

Photos from the event will be available on The Romantic Novelists' Association's website in due course.

For further information please contact:
Or Katrina Power 07 963 962 538 or 

About the Romantic Novelists' Association

The RNA was formed in 1960 to promote romantic fiction and encourage good writing and now represents more than 900 writers, agents, editors and other publishing professionals.