Posted by Lizzie Lamb
Welcome to Yorkshire Rose Writers
It is my great pleasure to interview Yorkshire Rose Writers on my blog today. There are so many questions I wanted to ask but had to limit Sharon and Jessica to just FIVE because of space and time. But I advise anyone who wants to know about them to go over to their wonderful blog, or to follow them on Facebook.
So, who are the Yorkshire Rose Writers ?
We’re the Yorkshire Rose Writers, also known as Sharon Booth and Jessica Redland. We met through both being members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. As we both live in Yorkshire, love Yorkshire, write contemporary romance/romantic comedies set in Yorkshire, and are good friends, we decided to join forces online and become the Yorkshire Rose Writers. They say two heads are better than one so we’re looking forward to seeing where our partnership takes us. So far, Sharon has published 13 books and Jessica has published 9 with her tenth due out in spring.
Way to go Sharon and Jessica, tell us more !
We both set our novels in Yorkshire although, funnily enough, neither of us started with a Yorkshire setting…
Jessica: The idea for my debut novel, Searching for Steven, came from a real-life event. At the time, I was living in Reading, Berkshire, but I moved back to the north the following year to be nearer my family and that’s when I started writing. The book was initially set in London with the protagonist moving to the north but ‘the north’ was a very non-specific setting and, the more I wrote, the more I realised my lack of setting was really letting me down. A couple of months later, I met my husband and he was from Scarborough on the North Yorkshire Coast where I now live. I found the love of my life but I also found my setting as all my books are set in a fictional version of Scarborough (with a bit of Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay thrown in there) called Whitsborough Bay. I wanted to keep the setting fictional to give me the flexibility to change things and create parts of the town that don’t exist. Anyone who knows Scarborough will recognise certain parts, though, which are very much inspired by the real setting.
Sharon: I’ve set books in various parts of Yorkshire, including the Dales and Moors. My first series of books, however, are set in the fictional Kearton Bay, which is based on Robin Hood’s Bay. When I first had the idea for what became There Must Be an Angel, we were on our way down to Somerset for a holiday, and while we were there, we visited Glastonbury. I started plotting during that week, so when I returned home, I initially set the story in Glastonbury. It wasn’t long, however, before I realised that the characters who were talking to me had Yorkshire accents …
Please share your top five writing tips
- Keep everything! No work is wasted work
- Write what you love. If you’re not passionate about your characters/setting/plot, readers probably won’t be too
- Always have a notepad (or even the notes function on your phone) handy for when inspiration strikes
- Keep a spreadsheet or similar of all the key details of your characters and settings, particularly if, like us, you write a series. This makes sure you don’t name two streets the same, move businesses, or keep calling all your secondary characters Dave
- Don’t forget your character arc. By the end of your book, your protagonist needs to have changed in some way/learned something. At the start, decide on your arc and how you’re going to achieve it.
Tell us how the writing process works for you –
plotter or pantser
Sharon: I’m very much a plotter, although in ‘real’ life I’m quite disorganised and everything is ‘last minute’ with me. I use a fantastic book called Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody to make a plan before I start writing. Having said that, I do veer off course quite often, but I’m like that clever Sat Nav lady – I just correct the route and carry on.
Jessica: I’m the pantser which surprises me because, in ‘real’ life I’m actually very organised and a big planner. When I wrote Searching for Steven, I just wrote. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing and I learned my craft along the way. Because it took me a decade to write on and off (including some significant breaks where I didn’t write at all), I think I developed a habit. I tried to plot the sequel, Getting Over Gary, but my characters didn’t like it. They kept doing their own thing – which was not what I’d plotted – so I now just write. I do spend some time developing my characters first, though, including their arc. I know what the plot will be about and how it needs to end but how that unfolds is very much driven by my characters as I go.
Social Media – help or hindrance
Great question! If we’re honest, probably a bit of both. Writing can be a lonely business so social media is great for engaging with other writers, making friends, and building a ‘community’. But, let’s be honest, if you’re having a tough time it can really knock your confidence to see a Facebook newsfeed full of writers celebrating amazing news – even though you really like them and are genuinely pleased for them. Sometimes we forget that most people only post about the good bits of their lives! Social media can be great for promoting your work, of course, but that also has a downside, because we know that nothing is more likely to alienate potential readers than constant ‘buy my book’ posts.
It’s hard to strike a balance between promotion and remembering the ‘social’ bit of social media. It’s a huge time suck if you let it be. No one can procrastinate quite like a writer, and it’s funny how appealing a video of a cat watching television can be if you’ve reached a tricky part of your WIP. (And yes, we have watched that video!) It’s part of the reason we joined together. We figured that, if one of us is having a busy week/month, the other one might not be under quite so much pressure, so we can ‘share the burden’. It’s also often easier to promote each other than it is to promote ourselves!
Blurb and link(s) to your current book
Jessica: My current book is a Christmas one, but a Christmas book isn’t just for Christmas is it? And it starts on Christmas Day one year but then is mainly November/early December the following one so not entirely Christmas. Have I convinced you?
Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café –
A few minutes of courage might change your life…
Emotionally, Tara Porter finds the festive period a challenge. Christmas Day is a reminder of the family she lost, and New Year’s Eve holds bitter memories of the biggest mistake of her life: marrying Garth Tewkesbury. Shunning invitations to celebrate, she seeks refuge in her flat with only her giant house bunny, Hercules, for company.
Professionally, though, it’s the best time of year. Tara’s thriving café, The Chocolate Pot, is always packed. With the café hosting a wedding and engagement party, it’s shaping up to be the café’s best Christmas ever.
When former nemesis, Jed Ferguson, threatens the future of The Chocolate Pot, Tara prepares for a fight. The café is everything to her and she’s not going to let anyone or anything jeopardise that.
Tara badly misjudged ex-husband Garth and, since then, has refused to let anyone in. After all, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. But has she misjudged Jed too? Is it possible that he’s not the arrogant, deceitful man from whom she bought the café 14 years earlier? Can she find the courage to find out for sure?
Sharon: My latest book is the first in my new The Witches of Castle Clair series, set in a fictional version of Knaresborough in North Yorkshire. It’s suitable to be read at any time of year.
Belle, Book and Christmas Candle
Do you believe in magic?
Sky St Clair doesn’t, and growing up in Castle Clair, a small town renowned for its mystical past and magical legends, she never felt she belonged.
Sky got away from Castle Clair as soon as she could, but when a run of bad luck leaves her homeless and jobless, she has little choice but to accept her sister Star’s invitation to return home for the festive season.
When Star has an accident, Sky finds herself running the family’s magical supplies shop. Wands, crystals, pendulums … really? It’s a tough job when she doesn’t believe in the products she’s selling, but how can she? Magic isn’t real, no matter what her deluded siblings think.
Jethro Richmond doesn’t believe in magic either. In fact, he doesn’t believe in anything much anymore, which is proving to be a bit of a problem for a writer of fantasy novels. With a self-constructed wall around his heart as high as Clair Tower, and his dreams as ruined as the town’s ancient castle, he’s lost all hope of repairing his tattered career. The last thing he needs is to get involved with a family like the St Clairs, and no matter what a certain little black cat seems to want Jethro has no intention of spending any time with Sky or her unusual sisters.
But this is a strange little town and, as the residents prepare to celebrate Christmas, Sky and Jethro might just discover that in Castle Clair, anything is possible. Even magic
Finally – what are you working on ATM?
Sharon: I’m writing the second in The Witches of Castle Clair series, plotting the fourth and final Kearton Bay novel, and starting to jot down ideas for the fifth Bramblewick book.
Jessica: I’m trying to find a home with a publisher for my tenth novel. I’m being very selective about where to send it, though. I’ve had some superb feedback, no offers … yet. I’m waiting to hear back on a couple of others, but will indie publish it in spring if they’re a no. I’m also part-way through another two books. I hope one will be ready for summer and another for autumn. In theory. Reality is that I’m in the final year of a Masters in Creative Writing through Open University, and I have another five assignments to go on that which will have to take priority. My final big assignment will be 15k words of a new novel and I’m excited about that because I’ve decided to do something a bit different as a challenge. If it works, that may be a 2020 publication.
Thanks so much for inviting us onto your blog, Lizzie. We really appreciate it. It’s been great fun having you here, I hope we might meet up soon.
Yorkshire Rose Writers
Posted by Lizzie Lamb
My social networking regime . . .
Recently, I attended a Self Publishing Conference at Leicester University where having a social networking presence was stressed. A number of attendees protested that they didn’t want to join Facebook or Twitter, the reply was blunt and to the point: no online presence = fewer book sales. Does tweeting, Facebook etc actually sell books? Is it worth the effort? The smart money says it is, but who knows.
Here’s my social networking regime and how it works for me.
First thing, I go through my iPhone, read and delete hotmail messages. After breakfast I migrate over to Facebook and post a personal status – with a photo if possible as I find that gets the most response. Then I go over to News Feed, check who’s on, leave a few comments and “share” any posts/ blog links I find interesting. Over the course of the day/week I check into the various Facebook groups I belong to: Write On Girls, Writers on the Same Page, Chick Lit Goddesses, Famous Five – join in conversations and leave a comment if possible.
Later it’s over to TWITTER where I follow back new followers, retweet those who’ve retweeted me and go into my ‘hashtag’ groups and retweet there – FFP, ASMSG, BYNR and so on. Next, I put up three posts about my book which other tweeps can find and retweet easily. I usually leave a status about my writing or what I’m doing that day to give it a personal touch, using hashtags such as #romance #amwriting #amreading #debutnovel #fridayreads etc. It’s important to have those posts at the ‘top’ of one’s profile, otherwise tweeps lwill RT the first message they find and that might not be about me, or #Tall,DarkandKilted.
After lunch I return to Facebook where I put a brief message on my author page and reply to anyone who’s commented on my status. Every couple of days I do the same on the New Romantic 4’s author page – again, with a photo if possible. And in the evenings I check on @newromantics4 twitter page on my iPhone or iPad and respond whilst watching TV.
The New Romantics 4 have recently had a blog created for by Nettie Thomson (firstname.lastname@example.org). It’s the responsibility of each member to keep their author page updated and, once a month, to post a blog about their writing. That makes it manageable. Nettie is also building a website for me which links into the NR4 blog; it includes a personal blog which will enable me to take part in events like THE GREAT BRITISH BLOG / NEXT BIG READ etc.
Last, but not least, I generally go over to Pinterest in the evenings and add photos to my various boards; other pinners follow and re-pin my photos. That means that they see my ‘writing boards’ which contain pictures and other themes relating to Tall, Dark and Kilted and my WIP.
And that’s it. It might not work for you but it works for me. The secret I think is to have a clear routine and ‘bit and bob’ as the day goes round. I usually write in the very early morning, meet friends for lunch or coffee and then back to it in the afternoons. Having a smart phone (and a stock of photos on it) and an iPad makes all this so much easier as I can leave them set up for social networking while my WIP stays on the PC.