Filling in the gaps

Greetings!

I haven’t blogged since May and it’s now September, and where, exactly, did the summer disappear to? Mind you, if you do follow my blog you already know my output is sporadic at best!

Contrary to my lack of activity on my blog, it has been a busy time for me, so here is a whiz through my summer.

I’m delighted to say I signed another two book contract with Harlequin Mills & Boon at the end of April, plus a contract for a Regency novella which will be released for Christmas 2017. The deadlines for the 2 books were 31st August 2016 and 31st January 2017 – which seemed doable as I had already prepared outlines (unusual for me) – until I realised the deadline for the novella was 14th February 2017, just 2 weeks after the deadline for book #7!

So I have had my head down since then, writing book #6 (provisionally titled Duke in Disguise). It was hard going for a while and more than once I feared I would never make the deadline, which happened to be just two days before my husband and I set off on holiday, leaving me no room to manoeuvre. But I made it. Phew. Now my nerves are being soundly wracked as I await my editor’s verdict.

In the spring I was interviewed on our local BBC radio station as part of their community takeover event. I met Maggie, the interviewer, through a talk I gave to a writing group at my local library, and she asked if I would be willing to be interviewed by her on the radio. It took place at her house rather than at the radio station, which would have been more intimidating, and after our initial bout of ‘um’s and ‘er’s we managed just fine.

You can listen to me bumbling away here, if you so wish.

13450233_1069924789764564_7041841818167580376_nIn June I took part in a Love at the Library event at Harbury Library, with Ellie Darkins, who writes for the Mills & Boon Cherish line. We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves despite our nerves beforehand. We spoke about the history of Mills & Boon and how we came to be writing for them (I’ve blogged about my journey before – you can read about it here) and then we held a Q&A session. The audience were lovely!

Then in July I sat on a panel at the inaugural Evesham Festival of Words with fellow local authors Alison May and Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn.

j-a-me-cropped1-250x1521Our event was ‘Inside the minds of three authors’ and, after each reading an excerpt from our work, we discussed why we write what we write and our different approaches to writing. Again, the audience were fabulous which helped to settle my nerves.

I found with all three events that my nerves vanished as soon as I got going, and I realised the same thing happens with many of life’s challenges – perhaps it is the surge of adrenalin as I swing into action ;-).

Does that ever happen to you?

Until next time,

Janice x

 

 

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Saved by Scandal’s Heir – Janice Preston

Sharing! A wonderful review for Saved by Scandal’s Heir by the lovely Julie, reblogged from Bookish Jottings.

Bookish Jottings

Saved by Scandal's Heir

A gloriously romantic tale of dark secrets, scandalous passion and love lost and found, Saved by Scandal’s Heir is the latest dazzling Regency romance from fast-rising star Janice Preston!

When childhood friendship had given way to a love that simply could not be denied, Harriet had thought that she was going to be spending the rest of her life with Benedict Poole, the man who had captured her heart. But when a cruel twist of fate had torn them apart, Harriet had found herself heartbroken, vulnerable and alone. Forced to marry a man who made her flesh crawl, Harriet had endured years of anguish and pain at the hands of a husband whom she despised and feared in equal measure. However, despite the many years that had passed, she had never quite managed to forget Benedict or to put their passionate affair behind her.

Now widowed, Harriet has thrown…

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Music: do you hear without listening?

I met the lovely Elaina James last week at the RNA Birmingham chapter meeting. She told us about the blog series she’d written for Mslexia, detailing her inspiring journey from being a lyricist with stage fright to performing one of her songs on stage. She asked if any of us would like to blog about our own relationship with music, to link in with the final week of her blog series.

I didn’t offer.

I love music – many different types – but I don’t listen to it when I’m writing and I thought I had nothing of much interest to say. I don’t compile a playlist for each book, unlike many writers, and I find it distracting when I’m trying to write – the lyrics take over the part of my brain that is meant to be composing my own, original prose!

Disturbed-the-sound-of-silence-music-video

Then, today, I heard – again – Disturbed’s wonderful rendition of The Sound of Silence and – again – goosebumps spread over my whole body. And I realised I do have something to say about music.

 

 

Just over seven years ago, I assumed everyone listened to music in the same way I did. I can pinpoint the exact time I realised I was wrong because my (now) husband and I were choosing a playlist for our wedding. He has a vast collection of music, from Led Zeppelin to Sinatra, and came up with many suggestions for our playlist.

‘You can’t have that,’ I said, when he vigorously championed the inclusion of one particular song. I can’t remember what song it was, but it was all about regret over lost love.

‘Oh,’ said he, when I explained why. ‘I never realised that!’

Although he knew every word of that song, he had never registered the meaning, and it is the same for (virtually) every song he loves. The music is paramount; the lyrics are just words. And it seems there are many other folk who hear the lyrics, and sing them, without actually listening to them.

I, on the other hand, listen to songs. Yes, the tune is important but, for me, it is the lyrics that touch my heart. I absorb the poetry and the story, and that inspires my writing. So, you see, just because I don’t listen to music while I write doesn’t mean they are disconnected.

I simply didn’t make that connection last Saturday when I met Elaina.

It was hearing The Sound of Silence that inspired this post, and there is a line in that song (penned over 50 years ago by a youthful Paul Simon – a wonderful lyricist and songwriter) that is particularly apt:

‘People hearing without listening…’

Do you hear without listening or are you, like me, a listener?

 

This blog post is part of a music themed blog event organised by Elaina James, a guest blogger on Mslexia. Her author page on Mslexia can be found at www.mslexia.co.uk/author/elainajames.

Details of participating bloggers in this event can be found on Elaina James’ blog.

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Happy Publication Day – to Me…

…and a huge thank you to the readers who have bought and enjoyed my books and to the wider writing and blogging community who are ever willing to support and to cheer and to commiserate.

Today is the official publication day for Saved by Scandal’s Heir, and it feels like it’s been a long time coming! My deadline for the book was July 1st 2015, and I met it by the skin of my teeth. By the time I sent the ms off to my editor, I was so close to it I had no idea if it was good, bad or indifferent. But she loved it and after a few ‘tweaks’ (that’s ‘editor-speak’: they are never quite as benign as they sound!) it was done and dusted.

Saved by Scandal's Heir

This is a book close to my heart. It tells Harriet’s story (she was Richard’s former mistress in From Wallflower to Countess), and I knew she’d had a tragic past – one she kept bottled up – but until I started writing her story I had no idea how much heartache she had suffered. And, of course, I had the pleasure of writing more about Richard and Felicity from From Wallflower to Countess and also about Matthew and Eleanor from Return of Scandal’s Son.

I do love to visit old friends :-).

If you want to know more, you’ll just have to read the book ;-), but Harriet does get her happy ever after, of course, courtesy of hero Benedict. And I’m not going to apologise for writing books with happy endings. It seems some people are of the opinion that happy endings are, somehow, less worthy than unhappy endings or those that are left open for the reader to decide. I disagree. Would you be satisfied with a crime novel where the crime was left unsolved? Or a thriller where the bad guys won (unless there was a sequel planned, of course)?

I was also thrilled to read my first-ever review on a blog – the SweetisAlwaysinStyle blog run by the lovely Blossom Twins. Here is a link to their review. Thank you Kelly, who read the book and wrote the review.

As always, you can read the first chapter of Saved By Scandal’s Heir by selecting the Books tag at the top of this page, and following the menu.

Or you can buy your copy here!

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Janice x

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Glitter, glamour and pink champagne!

On 7th March – which also happened to be our 7th wedding anniversary – my DH, Ian, and I set off to London to attend my first ever Romantic Novel Awards (RoNAs). Even more exciting than attending the most prestigious event in the RNA calendar was that my second published novel, From Wallflower to Countess, had been shortlisted for the RoNA Rose, which celebrates the best in shorter or category romance.

We parted company at Euston, as I had a lunch date with my publishers, Harlequin Mills & Boon, together with their other shortlisted authors: Annie O’Neil, who writes for the Medical series, and Scarlet Wilson, who writes for Cherish.  The lunch, at the glamorous Northall restaurant in the Corinthia Hotel, was hosted by Joanne Grant, HMB senior executive editor, and was also attended by each shortlisted title’s editor – including my editor, Julia Williams – and other senior editors.

I still haven’t trained myself to take photos of everything, and maybe that’s a good thing, as I now can’t bore you with pictures of the sumptuous food and numerous glasses of prosecco we enjoyed at the Northall 😉

The Corinthia Hotel is just around the corner from the Gladstone Library where the evening ceremony was to take place so, after lunch and a quick change, Annie, Scarlet and I made our way to the Gladstone as we had been asked to arrive early for photos to be taken. The two other authors shortlisted for the RoNA Rose award also arrived early – they are both Choc Lit authors: my good friend and fellow Anti Doubt-Crow, Alison May, and Angela Britnell – and then there was nothing left to do but partake of the free champagne until the event kicked off at 6.30.

Here is the photo of the five of us who were shortlisted for the RoNA Rose:

From L to R: Annie O'Neil, Scarlet Wilson, Janice Preston, Alison May (behind), Angela Britnell.

From L to R: Annie O’Neil, Scarlet Wilson, Janice Preston, Alison May (behind), Angela Britnell

 

2016-03-07 18.09.36

Ian arrived in time for the evening party, and he sneaked into the main room to take a photo of the Library which provided a magnificent backdrop for the actual awards.

 

It was lovely to meet up with friends old and new and, as ever, the noise rose to near-deafening levels as more and more romantic novelists (not all women, by any means!) arrived.

2016-03-07 19.13.58The ceremony – full of glitter and glamour, with pink champagne flowing – was introduced by the RNA chair, the very charming Eileen Ramsay and compered in her usual entertaining style by the inimitable Jane Wenham-Jones, with Fern Britton in attendance to present the trophies.

Well, reader, I may have failed in my first attempt at bringing one of those beautiful crystal stars home, but I consider myself a winner to have been shortlisted amongst so many talented writers. The very lovely and very funny Annie O’Neil triumphed in the RoNA Rose category with her medical romance Doctor… to Duchess?

The winners of each category are standing at the back of the photo. RoNA16 winners, Fern Britton, Anita Burgh, Claire LorrimerFrom left to right, they are:

Emma Hannigan, The Secrets We Share – winner of the Epic Romantic Novel

Milly Johnson, Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café – winner of the Romantic Comedy Novel

Iona Grey, Letters to the Lost – winner of the Historical Romantic Novel

Annie O’Neil, Doctor… To Duchess? – winner of the RoNA Rose

Lucy Inglis, Crow Mountain – winner of the Young Adult Romantic Novel

Melanie Hudson, The Wedding Cake Tree – winner of the Contemporary Romantic Novel

Two amazing authors were also honoured with Lifetime Achievement Awards, and they are pictured at the front of the photo: Anita Burgh and Claire Lorimer, flanking guest presenter Fern Britton.

The overall winner of the Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year 2016 was Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. I can’t wait to read it, and all the other winning titles too!

I must include my appreciation of all the people who worked so hard behind the scenes to make a success of the evening. I will not attempt to name them, as I’m certain to miss someone out, but they know who they are! And I also wish to add my thanks to my publishers, Harlequin Mills & Boon, not only for inviting me as their guest on the night (and not forgetting that delicious lunch!) but for taking a chance with an unknown writer and helping me realise my dream of becoming a published author. Without them, I would not have been in that shortlist on Monday night!

It was an evening to treasure, made more special by having Ian by my side – the first time he has attended an RNA event. I hope it won’t be the last.

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary!

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Exciting news…

I’ve known this for a few weeks now but having the news made official somehow makes it more real:

From Wallflower to Countess has been shortlisted for the RoNA Rose Award!

Yay!

To say I’m excited is an understatement. But I am also very honoured to be listed among so many talented authors, not only those in the RoNA Rose category – which is for the best in category/series and shorter romance – but also those who have been shortlisted in the five other categories.

Here are the five books shortlisted for the RoNA Rose.

2016 Rona Rose

A special mention here for my good friend, Alison May, who is also shortlisted in the RoNA Rose category, and who I met through the Birmingham chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). You can read her blog on being shortlisted here.

The RoNAs (Romantic Novel Awards) celebrate the best in romantic fiction. They are awarded every year by the RNA and it is fair to say that without the help and support of the RNA and its members, I would not be celebrating today. The generosity of experienced, already-published members in helping, guiding and encouraging new writers is extraordinary.

Until I joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme in 2012 I had never even spoken to another writer. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about the craft of writing a novel. But I was willing to learn and – with the help of Regency writers such as Sarah Mallory and Louise Allen – I was eventually offered a publishing contract by Mills & Boon. Until ‘The Call’ in November 2013, I had hardly even dared to dream…

Which brings me neatly to my publishers, Mills & Boon, and the fabulous UK editorial team, who sent me these beautiful flowers today!

image1

The tickets for the RoNAs also arrived in today’s post, so I thought they deserved their place in the photo too 🙂

All I can say is – roll on March 7th, and Awards night. Good luck to everyone who has been shortlisted – it’ll be an evening to remember, whoever wins. For there is another truism about the RNA – we sure know how to party!

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A Peeress in her own right

NA Front cover Return of Scandal's Son

My new book, Return of Scandal’s Son, is out now.

It is the first of two linked books published under the title Men About Town, Traders in Temptation. The second book, Saved by Scandal’s Heir, will be out in the first half of 2016.

The heroine of Return of Scandal’s Son, Eleanor, Baroness Ashby, is that rarity: a peeress in her own right.

The earliest English baronies were created by a writ of summons to Parliament (rather than by letters patent as later became the norm). The remainders of these baronies by writ devolve upon the ‘heirs-general’ rather than being limited to male heirs, meaning an only daughter can inherit the barony (but not if there is any male progeny, even if he is younger than her). It’s interesting that, if there are two or more daughters the eldest does not inherit, but the title will fall into abeyance until the co-heirs can come to an honourable agreement as to which of them will claim the title. The claimant must then petition The Crown to have the abeyance terminated.

I really enjoyed writing about Eleanor – she is loyal, courageous and independent but her outer confidence masks a deep insecurity at her core. She is also impulsive at times, and I knew she needed a resilient hero. Enter Matthew:  strong and honourable, but with a secret in his past that could easily damage Eleanor’s determination to be fully accepted by Society and to gain admittance to Almack’s Assembly Rooms.

I thought it would be fun to see how a proud man like Matthew would cope with falling for a wealthier, higher-ranking woman than him.

If you have read Mary and the Marquis you might like to know that Eleanor is the cousin of Lucas, Marquis of Rothley. Lucas’s mother, Lucy, is Eleanor’s chaperone, and his younger brother, Lord Hugo Alastair, also makes an appearance.

You can read the first chapter of Return of Scandal’s Son by following the Books tab at the top of this page.

Available for purchase now:

  • Amazon.co.uk – click here
  • Amazon.com    – click here
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