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!

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!

My Latest Book, From Wallflower to Countess, is out now!

UK cover From Wallflower to CountessMy second Regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon, From Wallflower to Countess, is out now as both a paperback and an ebook.

I first met the hero, Richard, the Earl of Stanton, many years ago when he was a drop dead gorgeous secondary character in my first ever attempt at writing a Regency romance. That attempt has not yet seen the light of day, but I always knew Richard would have his own story one day. I had no idea which lucky lady would share his journey until, one day, he ran up the stairs in his shirtsleeves and came face-to-face with an unprepossessing but sparky spinster who had absolutely no intention of ever getting married.

One year on from that meeting, Lady Felicity Weston’s fear of unrequited love is as strong as ever, but her circumstances have changed. She begs her mother to find her a quiet, unremarkable gentleman with whom she might be content, little realising she will end up with Society’s most eligible bachelor.

Here is an excerpt:

‘This is ridiculous. You are right. If we are to wed, we need to understand one another. And, I admit I have doubts. Not about you. Well, that is…’ She paused, her brows drawn together in a frown. ‘No, that is untrue. It is about you, but it is about me, also. You and me. Together. You see, I hadn’t thought…I never presumed to be presented with such a…such a…catch, if you do not object to my calling you that?’

Richard bit back a smile. He had been called a catch many times, he was aware, but never to his face before. And never by an earnest-faced female who appeared to believe herself unworthy of a ‘catch’ such as he.

‘You may call me what you will,’ he said, ‘as long as you promise not to use such insultingly offensive terms that I shall be forced to take umbrage.’

She laughed, revealing a glimpse of white teeth. ‘Umbrage? I always thought that to be a state applied to elderly dowagers. Do you sporting gentlemen consider it a fittingly masculine trait, my lord?’

This was better. The spirited girl he remembered from last year had surfaced, her face alive with laughter, her eyes bright.

‘Perhaps umbrage does not quite convey the precise meaning I hoped to convey,’ he conceded. ‘Which word, in your opinion, should I have used, if I am to portray a suitably manly image to my future wife?’

Disquiet skimmed her expression, then vanished. Had he imagined it? Was it the bald reminder that she would be his wife that had disturbed her? Her countenance was now neutral, but her eyes remained watchful and she made no attempt to answer him.

‘Would you have preferred me to use “offence” perhaps, or “exception”?’ He leaned closer to her, and said, ‘I do not, you notice, suggest “outrage” for that, I fear, would not meet with your approval any more than “umbrage”. It is too synonymous with spinsters, would you not—?’

Felicity stiffened. ‘Do not make fun of me, sir. I may be a spinster and, therefore, in your eyes, a poor, undesired thing, but I have feelings and I have pride.’

‘Felicity, I promise I intended no slight. The thought never crossed my mind that you might think I was making fun of you. I was…I was… Oh, confound it! Come here.’

He had run out of words. He clasped her shoulders and drew her close. A finger beneath her chin tilted her face to his. He searched her eyes. They were shuttered. She was rigid in his arms. Was she scared? Had she never known a man’s kiss? The thought, strangely, pleased him: knowing his wife had never experienced another man’s touch. But he must take care not to frighten her. He lowered his head, slowly, and put his lips to hers.

He almost recoiled in shock. He had expected ice. What he felt was fire.

The Prologue and Chapter 1 can be read by clicking on My Books/ From Wallflower to Countess /Prologue and Chapter 1 from the menu at the top of the page.

Working with an Editor

Book number 3 has left the building! By that, I mean I have submitted the ms of my 3rd Regency, The Baroness and the Black Sheep, to my editor and, no doubt, it will shortly wing its way back to my inbox with a list of ‘tweaks’, as editors seem fond of calling their suggestions.

I’m still in the early stages of my writing career, and I’ve been pondering the whole ‘working with an editor’ process. I have been through the process twice now, each time with a different editor.

I don’t think it was my fault my first editor left, but who knows 😉 ?

My 1st book, Mary and the Marquis, had been through the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writer’s Scheme, and I had revised it with the help of the feedback from an experienced Mills and Boon author, so perhaps the edits weren’t as extensive as they might have been. After one pass at it, the book was accepted. With my second book, From Wallflower to Countess, the edits were more onerous and it took, I think, two passes. It might have been more. Perhaps, like childbirth, the process appears less painful from a safe distance.

It can be disheartening: you slave over your book; produce the very best work you can; you submit it with trepidation, hoping your editor will like it (who am I kidding—you’re hoping she’ll love it!). From Wallflower to Countess came back with several suggestions for improving the book. I read them through and, after the initial resistance and some denial, which I think is normal—it’s my baby, after all!—I began to see that the suggestions would improve the book.

All bar one.

Now, I said at the beginning of this blog that I haven’t much experience with working with an editor. I was still in the mindset that whatever the editor wants, the editor gets. But the change she wanted me to make to one secondary character would have altered the whole story. It would not be the same book. I would have to rewrite the whole thing! Cue despair, and sleepless nights whilst I tried to work out how I could incorporate that change without starting almost from scratch. After a few days of mindless panic, I suddenly thought ‘No! This is my story, and Harriet (the secondary character in question) is who she is’. I responded to my editor, and said I would carry out the edits, but I didn’t agree with the change she asked for in Harriet’s character, and could we discuss?

My editor phoned me. I explained my predicament, and my strong belief Harriet shouldn’t change, and my editor said… ‘Oh, all right then.’

All that angst! I am still of the belief that most changes asked for by your editor are valuable in that they will improve your book. I now know, however, that the editor’s word is not law and that I can argue my corner if I disagree with an editor’s suggestion. That’s a weight off my mind as I await my editor’s response to The Baroness and the Black Sheep.

No doubt some amongst you have decided I’m a wimp for not stating my case sooner – it’ll be my name on the cover after all – but I am what I am. I’m not comfortable with confrontation, which is why I agonised over the changes first.

I’ll let you know how I get on and, in the meantime, I’d love to hear your experiences (good and bad) of editors.

I think I’ve been lucky. So far!