Category Archives: RNA

Behind the Bestseller Podcast

I had such an amazing time talking to Sam Blake on her podcast, Behind the Bestseller. 

Romance is the biggest selling genre worldwide and award winning author Ruth Long, in all her various incarnations as RF Long, Ruth Francis Long and Jessica Thorne, writes romance combined with fantasy – from parallel worlds to sci-fi space opera, for both young adults and adults. Discussing what romance is and why it’s so popular, Sam Blake explores how Ruth develops character, the secrets of world building and what makes a successful book in this huge genre. Ruth outlines how important community is and how organisations like the Romantic Novelists’ Association can be of huge help in assisting authors build their career.

Come and listen to us chat about fantasy and romance, about worldbuilding and all the things my characters get up to when I’m not looking. It makes sense*. I promise.


*it may not actually make sense.

Girl in Trouble

No, not me. Fortunately. Not this time, anyway. *checks* No everything appears to be ok. Just don’t move. Or blink. Or jinx anything.

My gorgeous, talented, hilarious, RNA Naughty Kitchen mate Rhoda Baxter has a new book out, Girl in Trouble, and you should all go out and buy it immediately. It popped up on my Kindle the other day and only being full on at Octocon stopped me from reading it right away. And now I have time. Mwhahahaha!

What’s it about? I’m glad you asked. Modern, smart, funny romance here we come.

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.

Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart?

Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like charming heroes, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you’ll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot’s Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.

Rhoda’s books are always amazing. They’re smart, funny and have wonderful modern heroines. If you want to try some fresh new romance, here you go.

Why are you still reading this? Go and buy it! 😀 Now, where’s my tablet?

RNA Conference 2017 (Harper Adams) #RNAConf17

I spent last weekend at the wonderful RNA Conference in the beautiful setting of Harper Adams University.

The conference is always a whirlwind and when I decided to go for a long weekend rather than just the basic conference I made an excellent, if exhausting choice.

I arrived quite late on Thursday evening and after some fun and games finding the halls of residence with the help of the nicest taxi driver, met up with my usual flatmates, aka Kate Johnson, Immi Howson, Rhoda Baxter, Janet Gover and Alison May. Aka The naughty kitchen. More on that later.

Friday morning allowed us some time to explore the campus and Janet kicked things off with a talk on image manipulation, the first of many highlights.
We all gathered in the main lecture theatre, where I ended up spending rather a lot of time. The panel on the current state of the industry was fascinating and entertaining. It also felt like the most positive of these I’ve attended in a number of years. Things are looking up in the world of Romantic Fiction.

On Friday night there were drinkies. But not too many as I gave a talk on School Visits first thing on Saturday morning. It went very well until the computer decided to apply Windows updates in the middle of the talk, rebooting everything, including my slideshow. But apparently it wasn’t just me. The university has a Saturday morning routine, it seems. I may have gone for a bit of a lie down afterwards!

Other talk highlights over the weekend included Alison May and Bella Osbourne’s Plotter vs. Pantser talk (hilarious, with added aliens), Immi as the sparkly gazelle in the RNA Have Your Say discussion, Fiona Harper’s wonderful workshop on character development, a panel on how to be a helpful author featuring Julia Silk (agent), JB Johnson (bookblogger) & Julia Williams (editor and author) and Kate Johnson’s Guide to Worldbuilding.
Saturday evening was the Gala dinner, when we all put on our finery, have a wonderful meal and great conversation. It’s also the night that the Elizabeth Goudge prize is awarded. This annual competition is always held at the conference, and is hotly contested.

This year the theme was “Runaways” and the entry had to be 2000 words from the beginning of novel. I was absolutely delighted to be announced as the runner up with the opening to the as yet unwritten (apart from those 2000 words) sequel to the Space Opera.

Even better news was that Immi was the winner so we got to celebrate together. Here we are with Jill Mansell and RNA President Katie Fforde.

The naughty kitchen may have imbibed a few drinks that night. But I was not the last to bed. 😀

If you have never been to a writing conference I cannot recommend the RNA one enough. You’ll never encounter a more helpful, supportive and creative group of people.

Getting ready for #RNAConf15

It’s that time of year again when I get ready to go to the Romantic Novelists Association Conference. It’s on this coming weekend, in London and I really can’t wait.

I will be giving a talk on Saturday at 1.45pm –

Finding the Fantastic in your Fiction

Using folklore fairytale and supernatural elements in your fiction, from fantasy to contemporary – exploring different ways of using myths and folktales to flesh out your writing and inject some magic.

All being well it will be more than handwaving and me rambling on but you never know.  Although the talk is written I am continually editing it which led me to print it out today, mainly in the hopes that I will stop changing it again. As if!

And I’ve also been obsessing over my travel, as I always do. I’ve an early flight, so an earlier coach to the airport. And hopefully (hopefully!) the Tube strike will be finished when I get there. If not I have two bus routes and a DLR route worked out too.

But once there, the fun actually does really begin. Good friends, great conversations, sparkly shoes, fancy frocks and wine. And writerly talk, all day and all evening. It’s a really special time.

I can’t wait.

Writing is a largely solitary job. The conference is a time to meet other writers, celebrate what we do,  share our thoughts and experiences and above all, learn so much from each other.

I should have wifi so I’ll try to post little updates and pictures via Instagram, which crosssposts to my Facebook and Twitter. The hashtag for the conference itself is #RNAConf15. Finally if you’re at the conference, come and say hello!

Inordinate Excitement

As the summer rolls around I’m starting to prepare for conferences and conventions. Here’s where I’ll be:

The Romantic Novelists Conference, Harper Adams University, Telford, UK – 10th-13th July

I’m here mainly for the giggles, I fully admit, but I plan to be steampunked out with the best of them at the Love of the Past Book Fair at Blists Hill on 11th July and I will have some books on sale for anyone interested.


Loncon3 (ie WORLDCON!!!), Excel Arena, London – 14th-18th August

I’m heading over to London for a combined holiday and Worldcon visit. I’ll be at Worldcon itself from Thursday to Monday and I’m on three panels. The draft schedule is as follows –

Writing 101: Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction

Saturday 18:00 – 19:00

Young adult and middle grade genres are booming. Still, there’s confusion around these genre categories. Moreover, how are these genres related to children’s and juvenile fiction? Panelists discuss the ins and outs of young adult and middle grade fiction from reading age to diversity, content, characters, and more. How far can you go with language, violence, and sex without crossing the line? What about series, such as Harry Potter, that jump categories mid-stream? How do all of these element affect what we write and publish for middle grade and young adult readers?

Reluctant, or Just Not Interested?

Sunday 11:00 – 12:00

Are reluctant readers being failed by the education system, or is the publishing industry just not giving them what they want?

Tumblr: Dispensing with the Myths

Sunday 19:00 – 20:00

Tumblr is used by companies, politicians, television networks, fans, justice groups, pornographers and pretty much every other type of community found online. Yet to those who don’t use Tumblr it is often a mystery wrapped in an enigma, while those who do use it often keep to their own communities. In this session we discuss Tumblr as a form of social media, its benefits and limitations,  how it is used in general, how it is used within fan cultures and how it is encouraging the evolution of fandom.


Shamrokon (Eurocon!!!), Doubletree Hilton, Dublin – 22nd-24th August

Will let you know what I’m up to there when I do, but it’s going to be awesome!


So there we go. All the excitement and we haven’t even got to the launch of A Crack in Everything yet…


Fun and games with the Romantic Novelists

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Finally getting myself back into action after the Romantic Novelists Conference this year, which was held in Sheffield, at a place called the Edge. Oh the jokes just write themselves there… women on the edge, anyone?

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It was of course another wonderful conference. Filled with good food and great company. There was some toasting and a kitchen party with the ChocLit crew.IMG_4300 (800x533)

If you’ve never been to an RNA Conference, the kitchen parties are something else. There are always several naughty kitchens. This year however I wimped out on Friday night because I had “things to do” on Saturday. I was wise. It is a rare event.

On Saturday morning Imogen Howson and I gave a talk on writing YA.


Our lovely audience began to gather, bringing with them excellent reading materials.

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  Saturday night is gala dinner night so dressed in our finery the girls of F3 (Kate Johnson, Imogen Howson, myself, Sarah Callejo, Talli Roland and Jane Lovering) headed off to the ball. At the Edge. And over the edge.

We have a rep to live up to. Or something.IMG_4337 (800x533)

Kate won the Elizabeth Goudge trophy with a novel opening about Ice Giants apparently. Now I want to read it. It’ll go on the list with that murder mystery set on a spaceship about reincarnation I need to write now… The danger of chatting with writers in groups. It brings out the plot bunnies.

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 The party may have continued for some time. Hey, we had things to celebrate. Again.
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Most of all we celebrated spending another wonderful conference together. By the time I got home, nice as it was to be back, I admit to being homesick for flat F3. Roll on next year in Shropshire. I’m thinking another road trip is in order. Who’s with me?

(please excuse the slightly dodgy alignment of photos and text – I’m having fun and games with my website too. But soon that will all change. Oh yes. Bwahahahaha! News to come).

Guestblog: Kate goes to the RoNas

On Monday evening, the Romantic Novelists Association will be holding its awards ceremony and my friend, the extremely talented Kate Johnson, is a nominee for her fabulous alternate world fantasy adventure The Untied Kingdom. I read this last year and it’s sensational.

Best of luck, Kate. And best of luck to all the nominees. You’re all fab!

I asked Kate to tell us about it all. Even better, she tells us what Eve and the deliciously grumpy Harker would think of award season. Drumroll…. and it might be an idea to secure anything breakable…


So amongst all the congratulations and the shoe dilemmas and the oh-my-god-I-can’t-even-zip-this-dress-up crises, I stopped to wonder the other day what the actual characters of The Untied Kingdom would make of this awards ceremony malarky.

It’s Awards Season at the moment, or just was at any rate. Over the last few weeks I’ve watched the Oscars (and spent the next three days sleeping it off: damn those take-a-shot-if-someone-weeps-during-their-speech drinking games!) the Baftas (complete with Prince Colin Firth Charming) and the Brits (live, albeit from the top tier of the O2 arena, which is about as high up as you can go without going through an airport). So we can call that research. Right?

Of course Eve, my heroine, would take awards ceremonies all in stride and probably find the whole thing a bit of an inconvenience. She’s been going to glitzy do’s since she was seventeen, and while they were exciting back then, the glamour quickly faded. Brit Awards, Grammys, film premieres, a dozen red carpets, uncomfortable shoes, frocks you have to be sewn into and hair that doesn’t even belong to you. She likes the effect, when she sees the pictures later (the carefully screened ones her agent sends), but to be honest she’d rather sit at home with a hot chocolate and watch Glee.

Then we have Harker. He feels uncomfortable if he’s carrying any less than three types of personal firearm, and has the hairstyle of a man who thinks combs are for nancies. The only clothes he’s worn since he was eighteen are the ones the army gave him, and the idea of putting on a penguin suit and actually having to shave fills him with horror. All this poncing about, being polite to people he either doesn’t know or doesn’t like, drinking tiny glasses of fizzy plonk instead of dark beer, like a normal person, and pretending to be pleased when someone who is not the love of his life wins the award she deserves…no, he’d rather sit at home too, although I don’t reckon he’d think much of Glee.

All in all, then, it’s probably a good job I haven’t Pygmalion’d them into existence and bought them tickets for the RoNAs on Monday.

I think I’d be better off taking my mum.


Kate Johnson lives behind a keyboard in Essex and belongs to a small pride of cats. She was born in 1982 and has spent the intervening years watching romantic comedies and reading Terry Pratchett, which sort of made it inevitable that she’d grow up to write fantastical stories about people falling in love. She’s worked in an airport and in a laboratory, but much prefers being an author since it allows her to look at pictures of handsome men all day for the purposes of research. She spends a lot of time online, Tweeting and reading other people’s blogs, and when she’s completely run out of other things to do, she occasionally writes books.

2010 and onwards

(Yes, I’m late. Why does this surprise you?)

Well, it’s been quite a year. Let’s see if I can sum it up… er…

In January The Wolf’s Mate came out as an ebook, the novella tracking the further adventures of Jeren and Shan from The Wolf’s Sister sporting a gorgeous cover from Natalie Winters.

In February I finished the first draft of The Wolf’s Destiny.

March brought the Pheonix Convention or Pcon which is always awesome fun.

April and the awesome news that May Queen had sold to Dial Books for Young Readers. OMG the stress and excitement.  Then there was a blurr of contracts, rewrites, and a variety of things I’d never imagined.

In May Soul Fire came out in print. I was so busy I almost missed it. Poor neglected book. Paranormal Romance with sexy sidhe should never be neglected. If you missed it, you might like to go and look now. It also has a magnificent cover. I’ll wait.

Spent most of the summer writing Graffiti Angel and editing The Wolf’s Destiny. In July I went to the RNA conference in Greenwich which was incredibly fun! And just a bit glam!

Sad news reached me in August that my wonderful super-agent Colleen Lindsay was giving up agenting but luck was with me and the equally fantastic Suzie Townsend won the wrestling took me on and things have been going swimmingly since then. And I can still have random chats with Colleen about Dr. Who and mad cats whenever! 🙂

September… I think I lost September somewhere. Checked down the back of the sofa but no joy.

October means Octocon. George R. R. Martin was Guest of Honour. Met so many wonderful people! <3 to you all. I was also a Geek of the Week.  At the end of October we went to Ashford Castle for a Harry Potter night. It was awesome!

November was Wexworlds which was a winter wonderland edition as all the snow in the world decided to fall on Wexford that weekend. We met, among others, Eoin Colfer which made my son’s decade (a feat as he’s not quite a decade old)! It also brought rewrites on May Queen which are now all done.

December brought Songs of the Wolf to print, The Wolf’s Sister and The Wolf’s Mate collected together for the first time with another lovely Natalie Winters cover. My first and latest Samhain novella together. Pretty! And a freakin’ unbelievable amount of snow! I mostly hibernated. This also meant I got the second round of edits on May Queen finished early (Yay me!) and sent them back.

So what next? Well, we’ll have to see what 2011 brings. I’m off to Rome for a libraryland conference this week – will be sure to bring back photos. Many many photos. And tonnes of inspiration. I’ve started working on Forest King, the sequel to May Queen, and a number of other things (of course). Looking forward to the Pen dinner in February and PCon in March – anywhere writers gather really. RNA conference is in Caerleon this summer and as plans stand I’m definitely going. It’s only a ferry ride away. Ok, a ferry ride and a drive/train, but close enough. And this is the year we will knock May Queen into its final shape.

It’s shaping up to be an exciting year. Can’t wait.

Links ‘n’ thinks

I’ve been working on Graffiti Angel rewrites and plantsing along on my YA Space Opera this (last) week. Plus the odd bit on my May Queen sequel. Hey, at least it has a draft synopsis now. That’s something. Octocon is coming up this weekend so my delightful pre-con stress dreams have started – you know the type: locked in a loo, went out for a coffee and can’t get back etc. This means of course that I’m even more unfocused than usual! Really looking forward to the convention though.

So this post is a mixture of things that have caught my fancy on the internet over the last while:

Spacy stuff for himself

1)Sergey Korolov was the chief rocket scientist for the Soviet Union during the 1960s space race with the US. His identity was so secret he was referred to only as The Chief Designer. It is probably due to his early death in 1966 that the US were the first to land on the moon. His Soyuz spacecraft is still in use today, and has now taken on a new significance (video from BBC – sorry about the ad). I guess, as my space-mad husband pointed out, you could say he won in the end. 😉

Books I love, writers I admire

2) Alan Garner’s books have been really important to me for as long as I can remember. Here he is talking about The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (video from The Guardian) and the influence of Alderley Edge on his books. He describes perfectly the way I feel about Dalkey and Killiney, and how landscape works its way into writing. To (probably mis-) quote:  “Here I learned the rockness of rock, the treeness of tree and the skyness of sky” – “…a sense of otherness about the place that goes back as far as there have been people to react to it”.


3)Pictures of people re-enacting the Battle of Hastings amuse me!


4) Hogwarts online amuses me too!

and finally

5) RNA is Fabulous at Fifty. Get all the goss! 😀

So that’s it for now. I will be at Octocon over the weekend, talking books, sci-fi, fantasy and chasing my children all around the place. If you’re there say hi!