Monday, April 24, 2017

Chatting with Publishers: Natasha Harding

A warm welcome to Natasha Harding who recently joined Bookoutre as Associate Publisher. We catch up with her just a few weeks after her move.

You join Bookouture, something of a phenomenon in the industry, shortly after its acquisition by Hachette UK. Are you excited to be joining the team?

I remember reading the first books by Jenny Hale and Angela Marsons and I’ve been following Bookouture’s string of successes ever since. There is such a fantastic team of authors and publishers at Bookouture now, so I’m extremely excited to be joining such a creative and dynamic team.

Your own publishing journey has been impressive as well. You first came to the attention of this writer when you were with Pan Macmillan but that is obviously not the whole story. I’m sure our readers would enjoy a pocket history of your career.

I completed a Publishing Masters at Oxford Brookes, which gave me such a brilliant insight into the industry. At the start of my career, I worked at various academic and children’s publishing houses, gaining as much experience as an editorial assistant as possible. I then worked at Macmillan Children’s Books for a year before transferring across to Pan Macmillan’s commercial adult list. I had the very best mentors at Pan Macmillan and lots of publishing opportunities there. Most recently, I was commissioning fiction at Avon, HarperCollins, and enjoyed working with the incredibly hardworking and innovative publishing team.

I’ve been privileged to work with incredible authors and amazingly talented colleagues, which has allowed me to learn a lot about the publishing industry. I’m particularly passionate about the digital side of publishing because it opens up such wonderful opportunities for authors and such a huge variety of books for readers.  

When a new manuscript lands on your desk and grabs your attention, what is it that makes it stand out from the rest? The writing? The genre? Are you even able to quantify it, or is it instinct?

It does tend to be quite instinctive. I can usually tell by the end of the first page if I want to buy a book. The narrative voice is absolutely key to making a story special but I’m also drawn by big commercial hooks as well.

For example, Elaine Everest’s debut book, The Woolworths Girls, immediately appealed to me. It has a gorgeous opening page and strong writing throughout the novel. But it stood out for me because the story explores the Second World War through the eyes of three strong central characters working at Woolworths. The characters and setting both work extremely well together and the title and package for the book were very clear to me. (If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend it!)

You have been instrumental in the success of a notable list of authors. What advice can you give to those who would follow in their footsteps?

My top five tips are:

1.      Read and write often.
2.      Don’t be afraid to get others to read your work. Constructive feedback really does help to polish a manuscript.
3.      Similarly, find a support network. Twitter is great for connecting with other writers, but if you can join a writing group or go to a writing class the support will be invaluable. Or even better, join the RNA!
4.      Be confident in your writing.
5.      Don’t give up! It’s clichĂ© but perseverance really does go a long way!

Does Natasha Harding have a life outside of the publishing world? What are your personal interests?

Well, I do spend quite a lot of time reading . . . but yes I always have a packed diary too! I love spending time with my little boy and my husband and we always have great fun together. We’re often visiting friends and family across the UK. Trips to the zoo and the park are also big features in family life at the moment!  

Finally, Natasha, if you hadn’t joined an industry which you so obviously love, what else might you have done that would have fulfilled you in the same way?

Good question . . .  I thank my lucky stars every day to have a career I enjoy so much. I remember discovering there was an entire industry dedicated to creating books when I was about 14 and from that point on becoming an editor was my dream – I was pretty determined!
However, I love to travel so, if I hadn’t found my route into publishing, I guess I may have been an eternal globe trotter! But I think I would have been drawn to jobs that involve adventure and stories in some shape or form – a librarian, a scriptwriter or even an archaeologist perhaps?

It’s been a pleasure chatting with you, Natasha. Thank you for talking to us today.

Natalie Kleinman writes contemporary and historical romantic novels and has thrown a bit of a mystery into the mix in her recently completed Regency. She is now working on a new contemporary. Her next novel set in the beautiful Cotswolds is with Harper Collins HQ Digital and is due for publication at the end of June. You can follow her blog at

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Bloggers and Reviewers: Anne Williams - Being Anne

Thank you to Ellie Holmes for another wonderful interview in this new series.

I am delighted to welcome Anne Williams to the RNA Blog’s monthly series where we speak to book bloggers and get an insight into their world. Welcome Anne, tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog.
My name is Anne (as everyone will have probably guessed!), I’m 61 and single, and I live in the
beautiful market town of Wetherby in West Yorkshire. I’ve lived here for over 25 years now - the best decision I ever made - but Im originally from a village near Bangor in North Wales. I used to be a civil servant, working in project and change management with DWP, focusing on marketing and communications. I was lucky enough to be able to be offered early retirement (and a full pension!) in March 2014, and now spend my time doing all the things I most enjoy.
When I was working, I found I was often too tired to read, but in my retirement I’ve re-discovered my passion for books. I spend a lot of my time reading - what can be better? -   writing about books on Being Anne, and discussing them on-line with blogging and reading friends (or to put it another way, I spend far too much time on Facebook and Twitter!). Much of what I enjoy in my free time is book related - I enjoy running the local U3A Book Group, I’m part of the admin team for the excellent Book Connectors group on Facebook and for LetsDoBooks, and I’m lucky enough to be invited to some of the best book launches and parties. I’ve been a reader for the RoNAs for many years now, and one of my highlights of recent years was attending the awards last year after winning a ticket in the reader draw.

What made you start to review/blog?
Add caption
I started blogging four years ago - I’ve been writing reviews for a lot longer, but (following the example of other reading friends) it seemed a good idea to have somewhere where I could pull them together. To begin with it was just a little hobby - reviewing books as I read them, and when I had the time - but after retiring I decided to spend some time building it into something more. I started joining blog tours, doing interviews and features - and people seemed to like reading what I wrote. And I found I particularly enjoyed spotlighting indie and self-published authors who often find it more difficult to get the word out about their books. Although it had over 220,000 views, I thought my old blog - on the blogger platform - looked a bit amateur (and much too cluttered and purple!) so I learned a whole new skill set and relaunched on the Wordpress platform, and I’m really pleased with the new look. I now try to post every weekday, just sometimes at weekends - and I love every moment. 

Has your blog ever won or been nominated for any awards?
I was so thrilled last year to be nominated for the Best Pal Blogger Award at the annual Bloggers’ Bash (the ABBAs) - and quite speechless (well, nearly… words seldom fail me!) when I actually won. It’s an award that meant a great deal to me, an endorsement of the direction in which I’d taken the blog - I’m delighted people voted for me as their “best pal”, and it made me realise that I’m obviously doing something right…

Whats your review policy?
It’s on the blog. under a tab in the header - here - and I do tinker with it regularly. I’d so love to be able to read, review and feature for everyone who asks, but it’s just impossible.

Whats the best and worst thing about running a blog?
Without a moment’s hesitation, the best thing has to be the community I’m part of - bloggers, readers, authors, publicists and publishers are all unfailingly lovely, and I’ve made the most wonderful friends. There’s really nothing I don’t enjoy - except maybe the frustration that I just can’t manage to review or feature every book and author that crosses my path.

I was interested to see you have a monthly book review slot on Tempo FM in Wetherby. Tell us a bit about what that involves.
It’s something that happened by chance, and I so enjoy it! The presenter got in touch for an  interview about the U3A Book Group, and mentioned that she’d been thinking about starting a book review slot. I now pop in monthly and spend a lovely hour chatting with the presenter, Bairbre, just sharing my thoughts on some of the books I’ve read and reviewed.

What do you expect from a writer when they appear on your blog?
No particular expectations, but I do like them to build a bit of a relationship with me before I feature them or review their books. Shares and retweets are always appreciated too!

I know you love to travel Whats your favourite destination and what trips have you got planned for this year?
That’s a “favourite child” question! In the last ten years I’ve been so lucky to have time on my hands
and to be financially secure, able to pursue my passion for travel. I love my holidays, usually long haul, and particularly enjoy travelling to places where other people might not have been. Last year was Borneo and Singapore, the previous year Chile, Argentina and Brazil - if anyone’s interested in my holidays, I did write an article about them for OAPSchat a few years ago (you’ll find it here). I now have my mum living nearby, and my next holiday will be a cruise we’re doing together - Portugal, the Azores and the Canaries - but I’m already looking for my next exotic destination…

We often ask agents and publishers what they consider to be the next 'big thing' - what do you hope to see in 2017?
I’d like to see them taking the older reader more seriously - mainstream publishers do seem to avoid books that focus on older characters, and, although I really enjoy reading lighter romance, I do find it increasingly difficult to identify with characters in their twenties.

Twitter: @williams13anne

 I can certainly vouch for the ‘best pal’ title. Thank you so much for being such a fab guest, Anne.

Ellie Holmes writes commercial women’s fiction with her heart in the town and her soul in the
country. Ellie’s debut release was The Flower Seller. A member of the RNA and the Alliance of Independent Authors, Ellie’s latest book The Tregelian Hoard, set in Cornwall, is the first novella in her Jonquil Jones Mystery Series


Thank you, Ellie and Anne. 

Members, why not leave a comment for Anne if you enjoyed this interview?

Monday, April 10, 2017

April's Competition Monthly!

A new month and more competition details from Francesca!

A couple of the competitions this month offer no cash prizes. I'm very keen that the competitions I pick offer some kind of reward. It's surprising how many don't, apart from the honour of winning. The prize doesn't have to be a cash one to be worth entering.

The Winchester Festival First Three Pages of a Novel competition is offering an editorial meeting
with publishing company Little, Brown. Who knows what that could be worth ultimately to the winner?

The Harper's Bazaar competition is offering short story publication (along with a weekend away) in lieu of cash. This might do a lot for your professional profile – even if they do claim all worldwide rights for that story.

Many competitions claim a right to publish any entry, prize winner or not, and that's generally a no-no in my book. Can you imagine other professions putting up with that? Occasionally though, it's worth accepting something in the rules and conditions, or lack of prize money, for some other advantage.

There's an unusual competition this month in the Txtlit one, with only 154 characters allowed. Now that's quite a challenge!

Good luck to everyone, and don't forget to let us know of any competition success you have.

Harper's Bazaar Short Story Competition
Theme: 'The Anniversary', 3,000 words max
Prize: Publication in Harper's Bazaar and weekend stay in a luxury hotel
Closing date: 30 April 2017
Entry: Free

Luna Press Flash Fiction
Theme: SciFi, fantasy, dark fantasy and their subgenres. 500 words max
Prize: 5 overall winners will split the cash pot of entry fees, plus publication of the Luna Press website.
Closing date: 30 April 2017
Entry: £1.50

Txtlit Monthly Story Competition
Theme: For April, 'The Package'. 154 characters only
Prize: £50
Closing date: 30 April 2017
Entry: £1

Tacchi-Morris Page is Printed Competition
Theme: Open. One side of A4
Prize: 3 x £100
Closing date: 1st May 2017
Entry: £5 / £10 for 3

The Daily Mail Novel Competition
Theme: Crimes and thrillers only. First 5,000 worlds plus 600 word synopsis. Entrants must not be represented by a literary agent.
Prize: £20,000 book deal with Penguin Random House
Closing date: 3 May 2017
Entry: Free

Winchester First Three Pages of a Novel Competition
Theme: Any theme or period. First 3 pages plus synopsis of 600 word max
Prize: Editorial meeting with Little, Brown
Closing date: 15 May 2107
Entry: £6

Bridport Prize Short Story Competition
Theme: Open, 5,000 max
Prize: £5,000 / £1,000 / £500 / 10 x £100
Closing date: 31 May 2017
Entry: £10

Bridport Flash Fiction Competition
Theme: Open, 250 words max
Prize: £1,000 / £500 / £250 / 3 x £100
Closing date: 31 May 2017
Entry: £8

Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award
Theme: Completed or partly written novel, any adult genre. First 3 chapters (5,000 – 8,000words) plus 300 word synopsis.
Prize: £1,000 plus mentoring from The Literary Consultancy and possible publication. Runner up £500 plus professional feedback. 3 x £100 and ms assessment of 50 pages max.
Closing date: 31 May 2017
Entry: £20

Frome Short Story Competition
Theme: Open, 1,000 – 2,200
Prize: £400 / £200 / £100 (plus local prizes)
Closing date: 31 May 2017
Entry: £8

The Fiction Desk Newcomer Prize for Short Stories
Theme: Open, 1,000 – 7,000 words. Entrant must not have been published by Fiction Desk or had a novel or story collection published in printed format.
Prize: £500 / £250
Closing date: 31 May 2017
Entry: £8

1,000 Word Challenge
Theme: 'Secret'
Prize: £100 / £50 / £25
Closing date: 31 May 2017
Entry: £5

Thanks, Francesca! Good Luck to everyone!

If you would like to write for the RNA Blog, then please contact us at

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. Her serial for The People's Friend will begin in the May 27th issue. She's had stories 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 writer Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.

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

Friday, April 7, 2017


Take a look at members publications for April!
Members, if you have a book coming out in May please contact Sheila Riley and give her your details.


Elaine Everest
The Woolworths Girls
Hard Cover Large Print
1st April 2017
A Sunday Times Bestseller. Family Saga.
It's 1938 and as the threat of war hangs over the country, Sarah Caselton is preparing for her new job at Woolworths. Before long, she forms a tight bond with two of her colleagues: the glamorous Maisie and shy Freda. The trio immediately form a close-knit friendship, sharing their hopes and dreams for the future. But with war clouding the horizon, the young men and women of Woolworths realize that there are bigger battles ahead. It's a dangerous time for the nation, and an even more perilous time to fall in love...

Margaret Mounsdon
Festival Fever
Traditional Large  Print
1 April 2017
Fleur Denman is given the chance of a lifetime to front the Ridgly Parva Arts and History Festival but some locals had long memories and weren't prepared to pass up the chance of reviving the scandal that had blackened the Denman family.
In the face of adversity Fleur sets out to clear her name once and for all but when festival money goes missing Ben Salt the main festival sponsor is amongst the first to point an accusing finger in her direction. When best selling airport novelist Rebecca Ebony, Ben's fiancée, turns out to be Becky The Bully from Fleur's schooldays
she realises she has an insurmountable challenge on her hands.

Karen Clarke
The Beachside Flower Stall
ebook and paperback
13th April
Carrie Dashwood fled Dorset ten years ago when her best friend Megan stole her love, local heartthrob Tom. Now she’s back to help run her aunt Ruby’s flower stall in idyllic Shipley. Trying to persuade herself that her feelings for Tom are in the past, Carrie plans to avoid him and Megan completely. But it’s not to be, because Ruby’s Blooms are arranging the flowers for Megan and Tom’s wedding. Soon Carrie’s hiding from Tom and accidentally inventng an imaginary boyfriend, but with the stall’s finances in jeopardy and Ruby needing her niece more than ever, Carrie has to keep her emotions in check.With bouquets to arrange, family secrets to uncover, and Tom unavoidably a part of her life again, can Carrie keep her cool, save the stall, and find her own happy ever after?

Deirdre Palmer
Paperback and ebook
Crooked Cat Books
6th April 2017
Summer, 1969.  It’s a night when anything seems possible, no dream out of reach.
As Apollo 11 hurtles into space and Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon,
South Londoners Carol-Anne, Terry and Mark join the celebrations at an all-night
party in a holiday camp in Devon. But as the cheers go up, one of their group is missing: Carol-Anne’s teenage sister, Beverly.When Beverly is discovered in tears back at their caravan, she has a story to tell that knocks the moonwalk into second place. But can it really be true? The special night falls into chaos as loyalties are tested to the limit, with accusations hurled about like beach balls.With Beverly becoming more of a liability minute by minute, it seems best to head back to London. But back home, each of the group is forced to confront the troubles they thought they’d left behind. Has the holiday put an end to their friendship, or can they work out what happened and stay friends? Moonshine is the sequel to Dirty Weekend

JL Merrow
Muscling Through  (2nd edition; first published by Samhain)
ebook & paperback
JMS Books
1st April
The bigger they come, the harder they fall… in love.
Cambridge art professor Larry Morton takes one, alcohol-glazed look at the huge, tattooed man looming in a dark alley, and assumes he’s done for. Moments later he finds himself disarmed—literally and figuratively. And, the next morning, he can’t rest until he offers an apology to the man who turned out to be more gentle than giant. Larry’s intrigued to find there’s more to Al Fletcher than meets the eye; he possesses a natural artistic talent that shines through untutored technique. Unfortunately, no one else seems to see the sensitive soul beneath Al’s imposing, scarred, undeniably sexy exterior. Least of all Larry’s class-conscious family, who would like nothing better than to split up this mismatched pair. Is it physical? Oh, yes, it’s deliciously physical, and so much more—which makes Larry’s next task so daunting. Not just convincing his colleagues, friends and family that their relationship is more than skin deep. It’s convincing Al. Contains comic misunderstandings, misuse of art materials, and unexpected poignancy. Award-winning gay romance with a dash of humour. And no tea.

JL Merrow
Wake Up Call
ebook & paperback
Riptide Publishing
17th April
 South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street. Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easy-going acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules. When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future, and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them


Amanda James
Behind the Lie
2nd of April.
Who can you trust, when you can’t trust yourself?
Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman who has taken back control of her future. Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go.
Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else.
No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth…her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.

Sheila Norton
The Vets at Hope Green Part 4: A New Start
13 April 2017
PART FOUR of a serialised novel - a heartwarming and inspiring story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.The last few months have been hard for Sam. But what’s more heartwarming and inspiring than a litter of new piglets? On a call to a farm with Joe, she feels a sense of renewal in her own life as she witnesses one of the most glorious and natural processes of all. Sam's thoughts inevitably turn to her own child – will she be able to cope when the baby is born? And with her love life so shaky, will a fatherless child turn out all right?


Helen J Rolfe
The Summer of New Beginnings
ebook (paperback to follow, sometime in April).
Indie published
4th April 2017

They say trouble comes in threes…
Headstrong and organised, Mia is a single mum who wants to fix the world - but the one thing she can’t fix is her family. Responsible older brother Will has fled Primrose Bay, unable to forgive and forget after the ultimate betrayal. And Jasmine, no longer the wayward baby sister, is determined to prove to her brother and sister that she’s just as capable as they are. Together in the bay after years apart and a separation spanning three continents, it doesn’t take long for the siblings to clash when Mia
calls everyone together in a family crisis. And with jealousy and resentment simmering between them, as well as faces from the past and new loves, the family ties could end up being severed forever. Sometimes we need to lose ourselves in order to find each other again…

Lesley Field
Dangerous Entrapment.
Self published on Amazon
March/ April 2017
Shortlisted for the RNA Awards 2016.
Lady Isobella Rothbury believes herself to be on the shelf at one and twenty, having suffered the humiliation of being cast aside in her coming out season. Now needing to help her cousin she seeks assistance from the Duke of Carlisle. Richard, Duke of Carlisle, was intending to take a new mistress but is intrigued by Isobella’s approach and finds himself developing a growing interest in her. How he moved from considering a mistress to contemplating matrimony comes as some surprise. Harry, Duke of Exmouth, was duped into marriage and plots to capture the virgin he let go.
He will bed and breed from the un-named lady he boasts to his friends. Overhearing the plan, Richard realizes the lady in question is Isobella, and he has no intention of allowing the lady he desires to end up as mistress to a scoundrel. If he saves Isobella will he discover the passion she can bring to his bed? And will Isobella find out that to prevent the man you love from seeking a mistress, you should take on that role yourself

Gill-Marie Stewart
The Complete George and Finn Trilogy
Independently published
1st April 2017
The Complete George and Finn YA trilogy contains MUSIC AND LIES, BRIGHT LIGHTS AND LIES and NO MORE LIES. It started with a lie. At fifteen, George Wray knows she is far too old for family holidays. So she tells her parents one little lie, wich leads to her joining step-sister Becky at the amazing Forest Music Festival.
And to meeting gorgeous, secretive Finn. Then having to tell one or two more lies…

Follow George and Finn from their initial meeting, through the ups and downs of their relationship and the mysteries they solve, to a time when, maybe they don’t need to lie any more.