Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Time Flies!



They say time flies when you are having fun – and this year has certainly flown by. It’s been a whirlwind from January when I got ‘the call’ from Mills and Boon. I've had the excitement of receiving copies of my first book and seeing them on the shelves. Just before Christmas I had another parcel of books, this time my second book, Claimed by the Sheikh which is a February release and will be available online and in the shops very soon!



To celebrate the end of such an amazing year, I have two signed hardback copies of my UK edition to give away. All you need to do is stop by the competition post on my Facebook page and tell me your favourite way to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Winning names will be drawn on Sunday 4th January at midday GMT.






Romantic Times Book Reviews – Thomas’s tale is full of secrets, lies and veiled passion. Her visual depiction of exotic, opulent desert locales and the emotionally heartrending ending is excellent.
I am also proud to have been a part of Winter Tales, a wonderful collection of short stories with winter themes, produced by The Write Romantics. My story is set in Wales, where I live, and takes place on New Year’s Eve. The anthology is still available for download, so why not support our chosen charities, The Teenage Cancer Trust and The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and get your copy here now.


I have had a fantastic and exciting first year as a published author and would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me and wish you all A Happy New Year!







Thursday, 13 November 2014

Charity Anthology

I'm really proud to be a member of The Write Romantics, a fabulous group of women who met online two years ago. We were at the time, all members of The New Writers' Scheme, run by The Romantic Novelists' Association. At the start of 2014 only one of our group had become a published writer, but 2014 has been an amazing year for us with seven other members signing contracts with publishers or agents.

As a group, we had been toying with the idea of compiling an anthology of short stories in aid of charity and now that idea is fulfilled. Winter Tales was released on 8th November 2014. All proceeds will be split between our two chosen charities, The Teenage Cancer Trust and The Cystic Fibrosis Trust.



One of our members, Alys West, has a gorgeous three year old nephew who battles CF and supporting this charity was close to our hearts. We were also touched by the incredible fund raising efforts of teenager, Stephen Sutton.


Along with our own stories you will find stories from guest authors, all heartwarming seasonal tales. So please, support our charities and buy Winter Tales either as an e-book here or soon to be available paperback.

Thank You and enjoy!









Friday, 31 October 2014

First Book Excitement

The past six weeks have been full of excitement as my debut book came out. The first time I saw in on the shelves was in London, when I was there for my first Mills and Boon author party.

Locally I had a launch in a fabulous clothes shop, Duet. I signed copies of my book in a shop full of beautiful clothes whilst sipping bubbly. The support I've had from local people has been overwhelming, but it was a bit of a shock to find my photo on the front of the local paper!


In my hometown of Worcester, my mum, a piano teacher, organised another signing for all the pupils and their parents who'd supported me through the So You Think You Can Write competition last year and again now, by buying my book. This also gave me the chance for a quick catch up with my school friend Vanessa, who I've known since primary school. She has always urged me to keep writing.


I've also really enjoyed the photos friends and readers have sent me of my book on the shelves here in UK as well as in America.


Having my first book out has been an amazing experience, made all the more fun by the support of family, friends and readers. 
I hope you all enjoyed the book.

Thank You!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Meet My Main Character

Today I’m taking part in a blog hop about my character.

Thank you to Marie Dry for tagging me in 
Meet My Main Character Blog hop and you can 
read all about Marie’s main character here.

Alien Mine
In a bleak future where government systems are breaking down and lawless bands of men terrorize the country, botanist Natalie Hanson fears for her life and hides in a cave in the Rocky Mountains. When she is captured by human raiders, a fierce alien appears and slays her attackers. Natalie is now held captive in her own cave by the sexy and striking alien commander, Zacar, who informs her that she will be his breeder. Natalie soon realizes that these aliens worship strength. So what will happen when Zacar finds out she has severe asthma?rite the perfect story that had all the elements she looked for in a romance. In 1997 she shared a pizza with a friend. She promised her friend to go all out with her writing and get published. With her friends cheering her on ever since, Marie found it a wonderful experience to see the characters in her head coming to life on the page. Being published by Black Opal Books is a dream come true for her.

Meet My Character

What is the name of your character?
Santos Ramirez

When and where is the story set?
The story starts in Santos’s London office but very soon he whisks the heroine, Georgina, to Puerto Banus in Spain.

What should we know about the character?
Santos will let nothing stand in the way of getting what he wants, not his family, a woman and never his emotions.

What is the character’s goal?
He wants to inherit his father’s business, but to do that he must marry – and provide an heir, so when Georgina marches into his life, offering all he needs and more, he thinks his problems are over.

What is screwing up your character’s life (the main conflict)?
He is being forced to marry in order to inherit a business he has worked hard to build up and finds the terms of his father’s will unjust. Those terms force him to consider marriage, something he’s never wanted, but even worse are the feelings he develops for Georgina.

When is the book to be published?
A Deal Before The Altar is available now.





Next week, Judith Arnopp will talk about her main character.


My greatest loves have always been writing an history. Since I was 
small I have had a book in one hand and a pen in the other. These 
days I am able to write the sort of books I love to read. Historical 
settings with a strong female lead.




Saturday, 27 September 2014

An interview with Elisabeth Hobbes

One of the great things to come out of So You Think You Can Write, is the friendships I’ve made and it give me great pleasure to have Elisabeth Hobbes as the first guest to my blog.

Hi Elisabeth.
First of all, congratulations on your success in last year’s So You Think You Can Write contest. I’m really looking forward to seeing your book on the shelves and of course reading it!

As a historical romance writer you have some fabulous excuses for research. How do you go about researching for a new story?
Once I have an idea for a story in mind and know who the characters are I love finding locations for the story to take place.  I grew up in York so was always surrounded by beautiful medieval buildings so I have a lot of memories to draw on.  My degree was in History and Art History so I have that to draw on in terms of factual information.

If you could spend a few hours with any person from history, who would it be and why?
There are so many inspirational people I’d love to meet but it would have to be Eleanor of Aquitaine who managed to influence politics and ensure her daughters were also able to make influential marriages.  We think of women being, until fairly recently, powerless but she ruled as regent and held her own in an incredibly male dominated society.  It must have taken an incredible force of will and that is something I wanted to have Aline, the heroine of Falling for Her Captor, discovering as she finds her inner strength.

Do you have a special place for writing?
I’m not disciplined so I have to go somewhere without internet access.  Luckily there are a couple of fabulous independent cafes and pubs where I live so I take myself off there (I’m in the pub as I write this) where I can get some peace and of course a nice pint or cake.  I may have to dedicate my next book to them!
When I am at home it’s usually in an armchair with the laptop balanced on the arm and a cat on my lap.

Are you a plotter or punster?
I’m a bit of both.  I know when I start writing where the story is going to end with essential plot points mapped out, but I end up deviating or adding things in.  Sometimes the characters insist on it, however much I try to make them do what I want!

What advice would you give to other aspiring romance writers?
Know your reader expectations.  I changed a fair bit of Falling for Her Captor to fit in with series guidelines for Harlequin Historical.  Also, the same advice I’d give to any writer: join a writing group or website and try get some critique of your work.  It’s nerve-wracking to put your work out there for people to read, especially with the sort of intimate scenes involved in the romance genre, but finding out what readers think is the only way to improve.

Finally, how did you celebrate getting ‘the call’?
I was on an early morning ferry from Calais to Dover when I got the call so I was a little seasick and tired having driven halfway across France before breakfast.  I wasn’t in a position to celebrate much at the time.  Once we docked I called my mum, my sister and got straight on to Facebook to tell everyone who had supported my through SYTYCW.  My husband and I had been skiing (our one child free indulgence) and were heading back to pick up our children from my in-laws so it was lovely to be able to turn up with such exciting news and a few bottles of Breton cider to celebrate.

What a fantastic call story Elisabeth! Thank you and good luck with the release!

Falling for Her Captor will be released on October 1st with Harlequin Historical.
You can find out more of what Elisabeth is up to on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethHobbes?ref=hl


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

So You Think You Can Write



This time last year my fingers were poised over the keyboard. Should I press enter and send my chapter in? Should I put all those words on the website for anyone to read and comment on?

I'm sure that is a feeling that anyone entering the competition can identify with and all I can say is

  YES YOU SHOULD! 

Although it was a nice dream, winning was never my aim. Getting my story noticed was what it was all about for me. Just as it had been in previous, but unsuccessful years. Last year it happened and it could happen to 

YOU!

This was me, last week in London, when I first saw my books on the shelves and just a few days ago in my local store, I actually saw someone buy a copy! Even better, it was the last copy. I'd sold out!


I'm so looking forward to reading the chapters and watching dreams come true. Mine certainly did and I've had the most amazing year.


GOOD LUCK!



Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Six Months On

I can't believe that it was only six months ago that I got 'the call' from Harlequin Mills and Boon offering me a two book contract. Those six months have flown by and during that time I've learnt so much.The biggest excitement was seeing the cover of my debut A Deal Before The Altar for the first time.


My second book was the hardest book I've ever written. When I started it during the So You Think You Can Write competition I never thought for one moment it would become the second book of a contract! Suddenly the pressure was on, but after several rounds of revisions, during which I learnt so much working with my editor, it now has a fabulous title. Claimed by the Sheikh will be available next year.


I attended the RNA summer party in London and the annual conference in Telford, no longer as a New Writers' Scheme member, which is such a brilliant feeling after seven years of submitting to NWS.

I was so thrilled with my first cover that I organised postcards to go into the goody bags at the conference. Here's a photo of me with the postcard.

I'm currently working towards a deadline with my third book and this time I can honestly say I've loved writing the story more than any other.

The excitement of seeing my book on the shelves and holding it in my hands is still to come and I can't wait!

A Deal Before The Altar is available for pre-order on amazon, which still seems unreal. It will also be on the Mills and Boon website and in the shops during October.

Friday, 18 July 2014

My Conference Weekend

It's hard to believe that this time last week the fabulous RNA conference, held at Harper Adams University in Telford, was just beginning. A whole weekend of talking writing romance with friends, making new friends and attending the sessions which kept us inspired all weekend.

There was a little bit of doubt as to whether I'd get there, as my travel companion Melissa Morgan explains on her blog.

The sessions I enjoyed most were Nikki Logan on The Chemistry of Reading, Janet Gover on Location, Location, Location and Clare Mackintosh on Write to Sell Yourself. As ever, there were the toss up moments, which session to go to, but that's where friends help out by exchanging notes or handouts.

Nikki Logan - The Chemistry of Reading

The Gala dinner, held on the Saturday evening, was a chance for me to drag out my heels and party dress. It was a fantastic evening, with wonderful food and much laughter.

Me and Melissa Morgan

It was also an extra special conference for me, as I attended as a soon to be published author, which after about seven years as a member of the New Writers' Scheme is a wonderful feeling. Then just to add a bit more fun, Harper Adams is an agriculture campus, complete with livestock, which was like home from home for me and I couldn't resist a peek at the calves and cows. The pigs and their smell was a bit too much - even for me!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Echoes of the Past

At the beginning of the week I had an early morning drop off at the airport and as my wip was going well, I decided to have a day out and visit one those places I've been meaning to go to for a long time.

So with the sun shinning I arrived at St Fagans. The Museum of Welsh Life. But it's not your average museum. With the exception of a few buildings each and every one has been relocated from its original site elsewhere in Wales. Moving house is bad enough, but imagine actually moving the house!

St Fagans Castle is one of the buildings that is still on its original site and the gardens are wonderful, complete with white doves.













When I entered Y Garreg Fawr (The Big Rock) a stone farmhouse originally built in 1544 the air was full of the scent of smoke from the old fire. The heavy dark oak furniture gave the interior an oppressive feel, not helped by the small windows. Yet this was the home of a wealthy farmer.












As I walked from building to building, entering the rooms that looked as if the families had just gone out for the day, I explored life across the centuries, from a 12th century church to a a 1948 prefab bungalow. The gardens of the cottages and houses were also set out as they would have been at the time, giving a rounded picture of what life would have been like.


So if you are ever in the Cardiff area and fancy a trip back in time, I can recommend it.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Fabulous First Cover

I'm so excited! Here is the North American cover of my first book!


It will be out in October, but is available now for pre-order on amazon in UK here and US here.


I just can't wait to have the book in my hands, but I love this cover. What do you think?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Writing Under the Tuscan Sun

At the beginning of May, with two writing friends, I spent a week in the ancient walled city of Lucca. We rented a lovely apartment in the heart of the city, which was above a patisserie and the smells as the delicious cakes were prepared were wonderful. As were the cakes!

We all worked hard on our writing and enjoyed several afternoons outside, making the most of the sunshine. We wrote in lots of different places, from the Botanical Gardens, to picnic benches on the Renaissance walls of the city. But the favourite place for me was Palazzo Pfanner and the wonderful gardens full of lemon trees.


It’s also where we spent the afternoon with Sharon Kendrick, who was in Italy teaching at the wonderful Watermill and visited Lucca when the group had their day out.


It was a fun to immerse ourselves in the daily life of the city, everything from shopping for food to enjoying a coffee and watching the world go by. Several times during the week, I walked around the city on the walls, a walk of 4km, but well worth it to see the city. It's also what all the locals do. Each morning they walk, run or even cycle around the walls. 



As well as writing, I visited museums, churches and the cathedral. I spent many hours enjoying window shopping on the Via Fillungo and soon found my way around by remembering all the shops where I liked a dress or a pair of shoes. When the bustle of shopping became too much, I enjoyed coffee in the famous oval Piazza Anfiteatro.




From the apartment I could watch the daily life of Lucca going on and soak up the atmosphere. I loved listening to the sounds of the cafes, the flow of Italian and the gorgeous smells from the patisserie below.
Soon, our week came to an end and I was sad to say goodbye to our lovely apartment and it's charming courtyard view, but I returned with lots of words written, fabulous food eaten and lovely places seen.


Monday, 26 May 2014

Back from London and the RNA Summer Party

This week I went to London, for the RNA Summer Party to support fellow Write Romantic, Helen Phifer, who’d been nominated for The Joan Hessayon Award, with her brilliant debut, The Ghost House. It was also great to catch up with other writers and make new friends. You can find out more about those nominated and the winner, Jo Thomas here.

The official RNA photograph of the nominees.

This year the trip to London was extra special, because I met with my editor. This meant going to Romance HQ, a place I’ve dreamed of going to for so long. What I didn’t expect was to be shown the cover of my very first book, A Deal Before The Altar, out in October 2014. I was completely stunned into silence, but I absolutely love the cover and can’t wait to be able to share it here!
Whilst I was enjoying lunch in a fantastic restaurant with my editor and my mentor editor from the So You Think You Can Write 2013 competition a terrific thunderstorm erupted over London, but even that didn’t dampen my excitement. It actually made me think of a scene from my first book when a storm breaks out and Georgina is forced to deal, not only with her fear of storms, but the enigmatic Santos.
I found out later, that lightning had caused a bit of drama that afternoon in London, when it struck the Shard. Fortunately by the time I made my way back to my hotel the sun was shining again and I was on cloud nine. I’m still there!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Writers' Lunch in Cardiff

Yesterday I traveled to Cardiff to meet with writers from the area. It was a lovely sunny day and a chance to catch up with friends and meet new ones. We dined on Italian food and toasted my new career with Mills and Boon. It was a lovely day!

It was also a chance to thank Liz Fielding, who writes for  Mills and Boon Modern Tempted. Her latest book, For His Eyes Only is available now - and well worth a read.

I first met Liz when she visited my local writing group about eight years ago. Listening to her rekindled my desire to write for Mills and Boon.



For that talk, Liz had brought with her a book which changed everything. That book was Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. It is now one of my most read books and is always to hand!

I went home enthused by all that Liz had said and began reading the 12 Point Guide. Imagine my delight when I saw that Kate was teaching romance writing at Writer's Holiday in Fishguard - just a few weeks later. I promptly signed up and the rest as they say, is history!

The 12 Point Guide is now available as an e-book and more information can be found on Kate's blog.

Monday, 21 April 2014

My Main Character

Thank you Judith Arnopp for tagging me in Meeting My Main Character blog hop. You can read Judiths' leading lady here.

What is the name of my main character? Is she real or fictitious?
Georgina Henshaw is the heroine in my debut Harlequin Presents book. She is fictitious, although now, she feels quite real to me! She came to life in my So You Think You Can Write entry last September as a feisty lady, determined to achieve what she wanted.

When and where is the story set?

The story, set in the present day, opens in London as she visits the hero, Santos Ramirez at his London office. This is the first time they have ever met and sparks really fly!


Despite the story starting in London, the majority of the book is set in the glitz of Puerto Banus, Spain. Here Georgina experiences the sunshine and glamours lifestyle of Sanots's home.

What should we know about her?
Georgina has been married and widowed. It was a marriage not based on love, but one which would give both herself and Emma, then still at school, the security that has been absent all through their childhood. Having seen and lost too much as a child, she has no intention of ever falling in love, preferring instead to hide behind a facade of indifference.

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?
Santos is her main conflict. As far as she is concerned he is standing in the way of her sister's happiness and she will do anything to prevent that. It is also Santos who messes up her life, with his sexy good looks and confident charm she soon finds herself falling for him - something she never wanted to do.

What is Georgina's goal?
Her goal is to ensure Emma has what she has been denying herself. A loving marriage and happy ever after. She will do anything for her younger sister, Emma. All she wants is for her to be happy and to be able to marry the man of her dreams. This is something she herself doesn't believe in after the hardships she's shielded Emma from as they've grown up.

What is the book's title?
The book is called A Deal Before The Altar.

When will the book be out?
A Deal Before The Altar will be published in October 2014.

Soon to introduce their main characters is





Saturday, 29 March 2014

Off on a Stationery Crawl

Today I'm blogging on The Write Romantics about my love of stationery. Do stop by and tell us what you find irresistible about stationery.



Monday, 17 March 2014

My Writing Process

Thank you to Marie Dry for inviting me to join The Blog Tour. Her debut novel, Alien Mine, will be available soon. Find out more about Marie at www.mariedry.com

Also, thanks to Judith Arnopp, who invited me last month, when I was deep in the writing cave! Her latest release, The kiss of the Concubine, is available now. Find out more about Judith at www.juditharnopp.com


My Writing Process

What am I working on?

I have almost finished my second book, which will submitted next week to my editor.

How does my story differ from others of its genre?

Over the last seven years, as I've chased my dream of publication, one bit of advice has stuck. To write my story. By using my voice and telling the story my way is how it differs.

Why do I write?

This is a question I asked myself after my last rejection. And the answer - I write because I have to. I can't imagine a life where I don't write and how else am I going to deal with those characters who fill my head, clamouring to tell me their story?

How does my writing process work?

I have always had to fit writing in around a family and life on a busy farm. Basically I write when I can. I'd prefer to write first thing in the morning, but will always grasp every opportunity. I'm also lucky that I have a lovely room in which to write. Often I have the company of my dog, Tara.


My debut book, A Deal Before the Altar, will be available later this year. More information can be found on my website: www.rachaelthomas.co.uk

Next week, the following authors will be participating.
Julie Heslington, a fellow member of The Write Romantics and member of RNA. Visit Julie's blog.

Sue Moules, a poet and fellow member of my local writing group. Her latest book The Moth Box is available now. Visit Sue's blog.

Joanne Dannon, a member of Romance Writers of Australia. We met online when we became critique partners. Visit Joanne's blog.





Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Beginnings and Endings

Today I will be working on the final chapter of my first draft and I am looking forward to writing 'the end'. Of course it's not the end. It's really only just the beginning, because next it will be time to read through the story, edit and polish.

But first I will take a break, step back from the story and as it's Shrove Tuesday what better way to start than a few pancakes? That of course gives me a new dilemma. What topping?

 
 
Happy Pancake Day!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines' Day

It's Valentine's Day. A day of hearts and flowers and a day for love and romance.


It's also my birthday! So what better day to share the fabulous new title for my first book.

My So You Think You Can Write entry, Behind the Scandalous Fa├žade, which sold just three weeks ago to Harlequin Mills and Boon now has a sparkling new title.

A Deal Before The Altar
 
I love it and can't wait to see the cover! The release date is still to be confirmed but as soon as I can I will post details here.

The only thing left to say, is that I wish you all a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Getting 'The Call'

I've wanted to make this post for so long, but finally I can say  .... I got 'The Call'  I am now a Harlequin Mills and Boon author!

It's a moment I've dreamt of for many years and one I've worked hard towards too, stubbornly never giving up.


I received revision for my So You Think You Can Write entry just before Christmas and submitted the revisions early in the New Year, then crossed just about everything I could.

On Thursday last week I travelled to Aberystwyth to meet a writing friend for lunch. A cold winter wind was funnelling off the sea and down the street. So when my phone rang I hid in the doorway of a closed shop to shelter from the wind and it's there I received the momentous news that I had sold my first book to Harlequin Mills and Boon. Not only that, I was offered a two book contract.

When I met with Kate, my writing friend we were both so excited we could hardly order lunch and it was so nice to be able to share that moment with someone who is also hoping for such a call.

By the time I returned home, my phone needed charging and I had so many messages I could hardly keep up. Naturally, later that evening I popped the cork on a bottle of champagne I'd discovered lurking in the back of the cupboard over Christmas. Sleep that night was practically impossible as I floated around on cloud nine.

It's been a wonderful journey but finally I have reached my destination. Now I have a brand new journey to embark on, that of a Harlequin Presents author!!!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way and for all those congratulations.