Saturday, February 14, 2009

Become a New Romantic - and win a year's worth of Free Love...

You know I mentioned the Top Secret Project in the last blog? Well, all is revealed...


Working with six other brilliant authors, we've created the New Romantics, a group dedicated to promoting commercial novels that deal with relationships and love...

And we have the most terrific prize on offer - an entire year of free love...of the literary kind. Valentine's Day is over for another year, but scoot over to the New Romantics website and you could win a book a month for the next twelve months. You can also read about my fellow New Romantics, and find extra material about what we do and why we do it! 

The idea of working with other writers in my genre to promote our work - and the genre itself - came more than a year ago, and I thought of our name while I was at the conference of the Romantic Novelists' Association itself. The RNA is a terrific organisation, with many talented authors, but the members encompass a huge range of different genres, from historical fiction to medical romance.

I wanted to work together with a smaller number of writers I know and admire for their different takes on the genre I write in - known variously as commercial women's fiction, contemporary fiction, chick lit and...um, well, many less complimentary names. Crime writers in the UK have already done something very similar with the Murder Squad, a group of friends and authors who offer events and talks to libraries and festivals, and I felt there was a brilliant opportunity to do something similar in the women's fiction genre. 

Anyway, there's a little more information below - but the best way to find out more is to head over to the site itself. I'd love to know what you think.  

The New Romantics – www.thenewromantics.org – brings together seven British authors of novels that deal with love in all its forms. Lucy Diamond, Sarah Duncan, Matt Dunn, Kate Harrison, Veronica Henry, Milly Johnson and Jojo Moyes write in a wide range of topics and styles, from laugh-out-loud romantic comedy to intense love stories and relationship tales from the male point-of-view.

They’ve launched the New Romantics to champion the cause of commercial fiction with a heart –a perfect antidote to the credit crunch. They’ll be promoting their genre through events, reading group campaigns and online promotions.

For your own happy-ever-after, and the chance to win a year of Free Love, check out the website www.thenewromantics.org. The group’s first public event is a debate, What’s Love Got to Do with It? at the very romantic venue of the Old Town Hall in Richmond-upon-Thames Old Town Hall on 30th April at 7pm. More details will be available soon on the website.

The group is the idea of author Kate Harrison. ‘The market for romantic fiction is worth £118m a year, and growing, yet there’s a stereotypical view of readers and authors in the genre as old-fashioned or deluded. We think we’re typical of the audience – we’re intelligent professional people with satisfying lives who happen to like happy endings.

Between them, the New Romantics have published thirty novels, in seventeen countries (including Brazil, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Malaysia, Portugal, Russia, and Spain) and sold well over 1.5 million copies of their books.

Based around the UK (with one currently living in Spain), they take different approaches to exploring love and relationships in their fiction, but they share a passion for reading, writing, talking about books, and for their genre. Their books have won or been shortlisted for awards including the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year, the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance, and the Good Housekeeping Book Award.  

Author and screen-writer Veronica Henry argues that romantic fiction can be a credit-crunch proof treat: ‘There is nothing more indulgent than a brilliantly written, page-turning romantic read. Prepare to curl up in front of the fire, loll in a hammock or slide into a scented bath with one [or all!] of the New Romantics.’

Founder member Milly Johnson is urging cynics to get in touch with their romantic side. ‘Our novels bring hope that your own personal hero is somewhere out there in real life just waiting to find you too.  They are the ultimate escape and stuff of secret fantasies even for the most capable of modern women.’

And Lucy Diamond, who recently moved into writing for the genre after enjoying huge success with her children’s books, says ‘When real life feels too stressful, I love to lose myself in the perils and angst of a romantic heroine, breathing a great, contented sigh of satisfaction when she gets her happy-ever-after."

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More excuses...


OK, so the usual excuses follow: I was teaching a terrific group of very talented sixth-formers in deepest, snowiest Derbyshire, I was dealing with impending life change, I was celebrating a birthday, I was appearing in the Mail on Sunday's YOU magazine (see here: though after the birthday and snow, I am weighing a little more than I do in that picture).  

I also played a small role in rescuing an absolutely adorable cat. How could anyone abandon this terrific boy? He was so affectionate and also starving hungry when we encountered him, having been hanging round in middle of nowhere, trying to find shelter from the freezing weather. 

He'd obviously once been a house cat - I have no idea how anyone could abandon their pet, it makes me very angry. Was so tempted to take him home with us, but the Cat in Residence would not have been pleased, having had life her own sweet way for fourteen years...

Then there's writing the book. And I've also been very busy with a Top Secret Project. Which won't be very top secret once I post my next blog post. Would love to know what you think of the project (and the cat!).

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