(York) Tea for Two – and a Whole Host of RNA Writers

The RNA held its second Afternoon Tea in York last weekend, and it was lovely to meet up with so many authors I’ve got to know well through Facebook etc but had not had the opportunity to meet in person before. One of those authors was the talented Sharon Booth whose blog below sums up the event nicely.

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Official tickets! Exciting. Or scary!

So there we were, Julie Heslington and me, standing outside The Royal York Hotel, all ready to go inside and brave our first “proper” Romantic Novelists’ Association event. Julie had been to a couple of conferences before but, for me, it was my first RNA event, full stop. The York Tea. A gathering of well-known, well-established romance writers, who would wonder who on earth we were, and how we dared to darken the doorstep of this place and rub shoulders with the elite of romantic fiction.

Well, that’s what we thought, anyway, in our darkest moments. “On the other hand,” we decided brightly, “they might be nice. We have to try, at least.”

Squaring our shoulders, we marched purposefully forward. Julie sailed into the hotel. I got tangled up in the revolving door and it took me slightly longer. Typical. Then, heads held high, we…

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In which I get side-tracked…

I haven’t really got any excuses – for the last month or so, I’ve been meaning to crack on with my next novel, which will be my fourth. It’s all mapped out in my head, ready to spill out onto the page, and with my final edits for Warwick’s Mermaid all done, the way has been clear for me to put fingers to the keyboard. Except, I haven’t, not really. I’ve done a little bit, 13 pages worth, but that’s it, a pathetic attempt, I know.

So, why haven’t I been able to knuckle down and get a good start? Because I’ve allowed myself to get side-tracked on a number of things.

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Great-grandmother’s travel chest

I’ve always been interested in family history and have dabbled a bit on genealogy websites but having recently helped my mum to de-clutter as she is moving to a smaller house, I came across a box of papers and old photographs dating back to the late 1800s/early 1900s. This has led to long evenings searching the internet for any information, scouring various websites. The family history on my Dad’s side is particularly interesting; my great-grandfather was a Tea Farm Manager in Dauracherra, India and I have a very faded, rather long-distance photograph, along with

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Tea Farm, Dauracherra c1908

a beautiful old chest that was used to ship my great-grandmother’s belongings back to England when she returned with her baby son, my grandfather. Unfortunately, my great-grandfather fell ill and died in India just as he was preparing to return to England. He just 35 years old. Perhaps there’s a story in there somewhere…..

The second thing I got side-tracked with was crafting and making cards, something I’ve always done and enjoyed but which has taken a back-seat lately with my writing. Well, you know how it is. I was wandering around a newsagents on my lunch hour when I spotted a card making magazine, with a rather nice looking

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Love making my own cards cards

stencil on the front. I’m afraid I impulse-bought the magazine, and that sparked a craze of several evenings and weekends enjoying myself making cards….. but no writing.

Next, we decided to decorate the sitting room/family room. It was always my least favourite room in the house, full of mis-matched furniture that didn’t fit the room; there was just something about it that meant it just never looked or felt right. I rarely spent any time in there and it just became a room where the children played on their Xbox, PS etc. So, we tackled it this last fortnight and ruthlessly relegated some of the furniture to the garage (not quite ruthless enough to get rid totally;

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Calm and peaceful…

 some of it belonged to my grandad so there’s sentimental attachment to it even though it doesn’t fit in the house). We finished it yesterday and the room has been transformed. I think it may now be my favourite room in the house – calm and peaceful, with some of my dad’s books, claimed during the de-cluttering at my mum’s. But….. still no writing.

And lastly, but most definitely not least, I’ve been side-tracked with the forthcoming release of my third novel through Tirgearr – Warwick’s Mermaid. This was the hardest novel to write – I almost gave up several times – but now it’s done and I’m so happy I persevered. And I absolutely love the cover – my favourite to date so far! It’s due to be published on 11th October and is currently available for pre-order (at just 99p/99c if anyone fancies a bargain!  Pre-order links here on my Author Page)WarwicksMermaidbyEllieGrayFacebookBanner

So, now I’ve got all that out of my system, I’m ready to crack on with my writing. Here’s hoping nothing else comes along to distract me….

Ellie x

It’s Been A While…

Yes, it’s been a while since I last posted and there’s no one real reason why, just a lot of different things that, together, mean I haven’t felt able to put pen to paper or, more accurately, put finger to keyboard.

A stressful and challenging new day job, family issues, lovely weather outside, dedicating time to spend with my family… you know all the usual things that everyone has to deal with. Well, they’ve impacted on me quite dramatically over the last few months and, add into that, or perhaps because of that, I’ve been suffering from that common writer’s problem – a feeling of just not being good enough!

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Warwick’s Mermaid is set in Whitby

My third novel, Warwick’s Mermaid, has been a difficult one to complete. The first draft came quickly and easily enough, but that done, the revisions and edits to make it into an interesting and coherent novel were difficult and, on many occasions, I had decided to scrap it completely and just leave it in the ‘books never to be submitted’ pile. However, my writer friend, Detty, absolutely loved it and encouraged me to keep working at it, eventually convincing me it would be worth it in the end. Well, I did complete it -went through the usual emotions of loving it and hating it in equal measures, until it was finished and I was happy with it, at last! With some relief, I sent it off to my publishers last month and sat back to wait.

Since then, I’ve been struggling to know what to work on next. I have three particular stories that I am keen to work on but I am at a loss as to which one to concentrate on – two of them are in the romantic suspense genre – something different for me, and the other is my usual contemporary romance. I’ve written a chapter for each of the three to

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Wanting to be out and about when the weather’s good

see if there is any particular one which jumps out at me, but none of them have so far – they are all equally keen to have their story told! But, as I said at the start of this post, I am also struggling to find my enthusiasm for writing – it appears to have left me at the moment. There’s just so much else going on in my life and I’m feeling overwhelmed, so am trying to take a bit of a break. But there’s always that nagging voice at the back of my head, the one that tells me I should be writing.

But, and here’s the good news…. I’ve just signed the contract for Warwick’s Mermaid – my third book with Tirgearr Publishing. The feedback from both my publisher and editor for this book was really positive and so I’m thrilled that all the hard work and angst I went through with this particular book was worth it in the end. I do think it is my best to date.

I’ve no doubt the ups and downs described above are just part of a writer’s life and, despite everything, I love it and there is nothing I would rather be doing. I can’t wait to share more information with you as my book nears publication and, in the meantime, I’ll be sitting down and getting to grips with whichever book I decide is the one I need to work on next.

Ellie x

 

 

Happy Birthday, Tirgearr!

My lovely publishers, Tirgearr Publishing, are celebrating their birthday with a Birthday Bash and, instead of receiving presents, they’re giving them away!

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Prizes include a Kindle Fire HD, autographed print books by Tirgearr authors, and our brand new House of Tirgearryen T-shirts. All you have to do is visit their website and enter via the Rafflecopter link – simple!

As part of the celebrations, many Tirgearr books, including Love on the Nile, have been reduced to just 99p/99c so it’s the perfect chance to grab yourself a bargain.

Tirgearr’s Birthday Bash Competition

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Where did the year go?

My debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published a year ago today. In some ways it seems only yesterday and in other ways, such a long time ago. All those years of hoping and dreaming that, one day, I would be a published author. And those dreams came true last February. I’m not sure what I thought would suddenly happen or change once I could truly say I was published, but in reality, it certainly wasn’t anything really dramatic.img_1742

This last year has been exciting, scary, exhausting, eye-opening, confidence building, confidence draining… all those things and more. I think maybe I had seen being published as an end point, rather than what it actually is, which is just the beginning. I had worked so hard, focussed so hard on getting published, I hadn’t really thought about what came next. I certainly didn’t think it would mean instant success, huge advances, film rights, giving up the day job… that kind of thing. And it’s a good job too, because none of those things have happened.

What has happened is that I now have two books published with Tirgearr Publishing – who continue to believe in my work and who have a wonderfully supportive group of authors we call Team Tirgearrean. My books have met with some lovely lovely reviews from people who have read them books and been touched by the characters in some way. And along the way, I have been supported by a fabulous writing community, a community I didn’t know existed.

I have two books published now, and I’m still learning; learning with each book about the craft of writing, about marketing and publicising not just my books but myself as an author. And I’m also learning about me. I’m learning that it is still early days, that I need to be kind to myself, to give myself time and space; it’s not all going to come together and happen at once. I have a day job, I have a large family (with all the emotional ups and downs that come with that), I have other pulls on my time, other new ventures that I’m tentatively dipping my toe into. I’m no different to anyone else; there are so many of us writers who are coping with the same issues, juggling those same balls and trying to keep them in the air. So, it’s nice to be a part of that community; to know that, while being an author is a solitary business, we are not really alone.

I had a rare ‘date night’ last night as a bit of a belated birthday present. My fiancé (it still feels weird saying that; being a woman of a certain age!) and we went to a country music concert. The weather was foul – a stormy, rainy evening, and one which we felt the full force of as we walked along the sea front to the venue at Bridlington Spa.  As I walked into the headwind, pulling my hood close around my face, blinking away the stinging rain, I felt safe and warm and able to consider the storm with a detached perspective. The sea was angrily lashing at the defences and harbour wall, kicking up spray into the night and I spray-959013_640watched in fascination as it roiled and boiled with an obvious power and I pitied anyone who might be out in that sea tonight. As we dashed for cover and made it into the spa, I settled back to enjoy the show. It was a tribute show but the singers were fantastic, the songs were well-known crowd pleasers and I enjoyed singing along with the familiar songs that took me back to my childhood when my parents would listen to country music on the radio. Perhaps that was the reason I suddenly found tears pouring from my eyes as I listened to the song, ‘He Stopped Loving her Today’. It took me completely by surprise and I didn’t hear a single word of the next song as I was still trying to pull myself together. I think it reminded me of my dad, who never doubted I would get published one day, but who died before my dream became a reality. He would have been so proud of me, and I miss him every day. And yet, that emotion, stirred by those lyrics and the heartfelt way in which they were sung, reminded me yet again of the power of words.

I’m a writer; I write and words are my tools. When I take that time for myself to do the thing I love, the thing I want to do for the rest of my life, I sit down in front of the laptop and make sure I use those tools to the best of my ability in order to stir that same emotion in my readers.

My debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published a year ago today. I’m still at the beginning of what I am sure will be a long and winding road, but I’m so very excited to see where the rest of this journey takes me.

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Ellie x