simultaneous publication in those days, so it was a couple of years before – in 1986 – my first title Game of Hazard appeared in America. I’m not quite sure how I got to 30 years - 30 years 62+ books . . . All I can say is that I managed it one word at a time!
One of the questions I’m always being asked when people realise how long I’ve been writing is ‘ Have the books changed since you first started?’ And when I say yes, they have changed, then the next question is ‘How? How have they changed?’ I could give a great long list of the way the books have changed since 1984 – the addition of the hero’s point of view – more scope to tackle gritty problems and conflicts, the throwing wide of the bedroom door – or out on a beach or in a forest .. But the truth is that I’m more likely to say ‘well, how has society changed in all that time?’ because romances have changed right along with it. At least these days they do tend to get the cover images a bit closer to the people I’ve described in the book – on my very first cover ever, my jet black haired hero was a decidedly cool blond. He got a bit darker by the time it did come out in paperback - but not much! And the titles have got better – and then worse – and then better again! The one thing that being
This last six months, I’ve been branching out into new things – things that I might never have imagined were possible when I first started writing romance. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride but I think I’ve got there. For one thing, I was asked to run some new courses. I’ve regularly been teaching writing romantic fiction in Wales for the past few years. There have been weekend course and the week long Writers’ Holiday in Fishguard Bay . These have always been fun so when I was asked to plan some more writing weekends for Relax and Write I was looking forward to doing this. I’ve also been able to look into doing something I’ve always wanted to do – and that’s plan and run some writing retreat-style weekends. These are weekends where – well, I’ve called them Focus Weekends and really that’s just what they are.
The Focus on Writing Romantic Fiction retreat a guided writing retreat for people who have been on a course before or who need to do exactly as it says on the tin – Focus on their writing. Where the students will have time and space away from the real world to write and reflect on their novel and to discuss it with me and ask advice. To get away from family and home chores – to concentrate on writing – and have professional advice/input/discussion. Meeting like-minded people who love writing/popular fiction/romantic novels is always something my students say they value. I’m looking forward to seeing how this format works. It’s already booking up.
It’s interesting because before I became a writer, I was a librarian – and the one thing I never wanted to be was a teacher. But it seems that teaching has found me – well, teaching writing anyway. And that’s when another change happened in my life. One of the new things I’ve loved about being a writer -well, not so new now – is seeing my books reissued in ebook form. That first book I had published didn’t even hit the paperback shelves – a lot of books didn’t then. And when they were published, they were out for that month and then gone . . Now I see my books reprinted all over the world and appearing in ebook formats. It’s been great to see books like The Married Mistress or Wife for a Day - both almost 10 years old – slipping into the Amazon bestseller list for romances all over again.
And so it was fun – and exciting to decide to publish my own ebook on Kindle. If you read Michelle Styles’ review back on April 12th, you’ll know what this was. I got the rights to my 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance back from the original publisher – and in April I brought out the new, revised and up to date edition on Kindle – with a brand new cover that I really love.
None of these developments could have been imagined when The Chalk Line was firstpublished. I don’t think anyone wold ever have believed that you could download a book to your reader at the click of a mouse. Or that I could have self-published my own book, with total control over it from start to finish (and putting it out at a price that more people could afford, compared with the previous cost!) It’s been fun and interesting – and a challenge. And that’s one of the great things about writing romance – there are always more challenges, always something new. And that’s what keeps things interesting. I’m teaching a course on Writing Romance this month in a four star hotel just outside Leeds – another thing I never saw coming ! And one of the things I’ll be emphasising to the students is never to think that romance novels and romance writing stays the same – it’s always changing, developing, and you need to keep up.
My latest new thing is the great cover for my June title – A Question of Honour . Or A Question of Honor if you live in America. I’m looking forward to seeing that on the bookshop shelves next month.
The Kindle edition of the12 Point Guide To Writing Romance is now available on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com