Round Robin – Does getting the First Chapter Right Mess Up the Rest of the Book?

This month’s topic is the first post of the fifth year of Round Robins and has been suggested by Skye Taylor:

Has so much emphasis been placed by other writers’ advice, publishers, reviewers, etc. on authors to have a spectacular opening page/1st chapter that the rest of the story sometimes gets left behind? What are your thoughts and experiences with this?

As many of you know I am a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. The RNA runs a scheme, possibly unique, whereby people may join as ‘New Writers’ and for a modest fee submit a MS once in the year for critique by an experienced writer in their genre.

I was in this scheme for 5 years and submitted 5 books. The critique of one stated baldly that I wrote a very good first chapter, but the reader needed the rest of the book, too. So, you might say, I’ve had contrary advice and indeed paid for it.

Dancing shoes with medals

I see exactly where Both Skye and the anonymous NWS reader are coming from. I came to the understanding many years ago that it’s the puzzle I’m interested in. My house used to be full of drawers containing the first chapter of a novel or the opening scene of a play or, and this is what eventually made me understand why I never finished anything, the back of a hand-knitted jumper. Once I knew where the story was going or how the knitting pattern worked, there was little need to complete.

I was enchanted by Elizabeth Hawksley’s lovely post about her vintage, antique even, sewing machine. You can read it here. While I knew many people in the late 60s and early 70s who did make and wear their own clothes, my efforts were in general not fit to be seen. Being an ‘A’ student, I learned Latin after 2nd year and so never developed the discipline of making a garment. That’s where the NWS scheme triumphs, I think. You have a go in year one and learn a bit. In year two you do carry that learning forward…and so on. The discipline of completing an annual MS was invaluable.

Other advice will suggest the ending needs to be strong and, in romance, that the ‘black moment’ has to be apparently unsolvable. Carried to extremes all of this turns good writing practice into pastiche, in my humble opinion. Yes, readers remember particular bits, but it can be surprising when people tell you in conversation which bits. They aren’t necessarily anything to do with the landmark moments.

The Menzieses’ House No 20

My friend awaits my Edinburgh based regencies so she can walk the pavements she walked while growing up in Buccleuch Place and indulge in a little sentimental reminiscing.

Other lovely people have been mulling over this topic and they can be found on their blogs below:
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-YV
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Reading for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Awards: Post the Third

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Hidden in the comments awaiting moderation are wonderful offers of help from lovely readers who are even now curled up with a new romance because I’ve sent them one, two, three, four or five. If I could pass these tea-cakes among them for real, I would.

I haven’t published those comments because sometimes folk are so excited they include their e-mail addresses. But they’re real and I, and the other organisers, are very, very grateful.

However, there’s still a wee problem…

 

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…and a few more readers are needed. So if you could spare some time to read one, two or even three romances over the next three weeks, please leave your name in the comments and I will get back to you.

 

 

Reading for the RNA Awards Post the Second

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So, award of the Teacake to all the lovely people who have signed up and nominated their friend/sister/mum/granny to sign up. No blokes – why’s that? Male authors are represented among the contenders – No, I’m not saying.

But you are not too late. I need THREE Readers per entry and hidden in the comments I have 19 responders. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is for you.

Roses in the Botanical Gardens Sheffield

Roses in the Botanical Gardens Sheffield

Others have sent me names privately.  Thank you all fulsomely.

And my point?

Not all of those people wanted to carry on after they thought about it. That’s okay. Thank you, too, for thinking about it. One or two of you are noted for next year. Awsome.

……………………and my actual point?

Shortfall. There’s still a need for YOU to read some wonderful up-to-the-minute ROMANCE

Leave your name in the comments, please. Anne

Readers Wanted RNA Annual Awards

100_5755As the deadline for entries of the annual awards of the Romantic Novelists’ Association thunders towards us, it becomes necessary to find new names for our readers’ panel.

If you would like to be considered for the reading panel, take a look at the form below.

Working towards the shortlist might mean fewer books and a shorter timescale. Readers might also be asked to read for the main awards in paperback.

APPLICATION TO BE A READER FOR THE RoNA Rose Award and E-books in the main Awards

IF SELECTED, I UNDERTAKE TO READ UP TO FIVE NOVELS AND RETURN THE SCORE SHEETS FOR THESE WITHIN SIX WEEKS. I AM NOT A MEMBER OF THE RNA. I am/am not a member of the Choc Lit reading panel. I have/don’t have an e-reader suitable for PDFs (Delete as appropriate)

NAME :   …………………………………………………………………………………………..

ADDRESS : ………………………………………………………………………………………

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

POST CODE : ………………………………………….

TEL: ……..………………………………… MOBILE :……..……………………………………

E-MAIL : …………………………………………………………………………………………..

ARE THERE ANY TYPES OF ROMANTIC NOVEL YOU PREFER NOT TO READ (such as Medical/Historical etc)?

………………………………………………………………………………………………

HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU USUALLY READ IN A YEAR: ……………(approximately)

 

WE WANT TO ENSURE THAT WE HAVE READERS OF ALL AGES ON OUR PANEL. PLEASE GIVE US AN INDICATION OF YOUR AGE BY CIRCLING ONE OF THE FOLLOWING :

20-30                30-40                40-50                50-70                70+

I HAVE NO OBJECTION TO MY NAME AND ADDRESS BEING KEPT ON A COMPUTER FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF MAILING RNA COMMUNICATIONS TO ME (UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE DATA PROTECTION ACT 1984)

SIGNED : …….………………………………………………. DATE :

 

Interested? Leave your name in the comments, please, and I’ll get back to you.

 

Siem Riep Temples weren’t built in a Day

Temple, Siem Riep

Temple, Siem Riep

As I read through the draft of a critiqued submission to the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, my admiration for the readers grows. it takes a particular type of generosity to spend the time and energy needed with beginners’ work. I thought this book was the best it could be when I sent it in a few years ago.

Goodness, wasn’t I wrong?

It’s not a bad book. It has two wonderful central characters. It has a supporting cast of well drawn people and the reader thought only one verged on pantomime. It has few historical errors. It has plot, colour, historical detail, horses, frocks and interesting ideas.

It has a Voice and it’s well written in good grammatical English.

But…

…and that’s where the particular skills and generosity of the Readers comes into play…

,,,it isn’t good enough. She helped me understand that.

Some temples are bigger and more decorated than others. Some temples have stood the blast of time. They weren’t built in a day and neither can a writing career be. Early blueprints need refinement.

As the year comes round to the RNA’s Summer party and the Joan Hessayon Award short list for first time published romance writers whose book went through the scheme, I remember that. My book, Mariah’s Marriage was a contender last year.

Bella’s Betrothal was not in the scheme, but it couldn’t have happened without that first one. A third novel has gone out for consideration and in the meantime, I’m getting on with the next.

http://romanticnovelistsassociationblog.blogspot.co.uk/

http://goo.gl/pASdjp Mariah’s Marriage amazon US
http://goo.gl/NxYxj5 Mariah’s Marriage UK
http://goo.gl/PKptQg Bella’s Betrothal US
http://goo.gl/5RBzIm Bella’s Betrothal UK

https://www.omnilit.com/product-bella039sbetrothal-1312055-162.html

https://www.omnilit.com/product-mariah039smarriage-1173550-149.html

 

PUBLICATION DAY MARIAH’S MARRIAGE Joan Hessayon contender

Bookstore Banner One

                        https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore=1 

Mariah's Marriage

“I thought it time to break the habit of having women fall at your feet. I am convinced it cannot be good for your character,” she said.

copyright anne stenhouse

The manuscript for Mariah’s Marriage, was presented to the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2011. It was critiqued by a published writer, I don’t know who, and returned to me with suggestions. I made changes and trawled it. After Mariah was taken by MuseItUp, I became eligible for full membership of the RNA and she became a contender for the Joan Hessayon award.

The Joan Hessayon Award is supported by Dr David Hessayon in memory of his late wife, Joan, who was a long-standing member of the RNA. There are nine contenders in this year’s crop. You can view us all here:

http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.joan_hessayon_award_2013

The award winner will be announced on Thursday 16th May at the RNA’s summer party. Win or lose, the scheme has been wonderful for me and Mariah. I commend it and thank my reader most warmly.

Mariah’s Marriage is a contender. RNA Joan Hessayon Award

I’ve known Mariah was a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award of the Romantic Novelists’ Association for some time. There was, however, a press embargo so I wasn’t able to share. The RNA press officers have now lifted the embargo and details of the nine contenders can be read here:

http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/index.php/news/entry/joan_hessayon_award_2013

I hope you’ll drop in and see the other eight books.

So, the train tickets, the hotel room, the dress, oh and what else is important when romance writers get together?

That’s it – the shoes. I’ll keep you posted.

RONAS AWARDS 2013

Great Excitement in  UK romance circles today with the announcement of the 30 book category shortlist for the RONAS. The Ronas are the annual awards of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Winners of each category will be announced on 26th February at a glittering evening in London. Richard and Judy will be making the announcements. The overall winner of the Romantic Book of the Year Award comes later, on 16th May.

NOVELS NOW is particularly excited about this year’s Ronas because one of our writing pals,

SCARLET WILSON,

has secured not one, but two nominations in the short romance or series category. Scarlet writes for Medical HM&B and her nominated books are: West Wing to Maternity Wing and Her Christmas Eve Diamond

Novels Now has all fingers crossed, Scarlet.

Information about the RONAS can be found here:

http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/index.php/news/entry/category_shortlist_announced_for_2013_romantic_novelists_associ