About author, Lizzie Lamb: After teaching my 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, I decided it was time to leave the chalk face and pursue my first love: writing. In 2006 I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers Scheme, honed my craft and wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted. Born in Scotland, but with Irish and Brazilian blood in my veins I’ve always wanted to write a romantic novel set in the Highlands and islands and with Tall, Dark and Kilted I’ve done just that. I’ve had enormous fun researching men in kilts, falling in love with brooding heroes and rooting for feisty heroines. I have a well developed sense of humour and love quick fire dialogue between the hero /heroine – like in the old black and white Hollywood movies. I hope this comes across in my writing. Although much of my time is taken up publicizing Tall, Dark and Kilted I have almost finished my second novel and have plans for a third, fourth and fifth novel in the pipeline. I am a founding member of an indie publishing group: The New Romantics 4 and my fellow New Romantics are June Kearns, Mags Cullingford and Adrienne Vaughan. Our watch cry is: all for one and one for all. All four New Romantics will be e-publishing again this autumn and organizing ‘red carpet events’ where we will share our experiences as writers with our readers and talk about our novels over drinks and nibbles in pubs and hotels.
Every good writer needs to have…: A support system of friends and a loving partner who understands her craving to write and that everything else will take second place unless she is pulled – kicking and screaming – out of her dream world occasionally! A place to write: a designated room, a corner of your dressing table, , the kitchen table while the kids are at school – any place quiet where you won’t be disturbed.
You left teaching to become a writer, how has the experience been so far? A dream come true. I get to write what I want, when I want and am no longer summoned by bells or made to follow timetables. All the time and effort I previously put in to writing reports, planning, marking and assessing children’s work, holding parent/teacher interviews and my role as a senior manager is now channelled into my writing. But, those years are not wasted, because of them I am organised and very disciplined when it comes to my work – and I can always boss the other three New Romantics around when I miss being a deputy head teacher(principal) LOL . Oh, and I can make myself a coffee when I want to – and eat far too many chocolate biscuits.
How has the social media helped you and your career? Immensely – I was kicking around Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for quite a few years before I was published and made lots of lovely writer and non-writer friend on those forums. Friends, writers etc who weren’t in to Facebook pulled faces and said it was a waste of time. How wrong were they!? Not only have my Facebook friends followed my writing progress and made helpful comments and suggestions, they’ve also bought Tall, Dark and Kilted. Through social media I’ve tapped into a wider writing community (such as the gorgeous goddesses), the Romantics Novelists’ Association and other writers’ groups. Sadly, I probably don’t interact as much as I used to because I am writing book number two, but I do my best. Twitter I find is great for re-tweeting and general chit chat. LinkedIn? Well, I’m not sure what I’m doing on there but I have nearly 500 contacts and keep getting offered jobs in teaching, management and the world of books. I really ought to post from there every morning like others do. It’s hard to say how it all works and WHAT works, but through a combination of all of the above I’m getting my name ‘out there. Hopefully when I launch book #2 in the autumn I’ll have readers who are keen to read my second novel.
What was the writing/editing/publishing process like for you? As I said, I am disciplined when it comes to writing. When I sit at the pc it’s to write, post, blog or tweet. However, because I am self-published I have had to seek out beta readers and proof readers; without an agent or an editor I have to hope that I’m, making the right choices. June Kearns – one of the New Romantics 4 is one of my beta readers and she gives me great feedback and helps with plotting. My other beta reader is Joan Davies-Bushby; Joan isn’t a writer, doesn’t read romance and prefers crime. When she reads my work, she fires straight from the hip – picking me up on anything that’s unclear, or if the heroine’s acting out of character etc. Both are ex-teachers, and normally send my ms back marked with red pen – ouch. Tough love.
In deciding to self-publish I have given myself a lot of work through designing covers, formatting my ms etc, which would probably have been done for me by a publisher. At least I have the freedom to choose my own covers, something which I gather can be a headache for conventionally publisher writers? In all of this I have been able supported by my gorgeous husband David (aka Bongo Man). However, for book #2 I’m paying someone to format it and to design the cover for me – to my spec. Hopefully everything will be much easier this time round as I know the ropes, have bought my ISBN numbers, have got my US tax code etc and know how long Create Space and Amazon take to get my book up there. I have also planned my publicity campaign based on what I’ve learned from promoting Tal. Dark and Kilted and now have a joint blog, website etc.
Who or what inspires you and your books? Where do you get your ideas? People, places, movies, music, my heritage, what I see, read and hear all merge to inspire me to write. I usually start with the hero and the heroin and am intrigued by what brings them together and what keeps them apart. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but when I’m writing I like to listen to a Scottish Rock Band called RUNRIG who sing in Gaelic, Adele and light opera. I love reading other rom coms but have to be careful not to absorb other writers’ style as I want my voice to remain unique.
What are you reading right now? Not my usual thing at all, a novel set in World War Two entitled Call Nurse Millie!! I’m reading a pre-publication copy in order to write with a review for Goodreads etc. I also have three other books to review for fellow writers.
Salty or sweet? Anything that is covered in chocolate.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? Paperbacks, because I’m working at the screen all day and my eyes get very tired. I also like to flick forward to see the length of the chapter I’m reading. . Harder to do with a kindle. Although, without the eBook revolution and Amazon in particular, I could have been waiting years for a publishing contract which might never have arrived.
Describe what a typical day is like for you: Luckily my time is entirely my own, and after 34 years of getting up at six am to get ready for school I’m definitely a morning person. I try to be at the pc for about 8am and answer emails, put a post on Facebook and write something on Twitter and do ReTweets. THEN I begin writing until about 11am or thereabouts – normally my parrot Jasper calls me to let him out and he plays in his cupboard all day!! I tend to write for most of the afternoon, too. Throughout the day I bit and bob between Facebook and Twitter and respond to anyone’s posted on my pages. I also try to see friends at least a couple of times in a week, otherwise, I’d stay in my study writing and never come out to play. Finally, when I’m watching TV in the evenings I’ll take my iPad/iPhone with me, put three new posts about my writing on Twitter and respond to any emails that I’ve missed.
What’s the best advice you can give an aspiring author? Make a start, even if it’s only typing out the title page or buying a note book and pens. Many people have a demanding day job and need to chill out when they get home, but if you can devote even 15mins to your novel in an evening, you’ll soon get there. When you’re not at your desk, laptop, kitchen table you can rehearse dialogue and scenes from the novel in your head so that when you DO sit down to write, you use your time constructively and don’t waste it chewing the end of your pencil looking for inspiration.
AND – when you do start to write your novel – don’t spend years polishing the first three chapters of your novel and submission letter – yep, been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Write the whole novel as best you can (a ‘dirty draft’) and THEN go back and tidy, revise, re-write and make it the best you can.
Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? I’m currently 90k into my next novel, also a romantic comedy – cover and title reveal in September. I hope to have it ready to launch on Amazon by the end of October. Then I will repeat last year’s successful book launches with the three other writers who make up The New Romantics 4.
I can tell you a little about the plot: Charlee Montague is a rookie reporter and a rebel without a clue. She’s sent under cover to a boot camp for brides in a remote part of the Norfolk marshes. She believes that her mission is to get secret photographs of a Russian super model for the magazine she works for; they want to run a scurrilous piece about the model. Her partner is an infuriating photographic journalist who has a hidden agenda he’s keeping from her which involves the boot camp, the model and her Russian boyfriend.
**Click HERE to buy “Tall, Dark and Kilted”!
**Click HERE to see Lizzie’s book feature of “Tall, Dark and Kilted”!