Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guest Blogger Rachel Brimble

Rachel Brimble is a fellow Wild Rose Press author, and a fellow alumni from the Class of '85 series. Her novella Transatlantic Loving is part of the series. Here's Rachel's bio:

Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK.  She started writing short stories about eight years ago but once her children were at school, she embarked on her first novel. It was published in 2007. Since then, she’s had several books published with The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press and Lyrical Press.  She recently acquired a US agent with her second Victorian historical. A member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, Rachel hopes to have a further two novels, one contemporary and one Victorian published in 2012.

When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family.  Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England. And in the evening? Well, a well-deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused…

And here's my interview with Rachel...

 Jana:  Both of us live outside of the US. Do you think it’s harder for writers such as us to break into the American market? Do you ever find any resistance to UK settings by agents or editors?

Rachel:  I actually found it easier to break into the US market than the UK market! In the UK, there are very few, if any publishers that will look at your work without an agent. I struggled to find a UK agent and after endless rejections, decided to approach some US publishers direct. The rest is history!

Jana:  According to your website, you write in a variety of romance sub-genres, including historical and contemporary. Do you plan to continue to branch out in different sub-genres or will you concentrate on one type of romance in the future?

Rachel:  I am writing the “historical from hell” at the moment so feel as though I will never write another full-length historical again, lol! Whether that will change if and when I sell this one, we’ll have to wait and see. I love writing across the sub-genres but I am sure there will come a time when I have to stick to one but until my agent advises me to do so, I’ll keep going as I am.

I have a romantic suspense under consideration, a contemporary romantic comedy on my agent’s desk waiting to be read and I will be handing in my latest historical to her next month.

Jana:  I also read that you secured an agent about a year ago. Congratulations! Does having an agent change the way you write, or what you write? What are your goals for the future? Will you continue to epublish?

Rachel:  Having an agent doesn’t change the way I write but it’s certainly improved my writing! I have a fabulous agent who was once an editor so she goes through two or three rounds of edits on all her authors’ manuscripts. She is thorough and it is a lot of work but I have learned SO much from her. I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful agent championing my work.

My goals are to produce better and better books and hopefully one day break into the big commercial market. I will continue to epublish as well as print because epublishing is here to stay and I truly believe every author should embrace it.

I love my Kindle and I can’t see them ever going away now they’re here!

Jana:  What do you do to market your books?

Rachel:  The majority of my promotion is done online with interviews such as this, guest blog posts as well as daily updates on my Twitter and Facebook pages. In addition, I host two or three authors every week on my own blog, which generates new traffic to my site all the time.

Jana:  Where do you get ideas for your stories?

Rachel:  Most of my story ideas come from newspaper articles or stories from the past that I remember and affected me on a deeply emotional level. As a romance writer, emotion is key so you have to be able to ‘feel’ the story or problem in order to write it well.

Another great way to gain new story ideas is to watch your favorite TV shows and if you liked a particular episode, ask yourself why and if you would have written it what would you have done differently. Et voila, your next story idea!

Jana:  What’s next for you? Tell me about your next or newest release? What are you working on now – your current WIP?

Rachel:  My newest release is Paying The Piper available now from Lyrical Press – here’s the blurb:

Nightclub manager, Grace Butler is on a mission to buy the pub where her mother’s ashes are scattered – except the vendor wants to sell to anyone but her. And the vendor happens to be her father…with a secret Grace will do anything to uncover.

Social worker and all-round good guy, Jimmy Betts needs cash to buy a house for three special kids before their care home closes. In a desperate bid for cash, he agrees to a one-time ‘job’ for bad-man Karl Butler. But in a sudden turn of events, Jimmy finds himself employed by Karl’s beautiful, funny and incredibly sexy daughter, Grace.

Their lives are so different except for one unifying thread – they are both trying to escape the binds of their tyrannical fathers. But is the key to their liberty each other?


She sat bolt upright. “Where are you going?”

“To the soup kitchen. Four of my kids have been helping out down there today, so if you don’t need me ‘til seven--”

“Can I come?”


“What?” Gerald echoed.

Jimmy stared at her. Was she serious? But knew he wouldn’t refuse her when her eyes were wide with that damn innocent doe-eyed look again and her cheeks flushed pink. He swallowed, clenched his hands into fists inside his pockets.

“You want to come to the soup kitchen?” he asked, hoping against hope he’d gotten the wrong end of the proverbial stick.

She winked, and it had as much the same effect as if she’d wrapped her hand around his penis. “Why not?”

He opened his mouth. Shut it. Opened it, took a breath, but still nothing came out. Her smile widened. “Cat got your tongue, Jimmy Boy?”

Just a few short days ago at her mother’s pub, he’d wanted to ravish her, possess her, let her know what she did to him. And now the same desire coursed through his veins again. She never stopped surprising him and it just added more fuel to the already burning fire.

“And why would you want to do that?” he asked.

“Beats going into the club early,” she said, brushing past him.

She wandered across the room. Her slender body sashaying around the furniture and then her piece de resistance was to snake all five feet nine inches of it across the oblong dining table to grab her bag--the sight of her perfect ass and even better legs sent Jimmy’s senses skyrocketing. His nostrils flared. Grace by name, Grace by nature. She was beautiful, sexy, funny, and he didn’t doubt for one minute she knew exactly what the sight of her did to him.

She turned around and hitched the bag onto her shoulder. “My life is sad. I’ve got nothing else planned for the afternoon. Come on, Jimmy, help me show my father I have a life away from him. Even if it is a complete lie, for now.”

He threw his hands in the air. “Fine.”

Buy Link:

As for what’s next? I have a new romantic suspense doing the publisher rounds as we speak. My agent is hoping is sells as part of a trilogy, so watch this space. As I said before, I am working on the “historical from hell” right now and really hoping and praying my agent like it a whole lot more than I do right now, lol!

Jana:  How can readers connect with you online?!/RachelBrimble

Jana:  What keeps you motivated?

My need to succeed! I have been writing seriously for six years now and would really love to make this my vocation. I’d love to think I could earn enough one day to support my family on just my writing income. That is the dream.
Mostly though, I don’t need any motivation to write – it’s a compulsion. I HAVE to do it. If I don’t write for two days running, I become scarily savage – ask my kids, lol!

Thanks for joining me today, Rachel!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Writers and Back Pain

Like many writers, I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer. Add to that the time I spend working at the computer for my day job and it’s no wonder I’ve experienced back pain that’s become progressively worse and more frequent the last few years. The back pain not only makes me feel miserable, it makes me a less productive writer. It’s time to take some action.

First of all, what causes back pain?  Here are some of the most common causes:

Strains, sprains and spasms –The most common cause of back pain is an injury to a muscle (strain) or to a ligament (sprain) in the back. Strains and sprains can be caused by improper lifting, excessive weight, and poor posture. Even an awkward sleeping position or hauling around a heavy purse all day can cause a strain or sprain. An injured muscle may also "knot up." This muscle spasm is your body's way of immobilizing the affected area to prevent further damage.

Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. As we age, the cushions (disks) between the vertebrae in our backs become flatter and less flexible. Without the cushioning these disks provide, the joints between the vertebrae press tightly together, often causing back pain and stiffness.

Herniated Disk - Normal wear and tear over time can cause one of the disks in your spine to rupture (herniate). Exceptional strain or traumatic injury can have the same effect. Many people describe this as a "slipped" disk. Back pain results when the herniated disk pinches one of the nerves that come out of the spinal cord. If the sciatic nerve is affected, you may develop sciatica — a sharp, shooting pain in the lower back, buttocks and leg.

Osteoporosis – As we age we lose calcium in our bones, causing them to become less dense and more brittle. If you have osteoporosis, lifting and other routine tasks can cause fractures, called compression fractures, to form on the front part of the weakened bones of your back. These fractures result in back pain.

Fibromyalgia - Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by fatigue and widespread pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons — including the lower back.

So what can we as writers do to keep our backs healthy and pain free? Some of the things we can do to keep our backs pain free are the same things we need to do to maintain good general health:

Keep Fit – Strong and flexible muscles will keep your back in shape. Both the back muscles and the abdominal muscles need to be strengthened in order to keep the back from hurting. Exercises for these “core” muscles will assist in this strengthening. To see a slideshow of core exercises from the Mayo Clinic, go to

Keep your weight under control – Watching your weight not only keeps your heart healthy, improves your mood and increases your confidence, it also reduces your risk of back pain. According to the website “Back Pain Expert” ( ) weight gain may result in back pain “because the lower back, known as the lumbar region, supports the weight of the whole of the upper body, and gaining weight, as well as putting an extra strain on the knee and hip joints, can increase the burden on the lumbar region. This puts additional pressure on the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons of the back. Long-term, the extra weight can damage the discs between the vertebrae, the bones that make up the spine, can cause the spine to develop an unnatural curve, and can worsen the bone damage in osteoporosis.” Another good reason to say no to that extra helping at dinner!

Stop smoking – If you needed yet another reason to quit smoking, Dr. Mehmet Oz ( says that smoking can cause “accelerated disk degeneration and increased pain.”

Get some sleep – Dr. Oz also says that getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night allows the body to repair itself. Go to the above website for tips in finding the right sleep position and for sleeping better.

Stretch it Out  - I find that stretching helps to take the stiffness out of my back as well as alleviating the pain. To view a slideshow of stretches supplied by the Mayo Clinic please click on this website:

Even if we follow all the advice for good healthy living, if we aren’t careful about the way we work, it could be all for naught. Here’s some tips for keeping your back pain free while still being a productive writer:

The Chair’s the Thing – A properly fitting office chair is probably the single most important tool in keeping your back pain free.  Make sure to adjust your chair to your height before you adjust your monitor, keyboard or mouse. If you don’t have an adjustable chair, consider using a lumbar support or a pillow to support your back, using a pillow under your seat if you’re sitting too low, or a footrest under your feet to bring your thighs parallel with the ground. Healthy Computing has good information on setting up your chair ( ) as well as information on what to look for when you’re buying a new chair ( )

Remember to Move – The body can only stay comfortably in one position for about 20 minutes at time. If you get too absorbed in your work and lose track of time, set a timer to remind you to change position.

Remember to Stretch – You can do a few stretches throughout the day, right at your computer:

Check your Posture - Relax your shoulders, keep your feet flat on the floor, and avoid leaning close to tasks on your desk. To see illustrations of good posture, check this website:

Rarely, back pain may indicate a more serious underlying problem, such as an infection, diabetes, kidney disease or cancer. If you’re struggling with back pain, and none of the measures mentioned here alleviate the pain, the best thing to do is to check with your doctor.

Have you experienced back pain while writing? What do you do to alleviate it?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Liebster Award

My friend and fellow Class of '85 author at The Wild Rose Press, Margo Hoornstra, has presented me with the Liebster Award. I'm so proud! From what I understand, this award is given to writers/bloggers with a stick-to-it attitude who persevere through thick and thin. They're also givers who help out fellow writers. Several wonderful writers came to mind. My choosen five are

Rachel Brimble - Rachel Brimble Romance

Janet Corcoran - Janet's Journal

Joanne Brothwell - Thoughts Interred in Phrase

Karyn Good - Karyn Good

Hayley E. Lavik - Hayley E. Lavik

All that's required to to accept this award is:

- Thank the person who gave it to you and link back to that person's blog.
- Copy and paste the award graphic to your blog.
- Choose five blogs to award in kind and break the news by commenting on those blogs.
- Hope these people pay it forward in turn by accepting and passing "The Liebster Blog Award" to blogs they'd like to honour.

Thank you Margo!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What's the Next Big Thing?

I'm currently finishing a writing project (I hope), so I've begun to ask myself what comes next. What new project should I try? What sub-genre of romance is calling my name? Or is there a new and exciting trend out there that I should look at?

Yes, I know. Writing for a trend is very risky. I'm a slow writer, so chances are if I tried to catch the wave of a current trend, it would likely pass me by before I finished writing it. But I'm wondering, is there something new out there that hasn't been tried before (or at least hasn't been done to death)? Could I get in on the beginning of a new wave? What will be the next big thing in romance?

Shapeshifters, vampires, and fae are very popular at the moment, and likely will continue to be. Mashing sub-genres is also popular - an historical that is also a suspense or paranormal, for example. Sometimes popular TV shows reflect or predict reading trends (and vice versa). One show I've been enjoying lately is "Once Upon a Time". It's not new to use fairy tale motifs in romance, but perhaps a book that creates a new fairy tale world of magic and treachery might be something I could sink my teeth into!

So, what do you think is the next big trend in romance? Or, do you follow the advice of many agents who say 'just write a good book' and forget about trends? If you're a writer, what is your next project going to be? If you're a reader, what kind of book do you want to read next?