Christina Courtenay – Get Writing

"Cotillion" by Georgette Heyer - a novel that has everything!

"Cotillion" by Georgette Heyer - a novel that has everything!

Last week I attended the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s first meeting of the year. It was a very interesting Question & Answer session with a panel consisting of two editors and an agent.

I’ve been to quite a few of these panel talks and the questions that are invariably asked are “what type of novels are you looking for” and “what will be the next big trend”. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer to either. No one can ever predict what the next trend will be as they depend on so many factors and just seem to happen. And as for what type of novels editors and agents are looking for, they almost always say “great story-telling”.

So what makes for great story-telling? To me, a truly wonderful novel has to have a lot of romance and a little bit of everything else – adventure, thrills, danger, history and humour. That’s a tall order perhaps, but some of my favourite books have all that and more!

Whether I’m reading a romance or any other genre, another ingredient that’s very necessary for me is a charismatic hero. If I don’t like the hero, I won’t like the book – it’s as simple as that! Coincidentally, Sue Moorcroft and I will be doing a workshop on how to create compelling lead characters in contemporary or historical novels at the forthcoming Get Writing Conference in St. Albans on 19th February. I’m very much looking forward to that and hope to see some of you there!

What do you consider the main ingredients of a really great story? And would you enjoy a book where you didn’t particularly like the hero?

Happy Endings, New Beginnings


I love this time after Christmas when the year turns and life seems full of possibilities. My close girlfriends, the Ace Gang, and I have a tradition of setting ourselves goals and challenges for the coming year (what are we all doing this year, girls?); some serious, some funny and some downright unrepeatable! This year, with the publication of Turning the Tide, I was thrilled to achieve a longstanding goal, but that brought some unexpected challenges like a speaking in public for the first time since the Proper Job years, and braving my first book signing! I also gained my Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing from the OU and clocked up my fourth half-marathon (another legacy of the annual Ace Gang challenges!).

My immediate goal for 2011 is to complete the work in progress then crack on with the next novel which keeps whispering to me. I’m going to submit a couple of poems to the Cardiff international poetry competition and, if the snow and ice ever go away, I’ll be training for the Llanelli half-marathon on 6 March. Half the fun for me is thinking about what I want to achieve, but I’ll always make plenty of time for reading. If Santa brought you a brand new ebook reader for Christmas, don’t forget that Choc Lit books are currently reduced at Amazon Kindle. Buy your collection now and one thing you won’t have to plan for the New Year is what to read!

Christine Stovell: How Do You Read?

Do you like to curl up with a good book? Of course you do! That’s probably why you’re reading this blog, to discover a bit more about Choc Lit titles and their authors. But how about curling up with an ebook reader? Aah! Well, until last week, when I received a shiny new ebook reader as a surprise birthday gift, I always thought of myself as a loyal ‘real’ book reader. What could beat the pleasure of a beautifully-produced book or – and you’ll know the feeling if you’re a Choc Lit fan – running your fingers over a gorgeous cover? Except then I discovered a whole new experience; a mobile library, the size and weight of a paperback and I fell in love with my ebook reader too! Or maybe you’re a fan of audiobooks? Listening to Julia Barrie reading ‘Turning the Tide’ added a whole dimension (and some unexpected accents!) to my novel.

In the end what matters most about the way we read is not how that experience is delivered, but that we engage with and are entertained by what we read. My first ebook choice (after Turning the Tide – there, I admit it, I had to do it) was ‘Wuthering Heights’. I hardly noticed that it was a nineteenth century novel on a twenty-first century piece of kit because Emily Bronte’s remarkable book had me spellbound all over again… and that’s my idea of a great read, no matter how it comes!