If you’re on Twitter on Monday evenings, you may well have seen #UKRomChat. We had a chat with Jeanna and the two Lucys who are the team behind it to find out more.

So who’s behind #UKRomChat?

Jeanna: #UKRomChat is proudly brought to you by Jeanna Louise Skinner @jeannalstars, Lucy Flatman @lbrflatman and Lucy Keeling @Lucy_K_Author. (Shout out to former team member Eilidh Lawrence @EilidhLawrence)

What is #UKRomChat, and why did you decide to start it?

Jeanna: #UKRomChat is a live Twitter chat on Mondays at 8-9pm for romance writers, both published and unpublished and the wider romance community. We feature guest authors and publishing industry professionals and ask them 10 questions about their books, business, or writing processes. Our final question is always: “What do you love about creating Happily Ever Afters?”

The chat was the brainchild of Jeanna, who saw a gap in the online writing community for a chat exclusively about romance writing but on GMT time. There were already several successful live Twitter writing chats, including US based #RWChat (RIP). With Eilidh and other writing friends’ support, the first #UKRomChat went live on May 21st 2018, with the lovely Samantha Tonge bravely agreeing to be our first guest.

Since launching, #UKRomChat has been successful beyond our wildest dreams, something we couldn’t have achieved without the support of the romance community and the RNA. We have followers from all over the world, we launched our very own romance writing competition #RomInAFlash, and our guests have included Harlequin editors, literary agents and award-winning, bestselling authors! Our aim was to create a fun, friendly, positive & supportive space for all, regardless of background, physical abilities, race, gender or sexual orientation, because we firmly believe that romance IS for everyone.

How do you prepare for each fortnightly chat?

Lucy F: We work together to schedule, read a guest’s book and/or research a guest’s careers. If one of us can’t do something (because life…) then someone else will pick up the baton, and this means we’re a really flexible team.

Usually, I deal with the admin side of things to book in a guest and get their materials ready for the group. Jeanna deals with guest images and the promotion of #ukromchat. Lucy K usually reads an authors book and will pull together questions for the chat, and I usually run the chat on the night.

We like to tailor our chat’s to our specific guests and I think that really shows in the amount of preparation we do.

How can authors and industry professionals get on #UKRomChat?

Lucy K: We would be delighted to hear from any authors and professionals in the Romance World that would like to be part of #UKRomChat. We would recommend you join our chats so that you can see what is involved, (it’s a lot of GIFs) and then email us at UKRomChat@gmail.com Please get in touch with us early though, sometimes we can be very popular and there may be a wait.

What have been the most interesting #UKRomChats? What are the most interesting things you’ve found out from doing it?

Lucy F: We’ve had some amazing guests this year. Outstanding bestselling authors and kick-ass industry professionals, so it wouldn’t be right to pick out any specific chats.

However, I will say I love the craft skills I’ve learnt from #ukromchat. Authors regularly share tips on their process during their chat, offering advice on things like editing and marketing. I’ve also learnt a lot about how the industry works in general, and I think this is essential for new writers, especially for authors who have no background in publishing. It’s interesting that even best-selling authors can struggle with the process and it’s perfectly normal to doubt yourself or your skill. Being able to push past those doubts and keep working is what leads to success. It’s good to know that there’s support out there for new writers trying to find their way.

I also love our followers. We’ve watched them progress and develop with us. Some have even ended up as guests themselves! It’s inspiring and gives me confidence with my own work.

Who is your dream guest for #UKRomChat?

Jeanna: Regulars will know that we’re big fans of Outlander’s Jamie Fraser, so Diana Galbadon would be amazing. Sam Heughan too 😉, although I’m not sure we’d have much to ask him about romance writing. We’ve had some big names on in the last year, including Tessa Dare, Liz Fielding and RNA Chairperson Alison May, and we’ve got more to come, but we’re just as excited about debut and midlist authors. If we had to aim for the stars, however, we’d say Nora Roberts! Can you imagine?

Who will we see on #UKRomChat in the coming months?

Lucy K: Ohhh as I type this, we are about to chat with a Romance Mega Star Ms Beverly Jenkins. In November we will be chatting with Boldwoods Editor Nia Benyon. We have another bestseller joining us in December, none other than Sarah MacLean.  We also have debut author Emma Jackson joining us too. In other words we have lots of amazing guests lined up and we can’t wait to chat with them and hope that you’ll join us. If you follow @UKRomChat on Twitter you’ll never miss a guest.

We’d just like to say a massive thank you to the RNA, our followers and whoever nominated us for the Media Star Award. We were so chuffed to be nominated with such amazing people. Congratulations to the winner Anne Williams – well deserved!

Interview by Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead leans against the ornamental 19th C supporting pole of a bandstand in the park.Eleanor Harkstead is from the south-east of England and now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking. Her m/m romantic fiction, co-written with Catherine Curzon, spans WW1 to the present day and is published by Pride. The Ghost Gardenthe first installment in historical paranormal series The de Chastelaine Chronicles is out now, published by Totally Bound. You can hear Catherine and Eleanor chat about writing on their Gin & Gentlemen podcast. Find out more about Eleanor at curzonharkstead.co.uk, and follow her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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