Posts Tagged ‘Contests


Interview and Giveaway with Dating Detox Author Gemma Burgess

Today, we welcome Gemma Burgess, author of The Dating Detox. Here’s a little description of the book:

If you can’t date anyone nice, don’t date anyone at all.

Dating is a dangerous sport. So after her sixth successive failed relationship, romantically-challenged 20-something Sass decides she’s had enough. The Dating Detox is born. No men, no break-ups, no problem.

The result? Her life – usually joyfully/traumatically occupied with dates, clothes and vodka – is finally easy. Chastity rocks. No wonder nuns are always singing. Everything falls at her feet. Especially men.

Will Sass break the rules? Why does fate keep throwing her in the path of the irritatingly amusing Jake? Will she ever roll the dice and play again? Or is a love-free life too good to risk losing? For the post-Carrie Bradshaw, post-Bridget Jones, post-credit crunch generation of singles, life isn’t beautiful, a bitch, or a beach. It’s a party.

Romantic Journey: Welcome, Gemma. Thanks so much for stopping by today. How did you get The Dating Detox into print?

Gemma Burgess: I sent the first three chapters, plus a cover letter and a synopsis, off to 10 agents in London. Then Laura Longrigg at MBA asked to read the rest, at which point I had to write ‘the rest’. (Ahem. In my defense, I never thought I’d actually get that far…) Then she sent it out to publishers, and Harper Collins offered a deal. There was a lot of waiting and redrafts in between those moments of high excitement, but that was the basic path. If any of your readers want to know the full story, I give a month-by-month synopsis of how I did it on my blog at

RJ: Are you still working as a copywriter, too? If so, how do you juggle your two jobs?

GB: I’m a freelance copywriter – so I just don’t work when I am working intensely on a manuscript. It’s an ideal job for a writer. It also easy, as there’s less of the inevitable politics / pressure that comes with any permanent role. You just turn up, have fun with words, and go home. I used to get very involved in my job – in making sure my team was happy, and making sure I was impressing the right people, worrying about results and reviews and all of that. I don’t think I could have had the headspace to write a novel if I was worrying about work.

RJ: How does a typical day unfold?

GB: When I’m writing (ie, not copywriting), I wake up about 6am, and have coffee and start writing in bed. This is when I try to get big chunks of writing done – I don’t worry about word count so much as getting a particular event or scene done. After lunch, I reread and revise the morning’s writing. And then usually at about 3pm I get cabin fever, and I need to get outside and walk around or exercise. Then most evenings I slowly reread and think and let my mind wander… this is usually when I come up with little ideas and one-liners, rather than big plot chunks. When I’m going to sleep I go over the book in my head and often come up with answers to things or realise I need to change something. I need a notebook; at the moment I wake my boyfriend up and say something cryptic that I know will trigger the memory for me, like ‘Remember this in the morning: Janey emails, Dan says rabbit’ and he mumbles ‘Okay’. He always remembers, bless him.

RJ: Tell us a little about the Name That Bastard site. What makes a good bastard name?

GB: You tell me! Naming is a constant challenge for me – I asked for help on Twitter this week for a new character name, actually. When it came to naming the bastard character in The Dating Detox, I was so fed up of thinking of names that I thought I’d ask my friends about ex-boyfriends they’d like named and shamed. Everyone got very enthusiastic, and I ended up with Rick. So for the second book, I’m throwing it out to the world. So far we’ve had a lot of Daves. Doesn’t it seem like the most innocuous name? Apparently it isn’t…

RJ: What are your five favorite books? What lessons have you applied from them to your own writing?


  1. Bridget Jones – this book made me realise how just the way we think can be funny.
  2. Heartburn, by Nora Ephron – this book is so intimate and warm, I love the tone of voice. I aspire to a similar immediacy.
  3. Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis – the lead character is delightfully enthusiastic about being negative – you love that about him. And Sass in The Dating Detox is delightfully negative, too.
  4. Jilly Cooper – I love everything about her books, but particularly the party scenes. She obviously enjoys writing about people having a raucously good time, it’s infectious and puts you in a good mood… I tried to get that sort of feeling into my party scenes, too.
  5. I can’t think of a fifth without having a huge argument with myself, so it comes down to Nancy Mitford, Bret Easton Ellis, Fanny Burney, David Sedaris, Stella Gibbons, Jane Austen, Michael Chabon, Julian Barnes… they’re all inspiring in different ways.

RJ: Are you a chest or buns woman?

GB: Ha! Shoulders, actually…

RJ: We get a lot of shoulder fans. Perhaps we need to broaden our options. Who’s your fantasy man?

GB: Right now it’s Robert, one of the characters in my second book.

RJ: What is your favorite pair of heels? What makes them so special? And, how long can you wear them comfortably? (We would be happy to include a photo.)

GB: Oooo! Good question. I hate to play favourites – I love all my shoes equally, even the grubby Converses – but I just bought a pair of Miu Miu shoes (on sale! that’s God giving me a high-five) from Net-A-Porter to wear at my wedding in April. The picture is attached. I LOVE them. I might go and take them out of their box and give them a little hug when I’ve finished this interview, actually.

RJ: Those are gorgeous shoes! Now our last question: If your ship were sinking and you could grab one thing on the way to the lifeboat, what would it be? Go on instinct here; don’t let common sense interfere with you as you grab your hairdryer or laptop instead of food to take to the desert island.

GB: Uh… the cabinboy?

RJ: Nice. Thanks again for stopping by, Gemma. It was great getting to know you.

Now for the fun part. Gemma is giving away a copy of The Dating Detox to three of our readers. Here is how you can enter to win:

  • Commenting on this post.
  • Tweeting a link to this post in Twitter. You’ll need to comment letting us know that you tweeted. Include your Twitter username for verification.
  • Posting a link on Facebook. Again, comment letting us know that you posted the link.
  • Following The Romantic Journey in the Facebook Networked Blogs application.
  • Adding The Romantic Journey to your blogroll. Comment that you did that and include a link for verification.
  • Posting something about The Romantic Journey on your blog. Comment that you did it and include a link for verification.
  • Subscribing to the RSS feed or email feed. Comment that you did it to be entered.
  • Following The Romantic Journey on Twitter. Again, comment with your Twitter username for verification.

You receive one entry for each action, so you can potentially receive eight entries.

The winner will be announced 1 February. Entry deadline is 11:59 p.m. UTC on 31 January, 2010.

No transfers or substitutions.


Author Contests (and Why They are Disappearing)

This is a subject I hate to have to write about, but it’s a growing trend that could mean the end of the line for many authors. Which means the books you enjoy won’t be written.

Ebook piracy is taking off like it did in the music industry a decade ago. When bands discovered their sales were dropping, many had to go back to live tours to make a living. Authors can’t do that. I mean, seriously, how many people would really pay to go hear La Nora read her latest novel? It’d be great at first, but how long does it take most of us to read a novel? Could you sit and listen to someone read that long?

But I’m jumping ahead. Ebook piracy isn’t only affecting the new releases published in ebook format. Pirates are scanning copies of print books and offering them for free. Or better yet, some are SELLING collections of ebooks. Some publishers are refusing to release their books as ebooks. J.K. Rowling insisted that Harry Potter not be made available in e-format. Yet it’s out there, thanks to the efforts of some scum.

Already there are authors who have ended certain series because of the number of prior books circulating for free. They’re focusing on print publishers instead.

There are those who insist that copyright is taking rights away from them. Huh? I will never understand that one. What I understand is they can do their 9-5 job and get paid for the work they did, without question. But we authors are expected to do our job for free. Cool, set me up mortgage free, with a working car, groceries, utilities, and all, and I’ll work for free. As it is, I work two (or three) jobs to be able to keep a roof over my head while my writing backlist grows. Those hours away from my computer mean stories that will never be written.

Another argument is that authors can afford to lose some sales. Or, the pirates would never have bought the book to begin with. Or, if they like the free book they’ll go buy it, or the rest of an authors books.

Get real, people. Does your grocer let you eat a steak before deciding if you’ll buy it? If you’re concerned, look for excerpts and reviews before buying a book.

Back to contests. The latest thing to do is surf the Internet, Twitter and other social networking sites, and join the author loops to try and win free ebooks. Then offer them up on a file-sharing site so others can read it, too. It’s a game to them. They do it because they can.

Big name authors and publishers are getting involved, though, so prosecution and fines will finally be handed down. Sure, some ebook pirates will just go deeper underground, but a majority are like the woman who recently got fined in the six-figures for downloading files illegally.

Most importantly, authors are discovering that giving away ebooks hurts their sales more than helps it, because of pirates. They’ll give away print copies or items other than books instead.

I apologize to those who enter contests for the right reasons, and tell their friends about the books they enjoy, without sending the ebook to all of them. You are the reason we still write, and why we fight to keep the pirates at bay. We’re spending more hours sending take-down notices and filing complaints than we should, but maybe one day we’ll be able to use that time as we should: to write MORE BOOKS!


April 2020

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