#UKRomChat - Under the Kilt

Hello and welcome to the first ever PHS Magazine #UKRomChat Column. Here at #UKRomChat we’re used to welcoming folk, but up till now it’s been to our weekly live Twitter chat. I’m Eilidh K. Lawrence and I’m here to tell you about the chat, run through our January, and, in February, the month of Feeling the Love, introduce you to our honorary team member, one Jamie Fraser.

UKRomChat 101

#UKRomChat is a Twitter chat which focuses on writing romance. It takes place on Monday nights from 8:00 to 9:00 pm, GMT and is hosted by Jeanna Louise Skinner @jeannalstars and Eilidh K. Lawrence @eilidhlawrence.

The chat is for romance writers, both published and unpublished. It’s a popular, lively, light-hearted discussion which follows a Q&A format. The questions come from us and also anyone who is following the chat and wants to join in. Participation is encouraged!

We have a guest author or publishing industry professional most weeks. Guests have included Harlequin editor Laurie Johnson and a RITA winner Catherine Tinley. Occasionally we have an open chat on a particular topic, which is always fun. We love to see people engaging with us.

The #UKRomChat team is passionate about promoting diversity and accurate representation of marginalised identities in romantic fiction.

The UK element of the chat refers to the time slot; we have featured international guests and we have followers in the US and Australia.

#UKRomChat was the brain child of Jeanna, who loved Twitter chats for writers but not so much the fact that they usually catered for US participants and took place in the middle of the night here. Jeanna identified a gap in Twitterland for a UK-run and -oriented chat for romance writers. She took the plunge and established one. And she invited me along for the ride!

We went live in May 2018, with our first guest being Samantha Tongue. Jeanna bravely reached out to Samantha via Twitter. I invited authors who are Twitter friends of mine, and we were off! Now we feature a mix of people we know, or have come to know through the chat, people we’ve built up the courage to approach and, wonderfully, people who approach us. We also now bring one guest a month to the chat in association with the fabulous people here at the Pink Heart Society.

We have a loyal band of followers, whom we sometimes refer to as the #UKRomChat Family or #UKRomChat-ters. And new people find us every week, which is awesome.

January 2019 at #UKRomChat our first guest of 2019 was PHS Social Media Editor Kali Anthony. The chat with Kali was informative and great fun too. We seek out guests who can be of real help to both published and aspiring authors, and Kali’s expertise in an area on which it is now really important for authors to have a handle (do you see what I did there?) was extremely valuable. It was a lovely, positive chat. We’re very fortunate to be working in partnership with the PHS.

We then featured the hilarious Rhoda Baxter, who also writes under her real name, Jeevani Charika. We spoke with Rhonda about diversity in romance and using her own name for the first time, and we picked up on some points from her January #FreshStart article right here in the PHS magazine. The story behind Jeevani choosing the name Rhoda Baxter had us in fits of laughter. It was a nod to bacteria she used to study, the Rhodobacter species!

Following on from Rhoda’s chat, both Jeanna and I were thrilled to bring our #UKRomChat-ters a discussion with sensitivity reader Elisa Winther. Chatting with a sensitivity reader was a goal right from our first brainstorming session but it took a while to find someone. After I put out a second call on Twitter, a mutual follower introduced me to Elisa. Elisa took us through the definition of sensitivity readers, an explanation of when an author should consider hiring one, as well as an introduction to her services and much more. Elisa handled a serious topic in an instructive and respectful way, whilst still keeping things upbeat. She was a star.

As I write this, we are looking forward to our last January guest, gothic romance writer Eve Silver. Gothic romance has been popping up on Manuscript Wish Lists. It’s important to us to keep up with trends. This was another case of being brave and reaching out and it worked. Eve, who is right at the top of the genre, kindly agreed to come chat with us. Eve writes Thrilling, Dark Books for Teens & Adults and we are thrilled (oops, I did it again) to have her as a guest.

Feel the Love

I’m not going to lie. I’ve never been that fussed about red-haired men. I’m Scottish and I’ve lived in Scotland for most of my life. My dad has red hair (or had!). My uni flatmate has red hair. I have red hair. It’s just not that exotic, or interesting, when it’s all around.

I do love me a man in a kilt, but am fortunate enough to see this lovely sight often. Weddings, graduations, Scotland games at the national football stadium down the road…

So, Jamie Fraser from Outlander… I never really got it. I mean, dude is clearly attractive. But, Jeanna and the #UKRomChat-ters are obsessed with him. It’s Jamie GIFs all over the place. If we had a formal mission statement, sharing shirtless Jamies would be in it. These guys swoon over Jamie constantly, so I ended up giving the show a go. [Editor's Note: attempts to match the Sam Heughan GIFs with Gerard Butler GIFs for those of us who like our men a little older abound, as well as Gina Carano and Kate Beckinsale for gynephiles.]

And, boy, was I wrong. For one thing, you don’t get voices in GIFs. The minute Jamie said a word, I went weak at the knees. I feel the need―because I’m a pedant―to point out that he doesn’t even speak with a Highland accent. It’s Dumfries and Galloway through and through. My, but it’s bonny. Jamie is sometimes full of confidence, sometimes vulnerable, with an intense stare, and a cheeky grin that melts my heart. And he looks fair braw in a kilt. I think I’m in love.

Next time...

Over the next two issues of the PHS magazine Jeanna and I will be telling you more about ourselves and recapping on the amazing chats we have planned for February and March.

In the meantime, do check out our Monday night chats by following the #UKRomChat hashtag on Twitter between 8 and 9pm, or catching up at any time by searching for the hashtag, clicking ‘Latest,’ scrolling down to the welcome tweet, then working your way up.

You can find the #UKRomChat team on Twitter as @UKRomChat, and get information about upcoming guests on their Facebook page and Instagram feed.

If you have any questions for the #UKRomChat crowd, please do reach out on the links above. What social media communities are you a part of? Spread the love and let us know!

#ukromchat #EilidhKLawrence #JeannaLouiseSkinner #amwriting #amwritingromance #onlinewritinggroups #samheughan #jamiefraser

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