#UKRomChat with Brittany Borshell 4th January 2021

As promised, here’s my write up of this week’s UKRomChat with the wonderful Brittany Borshell, director of Violet Gaze Press.

UKRC: Tonight on UKRomChat I’m thrilled to be joined by Violet Gaze Press director, Brittany Borshell. Hi Brittany, thank you so much for joining us and welcome everyone.

Alt image text: from Bridgerton, three gentlemen and a lady saying hello to another lady. They are all wearing fine Regency dress.

BB: Thank you so much for having me! I’m equal parts nervous and absolutely terrified! I’m used to being behind the scenes! Hello to everyone to has decided to tune in!

UKRC: Q1. Okay, let’s get this party started! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and Violet Gaze Press?

BB: My name is Brittany and I’m married with three children ranging in age from 12 to 3. I grew up in Alaska but am now an expat and have been living in England for almost 10 years. I’m a diabetic with a weakness for chocolate and romance. Violet Gaze Press is the publishing company that I started almost two years ago. We currently have four authors and 11 books published but 2021 will be a year of huge growth for us with at least 15 books planned and more authors to announce!

Alt image text: gif from Bridgerton, a lady in fine Regency dress, smiling and raising a china teacup to her lips.

UKRC: Q2. Why the name Violet Gaze Press, does it have any significant meaning?

BB: When I was trying to brainstorm a name I wanted to choose something that showed that I had a great love and understanding of Romancelandia and not someone trying to capitalize on the genre. A huge trope in Romance is the violet-eyed heroine. Violet Eye Press was kind of creepy, so Violet Gaze Press was born!

UKRC: (Just as aside, my maternal grandmother’s name was Violet and she was an avid Romance reader, so I couldn’t love this more ❤. Also, I’ve been told I look like the actress who plays Lady Violet Bridgerton – what do you think? Let me know in the comments. Scroll down for a photo of me.)

UKRC: Q3. Tell us about your path into setting up your own romance publishing company. Have you always been a big fan of the genre?

BB: Absolutely. When I was 12 I read The Pirate Prince by Gaelen Foley. It was quite the eye opener! But it wasn’t until I was 15 and randomly grabbed An Offer From A Gentleman by JQ (sic: Julia Quinn) at the Seattle Airport that I was hooked.

The promise of a HEA despite whatever trials the MCs went through helped my fragile mental health so much. I collected whatever #romancenovels I could find at garage sales and really cherished them. I think I have always been drawn to romance subplots in whatever I watched or read Looking back I watched The Princess Bride 20 times in 2 weeks and used to secretly draw kissing scenes during art class.

Fully embracing Romancelandia has felt like finally coming home. I was previously involved in a small publisher start up which didn’t end well. I loved the idea of making books though.

One day I blurted out that I wish I had a Romance focused one and so I took a chance. I luckily had met a wonderful author around the same time who was looking for a new publisher and we just naturally fit, grew, and learned together. Rebel Carter @rebelwrites_ took a chance on VGP. I’ve deliberately kept growth slow to make sure I can devote enough time and resources to each author.

UKRC: Q4. What does “diverse” romance mean to you specifically and why do you feel it’s so important to publish it?

BB: When I first started VGP I was seeing so many people looking for romances with diverse MCs and not getting many reccs. I have learned in the past two years that many of them ARE out there, they just aren’t getting the attention they deserve. I am committed to publishing books where every single person can see themselves represented but I am also trying to uplift authors already writing these stories.

Yes, I have a business, but I am passionate in people being able to believe they can have a HEA. So to me this means actively seeking out #ownvoices authors and making sure that our books have a wide range of experiences and authors.

One of the gaps that we hope to fill is positive fat rep and mental health rep. We have started that with our books by @Marie_Lipscomb_ and I made sure that the covers showed a beautiful big man given the same romance hero treatment. @designmeahuman made our vision come to life. We couldn’t do what we do without her and her team.

Alt image text: a book cover with a plus sized, bare-chested man with a beard in front of a fantasy scene background. The words The Lady’s Champion and Marie Lipscomb are overlaid on the image.

And now a brief interlude from our new and totally unofficial #UKRomChat sponsor/mascot for 2021, The Duke of Hastings:

Alt image text: gif from Bridgerton, a handsome Black gentlemen licks a spoon in slow motion.

UKRC: Q5. What kind of stories are you hoping to find in your inbox right now? How can writers submit to you and are you always open to submissions?

Alt image text: gif from Bridgerton, two ladies (one white, one Black) in fine Recency dress smile at each other. The legend *commence plotting* is overlaid on the image.

BB: We are currently open for submissions although we will probably close to them for a little bit soon, as we are scheduling books until the end of the year already! I’m hoping to find #ownvoices, rom coms, historical romance and sci-fI specifically but I’m always open to anything! Try me!

You can submit through our website at https://violetgazepress.com/ or email at info@violetgazepress.com

UKRC: Q6. Do you have any tips for a successful submission?

BB: I hate the thought that someone would be put off submitting because they are worried about writing their email perfectly formally for example. I am very easy going. Just make sure you do self edits to get your story as smooth as possible. Get me excited and show me you love your book and I am more likely to love it too. I can’t say this is how you should submit to anyone else, but for me I want to squee right along with you and bring your book to life.

UKRC: Q7. You also write under the name of Bria James. We’d love to hear about your books.

BB: Ha, well that is the dream! In the beginning I was adamant my writing take a back seat as I never wanted to be accused of being a vanity press so all my energies go on my authors. But I have written a short story that was included in a charity anthology. It’s no longer available but will show up expanded in our Enemies To Lovers Vol 2 coming April 2021.

I hope to get back to my sexy C3PO sci-fi romance series I have dabbled in soon, and maybe one day my name will be up there too!

UKRC: “sexy C3PO” *blinks*

Alt image text: gif of Robert Downey Jr suiting up as a gold coloured Iron Man with C3PO’s head.

UKRC: Q8. We’d love to hear more about the books you’ve published so far and all your fab authors like our recent guest @marie_lipscomb_ .

Alt image text: gif from Bridgerton, three Regency dressed ladies looking at a scandal sheet. Two are smiling, the other looks bemused.

BB: We publish @rebelwrites_ historical romance Gold Sky series where diversity and HEAs reign supreme, starting with Heart and Hand!

Alt image text: a book cover with a beautiful Black lady in a white lace gown, holding a bouquet and standing in front of a mountain lake and forest background. The words Heart and Hand and Rebel Carter are overlaid on the image.

We also publish @Marie_Lipscomb_ fantasy romance Hearts of Blackmere with the beautiful Brandon The Bear. (UKRC: see above)

Book 1, The Lady’s Champion, came out in Nov. Book 2 and 3 will be releasing in January & March. We also have two Only One Bed anthologies with a further 16 authors and will be releasing our Enemies to Lovers anthologies in the next few months.

UKRC: Q9. Following on from the last question, can you tell us about any upcoming releases and your plans for 2021 and beyond?

Alt image text: gif from Bridgerton, a handsome Black gentleman in fine Regency dress raises one eyebrow and basically looks handsome. The word spoilers is overlaid on the image in large yellow capital letters.

BB: We have the next two books in @Marie_Lipscomb_ Hearts of Blackmere series releasing in January and March. At the end of the year we will be adding a lesbian Robin Hood addition to the series that I’m so excited about.

UKRC: LESBIAN. ROBIN. HOOD.

Alt image text: a book cover with a handsome Black gentleman in a period suit standing in front of a mountain lake and forest background. The words Hearth and Home and Rebel Carter are overlaid on the image.

We hope to drop at least one, if not two, more Gold Sky books by @rebelwrites_ in 2021. We have our Enemies to Lovers anthologies coming in the first few months of the year as well. There are plans for more anthologies this year as well as a fabulous urban fantasy series by Ali Williams @CLAficionado with a blacksmith heroine and Saxon deities that don’t know how to stop meddling.

There will be more surprise authors, but one I am happy to be able to announce today is, actually, you!

Alt image text: a gif from Bridgerton, a lady in Regency dress looks pleasantly surprised and holds a hand to her mouth.

Violet Gaze Press is beyond delighted to announce we have signed @JeannaLStars as our fourth author with her debut novel due Autumn 2021, a beautiful time travelling love letter to the #Romance genre with schizophrenia rep.

I’m so pleased that we can continue adding to our list of authors in 2021 and we will be bringing mental health rep to the forefront, something that I just don’t see addressed in #Romance enough.

Alt image text: a promotional graphic of a woman (me!) with shoulder length red hair smiling. Text on the image says Violet Gaze Press is happy to welcome Jeanna Louise Skinner.

UKRC: I’d love to be able to tell you all that I dealt with this announcement in an uber professional manner, but this is how I reacted.

Alt image text: a screenshot from Twitter saying “Aaaaayyyy! I’m sorry everyone, I thought I was going to super cool about this but I’m in tears right now. Give me a minute.”

UKRC: I know it’s a cliché, but I cannot begin to tell you how ecstatic I am to have found a home for my debut novel “The Book Boyfriend” with Brittany at Violet Gaze Press. I tried to play it cool but I knew immediately that she was the right person to help me bring Emmy and Jonathan’s story to life.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey x

UKRC: Q10. We usually ask authors what they enjoy about writing Happily Ever Afters. What is it that you love about publishing them?

Alt image text: a gif from Bridgerton of a handsome Black man and a beautiful white lady in fine Regency dress dancing in front of a lit laburbum arch at night. They are starting romantically into each other’s eyes.

BB: For me, Romance is the genre of hope. Knowing that we are giving readers an opportunity to see themselves worthy of a happily ever after, and the hope that no matter what life throws at you that there will be something beautiful at the end. I just love giving people another beautiful love story, and helping authors realize their dreams. If it helps me realize a few of my own at the same time that’s an added bonus.

UKRC: I couldn’t agree more ❤

Thank you so much Brittany Borshell for joining me. I think you’ll all agree that Brittany was a fabulous guest. For me, this was the BEST #UKRomChat EVER! I’m over the moon to be working with her at Violet Gaze Press.

And thank you, everyone, for all your love & support! I’m so happy to finally tell you my exciting news.

Alt image text: a gif from Bridgerton of a number of couples dancing in front of a background of fireworks at night.

You can follow Brittany here and Violet Gaze Press here. Please let me know what you think of this new #UKRomChat write-up format in the comments. Love it, hate it? Anything you’d like to see more of? All feedback appreciated. I’ll be announcing the next chat on Twitter soon, but in the meantime, here’s to the power of Happily Ever After ❤

UKRomChat Returns: AKA, Only I could start a blog and then forget to actually write on it…

Or something like that.

To be fair, I always planned to take December off from UKRomChat, but perhaps starting a blog and then disappearing for a whole month wasn’t my best idea. Thanks to those of you who stuck around.

Gif: Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off peering around a door frame and breaking the fourth wall by staring straight at the camera, asking, “You’re still here?”

Anyways, the reason why I’m writing now is because I suddenly remembered that I need to tell you about tonight’s UKRomChat. I swear I’ve eaten so much of the yellow stuff over the holidays (HPN and all that) I’m surprised my brain hasn’t actually become cheese – but the good kind, you know? The kind that takes years to mature. Who am I kidding? Mature and my brain do not belong in the same sentence.

Image: a promo graphic for tonight’s chat with Brittany on the left, the event details in the middle, and the UKRomChat and Violet Gaze Press logos on the right.

So, UKRomChat. I’m so excited because tonight I’m going to be chatting with Brittany Borshell, director and all-round superwoman at Violet Gaze Press, a brilliant and forward-thinking new(ish) indie publisher of “fierce, diverse Romance”. The eagled-eyed among you will recognise VGP as being Marie Lipscomb’s publisher, who was my last guest of 2020, the fabulous author of The Lady’s Champion – my favourite book of the last 12 months.

Just LOOK at this cover!

Image: Book cover art for The Lady’s Champion by Marie Lipscomb featuring a huge, bearded and bare-chested cuddly bear of a fantasy warrior in front of a scenic background.

Are you still with me?

I know, it’s *chef’s kiss* right?

So, tonight is your chance to ask Brittany Borshell – the very person who published THAT cover – anything* you like. I want to find out what “Violet Gaze” stands for and it goes without saying that I’ll be asking Brittany to tell us what she’s hoping to find in her submissions inbox. So if you’re querying soon, you won’t want to miss it. We may have some exciting news to share too…

Gif: Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton as Simon Bassett, The Duke of Hastings, arching an eyebrow and looking fine af! The word SPOILERS is overlayed across the image in large yellow capital letters.

Those who follow me on Twitter will attest to my new-found Bridgerton obsession. Obsessed, me? Whatever gave you that idea?

So much so, I’ve decided a change of the (completely unofficial and totally made up) UKRomChat “mascot” is in order. Long term chat peeps will join me in thanking Outlander’s Jamie Fraser for his outstanding service, but I hope you’ll all agree that Simon Bassett, The Duke of Hastings, is a more than worthy successor.

Basically what this means is that I’ll be sharing lots of Bridgerton giffery; particularly those featuring the very handsome Regé-Jean Page.

And finally, for anyone who doesn’t have a scooby about what I’m on about, UKRomChat is a live Romance-centric Twitter chat which takes place on the first Monday of every month at 8-9pm UK time. To join in or just lurk (I see you and I thank you) just follow @ UKRomChat or #UKRomChat over on Twitter. Please don’t be afraid to say hi or ask questions.

I hope to see you there!

Gif: Ruth Gemmell (my doppleganger) as Dowager Viscountess Lady Violet Bridgerton saying, “I believe you should like to go”.

*Anything within reason. I don’t mean you should ask Brittany what her favourite cheese is.

Look at My Shiny New T̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ –err, Blog!

I feel a bit like Bilbo Baggins writing this. I’m going on a blogging adventure!

Gif: A short man running excitedly shouting, “I’m going on an adventure!”

This is all so new to me, so be gentle. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing and in the best Jeanna Louise Skinner tradition, am totally winging it.

This is where I’ll be posting everything UKRomChat, including my most recent guest interviews and reviews.

As well as all that, I’ll probably update it with my general smorgasbord of shower thoughts that I usually inflict on my Twitter followers. I don’t know why, but lots of you seem to like my weird brand of snark over there and that’s something I’m very grateful for. If you don’t already know me, this gif pretty much tells you everything you need to know about my writing and how my brain works.

Gif: Various scenes of Disney princesses replaced with sloths

I *might* also talk about living with a disability and chronic illness. I have CRPS, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (which is an utter bastard) and ADHD, and I’ve ALWAYS got a lot to say about both.

But mostly, this will be a place where I’ll talk all things Romancelandia, because there’s absolutely nothing I love more than a Happily Ever After. You can keep your precious Precious, Bilbo.

Gif: A couple slow dancing with the words “The End” overlaid in large white script over them.