Really excited that my book is now live on Kindle. I am now praying that people will read and enjoy it – and if possible – leave me a review (preferably a nice one!)
As mentioned before, the book (originally entitled ‘Lucinda’s Luck’) has been a long time emerging into the light. The heroine came into my life one day at a writing workshop near Oxford in 1999. I was sitting in the garden writing – and had a vision of a girl in old-fashioned dress climbing out of a window and down a tree. (This sort of thing happens to writers a lot – most of us are in our own little world and quite harmless!)
Bits of the story emerged over the next few years. I wrote several novels and a lot of poems and magazine stories. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme where you can submit a novel a year for a full critique. I created ‘Lucinda’s Luck’ in about 2007 as a 30,000 word Pocket Novel. By the time I’d finished the suggested revisions, the word count for the Pocket Novel had increased to 50,000. I put the novel on one side and got side-tracked by the publication of two more novels and lots more poems and stories.
A few years later, another plot strand occurred to me – this increased the word count to 70,000 – too long for a Pocket Novel.
I wrote another Pocket Novel and put Lucinda on the back burner, uncertain as to what I was going to do with her. Then, one evening while browsing on my computer last autumn, I read about Endeavour Press. Their submission guidelines stated that writers should do a 100 word summary of what their novel was about and also submit a short biography. I did this. It took ages to find the right 100 words! The following day I heard back from them, requesting the full manuscript. There were obviously edits and changes to be made – but this has led to something I never thought I’d live to see – the publication of my first historical novel.
What I’d say to any writer is, keep a notebook for the strange bits and pieces that occur to you. Write them down. Believe in them. You have no idea where they might lead you. I now have another regency heroine currently stranded in a bluebell wood – I’d better get back to her!
We all need to re-charge our batteries sometimes! As a writer, a good way to do this is to go on a writing retreat. This is different from a workshop in that more time is allocated for you to explore your own ideas and gain some much-needed breathing space.
Many people turn down the opportunity of going on a retreat because their writing has suffered a setback or rejection or they feel they are not writing well. The whole point of a retreat is as a form of healing. Very often there will be a scattering of writing exercises through the day or week – with others there may simply be an introduction and then you have space in a supportive atmosphere for creative ideas to grow.
It sometimes isn’t possible to afford a week away somewhere – but most people can manage a day.
Please note the retreats I am co-running with writer Roz Levens in Evesham this year. Do come and join us. For further details call 07711 293958.
Go shopping for interesting characters. Sit in a shopping mall or café and, without making it too obvious, note down a few details about the people around you. See if you can use all the senses! Think about :
The colour a person is wearing – or are they wearing something that clashes?
What is their voice like? Does their laughter irritate you?
Are they wearing perfume or after-shave?
What are they eating – and are they taking their time or rushing through it?
If you had to describe them as a texture – what would it be?
If you spot a person who looks too perfectly turned out to be true, then have some fun turning them into something different in your imagination. For instance, what if her hair was snarled into rat’s tails instead of an immaculate blonde bob. What if she had dirty hands and broken nails? Torn clothing? What if she was sitting on a pavement somewhere?
Then think about how they got from A to B and back again. You never know, this could be the start of a novel idea!
The next meeting will be on Wednesday 5th April at Jellypicklejam in Vine Mews, Evesham The meeting is for anyone who is interested in anything creative – and we also welcome readers. (Every writer needs readers!) We start at 10.30 and stay until about midday. The aim is to give people a chance to network, discuss ideas and promote anything they may be doing. Please bring any leaflets, business cards, books – and come and enjoy great company, good coffee and lovely cake. For more information, please contact me on 01386 446477.
I am very excited to announce the new title for my Regency Novel. The novel was originally called ‘Lucinda’s Luck’ but Endeavour Press decided they wanted to go for something that fitted better with their current range of titles. A few people have asked if I’m upset about the change. The answer is – no I’m not! I’m thrilled that they’ve accepted the novel and I’m not going to quibble about two words being changed even if they do happen to be the title. Having published around sixty short stories in women’s magazines, I am quite used to titles being changed without it being mentioned to me. A book or magazine story is a product. The aim of the company producing it is to make sure it is as commercially successful as possible. Lucinda came into my mind – and my heart – nearly twenty years ago at a Kim Taplin writing workshop near Oxford. Kim urged me to write the rest of the story but because I was involved with other projects several more years passed before I went back to it. When I did I was a member of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme and I wrote the story with the aim of submitting it as a pocket novel. The word count at that time was 30,000 words. However, by the time I got my critique, the requirements had changed and the word count had risen to 50,000. I put it on one side and my first two novels were published, together with several non-fiction books and a lot of magazine stories. I re-wrote it – more than doubling the length – for a competition. It didn’t win but I did get an encouraging critique. I submitted it to several publishers and was on the point of self-publishing (I am a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors) when Endeavour said yes!
‘Fortune’s Promise’ will be coming out as an ebook. More news soon.
Unfortunately, the workshop planned for Saturday 4th March had to be postponed.
This will now take place on Saturday 7th October from 10.30 – 1.00.
There will be more news about this soon – but for further details and to book a place contact www.tudorhouse.org.uk or phone 01905 612309. No previous writing experience necessary – just come and have fun.
The next session will be on Friday 10th March from 11.00 – 12.00 at Evesham Library. The featured writers are Mills & Boon regency novelist Elizabeth Beacon and Karen King and Ann Evans who will be talking about their novels for both adults and teenagers and their work in schools.
There won’t be a session in April as the second Friday of the month falls on Good Friday.
Further events are planned for 12th May and 9th June with another great line-up of writers.
The idea of these sessions is that on the run up to Evesham Festival of Words (30th June – 2nd July) people have a chance to meet some of the writers involved, buy their books and ask questions. We are especially keen to help and encourage new writers and nurture local talent. The sessions are free and coffee, tea and biscuits will be provided. For further information, please contact the Library or Sue Johnson 0n 01386 446477.
I’m really excited about two forthcoming publications!
Firstly, there is my long-awaited second collection entitled ‘Curious Women.’ The book is dedicated to my two grandmothers and the only great-grandmother I remember. It also commemorates all the women I’ve noticed in cafes and other places who’ve inspired a poem or story but who I never got to meet in real life. I also include myself under the category of ‘curious.’ (You can take that comment any way you like!) ‘Curious Women’ is published by The Greenwood Press and will be available by Easter.
My partner, Bob Woodroofe, and I have nearly finished our second joint collection. This is called ‘Journey: from pathways to poems.’ They are paired poems and have been written in the various places we have visited. We are looking forward to reading from this at various festivals this year. ‘Journey’ is also published by The Greenwood Press.
For this exercise you will need a notebook, pen and kitchen timer. Allow fifteen minutes.
Pick a colour. Set the timer for two minutes. Free-write (this means write as quickly as you can without crossing out or censoring) until the time runs out.
Pick a sound. This could be something you can actually hear at that moment – or something you remember. Set the timer for two minutes again. Write as quickly as you can.
Pick a scent. Again this could be something that may be close to you at that moment or a fragrance that has particular significance for you. Set the timer. Write.
Pick a taste. This may be something you’ve just eaten or something you like or dislike. Set the timer. Write.
Pick a texture. This could be the crisp cotton shirt you have just ironed or the soft velvet of the cushion where you are sitting. Set the timer. Write.
Take a few minutes to underline any sections you particularly like.
When you do your next writing session, see how many ideas you can develop from this.
Reward yourself for the effort you have put in.
Do you find that you put off writing because:
you haven’t got time
you’re not in the right mood
you don’t feel inspired
you feel tired
you’re not sure if you’re doing it ‘right’
If you’ve ticket ‘yes’ to more than one of these then you need to take action to kick-start your writing.
You will probably never have enough time (I haven’t). However, you can do a lot with just five minutes. See how many of these you can squeeze from a day – when you’re waiting for the potatoes to boil, waiting for the dentist or doctor, on the way to work, or for a few minutes in the car park before you get there.
You may never be in the right mood – but imagine you have a deadline for a story or article. Find a competition you can enter (see Writing Magazine or check out www.prizemagic.co.uk).
Don’t worry about getting something right, just get it written. You can’t edit a blank page.
Create a list of things you could write about – if you’re stuck begin with ‘I remember…’ and see where it takes you. Take a look at my book ‘Writing Success: poetry, flash fiction & short story exercises.
Join a writing class or find a creative buddy to inspire you. (It doesn’t have to be another writer).
Set up a reward system. For instance, if you wrote every day for a week you could treat yourself to something – or save up points towards something bigger on your wish list.