A sneak peek

I’m currently working on my third book in the children’s series about a young girl called Lucy and Fiona Fairy.

But as I work on what I hope will be the last edits, I thought I would let you see the cover, designed by Fran Waterkeyn, my daughter. I love it. I hope you do too.

magicwithmrmarvellous

I am aiming at publication this summer as an e-book, so I’d better get back to the editing!

From there to here

I’ve had to write a bio for something I’m working on and it’s made me consider how I got into this writing lark in the first place.

Like many other people, I became interested in writing creatively at school and seemed to excel at it. I had a very encouraging teacher, which helped. I was also a very keen reader as a child – I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on; even the cereal packets at the breakfast table.

But I didn’t get into writing for a living in the conventional way. Actually, I never seem to do things in the normal way! Most people these days take their A’levels in the sixth form and go onto Uni; studying English, or Creative Writing, or Media Studies or something relevant. Instead, I did a business studies course, started working at 16 and a half in a variety of jobs and studied English A’level at night school. Some years later I enrolled on one of the writing correspondence courses of the type you see advertised in magazines, so for a couple of years I was doing assignments with my tutor on short stories, articles, life writing and more. At that time I found I was better at the non-fiction pieces and started writing for a church magazine and speculatively for a couple of local publications.

Not long after, I was working for a local community magazine as a reporter and editorial assistant, progressing to Editor which was more of a case of being in the right place at the right time I guess. Since then, I have been a writer and editor for a number of publications and organisations, as well as a freelance copywriter, PR consultant and editor, whilst also cutting my teeth as a children’s author and short story writer. My writing career has spanned 25 years and I have earned a good living through writing/editing everything from adverts and press releases through to features and website copy.

More recently, I have concentrated on writing fiction; so far it hasn’t been nearly as succesful or lucrative but I’m working on it.

I’m hoping that my unusual introduction to a writing career will inspire others. Yes, of course it would have been easier to do that degree at the beginning of my career but, I’ve trained and learned as I have gone along and had a rich and varied life to draw upon for subject matter. The most important thing I have learned is that if you really want something, you must have self belief that it can happen.

Hello January

I realise I am a bit late to the party, with most writers having already done their writing resolutions, but I have been considering my aims and plans for this year.

I have been finding getting back into the writing particularly difficult this month. It is possibly because I gave myself a whole week off around Christmas, which must be a first, as previously I always had a number of writing projects on the go and used to be up against a lot of deadlines. Since I gave up the business of writing and editing for others to concentrate on fiction, there hasn’t been such a sense of urgency. So far this month, I have managed to submit a piece to be considered for an anthology, have entered one writing competition and have done a bit of work on my third novel, but that’s it. I suffer a bit from SAD syndrome this time of year so I have to push myself, otherwise I might easily go into hibernation until the weather is warmer.

But my plans for this year include trying to publish my first children’s novel in paperback, attend some writing events, write lots more short stories for both adults and children, start writing a children’s picture book, brush up my social media skills, travel a bit for inspiration, plus catch up with some old friends I haven’t seen for a while.

Good luck to everyone with their resolutions, and please feel free to ask me how mine are going and give me a shove!

 

JUST WHO LET THE CAT OUT?

I have just published my latest children’s e-book Who Let The Cat Out? It follows on from my first book Magic In The Attic. Both relate to 10-year-old Lucy Appleton, her friend Serena, and a very grumpy old fairy called Fiona.

I wrote the second installment during #NaNoWriMo in November 2017, then I put it to one side while I was working on other writing projects and picked it up again this summer. I had thought this book would conclude the story of Lucy and Fiona, but the two main characters had other ideas.

So there’s now a third book under construction, started during #NaNoWriMo this year, which I hope to publish in 2019 and I’ve got a funny feeling it might lead to a fourth, as Lucy and Fiona still seem to have things they want to say and do.

If you would like to find out more about Lucy, Serena and Fiona, both e-books are available on Amazon Kindle and, if you’re quick, you can get Who Let The Cat Out? for free with my introductory promotion that runs for the next day or so.

Happy reading!

catoutcover2

Like buses …

Do you know the saying that relates to the coming along of buses to a bus stop, or am I showing my age? Nothing – a dearth – and then they come along in threes.

Well that’s been the case with my writing. November started with me beginning my third children’s novel using #NaNoWriMo as a motivator. And yes! Success! By yesterday I had finished the first draft. it wasn’t the mammoth task of 50,000 words that many other writers were undertaking but instead, I had set myself the goal of 15,000 words, or around 500 words a day. I stuck to it, only failing on one day by writing 200 words, but I caught up the next day. So that was morale booster number one.

The second came with winning my writing group’s end of term competition announced on Thursday. I am a member of The Writers’ Study, a small group of writers in Dorset, meeting near to where I live. I’d written a short story based in World War One, as this had been much in my thoughts with the recent commemorations.

By coincidence, a couple of months ago, I had submitted a short story set during the Second World War to the Blandford Rotary Open Short Story Competition. It had been an afterthought but I thought, well ‘you have to be in it to win it’ so it was worth a try. I’d heard I had been shortlisted a few weeks ago and then last night, the readings and announcement of the winners took place at an event put on by the Rotary Club. To say I was surprised to win is an understatement. But win I did and the Mayor of Blandford presented me with my prize and certificate.

These little wins make the writing worthwhile and here is an image from last evening. I’m the one with the blonde bob.

Fiction writing and events

Recently I went to an event along with two other members of my writing group @vivmillera and @mapike2013. It was run by the Dorset Writers’ Network at the Arts University of Bournemouth. The best aspects of the event were that a) it was free and b) you got a chance to meet with other writers.

I really enjoy meeting up with other scribes and hearing what they’ve been working on;  whether they are old hands at this writing stuff, or whether they are completely new to it and finding their way. The age range comprised Uni students in their twenties to octogenarians, and quite a few in-betweenies like me, proving age is certainly no barrier to writing.  It was a pleasure to bump into Tracy Baines and Gail Aldwin and a few other people I knew.

As a bonus, there were two mini workshops; one by Maria Donovan looking at how to pitch your novel to agents and publishers and the other by Peter Roe about using modern media (smartphones) as a device to move on your story, rather than by face-to-face conversation. This is the session I had picked and it certainly gave me food for thought.

At the book sales table I met Kathy Sharp, who was doing a grand job selling other people’s books as well as her own. I hadn’t realised how many she had written. I fear I can never come away from a book sale or shop without buying something, so I finally decided on Maria Donovan’s intriguingly entitled novel The Chicken Soup Murder. I’m a sucker for a good title! The last book I bought based on its title alone was Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge, which I enjoyed. And, though I have only got through the first few pages of Maria Donovan’s book, the beginning is excellent.

Of course, attending workshops and events means there is less time for the actual writing but, I always come away inspired, and ready to do battle with the computer keyboard again. Happy writing!

NaNo month

Tomorrow is the start of National novel writing month #nano. While there is no chance of me finding the time to write a 50,000 word novel in November, I have decided that by thinking along the same vein, I could perhaps tackle the sequel to my children’s book Magic in the Attic.

The original book is around 10,000 words, so to write a sequel to that would be much more manageable. I already have a synopsis, I just haven’t got round to writing the book, although ideas have been swirling around my brain for several years. However, I hope it won’t take me about 18 years to publish this one. My working title is Not a Cat’s Chance and yes, it is about cats and yes, Fiona the fairy will return in it.

Last weekend my partner and I visited Furzey Gardens in Minstead in the New Forest. There are lots of little wooden fairy doors inserted into the trees and structures around the gardens, each with a sprinkling of fairy dust, or glitter, nearby to add to the atmosphere. It made me think of Fiona, my fairy, and what she might think of the place.  Even though she is a grumpy 100-year-old fairy, I think she would like it.

Good luck to all the NaNo writers who will attempt to write the full 50,000 words or more. May your words flow, and your fingers fly swiftly over the computer keys.

CHILDREN’S COMPETITION STORY

I posted in April that I had won the Bournemouth Hospital Radio Bedside Children’s story competition with my story Secret Visitor.

It has now been published in their annual publication. Click the link to read my story: HRB Winner 2017 . I apologise you have to read it sideways – I haven’t yet worked out how to turn it round.

I love the little illustrations that have been added to bring the story to life.

 

WOMEN’S MAGAZINES – AN UPDATE

Since my last post on the difficulties of writing fiction for women’s magazines, there’s been a development.

Going on the People’s Friend writing workshop must have helped, because a story I submitted afterwards has been accepted for publication. At last I will have something to show for my efforts.

My story, which I called The Bet, is set on a golf course and is due to be published in November. I can’t wait to witness it in print and to see how they illustrate it. Will they keep my title or will they call it something else? It’s so exciting!

I guess the moral to this, and the note to self should be: to never give up.

Writing for women’s magazines

I’m a little tardy in posting about this, as I have been on holiday in between, but in May I attended a People’s Friend fiction workshop accompanied by my writing friend Maryanne.

I have tried sending my stories to women’s magazines on and off over the last few years. It has been gutting to receive each story back a few weeks later with a compliments slip or letter saying “we have read your story with interest but no thank you,” or words to that effect.

I’ve had advice from other, more successful women’s fiction writers, attended workshops and had help from my fellow writers at the writing group I belong to, but still publication in this genre has evaded me. Almost at the point of giving up, I saw Tracy Baines mentioned the People’s Friend workshop on her facebook page. And, it was being held not too far from where I live.

I have to say this was a brilliant day, and money well spent. It was being run by Fiction Editor Shirley Blair and one of their most successful writers called Alison. The advice was good – what to do and what not to do; how to present your stories; market research about the readers; focusing on what the reader wants; what is taboo and what is not taboo; building your character profiles and more. There were also practical sessions where we had a chance to do exercises and then read out our work.

So, I’m really inspired to have another go. The only thing stopping me now is the day job of writing non-fiction and editing, which has suddenly got busy. So there may be a bit of a delay, but I’m more hopeful. I’m not greedy, just seeing one of my stories printed in the People’s Friend would make me happy. My fingers are crossed!