In Which Everything is LARGE!

Hello, I am back after a long time away!

My book-in-progress went off to the editor this morning (should have been there yesterday, so that’s not too bad).

Unfortunately for me, reading is much quicker than writing, so I’m expecting her to come back with her comments in the few days.

And there will probably be more stuff to do but it is *almost* there. Can you believe how long it takes?! No, me neither.

My OH is away in Scotland playing golf and tonight I thought I might treat myself and watch some TV!

This is a novelty! In fact, it’s so long since I actually put the tele’ on myself that I’d had forgotten how to do it! We have two remotes (why?!) and I was pressing all the wrong buttons. I got East Enders but when I tried to change channels, it all went wrong, so I gave up.

Hilary Mantel Quote

This question – and answer from the late, great Hilary Mantel – was on Twitter this week and I rather like it (sorry it’s BIG but when I made it smaller, it was too small to read!)

I don’t claim to understand it completely but that bit about ‘trusting the process’ made sense to me.

When you’re writing a novel (or at least, the way I do it), you think it’ll never all come together. How can it this big mess of ideas form a cohesive whole? It’s frustrating and makes you full of doubt. And then somehow, magically, the strands seem to knit together and – ta dah! You’ve done it.

Large Print Books

Out of the blue – because I’d forgotten my book had been bought by a large print publisher (it was a long time ago!), 3 copies of ‘A Wartime Secret’, with a snazzy new cover, arrived in the post this week.

My mum’s been away from home since early March – in hospital for a month and then in a rehabilitation unit – and she hasn’t felt like reading at all.

Until now! She’s whizzed through the book (she’s read it before but it’s been a while) and not only has it got her “back into reading” (I quote!) but she rather liked the large print because it was “easy to read.” So we might be trawling the large print shelves in the library fairly soon, to find her some more.

Evesham Festival of Words

I am going to be chatting to writer Joanna Cannon (again! We last did it 4 years ago) at Evesham Festival of Words on 2nd July at 2pm.

Come along, if you’re able to. It’ll be fun and informal, in a small venue. And there’ll be tea and cake. Tickets are £10. Book here!

I would love this event to be a sell out! Last time it wasn’t and I couldn’t understand why not!

If you can’t make it to Evesham, Jo is appearing at other places too: (cue another LARGE pic!)

Writing Workshops

There are also a couple of writing workshops running over the main Festival weekend, one on writing flash fiction and super short stories (with Electra Rhodes who knows her stuff)

And Simon Whaley’s leading a workshop on Creative Non-Fiction. All the details for that one are here.

I’ve booked both of those so if you’re going to those events – or any others at the Festival, do let me know and we can say hello!

Posted in Books, Finding Time To Write, novel writing, Television, West Midlands | Tagged | 1 Comment

Writers, when is your ‘Golden Hour’?

Hellooo! I’m too tired to concentrate on my edits and it’s too early to go to bed, so I’m whizzing off a little post while I have a ‘window’.

I can manage this because it’s like talking to a friend and I don’t have to think too much! (Which is a Good Thing at the moment).

Golden Hours
I read a good tip on Twitter today, (which originally comes from writing coach Beth Weeks), concerning when it’s best to do certain writing tasks (she’s clearly thinking of novels but it could apply to any kind of writing).

Firstly, decide what are your ‘Golden Hours’ – ie: the time(s) when you have the most energy for writing (and it probably wouldn’t do any harm to think about your Silver and Bronze hours too).

You may already know this but if not, you might have to try writing at different times of the day (or night!) to see which works best for you.

My golden hours are definitely in the morning, from about 7am to 11am-ish. If I haven’t started by then, I’m a lost cause.

This is what she recommends:

• Golden hours: first drafts, outlining, slap out words
• Silver: revisions, structural edits
• Bronze: fine-tooth combing sentence and scenes*

*and, I would add, blog posts.

How Long Does It Take…?
Sometimes, I suspect, friends and family wonder why it takes me so long to write a book. I am not the fastest writer in the world, I’ll admit (plus I break off to do things like write blog posts), so I was gratified to read, in an interview with Claire Fuller on the Women’s Prize for Fiction website, that she takes “about three years” to write each of her novels.

I am not in the same league as her, of course (she writes best-selling, prize-winning literary fiction) BUT, in comparison, I’m positively speedy!

The Jenny Brown Associates Over 50 Award

Now, this is a great opportunity, so if you are a UK resident, over 50, female, with an unpublished novel (or even part of one – they’re only asking for the first 5000 words) – This Is For You!

Jenny Brown Associates is a literary agency and they are no doubt, on the look out for new writers, so even if you don’t win, who knows what might happen?

Some details here:

“Jenny Brown Associates is running an award for debut novelists resident in the UK aged 50 and above and invites submissions during May 2023. The winner will receive £1,000 and a placement on a residential writing course at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre. Runners-up will receive tailored mentoring sessions. The Award gratefully acknowledges the support of Moniack Mhor.”

Definitely worth a go! All the details are here and you’ve got until the end of May to enter (BUT you can’t submit until 1st May, so don’t be in too much of a rush to send off your work. Spend a bit of time polishing it, I would say, to make it the best it can be, before you zap it off).

Good luck!

99p Bargain!

Now, a quick plug: my debut WW2 novel ‘A Wartime Secret’ (which I’m SURE you’ve all bought and read by now), is currently only 99p on Amazon for a short time.

I’m guessing it will only be that price until the end of April but I have no idea! I only discovered it was 99p by chance because nobody tells me anything!

It’s here, should that be of interest.

It currently has 917 reviews and I will explode with joy when it reaches 1000.

Au Revoir WF

Paul O’Grady, Len Goodman, Barry Humphries.. all gone since I last wrote (sorry to be morbid, but they were all so lovely and funny and we need funny people in the world, don’t we?) and now…Writers Forum is no more!

In the issue I got last week, the editor announced that, sadly, it was the last one. Such a shame. I really enjoyed getting that magazine each month.

I will miss it.

Posted in Blogging, Books, Competitions, Finding Time To Write, novel writing | Tagged | 17 Comments

What I’ve Learned from Being Published

This is what 85k of a first draft looks like.

My edits are back!

Which means I have to knuckle down and shape the novel into something vaguely publishable.

And …sobs…some of my carefully-crafted paragraphs (and chapters!) are having to be cut (which is why I shouldn’t have spent so long on them, of course).

Yep, I am killing my darlings, as well as adding more ‘wordage’, especially to the end, which was only half-finished when I submitted it.

So, I will probably be a little quiet on here for the next few weeks.

A random touch of spring

I thought you might be interested to see the piece I wrote recently for Jericho Writers – and which they’re happy for me to reproduce here – on the subject of ‘what I’ve learned from being published.’

Anyway, here it is:

What I’ve Learned from Being Published

“I spent over 20 years writing short fiction for women’s magazines but novel writing was always my goal. Eventually, I decided it was ‘now or never’ and my debut was published in January 2022.

The biggest surprise about the publishing process was the speed at which it all happened (someone told me, in publishing, everything is either ‘very, very fast’ or ‘very, very slow’). I signed with HQ, (Harper Collins’ digital-first imprint) and my debut was published 6 months later (firstly as an e-book, then in paperback 6 weeks later). My second novel came out 10 months after that, which meant my first two novels were published in the same year (January and November 2022).

It was very tight – and there was a lot of pressure – to get the second novel finished. I learned that a deadline is a deadline, with very little leeway. When my debut came out, there was little time for wallowing or celebrating. I was busy writing my second novel and my head was already somewhere else.

Another surprise was the number of people who had input into the final version of the book. Not only the editors but also the publicity and marketing teams. Everything on the book’s cover is outside your control (blurb, title, cover and price). But it’s also refreshing to be part of a collaborative process, after working alone for so long. It’s comforting to have others invested in making your book the best it can be.

I had to compromise a little on the titles of both my novels but I was happy to bow to my publisher’s greater expertise and I think they’ve done a great job.

I’ve learned that it’s not my job to sell the book. It’s tempting to spend time on marketing (via social media, doing interviews, giveaways, etc) but whatever you do as an author to boost sales will only ever be a drop in the ocean. Whenever I can, I try to promote my books, of course. But I have to remind myself that, as a traditionally-published author, it’s not my job to sell the books: that’s what the publisher does.

People’s reactions can be strange when they find out you’ve written a novel. The uninitiated think you must be rich. And famous. And of course, I’m neither. And when you tell people you’re being ‘edited’ they sometimes think that’s ‘cheating’ and say things like ‘Oh, but it won’t be your book anymore!’

And some fellow writers – people I counted as friends, both in ‘real life’ and virtually – have struggled to congratulate me (or not mentioned my book at all). It’s hurtful but, like the not-so-good reviews, it’s amazing how quickly I learned to shrug it off.

Something else I’ve learned is that even getting published and achieving ‘the dream’ doesn’t mean the end of imposter syndrome or striving for more.

I’m working on my third novel and I still worry sometimes that I won’t be able to do it. I still look on Twitter and envy other authors’ sales figures, prizes, foreign rights, marketing campaigns and best-seller flags on Amazon.

It’s not the end when you’re a published author: the goalposts simply move. You’re always learning, always trying to improve. And I think that’s all part of the adventure of being a writer.”

Another random touch of spring

Posted in Blogging, novel writing | Tagged | 22 Comments

Happy Sunday!

I’ve had a REST today and it’s been lovely.

I didn’t wake up until 10am, I’ve pootled about, I’ve cleaned bathrooms (for the first time in…erm, I’m too embarrassed to tell you but hey, I enjoyed it!); we walked the dog and ended up at the village pub and had a lovely lunch and drank wine and it’s been r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g.

Do you remember what Sundays used to be like? When all the shops were shut and there was nothing much to do apart from go to Sunday school youth club? And ‘Songs of Praise’ was on TV and ‘Sing Something Simple’ was on the radio on Sunday evenings?

And today – oh, what a contrast – at 4pm I went on-line, ordered a new mobile phone from Argos and it’s going to be delivered by 10pm tonight! (Imagine telling 14-year-old me that one day, I’d be able to do all that! And on a Sunday, too). NB: phone has just been delivered.

Short Story Winners

The winners of the Evesham Festival of Words short story competition have been announced and are on the website here, if you want to see them.

I wasn’t involved in judging the competition this year but I recognise at least 3 names from the shortlist, so well done to Katie, Sherri and Rosie (as well as everyone else, of course!).

It’s often a very tiny margin between being shortlisted and being placed in a competition, so you should be pleased and those stories may well scoop a prize in the future, so don’t give up on them!

The Festival is also running a free-to-enter ‘Coronation Quiz’ – details here.

There’s just one prize of a £10 book token but it’s the taking part that counts! And you’ve got until 8th May to get your entries in, should you wish to.


I can’t believe it’s almost Easter! How did that happen?

I think, in this household, at least, Easter’s going to be cancelled and we’ll have an Easter get together once my mum’s home.

She’s been moved from the hospital into a rehabilitation unit (which sounds as though she’s a drug addict but is, of course, to help with her mobility and hopefully get her back on her feet).

Whatever you’re doing, I hope you enjoy yourself.

The RTE Short Story competition is now open for entries but WAIT before you all spring into action: it’s only open to those who live on ‘the island of Ireland’ (I love that) or who hold an Irish passport.

So, I’m guessing, that excludes quite a lot of us. But there’s still plenty to read/listen to on the website, not least, a piece by one of the judges – Claire Kilroy – on what she likes in a short story.

I particularly like her point about editing. I bang on about editing A LOT in my classes (because lots of writers, particularly at the start of their writing journey, are resistant to it!) but, as Claire says, editing might not mean ‘cutting’, it may also mean adding more words to your work. (Which is exactly what I will be doing once my edits for book #3 come back from the editor…any day now!)

If you’re lucky enough to live on the Emerald Isle and you’re going to enter the competition, remember that that winning story will be read on the radio, so it’s even more important to read the story aloud to yourself before you submit it. There are plenty of stories on here to listen to and/or provide inspiration.

Posted in Books, Competitions | 1 Comment

Sweet Freedom!

flowers in my hanging basket (violas? pansies?)

Hello, I’m back!

So, here’s the news (apologies, it’s a bit of a whinge-fest!)

The first draft of the new novel – 85,000 words – winged its way to the editor on Friday, which was the new deadline, so at least I achieved that.


And I have a small window of about two weeks (if past edits are anything to go by) before it comes back to me, so it’s not over yet!

But I do have a little bit of downtime now, which is good as… my mum is still in hospital, partly because, wouldn’t you know it, having kept her safe from the dreaded covids, for three years, she caught it on a ward that they’d only transferred her to the day before.

Anyway, I couldn’t visit for 9 days, which was not great (yes, I could ring her but half the time she couldn’t or didn’t answer her mobile). She seems to be over covid now but is still not 100%.

It’s hard to be creative when you are worried, isn’t it?

My head is a bit all over the place, so I probably wasn’t in the best frame of mind to see ‘Everything, Everywhere, All At Once’ at the cinema on Saturday night. (NB: first night out for two months).

Have you seen it?

It’s the one that’s scooped all the Oscars recently (it won 7, including best film) and I have to say that yes, the acting was very good and so were the special effects. But …erm, the rest of it was just a blur of kung fu, flashing lights, noise and fighting (lots of fighting). Which is a bit like my head feels at the moment anyway!

People walked out! And I wanted to do the same but my OH was quite enjoying it (!) so I tried to go to sleep instead, but it was too noisy so I sat there until the bitter (oh so bitter) end.

I told you this was a whinge-fest, didn’t I?


Something that does help on the long drive to Gloucester, is listening to an audiobook on my Bluetooth thingy in the car.

I started ‘Demon Copperhead’ by Barbara Kingsolver which I’m sure is very good – because she’s a brilliant writer – BUT it’s quite heavy going (and narrated in a deep Southern drawl, which I have to concentrate to understand) – so I gave up after about an hour and now I’m half way though Richard Osman’s second novel ‘The Man Who Died Twice’ which is much better.

Short chapters, not too complicated, clear narration from Lesley Manville and .. even better.. it actually makes me laugh. That’s a perfect audiobook for when you’re driving, imo.

Vending Machine at Exeter St. Davids Station

And finally, something quite jolly: Penguin Random House have installed a vending machine at the station in Exeter St. Davids, from which you can purchase books!

Apparently, it was at that very station, back in 1934, that Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin, got the idea for the company, as he perused the station book stall and was not impressed by the quality or choice of the books and magazines on sale. (He was on his way back to London after visiting Agatha Christie, don’t you know).

That’s all folks! Hopefully next time I will be a little perkier! (Whoops, just Googled ‘perky’ to see if I could find a suitable, funny little picture to add here and… hmm, no, I should not have done that!)

I’ll give you Pinky and Perky instead. Remember them?!

Posted in Books, novel writing | 4 Comments

In ‘Train’ ing…

Just a quickie from me which is par for the course these days!

‘In training’ for what, I hear you cry? Well, possibly for a nervous breakdown!

Ha haaaa! *laughs like a maniac*

Since I last wrote, I’ve had a bad back (still got it a bit but the exercises seem to be helping), my mum’s been taken into hospital, where she is still languishing and not very well at all ☹ and I am visiting her in Gloucester which is a 3 – 4 hour round trip every day, soooo, – related to those two things – I’ve had to ask for an extension on the delivery date of my first draft.

It was supposed to be this Friday (aaagh) 17th March but it is now March 24th, a week later. No excuses this time, it HAS to be done.

But in slightly more cheery news, I have also had a very rare Day Out.

My Day Out

It was organised by the RNA’s ‘Birmingham Chapter’ (which, as my friend Chris pointed out, sounds a bit Hell’s Angel-ish – they have ‘chapters’, don’t they? But it’s the Romantic Novelists’ Association so, nothing to do with bikers!).

It was a workshop/writing day in central Brum, which had originally been arranged for October but due to the train strike, had to be cancelled, so this was the re-arranged date, which wasn’t ideal for me, given my deadline (did I mention I had a deadline?) but I threw caution to the wind and decided to go anyway.


Before we even arrived at the venue, we had an adventure.

The train, which we had boarded at 8.30, full of excitement and station café tea, stopped after about 20 minutes. After a short wait and a garbled excuse over the intercom about ‘signals’ or something, it reversed back to the last station we’d been through, which was Dorridge. This, you may or may not know, is in Solihull and is quite a long way from central Birmingham and, we were cheerfully told, there would be no alternative transport laid on.

Nooo! The much-anticipated day out was in jeopardy!

But then, hallelujah, we met a Young Person (she actually overheard us discussing the likelihood of being able to get a taxi outside the station and said she’d happily share with us, if we liked…?) We DID like! Because, by the time we got off the train, she’d booked and paid for* an Uber and could tell us exactly where it was and when it would arrive!

Ah, the wonders of technology!

So, yeah… *flicks back hair*.. we jumped in an Uber and arrived at the venue exactly on time! And a very good day we had, too. (*we paid our share! Don’t want you to think we made a Young Person pay for us).

Chris and I have ‘form’ when it comes to disastrous – or at least, near-disastrous – train journeys.

Ten years ago (eek) we went to Italy for a writing holiday and I wrote about it here. Honestly, we still laugh about that day and all that running. Not sure we could do it now… ! (I certainly couldn’t with my bad back!)

In other news…

I am still deciding on a name for character #3. She’s been Spud, Tattie and Dunk. But I’m still not happy. I will let you know.

I’ve just finished reading (or rather, listening to, on audio), ‘Leonard and Hungry Paul’ a debut by Dublin-based writer Ronan Hession. Anyone else read it?

I enjoyed it. It’s a bit like ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ but (shhh) perhaps not quite so good (because I LURVE Eleanor O) but definitely not as dark as Eleanor Oliphant. If you want a nice, gentle, feel-good book, that makes you laugh and think and won’t give you nightmares or make you cry, then I can recommend it.

Posted in Books, West Midlands | Tagged , | 6 Comments

In Which I Am Distracted By Sheep

The bestselling novelist Adele Parks is in the Sunday Times today (I know because my mother waved the paper at me as I arrived to make her lunch!), talking about ‘Fame and Fortune’ and how her first novel – ‘Playing Away’ – was snapped up in 2000, as part of a 2-book deal for £300,000.

Yes, you read that correctly. And 23 years ago that was worth even more than it is now! (I’m sure you’d worked that out for yourself, but I’m just saying…!)

Gob-smacking, isn’t it? Good for her, and all that (no, no, not jealous at all).

And at the other end of the scale, the ALCS has recently published a report which states that, despite rising book sales, the average annual income for a full-time author is £7,000.

Also at the other end of the scale, a debut novelist admitted to me recently that their most recent monthly royalty statement was something like £6.83.

Here’s the full Adele Parks article, if you want to read it but it’s behind a paywall so unless you register with The Times (free for a limited number of articles a month, I think!) you might not be able to see it.

My earnings.. (ahem) are somewhere in the middle of those two – but nearer to the £6.83 a month, obviously.

There are some authors, clearly, who make a lot of money from writing and because those are the names and the figures that make the newspapers, it leads to a general misconception that we’re all making a fortune!

Ah, if only that were true! 🙂

The Vanishing Sheep

This is where they got out!

In other news, I was distracted from writing the you-know-what (or should that be the ‘ewe-know-what’?) on Friday by the appearance of 3 runaway sheep! (Two big ones and a lamb).

They climbed – very nimbly and goat-like – over a collapsed wall in the field across the road, just as I was turning into our drive, so naturally, I parked and then ran up to the road, to see what I could do.

By this time, about four cars had stopped and one man opened his window and asked, “Are they yours?” (because obviously I looked like a shepherd).

The sheep were now careering down the grass verge, clearly delighted to be ‘free’ and the drivers got bored and all drove off, narrowly avoiding them.

I didn’t have time to take a photo of them, sadly but you all know what sheep look like, so perhaps not necessary? I DID get a photo of their exit route from the field though, as, once they’d disappeared, I posted it on the village Facebook page, with a description of the woolly wanderers and I also phoned our neighbours, who have sheep themselves and who I thought might know the owners of the runaways.

The owner was traced and I’m assuming/hoping, that he got the sheep back!

Nickname Ideas?

I need a new nickname for a tomboy, rough-around-the-edges female character in my new book.

It was going to be ‘Spud’ but I decided that was too English (she’s Scottish), so I changed it to ‘Tattie’ but then I realised that it’s too similar to another name in the book, so I can’t use it.

I want it to be a nickname, perhaps based on a surname but I don’t want to it to end in ‘y’ because I have too many characters whose names end in ‘y’ or the ‘y sound’ (eg: Seffy, Joey, Angie).

Any ideas, anyone? Leave a comment if you can think of something because my brain is melting at the moment!

Thank you, in advance for any suggestions!

Posted in Books | Tagged | 20 Comments

Why I’ve Got My Head Down (and my mouth shut!)

Sorry my posts are few-and-far-between-ish at the moment. It’s not lack of desire, it’s lack of time.

As I’ve probably told you a million times (and I’m starting to bore myself now), I have a deadline of 17th March to deliver the first draft of novel #3 to my publisher (I’m writing the sequel to ‘The Highland Girls at War’) and as usual, I have tied myself in knots with the plot and there is a lot of work to do.

I am slow! I wish I was one of those people who says: ‘Oh, I dash off the first draft as quickly as possible and then I spend all the time polishing it up!’

Sadly, I cannot do that. I need to get each section in pretty good shape before I can move onto the next part.

And although I do quite a lot of planning, it’s only during the writing process, that I discover some of what will happen (eg; the ending!).

I have, however, made myself a lovely spreadsheet with wordcount targets on it for each day and that is helping keep me on track (a bit).

But I am very tired (and heading to bed at 9pm) so I am taking a break to write to you lovely folk!

Good news…

Bonnie’s birthday card – she was very proud.

The Bonnie Bonster (just one of her many nicknames) was TEN years old last Saturday, 11th February.

Here she is with one of her birthday cards (actually her only one but sssh, don’t tell her). She is in need of a haircut (and is having it done on Saturday!), so don’t look too closely.

We took her to the village shop to celebrate with a sausage – something she is never normally allowed – and we reminisced and asked ourselves ‘Where have the years gone?’

If you were following my blog when we got her, in April 2013 here is the post. Anyone remember it?


I’ve had some very nice reviews for ‘The Highland Girls at War’ which always helps when you’re beavering away and wondering why you’re doing this when you could be relaxing on the sofa watching TV.

Mind you, my latest Amazon review says: “Don’t think Inverbervie Castle is in Morayshire though.”

Erm.. I am mystified because there is no such castle in my book! In fact, all the castles (there are 2, plus a house that looks like a little castle) have made-up names (deliberately because then no bright spark can say, ‘Oh, no, she got that wrong, the turrets on the east side are definitely sandstone!’ or whatever).

I can only assume that the reviewer (who liked it otherwise and gave the book 5 stars), got my castles mixed up with someone else’s! And that’s the thing about reviews – it’s not the done thing to respond to them.

So, although I’d like to tell all the people who’ve complained about the ending being a bit ‘open-ended’ that that’s because there’s a sequel, I have to just suck it up and remain silent.

My ‘First Patronage’

Now look at that for a grand title.

Actually, not my words but Sue Ablett’s – chair of Evesham Festival of Words – who asked if I’d like to be one of their patrons.

It turns out I don’t have to do too much more than I’m doing already: support and promote the Festival and judge the odd competition, so of course, I said yes.

What I am Reading

I am listening to Jojo Moyes’ new novel ‘Someone Else’s Shoes’ on audio and I am loving it so much. It’s narrated by Daisy Ridley, who is brilliant and does the accents really well. If you want a feel-good, funny-but-poignant read with some feisty ‘older’ (ie: not 20.. or even 30) female characters, I can highly recommend it.

In fact, I’m going to put this out there now: if were ever to write contemporary novels (and who knows, I may not be a WW2 gal forever!) I would like to be able to write like Jojo Moyes. Her novel ‘Ship of Brides’ was one of my favourite reads/listens of last year. She does female characters so well.

I saw Jojo Moyes at Cheltenham Literary Festival EIGHT (waaah!) years ago and I wrote about it here.

Interesting that she does so much work on the characters! It pays off.

And finally… if you are an ‘emerging writer’ and especially if you live in/around London, this may be of interest:

The London Writers Emerging Writers’ Programme

This is “a unique opportunity which offers writers, in all genres, one year’s free membership of The London Library and includes writing development masterclasses, literary networking opportunities, peer support and guidance in use of the Library’s resources.”

You have to live in the UK to apply and although you don’t have to live in London, they’d expect you to attend the masterclasses (at the London Library) and make use of the library, so it’s probably not going to work for you if you live in Aberdeen, say.

Anyway, if it’s of interest and you’re ‘emerging’ (like a chrysalis!), take a look and read the info. You have until 11am on Thursday 2nd March to apply.

There seem to be quite a lot of places. Last year 950 people applied and 40 were picked.

Posted in Blogging, Bonnie, Books, Finding Time To Write | Tagged , | 11 Comments

In Which My Books Are Borrowed!

Last week I got my very first PLR (‘public lending rights’) statement. What is that, I hear you cry?

Well, if you’re a published author, illustrator, editor, translator or audiobook narrator and you register your work here you might/should receive money whenever anyone borrows the book from a public library.

Which is jolly nice, isn’t it?

To my surprise – because I was expecting it to be hardly anything – in six months, my one and only book (at the time) was borrowed almost 500 times (230 as an e-book, 171 in paperback and 94 as an audiobook). Which is rather pleasing! And I will be getting a very welcome little lump of cash that I wasn’t expecting.

So please don’t forget that even when you borrow an author’s book, rather than buying it, they still receive a small payment. Every little helps, as they say.

Writing Retreats & Getaways

And still on the subject of libraries, are you aware of Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire (Wales)?

It’s a residential library, with rooms (which look very nice) and a restaurant. So you can stay there and use it as a writing retreat or workspace. Anyone ever been? It looks fabulous. I want to go!

They currently have a special offer for residential stays of at least 2 nights in Jan and Feb (obviously January is almost over as I write but there’s still next month!).

Novel-Writing Weekend 17th – 19th March 2023

There are still a few places available for an all-inclusive writing retreat in the Midlands (March 17th – 19th 2023) with Alison May and Janet Gover “for writers at any stage of their career, who want to get new ideas, inspiration or just a lift!”

I’ve been on a couple of these writing retreats – in fact, my debut novel started life at one of them – and they’re great fun and good value and you learn a lot!

In fact, the only reason I’m not going on this one is that I have a deadline for novel#3 of.. 17th March (and knowing me, I will have to ask for an extension – which will be that weekend) so I can’t go.

But I can highly recommend it! More details here.

Primadonna Prize

I’d never heard of the Primadonna Festival or, indeed, the writing competition before but I came across it on Twitter and as it involves my publisher – HQ – it caught my eye.

There is an £8 entry fee but don’t let that put you off (if £8 is beyond your reach – and in these difficult times, that’s quite possible – there are also a number of free entries available, so it’s worth asking).

Here are the details:
The Primadonna Prize is for unsigned and unrepresented new writing talent. It was established to open up access to the publishing industry, and is judged anonymously and without regard to grammar or spelling: a first for a literary prize.
This year’s Primadonna Prize for unsigned and un-agented authors will, for the first time, offer the winner a book contract with HQ with an advance of £7.5k for World English rights.
The winner will also work with Curtis Brown’s Alice Lutyens, who will develop their shortlisted piece into a publishable book. There is a cash prize for the runner-up, as well as a mentoring session with a member of the Primadonna team.

To get through the first round, you have to write 500 words of new writing (fiction) on the theme of ‘renewal’. If that sounds interesting, read more about it here.

Spare Me The Details!

I’ve just finished reading Prince Harry’s tome (the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time. It sold 1.43 million copies during its first day on sale in the UK, US, and Canada).

Shame on me?! Anyone else prepared to admit it? It’s amazing how many people I know who’ve said, ‘Ooh, I wouldn’t buy it but, erm.. can I borrow your copy?!

I was intrigued and actually, apart from the bits about.. well, his bits.. (too much information), I enjoyed it.

Posted in Competitions | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Happy New Year!

Gosh, look at that date! Over half way through January (and it’s ‘Blue Monday’ apparently!) and this is my first post of the year.

Apologies but I am in head-down-saying-no-to-all-invitations writing mode, as I have a deadline of mid-March to get the first draft of my novel off to the publisher. (*panics*)

‘Draft’ sounds quite rough doesn’t it but of course, it needs to be as polished and finished as I can make it, so it’s nose to the grindstone time. (And I’m not even allowing myself to watch the American version of Traitors which is on TV at the moment! Agh, it’s a hard life).

Happy New Year to you! I hope you had a good Christmas, even though it was a long time ago now and here’s to a happy, healthy 2023 for all of us.

That photo is of one of the highlights of my year.. taking a break one day on a dog-walk, for coffee and a doughnut in our village cafe. (Sad, but true!) And it’s a reminder that I need to do more of that this year.

First, a little plug. On Saturday it was exactly a year since my debut novel, ‘A Wartime Secret’ was published. It has over 800 reviews on Amazon now and hasn’t done too badly (but not made me a zillionaire, of course!).

If you’re on Twitter, I’m giving away a copy for #BlueMonday but be quick because it closes tonight at 10pm.

And the second book, ‘The Highland Girls at War’ is currently on special offer on Kindle – just 99p – so snaffle one up if you have an e-reader and think it might be your cup of tea, as it will only be that price for a little while longer.

Free Flash Fiction Competition (c/d 9pm on 15th Feb)

Derby Book Festival is running a (free!) flash fiction competition and the theme is ‘Light’. You have until 15th Feb to submit your entry, which can be up to 50 words, as measured on their website entry form and not including the title.
All the details are here and good luck if you decide to have a go! You can enter more than once, there are categories for children and adults and there are £50 book tokens to be won.

Evesham Festival of Words

My favourite festival, Evesham Festival of Words, has not only launched its short story competition (closes March but if you enter before the end of Jan, you’ll be put into a draw to win a £20 book token) but a big chunk of their summer programme is now on the website and open for bookings.

It’s looking great: literary walks, talks by authors Sophie Hannah and Joanna Cannon, plus two writing workshops and lots more. Oh, and a brilliant ‘wordy’ quiz on the opening night, of course, run by yours truly and my pals. All the details are here. Evesham’s pretty central (if you live in the UK!) and accessible by both road and train, so perhaps you could have a day out in July (or make a weekend of it?).

Zoom Talk On Getting Published

And last, but not least, the organisers of the Women’s Prize for Fiction are running an on-line event live at 7pm on 26th Jan: ‘New Year, New Novel: How to Get Published’ with author Kate Mosse and literary agent Felicity Blunt. (But it will also be recorded, if you can’t make that date/time), who “will look back on their years of experience in the book world and offer key pieces of advice for any writer looking to secure a publishing deal.”

It’s £19 but could well be a good investment in your writing and if you got a couple of friends around to tune it, you could share the cost? Anyway, I’ll leave it with you! I just thought it sounded interesting. Details are here.

Posted in Books, Competitions, novel writing, Novels, West Midlands | 14 Comments