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

Happy Christmas Eve!

View from our garden a couple of weeks ago

It seems to be something of a ‘tradition’ for me to write a blog post on Christmas Eve. (The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that I didn’t do it last year but I have on other years).

The food is bought, presents wrapped and the house is …erm, clean-ish.

There will only be 4 of us tomorrow: me, my OH, my mum and Bonnie (who’s been ill but is OK now), so hopefully (touch wood and all that) it will be relaxing (and not like 2 years ago when we ended up in Cheltenham General on Boxing Day evening – in the middle of the pandemic – with my mum who, it turned out, had shingles. Yes, that was lovely for all of us).

The Traitors

Did you see The Traitors on BBC1? I’m asking everyone because OOOH, it was so good. Best tele’ in a long time and I didn’t even feel guilty about the 12 hours I spent watching it because it was so enjoyable and therefore good for my mental health!

EFoW Competitions

Although this year I had to resign from the Evesham Festival of Words Steering Group, due to No Time, I do still take an interest in what they’re up to and they’ve got a free Christmas quiz which closes on 1st January 2023.

And they’ve launched their 2023 Short Story Competition, which is still a very reasonable £5 to enter (and if you submit your entry before 31st January you stand a chance of winning a £20 book token). All the details are here. Might be something to get stuck into over the Christmas holiday?

Nighty Night

It’s time for me to hit the sack and wait for Santa to arrive so I’ll bid you good night.

Thanks to everyone who’s followed and commented on the blog this year and to those of you who’ve bought/read and been kind about my books. This time last year I didn’t have a novel to my name and now, somehow (and I’m still not sure how it happened), I have two. It’s all a bit surreal.

Have a great Christmas and I’ll see you on the other side x

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 6 Comments

It’s Snowtime!

Hello! Do you have snow? We woke to quite a dumping of the white stuff yesterday morning, which was a shock as it hadn’t been on my radar.

It all looks lovely, of course (well, until It starts turning slushy) but it’s not great if you’ve got to get anywhere, is it? I am extremely envious of the people who’ve been posting pictures of a book, a box of chocolates and a fire and are definitely Not Going Out.

Bonnie loves the snow. She skids around in it like a puppy. Here are some action shots of her today. You can tell she was running pretty fast by the angle of her ears!

Not a black and white photo. It was just a monochrome day!

‘Harrogate Crime Festival’ Anyone?

If you’d like to go to the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival in July next year (and it always looks and sounds fab from Twitter, so who wouldn’t?!) but it’s out of your price range, author Lauren North is very kindly sponsoring a place for a crime writer (whether published or unpublished) who hasn’t been before due to cost and perhaps other reasons.

She’s offering this great prize in memory of her dad who died in 2021, as he was kind and generous to others during his life, so that’s a lovely thing to do.

All the details are here (you can also nominate someone else but make sure they’re able to go, first!). And you have until 14th January 2023 to apply.

Glencairn Glass Crime Story Competition (closing 31st Dec 2022)

Those lovely people at Glencairn Crystal are running another short story competition for a ‘crime story set in Scotland’ (2000 words or less, open worldwide), which is free to enter, closes on 31st December (eek, not much time but sorry, I’ve only just spotted it!) and has a tasty first prize of £1000.

All the details are on the website and good luck if you decide to have a go. You can also read last year’s winners here, which is always a good idea, if you’re entering a competition. It’ll give you a flavour for the kind of stories they’re likely to pick.

The Highland Girls at War’ – Paperback coming!

And still on a Scottish theme, here’s a wee reminder, that the paperback of ‘The Highland Girls At War’ will be out on 22nd December, just in time for Christmas.

I suspect that if you pre-order it, you will receive it on that date (at least, that’s what happened with the last novel) but I suppose, given that it’s Christmas and there are postal issues and stuff, that can’t be guaranteed. So, I’d better not say that it would make a great Christmas present for anyone who’d like a fun, uplifting read about WW2, romance, friendship and girl power, then. But if you want to chance it, then you can pre-order it here.

Posted in Bonnie, Books, Competitions | Tagged | 6 Comments

Guest Post: Writer Eirin Thompson

I’m thrilled to be welcoming Eirin Thompson to the blog today! And not just because her lovely post has saved me a job! (Am frantically trying to press on with NaNoWriMo but I’ve only reached the dizzy heights of …30,000 words. So, way off being a ‘winner’!)

Eirin is an amazingly prolific writer. Open any issue of The People’s Friend magazine and I guarantee, you will see at least a couple of her stories in there, PLUS she writes novels and I’m in awe of anyone who can do both. Her latest novel is ‘Closing In‘, described as a ‘page-turning festive thriller’.

Eirin is one of those people that I feel I know – from our many ‘virtual interactions’ (not least, all the comments she’s made on this blog) – but we’ve actually never met. I asked her to give us some background to her writing career and also, for an insight into how she juggles those two very different styles of writing. Over to Eirin…

“There’s something about Christmastime that seems to put many of us in the mood for (fictional) crime. Just think how often we see star-studded television and film adaptations of Agatha Christie stories during the festive season, for example.

And there is no better opportunity than the Christmas holidays to lose oneself in a crime novel – with no work in the morning and a fridge full of food, it’s just you and your book, for hours if you wish. Bliss.

I suspect many writers first got the writing bug thanks to one significant book. For me, it was ‘Mary Plain to the Rescue’ by Gwynedd Rae – a random choice from the school book club monthly catalogue, but oh, what a lucky one. It was my first Christmas crime novel; I was six years old.

Mary Plain is a Swiss, orphaned bear cub who leaves her extended family in the bear pits in Berne to come and live in England with her guardian, whom she calls the Owl Man (because he wears glasses). She is, by turns, vulnerable, charming, mischievous, resourceful and defiant.

The crime in ‘Mary Plain to the Rescue’ is not a murder, understandably, in a book series aimed at six- to nine-year-olds, but it is a kidnapping, and a menacing, unsettling one at that. Mary’s courage, ingenuity and tenacity prove too much for her captors, however, and she does indeed rescue herself and human companion, Otto.

I feel quite sure that this was the book that set me on my writing journey, because it was my first experience of feeling that I was sharing something magical with the author. Rae did not talk down to her young readers – she seemed to write on the assumption that we were intelligent and would grasp her dry wit and generally keep up. She provided a masterful narrative voice that scooped you up and carried you along, with the promise of lots of fun along the way.

I loved her for it and I now believe that, even though I was only six, that is where I began to think like a writer.

At school, I was a mediocre scholar. I regularly received praise for what was described as my Creative Writing, and I was vaguely aware that I somehow seemed to know how to write well instinctively, but no-one suggested that writing would ever be something I could do as a job.

Nevertheless, after working in casual roles and travelling a bit for a few years, I got myself onto a credible newspaper journalism course, then found a job as that kind of writer: a local weekly newspaper journalist. And I loved it!

Many years later, after I’d taken time at home with my children (during which time I’d also thrown myself into an Open University degree in Literature), I daringly applied to do a Masters degree in Creative Writing. I didn’t really expect to be accepted, but I was, and, for the first time, I was surrounded by people who wrote, or expected to write, fiction, drama and poetry as a job!

Nobody was more surprised than I was when the tutor who marked my end-of-course assignment – the first 20,000 words of a novel – told me to finish it and he would speak to a certain literary agent on my behalf. This led to representation and a two-book deal for my two darkish comedy-dramas, some nice reviews in the press and a considerable sense of achievement.

What I did not know was that publishing can be pretty ruthless. My books did not sell enough copies for my contract to be renewed. As far as I understood, this meant I was no longer a writer. Needing an income and with local weekly newspapers scaling back as the internet stole their readers, I retrained in another field and worked there, happily enough for some years.

When off work after surgery, I was given some popular women’s magazines to read. I was intrigued by their fiction content and wondered who produced this – did magazines have their own writers providing short stories and serials? Or a trusted list of authors with whom they dealt?

I sent off three stories, not very hopefully. Had I not heard back, or received a ‘No’, I think I would have assumed that such unsolicited work was not welcome, or that my style or content was incompatible with what editors were looking for.
But one story was accepted, which gave me a huge thrill and encouraged me to try more.

Things didn’t happen quickly. With a full-time job, three full-on young people, a husband and a home, my life was busy and taking time to write seemed something of an indulgence. But I continued to submit work when I could, and while lots of my stories were rejected, some were accepted. This meant publication, often with bespoke artwork, and payment!

The more ‘Yeses’ I got, the more it made me want to write. Success is the greatest encouragement. A change in job meant I had two months’ holiday in the summer. I wrote most of a new novel, which became ‘I Know I Saw Her’ – this time in the mystery/suspense genre (it is a crime novel, but not a police procedural). My former agent loved it. My former publisher loved it. I got a new two-book deal.

I am now in the ecstatic position of writing fiction full-time, working in blocks of time on novels and short stories for the wonderful ‘womags’. It’s a bit of a juggling act. My method is to write one ‘act’ of a novel, then let that settle while I concentrate on short stories, then write the next ‘act’, and so on. (I have written a total of seven novels – four published, one that didn’t make it, one for older children about which I’m hopeful and one that I’ve just sent to my agent: they were all structured in three acts and I would recommend this.) I don’t know how long it will last – my publisher could drop me, or the magazines for which I write might have a change in leadership or policy around fiction – but for now I have the joyful feeling that I am finally doing what I was meant to do … from the age of six.

Things came full circle recently, when my Christmas crime novel, ‘Closing In’, with author name E.D. Thompson, was published. It is a contemporary story, which focuses on Caroline Maxwell, a well-seasoned local newspaper journalist. She has a good life, with a somewhat unorthodox extended family circle which includes her ex-husband’s new, younger wife and kids.

Caroline enjoys the Christmas buzz that goes with her job – visiting a craft sale, a tree festival and a carol concert, as well as interviewing the winner of a new car in a big prize raffle. She is also looking forward to having her beloved daughter, Tabby, home for the holidays.

But Caroline’s life has not always been so good. She has a past which she has put firmly behind her. Or, at least, she believed she had, until, while Christmas shopping, she spots a figure from her previous life – a man capable of launching a wrecking ball into her carefully-constructed world smashing apart everything she holds dear. Somehow, she must stop him. The question is: how far is each prepared to go?

My primary aim, with all my writing, is to entertain, just as I was entertained by Mary Plain all those years ago. In the case of ‘Closing In’, I hope a few of you will do me the honour of snuggling down this December with Caroline, me and our twisty Christmas crime tale.”

Thanks for a fascinating post, Eirin! And I’m sure you’ve got us all in the mood for some Christmas reading over the holidays!

Posted in Books, Guest Post, Short Stories, The People's Friend | Tagged | 16 Comments

NaNo Update & Other Stuff*

A ‘nice warm orange’ (pink?) in the bedroom

Yuck, it’s horrible out there: freezing cold and pouring with rain (I have a very smug husband who checked the weather forecast and took the dog for a walk at 7.30am, before the bad weather came in). But then, I suppose it is past mid-November, so it’s only to be expected.

And talking of ‘mid-November’, how are you getting on with NaNoWriMo, if you are partaking? I am plodding on but I’m still way, way behind. I should be on 35,000 words and I’ve just reached 20,000 but it’s better than nothing, I suppose.

My mum is here because the decorator’s at her place, finally putting up the wallpaper, which looks like this (above) in the bedroom and this (below) in the lounge. All very nice – only on one wall in each room, so it’s not overwhelming – and has only taken since April to organise!

People’s Friend Short Story Competition

The People’s Friend magazine has announced the results of its short story competition, which was for new-to-them writers and the winner is Julie Robertson and there’s an interview with her here.

I’m mentioning this because I think it’s encouraging, for all of us! It’s all too easy to think that if you don’t start writing when you’re in infant school, that you have ‘no chance’ and that no-one gets published once they’re (whisper it) ‘middle aged’ but that’s not true. It’s never too late to start writing or get into print.

It’s interesting that although she’s a new writer, Julie has, unwittingly or not, followed the advice that PF and writing tutors, including me, always give to those who want to write for The People’s Friend: i.e.: read the magazine (to see what kinds of stories they publish and therefore want). She even gets a copy of the People’s Friend Annual for Christmas every year.

Good for her and well done, Julie on your win!

#RIP Twitter?

Lots of people are jumping ship from Twitter, convinced it’s all about to fold and they are joining ‘Mastodon’ (which sounds like an antibiotic) or ‘Hive’ or other strange things (“Twitter migrants flock to Mastodon” as one headline has it).

If it does disappear (and apparently, it’s losing $4m dollars a day, so that doesn’t sound too healthy), I will be truly upset because, as many of you know, I LURVE Twitter and it’s been the source of much information, help, advice, friendship and laughs over the years. In fact, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I probably wouldn’t be published without it because it’s where I first saw the #bookcamp opportunity, back in 2020.

Anyway, I am staying until they turn the lights out!

Diary of A Debut Novelist – Weds 23rd November, 7pm

This week’s ‘Diary of a Debut Novelist’ session (free, 1 hour long, Zoom panel discussion with a live ‘Q&A’ and chance to win books), is on the subject of ‘What happens next, once your book is finished and edited’? 5 debut novelists will be talking about book covers, social media, marketing, launches and reviews.

By chance, one of this week’s featured writers was also on the Kate Nash #book camp scheme with me and was the first, I think, to get a book deal (Jon Barton).

You need to sign up if you want to get the Zoom link, so that you can join in the night. Might ‘see’ you there!?


And now I’m (half) watching the football. They’ve just played the national anthem and our team all sang ‘God Save The Queen‘! Whoops.

*sorry about the useless title! Am not feeling very inspired. I had my Covid jab yesterday and I have a sore arm and that’s my excuse, anyway.

Posted in Magazines, Short Stories, The People's Friend | Tagged | 4 Comments

In Which I am Slightly ‘Behind’ with the Na-No-Wri-Mo-ing

I know I said this last time but it really is a ‘quickie’ from me today because I am *supposed* to be doing NaNoWriMo and I am miles behind.

I should be on almost 22,000 words by the end of the weekend and I’ve actually done about 10k (I say ‘about’ because half of it is handwritten in my notebook, still waiting to be typed up. Yes, it’s that much of a disorganised mess!).

But I keep telling myself, that’s how the other two books started (erm, and ‘middled’ – there I go, making up words) and they turned out OK in the end, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, so hopefully this one will be the same. Although I could do without the wailing and the gnashing, obviously.

Right, here’s the news ‘in brief’:

The blog tour for ‘The Highland Girls at War’ has started. This means, in essence, that over the next week, 21 lovely book bloggers (who are not paid, or, I suspect, often even thanked but who do it for the love of books and reading) are featuring a review of my novel on their blog. It’s supposed to be 3 a day.. in the order listed below but it’s got a little out of sync over the weekend but hey, it doesn’t matter.

There IS a giveaway associated with the blog tour, sponsored by yours truly (and I’m sorry but it’s only open to UK readers because of postage and all that). You can win a £15 Amazon voucher AND a Scottish goody bag full of naughty cakes, sweets and biscuits, from Highland Fayre.

And all you have to do is visit one of the bloggers – for example, Bookish Jottings,
and complete the rafflecopter form (which is towards the bottom, under the review). Simples! But make haste (as the Scots might say?!) because it’s only open until the end of next week.

Goodies up for grabs!

Children In Read

Next Friday (18th November) is the appeal night for Children in Need 2022 and linked to that is ‘Children in Read’, an on-line book auction, raising funds for the charity by auctioning signed copies of books, also artwork and the chance to name a character in someone’s next book. All kinds of writerly/readerly goodies!

As I write, it’s raised over £15,000.

My novel ‘A Wartime Secret’ is on there, as I donated a copy (it’s only got one bid so far – bless!)

But there are lots of books and other stuff, so it’s well worth a look. You might find something by a favourite author or you might want to bid for a book as a Christmas present for that bookworm in your life. And it’s all for a good cause.

The Strictlys…!

And finally… Who’s watching Strictly? Ooh, isn’t it good? Saturday night is honestly the only night of the week when we sit down to watch the tele’, with a sneaky G&T, log fire on and the dog at our feet. Bliss!

Hamza to win! #Strictly

Posted in Blogging, Books, Finding Time To Write, novel writing, Novels | 5 Comments

Book Launch & Paperback Giveaway!

UPDATE: The winner of my book + chocolate giveaway, drawn by random name wheel thingy (as pictured!) is Jennifer Green. I’ve been in touch with Jennifer and the goodies are on their way to her. Well done Jennifer!

I meant to write this yesterday but the day got away from me! So this will be a quickie from me, as the main purpose for the post is to tell you about the giveaway!

Yesterday was publication day for The Highland Girls at War, which meant that if you’d pre-ordered it, at midnight it would have ‘pinged’ onto your Kindle and of course, if you didn’t pre-order it, you can download it now for the princely (less than the price of a cup of coffee) sum of £2.99.

The audiobook is also out now, should that be of interest and the paperback is out on 22nd December, just in time for Christmas!

It’s a little weird, having an e-book ‘launch’ because of course there’s nothing tangible to wave about or to sign! So, there’s no launch party (just in case anyone thinks that I must have had one, in a swanky venue, with bubbly and glittery dresses and why weren’t they invited..!). Everything’s done virtually, on ‘socials’ as I am learning to call them (just as yesterday was my ‘pub day’! Should I have gone to the pub? Probably!).

Flowers from HQ

Anyway, I’m not complaining: I had lots of congratulations on Facebook and Twitter and some lovely flowers arrived from my publisher (from Bloom & Wild, so they are still in bud but will bloom over the next few days). And there’s going to be a blog tour, the week after next, involving 21 bloggers (!) but more about that another time.

But I DO have in my possession, a small box of actual paperback copies of the book (not available generally until next month). These are my author copies, (10), which arrived a couple of days ago. I’ve already given a few out to people who’ve helped me (e.g.: my Canadian friend Carole checked the ‘Canuck-speak’) but I do have a couple reserved as ‘promo copies’ (get me, with the lingo).

So, first one is up for grabs on here!

If you’d like to win a signed paperback of ‘The Highland Girls’ + bar of Cadbury chocolate, all you have to do is this:

– Follow my blog, if you don’t already. The button to subscribe is in the bottom right-hand corner. Keep scrolling down and you’ll see it. I promise I don’t do anything with your email addresses, so you won’t get any spam. It just means that every time I write a new post, it will pop into your inbox.

– Live in the UK. Sorry I can’t post overseas because that involves going to the post office, etc and I don’t have time!

– Leave a comment below, saying anything you like (well, nothing rude, please!) You can simply write ‘Count me in, please!’ if you like.

I will pick a winner at random from all entries received on Monday 7th November at 8pm. One entry per person.

I’ll dedicate the book to whoever (whomever?) you like (it doesn’t have to be you, as you may wish to give it as a present, which is fine). Or I can leave it blank, in case you want to flog it on Ebay.

More Of ‘Me’ (!)

Skip this if you’ve had enough of me by now but there are a couple more things to tell you about:

Rachel Brimble’s Website

I’m appearing on romance writer Rachel Brimble’s blog today in her ‘Guest Author Saturday’ slot and answering questions like, ‘What was your first job?’ and ‘Do you have a pet peeve?’ (it was very difficult to keep that down to just one, believe me!).

How did I get on that? She was asking for authors who might be interested in ‘appearing’ and I said ‘yes please’!

DOAD – Diary of a Debut Novelist

The brilliant crime novelist Emma Christie who was herself a debut novelist not that long ago, set this up last year and I really enjoyed ‘tuning in’ (on Zoom) to some of the panels that she led.

She gets 4 or 5 ‘debut novelists’ to talk about a particular topic related to writing and getting published. What I like is that everyone apart from the panellists are muted and ‘blanked out’ so you can actually do something else while you listen (like eat your dinner or do the dreaded ironing) and there’s a chance to ask questions by typing them into the ‘chat’ and they also have giveaways for the authors’ books. And it’s free!

Last Wednesday’s topic was ‘How I got my agent’ – and even if you missed it, you can watch the video here (it starts a couple of minutes in to the session because Emma, by her own admission, is a bit rusty on Zoom – aren’t we all – and forgot to press ‘record’!).

Next Wednesday (9th November) from 7pm – 8pm, the topic is ‘How I Got My Book Deal’ and I am one of the 5 panellists (eek and double eek!), so if you fancy it, register for the event here.

And the Facebook page, for more info, is here.

Hmm, so much for a ‘quickie’ post, eh?!

Have a good weekend, bye for now!

Posted in Books, Competitions, novel writing, Novels | 49 Comments

No Time Like The Presents!

The time has flown since I last wrote and I’ve been busy, busy!

After almost three years, I sadly gave up my two daytime creative writing classes on 17th October (due to no time!).

I was showered with cards and cakes and good wishes, which was lovely. (And I know some of my ‘former students’ – eek, horrible expression – read this blog, so thank you, again!). And yes, there IS a pineapple plant amongst all those lovely gifts and it does have significance but it’s a long story so I will save it for another time.

And then, less than a week later, last Sunday, it was my birthday, so yet more cards and presents and chocolates… and I am 75% sugar at the moment. I have been thoroughly spoilt.

Timber Corps/Lumberjills

I *may* have mentioned this before, but it’s now ONE WEEK until my second novel, The Highland Girls at War is released, as an e-book (paperback’s out later, on 22nd December) and I am finally at liberty to say that it will be the first in a series.

I’ve had some lovely reviews on Netgalley but a few people have wondered about the ending and whether the story’s going to be continued (if the answer was ‘no’, they were all inclined to be a bit grumpy!), so at least now I can say ‘Yes, it will!’ (Erm, all being well and as long as I can come up with the goods).

Currently the first draft is at 33,000 words. Slow (but steady!) progress…!

It’s actually the 80th Anniversary of the formation of the Women’s Timber Corps this year and this week BBC Radio 4’s ‘Women’s Hour’ had a 9-minute feature about the Lumberjills which, if you’d like to listen, is here (at 43.40 mins in).


A quick reminder – as if you needed it – that NaNoWriMo, that annual, global ‘writefest’ in which you are urged to write 50,000 of a novel during the month of November – starts next Tuesday. It’s free and there are more details here.

I will be taking part! Let me know if you will be too.

If you’ve ever thought about writing a novel, it’s worth doing it, if only because it gives you an idea of the kind of discipline and word count required (and of course 50k is only really a novella. Most novels are longer than that).

If you’ve never done NaNo before, it’s definitely worth trying to do a little planning first. I didn’t plan the first couple of times I did it and ended up with a pile of poo. (Although I have still to read those manuscripts back and perhaps they’re not as bad as I thought).

Being Dull

As some of you will know, I’m a bit of a Twitter fan.

Someone tweeted today that as the news was all so awful, we should tweet our most boring news, to compensate. My contribution was: ‘We have a new divan bed and over the weekend we’re going to fill the drawers with our bedlinen.’

And I got this reply: That IS boring! Well done!

And I have honestly never been so happy to be called boring. It was like getting a gold star. What’s your most boring news of the moment? It’s actually quite therapeutic to think about it!

My very own Black Beauty

Posted in Cotswolds, novel writing, Novels | Tagged | 11 Comments

It’s a Dark and Storm-y Night

Hello! I can’t believe it’s already the middle of October, can you?

I’m writing this on Sunday night. It’s dark and rainy outside and I’m taking part in the 9pm – 10pm London Writers’ Salon slot, with 64 other people.

Here’s a quote for you (which has nothing to do with any of the above but I came across it this week and I like it):

“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”

Nothing changes, it would seem because that was said by the chap on the left, Roman statesman and scholar, Cicero, in 43 B.C! (Erm, he would have said it in Latin of course, so not those exact words but you get the idea).

Here are a few comps and opportunities which may be of interest:

Writing Competition: Closes 14th November 2022

The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook have teamed up with “creative publishing agency” whitefox (who, as far as I can tell, offer services for self-publishing), to run a competition.

The winner will receive an editorial report and consultation with a member of the editorial team at whitefox, to help them take the next steps with their book, as well as a place on a W&A writing masterclass and a bundle of creative writing guides.

All the details are here.

Writing Competition: Closes 31st December 2022

Here’s a free-to-enter writing competition courtesy of The Writers College that closes at the end of the year, is open worldwide and has a £100 prize.

They are asking for ‘a 600-word piece on the theme: The best writing tip I’ve ever received.’ The best piece will be published in the newsletter and on their blog and the winner will receive $200 (R2 000 or £100).

It’s worth a look at the page as there are some interesting articles on there (previous winners). I particularly like ‘How I learned to write garbage’ and ‘Write as If Everyone You Know is Dead’. (Come on, how can you resist reading that?!).

Storm Publishing

There’s a new digital-first publisher on the block, called Storm, which has been set up by Bookouture founder and former CEO, Oliver Rhodes. They’re accepting submissions of all kinds of genres (not children’s or non-fiction at the moment but pretty much everything else), you can be agented or non-agented and they promise if you submit your manuscript, you’ll hear back from them ‘within two weeks’.

Worth a look, I think, if you have a completed novel looking for a home (even a novel that’s been published in the past, as long as you still hold the rights) but do make sure you read all the guidelines carefully before you send off your manuscript. All the details are on the website.

Have a good week, everyone. My aim is to get my (neglected!) WIP up from 24,000 to 30,000 words. Wish me luck!

Posted in Books, Competitions | 5 Comments