How can it be ten days since my last post? Time is running away …! And I am having a nightmare with WordPress at the moment, for reasons that I won’t bore you with. Suffice to say, this post might look a bit different, while I get used to a new ‘editor’.
There was major stress chez nous this evening when one of the juvenile blue tits that have been coming to our feeders (and looked like this one on the left), crashed into the window and rolled around on the patio for a few seconds and then just sat, completely stunned. Nooo! I was nearly having palpitations. I watched it, willing it to be alright, for about fifteen minutes, which is a long time when you’re doing nothing but staring, motionless, at a baby bird.
Reader, after a few little turns of its fuzzy head (it definitely perked up when other birds came onto the feeders), it flew off (away from the window, fortunately) and I have now put squares of paper on all the glass which looks ridiculous but I Do Not Care. (And I have ordered some of the more tasteful bird silhouette stickers for the windows).
Eirin Thompson Guest Post & Book Giveaway
If you write short stories for the womags (or read them), you’ll almost certainly have heard of Eirin Thompson. She’s prolific!
Ironically, at a time when her name seems to be on the cover of every issue of People’s Friend, she tells me that I was the first name she noticed in women’s magazine fiction because I once had 3 stories in an issue of TAB Fiction Feast.
(Shh, between you and me, Eirin, that was the one and only time that ever happened and it was a long, long ago…)
Not content with her short story successes, Eirin has a novel, ‘I Know I Saw Her’ coming out with Hachette on 1st July (I told you she was prolific) and I’ve invited her onto the blog to tell us about it AND she’s kindly offered to give away one copy of the book. Read on for more about the book (which has a 50-something female protagonist, by the way – hurrah!) and details of how to win!
Over to Eirin…
‘I Know I Saw Her’ is a twisting mystery story, packed, I hope, with lots of suspense. The main action is set in a quiet suburban street over a sultry summer and tells of Alice, a stressed-out supply teacher, who sees something she shouldn’t and which she simply cannot overlook. As she starts probing, she becomes convinced that someone’s life is in danger and, dismissed by police as a crank, it seems that she alone must find a way to intervene. Two big influences on this project were the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘Rear Window’ and the Paula Hawkins novel, ‘The Girl on the Train’. I tried to capture something of the heat and claustrophobia of the former and the vulnerable-yet-courageous narrator of the latter.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing this book, and I put much of that down to the confidence and experience I have gained through submitting short stories to women’s magazines over the past three or so years. Reading the excellent short fiction in the magazines taught me, crucially, the importance of dialogue in bringing both story and characters to life. I have honed my dialogue-writing over several hundred stories, now, thanks entirely to the opportunities provided by these magazines we love.
I’ve had far too many magazine rejections to count, and these are a blow every single time, but they have taught me as much and sometimes more than the successes – the ‘womag’ editors really know their business, and can always detect a fatal flaw in a story. It takes resilience to keep submitting when you’ve had stories turned down, but I would urge writers to persevere – I once had twelve stories get the thumbs-down in a single email (admittedly, there were particular circumstances), but I survived!
Finally, I wonder if I’m the only one who loves finding names for their characters. I say ‘finding’, rather than ‘choosing’, as I feel the best names are the ones that just seem to choose themselves. The main character in I Know I Saw Her is called Alice Payne – ‘Ali’ to those who know her well, and I think it suits her.
Helen has generously allowed me to give away a copy of the book via her blog, and if you can comment below leaving your favourite name of a character in a book, I’d love to draw one at random and post you your prize. (UK and RoI only, I’m afraid.) I Know I Saw Her is published by Hachette on 1st July, with the author name E.D. Thompson. You can buy it here.
Many thanks to Helen for giving me a voice on her blog, and to the followers who have taken the time to read this. I wish much writing success to all.
The book sounds fabulous, doesn’t it and I agree with Eirin wholeheartedly, that writing for the womags is a great training ground for other forms of writing.
I was interested to know whether Eirin is still writing short stories (because, now I’ve turned my attention to novel writing, I don’t seem to have time or brain-power for shorts, myself) and this is what she said, “I am absolutely still writing and submitting short stories to magazines – having discovered this opportunity late-ish in life, I am very keen to keep at it. In particular, I hope this will be the year I have a serial accepted by The People’s Friend, as that is something I haven’t done yet. I do find I have to ‘block’ my writing time – I cannot juggle the very different challenges of novel-writing and short story composition and have to immerse myself totally in one or the other.”
And of course, I had to ask, what about novel number two…?
“I’m into the final stages of writing my next novel (first draft) – another mystery/suspense story – and am extremely conscious that it is due to be handed over at the start of September, so I need to keep pressing on with it, if I am to have time to ‘rest’ it in the drawer before editing.”
Wow, inspiring stuff. Good for you, Eirin and I’m sure we all wish you the very best with the novel and your writing career.
If you’d like to win a copy of ‘I Know I Saw Her’, just comment below with your favourite name of a character in a book (it can even be your own book but do tell us why you like the name and how you thought of it!), no later than 6pm on Monday 5th July, a week today.
I’ll do a random draw to choose a winner (UK and ROI only) and Eirin will arrange for the book to be sent.