Sunday, 22 March 2015

Have any Writing Tips?

Since publishing The Last Rose, I've been lucky to have been invited as a guest on some lovely blogs (see last week's post here) and a question I'm often asked is what writing tips I would give to new writers wanting to break into the magazine market.

Here is the answer I often give:

 Write the story you'd love to read. Rather than trying to fit in with a style you think the magazine will want, try and find your own voice. It you love your story, it's more likely that a magazine editor will too.
But this is just my own advice and there are a lot of writers out there with years more experienced than me, writing for a lot of different markets. 

With this in mind, I though it would be fun to compile a top tips list covering three different categories: magazines, novels and competitions to publish on my blog.

Could you help? 

Just leave your tip as a comment below, starting it with the name of your chosen category (just a sentence or two would be great) and I will use the ones I feel are the best in a future post. Thank you in anticipation of all the lovely advice you are going to give!


Monday, 16 March 2015

Busy, Busy, Busy

I hope you won't mind that I haven't written a proper blog post today but I thought that instead, I would point you in the direction of the guest blogs and interviews I've been doing over the past couple of weeks since publishing my short story collection, The Last Rose. I would hate you to have missed them.

I'd like to thank all of the lovely people who have welcomed me with open arms onto their blogs. Please do pop over and have a read - you never know, you might find out something you didn't know about me!

These are the lovely people I have been talking to:

The Write Romantics

Anne Harvey

Write Minds Write Place

Karen Aldous

Ben Adams

Never Too Late to Write

Also, thank you Tracy for a generous bit of promo.

Please do support these great bloggers - I like to think of us all helping each other.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Stories for Special People

Last week was very exciting with the launch of my second short story collection, The Last Rose. The stories are about family and friendship but it was only recently that I realised how many of them have been directly inspired by my own family and friends: things we've done together, something they've said or just distant memories.

In today's blog post I am going to give you a little snippet of some of the stories and tell you how the special people in my life helped them to come about.

Saying Goodbye to Summer:

Without a backward glance and with no uncertainty in her young mind, Summer had left her a blown kiss and a heart full of memories.

Summer is leaving for university, but the description of that moment was based on the day my own daughter left home.

New Beginnings:

Dear Nan. I am finding it hard to sleep even though Mum sings to me and rocks me. I didn't mean to make her tired but I miss her when she puts me down in my cot. Maybe I'll sleep better tomorrow. Love Alex.

My close friend's daughter used to send her text messages from her new baby grandson. Her wonderful anecdotes about her family have inspired many of my other stories.

Just Maybe:

She rested her arms on the stone wall and breathed in the sweet scent of jasmine that, despite being September, was still in full bloom. Behind her, a yellow lilo drifted across the pool. Bliss.
"If you've taken my ipod, you'll wish you'd never been born!"

I wrote this after my lovely step-daughter decided our two families should go on holiday together to 'bond'. We're still thinking about it!

Links in a Chain:

"Is this yours?"
Erin nodded and her eyes filled at the sight of her beautiful necklace - so precious because her mother had given it to her - but broken now.

My daughter and I wear identical thin gold necklaces. One day, I noticed she wasn't wearing it and 'Links in a Chain' was the story I came up with as an explanation. (It's her birthday next week and I've bought her another... shhh.)

A Growing Family:

"Same old book, Nan?"
"Of course. I wouldn't use anything else. Now hold your head straight." Lifting his head a fraction, she placed the book flat on his head before making a new mark with her pen. "Still growing, I see."

My door frame shows height marks for my children, step-children and grandchildren!

The Last Rose:

Ron sees me looking at the flower beds.
"As you can see, I don't really know what I'm doing. Glad used to have it all worked out in her head. She knew what was tall and what was short and everything was in its right place. It's not exactly what she would have had in mind."
"Well, I think it's marvellous," I say, and I mean it.

My father-in-law loves his vegetable garden and left the flower planting to my mother-in-law. When she sadly died a few years ago, he carried on with the flower garden in her memory. It may not be as well planned but it's always a riot of colour!

And finally - the image of the perfect bloom in the story is inspired by the beautiful apricot rose in my mother's garden.

So many special memories... so many special people.

With Mother's Day coming up, if you would like to spoil that special someone, you can buy The Last Rose here
Available for Kindle or in paperback.

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Last Rose Launch Party!

Welcome to the party to celebrate the launch of my new story collection: The Last Rose. No, no, you’re not the first to arrive and I can see by the bottle of bubbly that you’re holding that you’ll probably not going be the first to leave either!

Let me take your coat and pour you a drink... oh, I see you already have one. Well, that’s the spirit. The pink champagne goes beautifully with my rose theme, doesn’t it?

Yes, the place is rather grand isn’t it but I thought I’d push the boat out as it’s the second book I’ve published. I’m glad you’ve chosen to dress up for the occasion – that hat really suits you and I haven’t seen earings like those since I was last in Primark.

I’ve made a bit of an effort myself. Do you like my nails? I can’t pick anything up but luckily Tracy Fells is here to help out. “More canapes over here please, Tracy. What do you mean we’ve run out? Have a rummage around in your very large rucksack - I’m sure there must be some more hiding at the bottom.”
I thought, instead of a buffet, we’d have a sit down meal. Don’t the tables look beautiful. Patsy Collins said she'd make me some rose table decorations but this is all she managed to come up with.

Please find yourself a seat at the table, there are some fabulous cakes and desserts which will be coming round soon. No, there’s not point in fighting to sit next to Della Galton or Teresa Ashby, they are not going to give away the secrets of their success. And just because Shirley from The People’s Friend is here, doesn’t mean she wants you to hand her that submission... go on put it away!

While the orchestra is tuning up, let me tell you a little about The Last Rose. It’s a collection of thirteen short stories about family and friendship and all the stories have previously been published in either The People’s Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast or Woman’s Weekly. Are there any stories about my own family in here? Well, the marks on the doorframe in my story, ‘A Growing Family’ can actually be found in my kitchen and both my daughter and I have identical gold necklaces just like the mother and daughter in 'Links in a Chain'.

There should be something in The Last Rose for everyone: some, like 'The Writing on the Wall' and 'All Our Yesterdays' are thought provoking, others such as 'Look at Me' and 'Feels Like Coming Home' are poignant. If you like humour, though, 'The Toast of Maida Vale' is the one for you. Hopefully, whatever your taste, you will not be left wanting.

Why family and friendship? Well, they are both very important to me. Here are some little people who many of you will recognise – my grandchildren. They are three of my favourite people in the world and fabulous for exploiting when you have a book to market. If you’d just stand over there little ones and hold up the book so everyone can see and look cute... that’s the way!

Sorry, I’m going to have to leave you for a moment as my editor, Alan, has just arrived with some music for the DJ to play later. Oh dear, it looks like he’s brought his whole 80's collection and I have a horrid suspicion that Kajagoogoo might be in there somewhere – I’d better have a quiet word.

What a fantastic cake! I’d like to say I baked it myself but... well, you know me too well to know that to be true. Do help yourself to a slice... oh, all right two then... and while I have you captive, I’ll read you a snippet from one of my stories: 'The Writing on the Wall'.

The word appears slowly. As I pull away wet strips of wallpaper, the wall beneath is slick and shiny with paste but with every upward sweep of the scraper, the letters become more defined. Some letters are written large and others smaller. The writing is bold and defiant, written across the blank canvas of the wall with a flourish. The light is going and dusk has fallen by the time I uncover the final letter... REMEMBER. Remember what?

No, of course I’m not going to tell you the rest. If I did, there would be no reason for you to buy it here, would there? I’m not that silly! It's a bargain at £1.99 don't you think? Don't like Kindle? You're in luck because The Last Rose is available here in paperback too for £4.99... just for you! Thank you so much for coming to my launch party. If you do read it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon... I'd be really grateful.
I'm afraid I'm going to leave you now and mingle but I'll be back soon. In the meantime, thank you for coming and enjoy the party!