Mega Monday Announcement: An Eventful Year

Mega Monday Announcement: An Eventful Year

Happy anniversary to me! Happy anniversary to me! A year of being a Write Romantic. Happy anniversary to me!

I bet you sang that in your mind to the tune of Happy Birthday, didn’t you? You can admit it, you know, especially now that the copyright claim has been rejected and we can all breathe easilybirthday-cake-152008_1280 again.

Yes— it’s been a whole year since I was invited to become a Write Romantic. Actually, it was a whole year on the twenty-first of September, but Happy Belated Anniversary doesn’t scan as well, and, anyway, what’s a week between friends?

I can’t believe a whole three hundred and sixty-five days have passed since that moment. On the other hand, it feels as if I’ve been part of the Write Romantic family forever. They really do feel like my family, and I’m quite certain that without their help and support, I’d never have achieved what I’ve managed to achieve in the last twelve months.

So what have I achieved since joining our merry little band of writers?

Well, in November, roughly eight weeks after I was taken into the WR fold, we released Winter Tales, an anthology of short stories, published in aid of two charities—The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Teenage Cancer Trust. Winter Tales is still available to buy as a paperback, and we will be relaunching it for Kindle very soon. I loved writing my story, The Other Side of Christmas, which was the first short story I’d written in years, and it meant that, finally, I was a published author! Far more importantly, it meant that I – alongside some extremely talented and very generous authors – had helped to raise funds for two really worthy causes.

In March, I published There Must Be An Angel. Despite my worst fears, it didn’t sink to the bottom of the very deep, murky pond that is the Amazon Kindle pool. In fact, it’s done quite well, if I say so myself, and has been getting some very good reviews.

In June, I was delighted to have a story I’d written accepted by D C Thomson. It will be published in October as a People’s Friend Pocket Novel. This means it will be available in actual bookshops, supermarkets and newsagents, and my mother will finally be able to walk into a physical shop and purchase a copy of her daughter’s work for herself. (She doesn’t do Amazon. Or the internet. She’s only just started texting, and you can depend on the fact that her messages will contain no more than two words, and one of them will be “Mum”.)

Then, just two days ago, I published A Kiss from a Rose, my second full-length novel. This was more nerve-wracking than I’d expected. I’d had a lot of positive comments about Angel. What if people were disappointed in Rose?

Luckily for me, I was talked through that fear. Several of the Write Romantics had read A Kiss from a Rose in its early stages, and they were able to reassure me that they’d enjoyed it, and that I shouldn’t worry. This is when being part of our fabulous writing family really helps. There’s always someone to prop you up when you’re feeling nervous, down, or just plain terrified. (It happens a lot more than you’d think—well, we ARE writers!)

anniversary-157248_1280On Saturday the twenty-sixth of September, A Kiss from a Rose was launched into the world. I waved her goodbye and then shut the door on my baby. I’d been preparing her for that moment for eighteen months, after all! Rose wasn’t remotely fazed. She strode out there as if the world was lucky to have her, but then, that’s Rose for you.

I, meanwhile, turned to Facebook, and had a fantastic launch party to celebrate. I’d been worried it would just be me and a few pictures of balloons, but lots of people came and there was a distinctly celebratory atmosphere. Songs were played, celebrities partied, food and drink were consumed, prizes were won, and at the end a very disgruntled and rather familiar cleaner turned up to sweep away the mess.

I’m now busy working on my third book. Unlike Angel and Rose, it’s not set in Kearton Bay, and will probably be a standalone. I had plans for it to be the first in a new series, but then the other books I had planned out took a distinctly unusual route, and it’s now become clear that they will form a separate series of their own.

I’ve also written a couple of short stories, and have an idea for a novella, plus a Christmas collection for next year. And, of course, I have the final two Kearton Bay novels to write. So you see, my year has been a very busy one, and it doesn’t look as if the next one is going to be any quieter.

And I, for one, am very happy about that!

Sharon xx

 

A Kiss from a Rose:

In spite of managing to get a black eye at her best friend’s wedding, Rose MacLean knows she’s never had it so good. 

As a partner in a thriving business, her financial problems are easing, and her eldest daughter has finally found employment, while her youngest is doing well at school.

But Rose’s life never seems to run smoothly for long, and, sure enough, her eldest daughter has soon walked out of her job, while her youngest appears to have had a personality transplant. To make matters worse, her mother is back on the scene, and she seems to be reliving her misspent youth with her oily-haired, horse-faced ex, Alec Thoroughgood.

With her best friend preoccupied with the arduous task of baby-making, Rose finds herself relying more and more on the quiet Flynn Pennington-Rhys, who seems to be everyone’s hero.

But Flynn has his own problems, and as events take an unexpected turn, Rose realises that she may not always be able to rely on him.

Will the quiet man come through for her? Will her daughters ever sort themselves out? And will Rose ever get her bedroom back from her mother, or is she destined for a life on the sofa?     

You can buy A Kiss from a Rose here.rose-cover-ebook

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Wednesday Wondering … What We’re Reading Right Now

The Write Romantics are an incredibly busy bunch at the moment, with releases springing up all over the place, drafts being finished, books being edited and so on, so I decided to be easy on them this month and not set too taxing a Wednesday Wondering. This month, I’ve simply asked: What are you currently reading and what are you planning to read next?

Over to the Write Romantics. I’ve included links with each of the books if you fancy bobbing on over to Amazon for a sneaky purchase.

MemoryHelen R says…

I’m currently reading Rowan Coleman’s ‘The Memory Book‘. I’m only a few chapters in but it’s a brilliant concept and the characters are so powerful. Already the book is tugging at my emotions and I’m hooked.

Next up is Lynne Pardoe’s ‘Please Adopt Me‘ and after reading a sample chapter last week I’m really looking forward to this book.

lakeAlys says…

I often have a couple of books on the go at the same time but at the moment I’m up to four which is really a bit excessive. I’m reading our Lynne Pardoe’s ‘Please Adopt Me’, ‘The Lake of Dreams‘ by Kim Edwards which is a beautifully written story about a woman’s search for the truth about her family’s history, and ‘The Island‘ by Victoria Hislop which I’m finding slightly heavy going. I’m also reading ‘Geared Up‘ which is about how to write steampunk as I’m working on a steampunk novella at the moment. I really must get some of them finished as I’m struggling to remember what happens and if I’m not careful the plots will all start to blend into one and then I’ll be really confused!

AliceJo says…

I’ve just finished reading ‘Recipes for Melissa’ by Teresa Driscoll, which was published by Bookouture and I really enjoyed it. It tells the story, perhaps unsurprisingly, of a girl called Melissa whose long dead mother leaves her a recipe book on her twenty-fifth birthday, the recipes interspersed with advice about life and a few family secrets thrown in for good measure. Bookouture seem to be focusing on women’s fiction and romance with the kind of deeper themes I love reading about, thrown into the mix, so I’ll definitely be working my way through a few more of their titles.

At the moment, I’m reading ‘By My Side’ by Alice Peterson, published by Quercus. It’s another novel with deeper themes and perhaps tells a parallel version of the ‘Me Before You’ story, detailing the impact of a spinal injury, but with a much more positive twist and if you love a story involving a dog, then this is one for you!

Sharon says…

At the moment, I’m reading two books.

I’m halfway through Jo Bartlett’s People’s Friend pocket novel, ‘No Time for Second Best’ – which is fabulous, of course. Romance, beautiful setting, a sheep that would give Houdini a run for his money, and a donkey called Gerald. What’s not to love?

YorksI’m also reading ‘Never Marry a Politician’ by Sarah Waights, which I’m really enjoying. It’s about a woman who married an up and coming politician on the rebound. She’s made a decent life for herself and is a respectable “career wife and mother”, having put her journalistic ambitions on the back burner to support her husband. Now an election is imminent and it’s never been more important to present the image of a happy, loving marriage, especially as a journalist is coming to stay to get the inside scoop on the everyday life of this perfect little political family. Unfortunately, the journalist is the ex she loved and lost. Needless to say, there are complications!

When I’ve finished those, I’m moving on to our own Rachael Thomas’s debut novel, ‘A Deal Before the Altar’, and I’m also going to be reading ‘The Yorkshire Shepherdess’ by Amanda Owen, the lady who featured on the television programme The Dales. Amanda married a sheep farmer and lives in a remote farm in Swaledale with her husband and their ever-growing flock of children. I’m looking forward to reading her story. Alongside those two, I’m going to tackle a biography of Boris Johnson. Yes, really. There is method in my madness. Trust me… 🙂

Helen P says…

At the moment I’m reading ‘The Lost Child’ by Ann Troup. It’s brilliant and I’m enjoying it immensely.

I have a really tough choice for my next book because all of my lovely Write Romantics are publishing books so fast that I can’t keep up but I’ve decided to go with ‘Searching for Steven’ by the lovely Jessica Redland 😊

Deirdre says…

CustardI’m reading ‘Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts’ by Mary Gibson. I was drawn to this because it sold tremendously well for a debut novel and I wanted to see why, and I was intrigued by the title. Having spent 30 years in publishing, Mary took to novel writing in her retirement. She was born and brought up in Bermondsey, where the story is set, and drew on the lives of her grandparents for inspiration. ‘Custard Tarts’ was the name given to the girls who worked in the Pearce Duff custard and jelly factory at the beginning of the 20th century. The story centres round young Nellie Clark and her struggle to hold her family together after the death of her mother. The hardship and poverty among the families in the South London dockland area is described with truth and emotion, but also with humour, and there’s plenty of romance, too. I’m half way through, and World War I has just broken out, so clearly there’s more drama to come. It’s not difficult to see why ‘Custard Tarts’ is a best-seller. The easy style of the writing keeps the pages turning and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve just downloaded her next ‘factory girls’ book, ‘Jam and Roses’.

Because I’m reading this one on my Kindle, the next will be a paperback, as I don’t like to read solidly on the Kindle. Also I like to vary the kinds of books I read and try out different styles. If you’re writing yourself, I think it’s important to push the boundaries a bit and not read the same kinds of books all the time, otherwise you can never develop as a writer. I might read Ian McEwan’s ‘The Children Act’ next.  For me, his writing is about the best there is. The book I’m really waiting for is Isabel Ashdown’s latest, ‘Flight’. I love her books, but I’m hoping the Kindle price will have come down a bit before I get there 😉

EmmaAs for me, I’m currently reading ‘Letting in Light‘ by Emma Davies which is my book club choice for this month. I’m about a fifth of the way through so far so I can’t comment too much about the story. It had a great start with the heroine involved in a car crash and the hero coming to her aid. We then move forward in time and they encounter each other again, but there have been significant changes in both of their lives and I’m starting to discover what these are. Intriguing.

Next, I’m spoilt for choice. There are more Write Romantic books out and a few I still haven’t had an opportunity to read. I may read Lynne Pardoe’s next or I may read Rachael Thomas’s first novel, both of which have already been mentioned and linked. I’m also a bit spoilt for choice on my TBR pile which must have well over 100 physical books on it, never mind the ones on my Kindle. Yet I somehow keep adding to both piles! Oops!

What about you? What are you reading at the moment? You can click on ‘Comments’ at the end of the tags below to join in the conversation.

Jessica xx

Saturday Spotlight: Me and my new baby! by Lynne Pardoe

My first published book didn’t have quite the same beginning as others I had written.  Usually I delve deep into my my memory and write in the first person but this one was totally different, and one that I never guessed would do so much good. It all began because of an illness and my totally bored octogenarian mother.
FB_20150120_18_33_36_Saved_PictureThis is the story. It started it one gloomy winter’s day a couple of years ago. Unusually I was at a loss to know what to do, so I let myself daydream for a moment. I’d been reading Alison Uttley’s lovely autobiographical books and Thomas Hardy, my favourite all time novelist. My daydream was hardly original. You can imagine the sort of thing, young woman in period dress opens a gnarled, ancient, wooden door to her parents’ home. A little while later she’s skipping along an ancient  green path on her way to her job in the big house when she falls and breaks her ankle and has no way of getting home.
Well, that was it, real life intervened and I got caught up in a flurry of family duty and I forgot all about that book, believing that my future lay in writing fiction books about social work, which I enjoy and have had a lot of interest in. But my mother became ill, she desperately needed a hip replacement but her bad heart prevented her undergoing any sort of surgery.
Visits to her became difficult, we couldn’t take our usual trips around the shops and she was very bored. So I told her about my story and we were both enthralled. Mum made quite a few helpful suggestions about character, motive and so on. Before long I had a plot.
I wrote it up, thinking it needed to be 50,000 words but it ended at 40,000, so I left it on my hard disk and there it stayed for many months. Then one day someone sent me a link to the People’s Friend message board and on there was a call for stories for their Pocket Novels – and guess what, they wanted stories of 40,000 words!
So I rescued the story from a dry and dusty corner of the hard drive, gave it a bit of a polish, and sent it off to Tracey Steele. Within a day she asked for the full, within a week she’d bought it!
I was delighted! Tracey arranged to put mum’s name, Margaret Pardoe, on the cover leaving my Lynne Pardoe nameMeant for each other cover free for my social work stories, so people know what they’re buying when they look at each.
Well, it hasn’t quite spawned a miracle, mum still isn’t very well, but she is so chuffed to have her name on the cover and I’m so pleased it was accepted. It bought us closer together. I liked the story, I have a soft spot for the heroine, who took a big risk to do what is right. It’s my baby and I was really chuffed to see it on the shelves!
Lynne

Another Mega Monday announcement: Lynne Pardoe ‘pockets’ a deal!

Who could have believed the speed with which the Write Romantics have been landing book deals recently. First there was Jessica Redland’s 467141_105087346295108_93731370_oexcellent (I know cos I’ve read it) ‘Searching for Steven’ and her three book contract with So Vain books. Then Harriet James ‘Remarkable Things’ to be published by Crooked Cat, then Helen J Rolfe’s ‘The Friendship Tree’ also to be published by Crooked Cat.

I thought the good luck was bound to run out there. I’d sent a partial of a pocket novel I’d been working on to D. C. Thomson in Dundee around that time. I’d been working on it for months and lacked confidence to send it to them. Then I had an email conversation with one of their staff on their editor’s fiction blog which was really helpful. The next day I saw a blog post by another of their fiction staff, Tracey Steele talking about how to write pocket novels and I thought ‘fate is trying to tell me something, send it off fast!’ So I popped three chapters and a synopsis off one morning and got a request for a full later that day. I was delighted and sent the rest straight away.

I thought it would be months until I heard and prepared myself for a long wait. I knew how many submissions they must have and tried my best to be patient. You see, to me it wasn’t just an ordinary book because my mum helped me write it. Mum has been very poorly lately. She contracted flu many years ago and the virus got into her heart muscle and infected it. That caused the muscular layer of the heart to stretch, get thinner and to work more slowly. Bolstered by tablets you’d hardly have noticed any difference in her for over thirty years, but she’s now 85 and time is catching up with her. She was very, very, poorly for a while recently. Going out was a thing of the past and it was a major effort for her to even walk across the room.

I?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? can only imagine how painful that was, and boredom soon set in too. But then I thought I’d talk to her about the plot for the novel I was then about to write, and her world lit up. She totally followed me into my imaginary world and we chatted for ages about the characters I’d described and why they were behaving as they were. Mum suggested a couple of scenes and the motive for one person’s actions that were crucial to the story. Spending time with mum in our world of make-believe was a tonic to us both.

Now I haven’t told you what happened to this story once I’d consigned it to paper. I’ve left you in the lurch a bit about the outcome of this tome. I thought with the rush of publishing contracts coming to the Write Romantic’s there would be no way I would get one, so I got ready to slog in with my trilogy of social work books. Then about a week later, I saw an email from Tracey from D. C. Thomson. I opened it fully expecting to see a ‘..thanks but no thanks,’ sort of comment.

The first sentence yielded nothing of the sort. Nor the second. Then the third seemed to say she liked it and would like to buy it! I could hardly believe my eyes but when I saw the word ‘Congratulations!’ later on I knew what I read was true! It was all confirmed the following day when a paper contract arrived in the post. I quickly signed it and sent it back before they could change their minds!

D.C. Thomson is a bit special to me. My dad was Scottish and always spoke very highly of them. He was a printer at The Daily Telegraph and cameauthor 2 home with ‘The People’s Friend’ and ‘Beano’ every week. I loved them and read every word. As I grew older I read ‘The Friend’ in the nursing homes I worked in, often with the patients. I kept reading it when I left nursing, so getting published by them is very special.

Now I won’t keep you much longer, you must have plenty to do. But do check back soon because I’m hoping this lucky spell will continue. I’ve read some of my fellow WR’s work and know how good it is and how close to publication they must be!

Lynne x

Short Stories are in the Saturday Spotlight with Margaret Mounsdon

 

The Write Romantics are compiling an anthology of short stories to be released later this autumn in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust and Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Several writing friends have kindly given their time and talent by providing short stories and we’ve all contributed ourselves. For some of us, this was quite a challenge as we’re novelists; not short story writers. We were therefore delighted to welcome prolific short story writer, Margaret Mounsdon, to The Saturday Spotlight.
 
CIMG2091Over to Margaret …
 
As I said to Jessica the two things I love talking about most in this world are myself and writing! So I am honoured to be a guest on the blog and hope everyone finds what I have to say is interesting.
 
A little introduction for those of you who’ve never heard of me.
 
My name is Margaret Mounsdon and I have been published in the womens’ magazines, namely Woman’s Weekly, My Weekly, People’s Friend, The Lady and Take A Break’s Fiction Feast. Apart from the UK my short stories have been published in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Norway and Sweden.
 
I have had 25 light romance novels published and I’m in the process of putting my backlist on Amazon ebooks.
 
img078I have won or been placed in several short story competitions and the reason I am telling you all this is not to blow my own trumpet but to let you know it is possible to do this without knowing a single soul in the publishing industry or having an agent, or being able to pull strings with editors, publishing assistants, whatever.
 
Unlike mainstream fiction when the publishers want to know all about you for publicity purposes, in the short story market it doesn’t matter. You can quietly sell your stories with as much or as little publicity as you like. Different rights to short stories can be sold several times and can become ‘nice little earners’ over the years.
 
About 14 years ago I had no idea how the published short story business worked. I knew I liked reading them in the in magazines and sometimes I thought I can do as good as that. Eventually I decided to have a go.
 
I have to say I was not an overnight success. I started writing in the 1990’s and my first short story acceptance was from Woman’s Weekly in 2000. Having said that a lot of my rejected stories have since been re-worked and most of them have found a home so it pays not to throw any of your work away.
 
Thanks to all those who posted questions. I’ll do my best to answer them.
 
What do you think makes a good short story?
I like to have a good opening line. It’s important to make the reader want to read on. Some examples of mine are:-
  • ‘You find out who your true friends are when you appear at a party dressed as a trifle and custard.’ WWFS
  • ‘Don’t I know you?’ ‘ Yes I was once your wife.’ WW
  • ‘Private detective seeks assistant – must be discreet, practical and flexible.’ WWFS
  • ‘Vanessa stopped stalking Kevin after she left school.’ TAB FF
As you can see from these examples there is a broad range of choice and, as long as you follow the bounds of decency, almost nowhere you can’t go
 
Do you have any advice on how to crack the short story market?
One way is competitions. They are an excellent way to get in. The Lady magazine unfortunately no long publishes fiction but they used to have a short story competition which I duly entered one year. I didn’t win and I wasn’t placed but I received an email from their fiction editor who liked my story and offered to buy it and it was duly published. All because I entered their competition. Apart from that you must study everything in the magazines, including the adverts. I even completed the crosswords! Up to date market study is very important.
 
Also Woman’s Weekly run fiction writing days at their London office. I am going on one for serials (a market I’ve never been able to crack) in October.
 
img077Any tips on creating a believable romance in a short story?
Believe in your characters. Make them as genuine as possible. Make their problems creditable. Don’t create a situation ‘just  because’. Every action has to have a reason.
 
Do you create characters for short stories differently from the way you create the characters in your novels?
The characters in my novels are much more in depth. I do histories for them and cut pictures out of magazines and supplements etc. In short stories I work more on an idea and go from there.
 
What type of short stories do you enjoy writing the most?
I’ve been asked by People’s Friend to write a 10,000 long/short story for one of their ‘specials’. They wanted a ‘cosy’ type crime caper. These are great fun. Think Midsomer Murders meets Miss Fisher.
 
Do you plot your short stories or have an idea and start writing?
I usually get an idea then sit down and get typing. I managed to get a story out of a trip to our local recycling centre, and another when I was in a queue in a charity shop and I eavesdropped on a conversation. Inspiration can strike anywhere so take a notebook with you at all times. Coffee shops are good places to get ideas.
 
What gives you the most satisfaction; writing short stories or a novel. Why?
I have no preference but if I’ve just done a 42,000 word novella for People’s Friend, I like to take a break and a 1500 word short story makes a nice change.  
 
Do you buy the editions of magazines in which your short stories appear or do you get sent a copy?
Woman’s Weekly send copies. TAB Fiction Feast, My Weekly and People’s Friend don’t, but you do usually get told when your story is coming out. I tend to browse in WH Smith or the supermarket, just in case they’ve changed the dates. Also titles can get changed so you need to double check the magazines.
 
Fountain.Tell us more about getting “the call” for your first novel
It was with the defunct Heartline publisher. I’d met Sue Curran at a writing day. She agreed to look at my NWS submission. I was actually out when the call came. When I got back there was an answerphone message asking me to call her. She explained about Heartline and what they were planning to do. I still didn’t really ‘twig’ that they wanted to publish because they were only starting up. When she called back several times more, the penny finally dropped. I was ‘in’. I did a dance round the room and the joy of acceptance never goes away fourteen years later!
 
Why did you write under a pen name? Have you used this for all your novels?
I only wrote as Clare Tyler for my two Heartline novels. They had another Margaret on their books at the same time and suggested I used a different name. I have only used it once since when People’s Friend had two of my stories in one edition of their magazine and they wanted me to use another name for the second one. These days it’s Margaret Mounsdon all the way.
 
I have a People’s Friend novella coming out on 28 August. I entitled it Angela’s Return Home. The titles do get changed but it will be under the Margaret Mounsdon name.
 
Details of my novels can be found on my blogYou can follow me on twitter @SwwjMargaret and on my website through which I can be contacted if anyone’s got any more queries.    
 
Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today.
 
Margaret 
 
 
Thank you for joining us, Margaret. It’s been really fascinating to get a much deeper insight into the short story market which we haven’t really explored on our blog before. We appreciate your time and your advice.

For anyone interested in finding out more about our anthology of short stories, please see our earlier post. We’re running a competition for a book title and you’ve got a little over a week to get your ideas in to win a gift voucher so get your thinking cap on and get emailing!

 
Enjoy your weekend
Jessica
 
(We’d love your questions/responses to this post. Comments can be left my clicking on the button at the end of the tabs below)