How long is your ‘to-do’ list? Do you have some things that never seem to leave it? I think you know what I’m talking about. These are the things that you just don’t really want to do so you leave them to the end of the day when you realize that you simply don’t have time to do them. Then you transfer those things to the list for the next day. I wonder if any of you reading this have ever done that? Actually, I’m sure you have but the question is really will you admit to doing it?
I freely admit that I have done this in the past and probably will do so again in the future. But I tried a different technique today. One that I want to share with you. I’m very proud to day that everything on today’s list will be done as soon as…
If you’ve spotted my intro you’ll know I’m a prolific reader but not normally that prolific! I’m on bed rest at the moment and, as I don’t really watch TV reading is the best alternative. Of course I should be writing but with the cocktail of drugs running around my system my head isn’t in the right place for that.
Lucilla Andrews wrote 33 novels between the fifties and the nineties, sadly all out of print except one. They’re mainly romances, and medical at that which is my favourite genre for now. It shouldn’t be – as a nurse I see enough of anything and everything medical but I seem to derive enjoyment from reading about nursing ‘in Bygone days.’ And her writing is full to the brim of historical commentary.
These are sweet ‘heart-warming medical romances’ with no bodice ripping – just good solid plotting and delightfully romantic scenes.
My friend the Professor and The Secret Armour are similar in that they are about young student nurses working in large fictional teaching hospitals in the UK – I loved them both. The only downside is Ms Andrews does tend to favour slim blond Hero’s and I couldn’t for the life of me get the image of Leslie Howard as he was in ‘Gone with the Wind’ out of my head – for me the burly Dutch type any day (more later).
The Africa Run was a divergence, a little like her ‘In an Edinburgh Drawing Room.’ In a way it was better written, but it lost itself in the middle only to redeem itself with a great ending. This time it was about 2 doctors (one with polio) and a widowed nurse on a cruise to The Cape, the story flipping backwards and forwards to the time they were all working together. I liked the vignettes on board, a little reminiscent of Jane Austen’s looking through the window at her neighbours.
In a wager with the Earl of Fenmore, young Anthony Hamilton gambles away both his estate—and his sister, Diana, who is obliged to move to Fenmore Park to act as a governess to the Earl’s twin nephews, and as a companion to Lady Fenmore.
Still in print and available from Amazon.
I don’t really read historical. I used to, but that was when I was a teenager. I read and re-read all Georgette Heyer’s works in the early eighties and, even today can answer quiz questions on the difference between a barouche and a Landau!
Alissa’s writing is strong and the storyline believable in the style of poor little downtrodden heroine meets handsome hero and their dream coming true – what more do you want from a light read like this – I raced through in a couple of sittings.
You know I said heart warming medical romance was my favourite genre? Well it’s all my mother’s fault! My mother and my son’s that is. Up until I had my son I used to read in the murder genre – and I’m not talking Agatha Christie ( I read all hers in my teens alongside dear Georgette). All those top bestselling authors with sick deviant pens? I’ve read them all – or I used to. I can spot the second I laid my last book to rest. I was reading a book about a child murderer, son at my feet in his basinette and then – the boy had the same name! I finished the book nearly fifteen years ago and have never read another of its type. My mother came to the rescue with an old battered Betty Neels, I can’t remember the title – there are 135 after all!
She’s my old faithful! I’ve read all her books and re read them as and when I want to escape into that dream world she’s created within all her books – a cross between Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs. Her heroes to a man are big burly types that will be able to rescue you from a burning building, as opposed to Ms Andrew’s who’d have to waste time putting out their fag first!
Her writing is sublime, unlike many of her Mills and Boon counterparts. In a way I feel sad she stuck to this kind of light fiction because she can certainly hold her own against many more acclaimed writers. Just how many writers are mentioned in funeral obituaries? Have a search – The Great Betty is there!
So I read Esmeralda again this week, randomly picked from my stash. The tale of a young nurse with a deformed foot, nasty heiress chasing Leslie and the RDD (rich Dutch doctor) that saves the day. It’s like eating chocolate cake with a dose of chocolate on the side – did anyone mention chocolate? Comfort reading at it’s best!
Cariad Williams has been writing to Franco Mezzaluna since they were kids. But he has never written back. And now he has become a famous film star. What’s more, he is due to visit Winterworld, the Christmas theme park where Cariad works.
The best till last – a lovely tale, more of a short story really written by a very talented writer who weaves magic from her pen tip.
I’ll let you make your own mind up as to the rest… All the profits from this book are going to Claire.
Via Milly Johnson’s website
I was one of the many who heard about a fire in Penistone in October of 2014. A man and his two sons caught in a house fire. The man and the youngest son Paul, aged 9 didn’t make it but the elder son Jack, aged 12 was clinging onto life, despite sustaining burns to over 60% of his body. Jack had tried to save his brother’s life and fallen into the flames from the loft. Jack was able to tell the police that his father had started the fire deliberately. Jack lost his life after a week. ‘He smiled at me, then the light just went from his eyes,’ said Claire, who didn’t move from his bedside. Her lad died trying to save his little brother. I know that gives Claire an atom of strength to go on, to keep breathing.
Why? Why did their father ‘unlawfully kill’ them? Why did he transfer the money in his bank account to a female ‘friend’ (yes, she kept it) and cancel the house insurance? Why did he go out and buy a swanky train set to lure the lads over to the loft in his house? Why did he set off 14 fires and barricade every door to make absolutely sure the boys didn’t get out? Why did he execute this methodical evil plan in the days preceding the tragedy? He did it to hurt Claire who had the audacity to leave her controlling husband. He didn’t just leave her with nothing, but with LESS than nothing because there’s a £50,000 mortgage to pay on that house and the bank are hammering on the door for it. Imagine having to carry on paying for a burnt out shell of a house in which your two children were murdered?
It’s the little things Claire misses: like ironing their white shirts and that the lads still held her hand (obviously when they weren’t in danger of being seen by their mates). And it’s the regrets that torture her, such as that she never got the kitten that the lads asked for because she wanted to wait until they were settled in a new home first. The little things seep between the cracks and hurt the most. She’ll see their friends grow up, go to University, get married, have children of their own… and she’ll think ‘that could have been my boys too.’ I have two lads and as much as they drive me INSANE I can’t imagine life without them.
The community of Penistone hold their arms around Claire. The unsung heroes have renovated that shell of a house to a beautiful spec. They’ve given over 1000 man hours of labour, skills, materials, all for nothing and they’re still giving. I’m in the public eye, they aren’t. They’ve worked far harder than I have, stringing a few words together.
It’s been a funny old week. Funny as in odd. Some bits good, some bits fantastic and some bits terrible – to repeat, it’s been a funny old week!
The important stuff as always is family related and this week all three children have been outstanding in both their personal and school achievements. My poor old back hasn’t been outstanding as its finally let me down – crawling on all fours is not a happy memory but one that will live with me forever.
This is last on the list because, in the scheme of things it’s not that important. It won’t be life changing but, hopefully it will give pleasure to anyone that finds it. There’s a photo and link, but that’s not what this post is about.
Releasing Unhappy Ever After Girl on the unsuspecting public wasn’t quite the last thing in my list. I also received two more rejection letters.
I know – many of you will groan but, you see for me it’s the way I have to go. Writing isn’t about the money (says she who’s first cheque from Amazon US arrived today and is still lying unopened by the microwave). Writing, for me is about the stories in my head clambering to get out. Even now lying prostrate on the sofa trying to pluck up the courage to go to the kitchen to stuff more tablets down my neck all I can think about is my next story.
As a writer I want to write, but I want to write well. I also don’t want to have to spend a huge chunk of my writing time on social media socialising. I like people (I’m a nurse by trade), but I’m also a bit of a reclusive hermit type outside of work and as such it’s torture. ‘ What do I say? What do I write? Why haven’t they replied? How many xxx at the end is too many? Torture!
The latest rejection letter came yesterday and it was lovely – I should know – I’ve had a lot to compare it with! So I took courage in both hands and asked a question back, here’s the response
‘….would need to have a solid first draft ready to send to an agent as they will ask to see the whole manuscript after you submit your first three chapters. By first draft, I don’t mean the first thing that you churn out, it needs to be as ready as you can possibly make it. As close to perfect as you can make it because that is the best way to grab an agent’s attention. Draft and re-draft until you get it as good as it can be. Then send it.’
So that got me thinking… On Facebook I’m a member of some lovely writerly sites and two had questions about editors requesting money up front – that doesn’t sit well with someone like me who’s published 4 books on a budget of zero. Yes I want an agent but one that’s as excited about my work as I am, afterall I’m currently writing a bestseller!!!
My tips, bearing in mind I’m agent-less. Bear in mind I’ve spent seven years on this journey – the end is nigh….
Read, read and then read some more. Read in and out of the genre you’re writing in. Read modern, read the classics but read. Reading other people’s work is the best writing work experience you can get.
Write that first draft. Even if you don’t have time to write. Even if it takes you years – just get your words out. You don’t need any fancy courses, you don’t need to waste money on fancy computer programmes – all you need is something to write with and on and then something to word process it with – editors will not accept hand written.
Rework your draft until you hate it and it hates you. When you think you’ve finished put it in a drawer for a few weeks and then rework it sgain.
Edit to within an inch of it’s life. An editor is not there to rework your mistakes. An editor wants the first three chapters (usually) polished to within an inch of its life. The way I look at it now as an a Indie – prepare your book to the same standard you would for self publishing, only then submit.
Make sure your first page is outstanding, make sure your first sentence has them gripped to their seat. Make it unusual. ‘Get into the scene late, leave early’ Mary Jane Riley via Shaz’s book blog
Prepare your manuscript to fit the guidelines of the house you’re submitting to. So you’ll have hundreds of versions of the same book filling up your hard drive – tough!
Write a business letter (not double spaced). Three paragraphs, keep it short and include a killer hook. No typos, no punctuation cock-ups. Spend time in getting this letter right – there are lots of examples on the Internet.
Write that letter to the right agent. Look them up in the current Writers and Artists Yearbook. Read who they’ve published. Search them up on Social Media. Could you work with them is as important as them working with you. Get their name right and don’t churn out the same letter to every agent you approach – your hard drive will be cluttered with lots of useless letters – again tough!
Choose three at a time to sub to. Give them a month to get back to you and then approach the next on your list. If you don’t hear from them, they’re not for you. Don’t hassle them, you’re sub is one of many – just move on. Spend the time in between improving your writing by working on your next book.
Don’t take rejections personally. You will at first but, if you remember the start of this post ( I do tend to ramble) bear in mind there are a lot more important things going on in your life as there are in mine.
Four books in less than a year. Does that mean it’s time for a rest – don’t you believe it! I have 4 stories clambering around inside my head trying to get out, the only problem being which one to choose.
When I started out on this journey 7 years ago I had this glamourise idea that my books would get an editor and, if not become bestsellers then at least not be vanity publications. Instead of which I pressed that KDP button in desperation all those months ago and haven’t looked back.
So Unhappy Ever After Girl again pulls from my own life in that it deals with congenital cataracts. I like to write about unusual topics, never before tackled issues to be found in a romantic novel like clamydia! Whilst I knew little of the latter I know all about the former as I too have congenital cataracts.
Like Derry the MC in Unhappy Ever After Girl I was born with them and also like Derry there is no guarantee with this ‘from birth’ type that removing them will make any difference. So I wander about trying not to bump into things, counting myself as one of the lucky ones as at least I can see where many cant.
And my next book? Until last week I was all set to start another romantic book, not medical this time and then I saw an article in the newspaper that I haven’t been able to get out of my head.
I’m forgetting about my latest release – that’s your problem now – where’s my pen?
Unhappy Ever After Girl is available for immediate download from Amazon here for the princely sum of 99p