New Beginnings

Since I returned to England from the Netherlands, so much has changed for me. I had to learn how to be British again and start afresh. I took a break from writing and I am now pleased to say I am back on track with my latest novel.

In August 2016, I collaborated with award winning author, Sue Moorcroft, and she conducted a very informative writing weekend with ‘Fiction on the Taw.’ Her support was invaluable and we had many new writers who needed that push to improve their skills. Sue provided the motivation  and her teaching skills impressed me. I am sure we will be working together again in the future to organise another venue.

Now is the right time for me to help others succeed. This has been my forum for many years and  I want to take it further in the world of writing. I used to teach new driving instructors to pass their exams and had a very good record of success. A driving instructor has to undertake a proper teaching course with the Driving Standards Agency and the standards are very high indeed. Instructors have to prepare lessons as any school teacher would do and mentor individual students to make sure they succeed.  I had the pleasure of teaching for 25 years and wrote my own training course to enable my students to make the grade. I have also written newspaper and magazine articles on driving and other related subjects and had them published. In the 1980’s I undertook a creative writing course with the University of Leeds on Teesside.

When I moved to Holland (due to my husband’s job)  I had to start over and was not able to teach driving there, unless I took my exams again and I didn’t have a full grasp of the Dutch language. So I gave up and became a writer instead. The Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors had many courses to learn how improve my skills.  I later moved on to writing a novel which was published in 2013. Goodbye Henrietta Street is doing well in Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly and also on Amazon.  I now have another two novels waiting publication in the coming months. I have been writing since 1980 and now editing my second and third books.

What I want to do now is help the new writers gain confidence in their writing skills and use my teaching experience for mentoring and provide them with a critique service. I will not be editing their work, but will assist in helping the new writer to move forward. This is a pleasure for me and I already have a few people in the fold who are now writing due to my support. I feel new writers often need guidance to improve their work.  If I can set them on the right track and provide a report on their ideas and how to make their work more presentable, then I will have done a good job.  There is no such thing as a bad writer, it’s all down to obtaining the correct information and guidance.

What will I provide?

A service for new writers to gain a positive and helpful report on their work in progress. This will include the first three chapters of their novel and their proposed synopsis; I will even look at the basic idea and comment. I am prepared to offer a report on a full novel, but at this stage I recognise that new writers’ finances are usually limited.  So this is why I want to help with the first stage of the process, to encourage and show them how it can be done if they have the help and support of someone who understands their needs. Writing is a bit like learning to drive a car; you have to understand the controls before you can take it on the road. I want to give an honest, yet positive report on their work and assist them with their successes.

If you think this could be you, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can e-mail me  at for further information. Each writer’s requirements will be charged according to their needs, but we aren’t talking hundreds of pounds as you may imagine.  I charge by the hour and for the first three chapters and synopsis, I will  provide you with an estimate before I begin. We would then agree to continue the work. No work, no fee and everyone’s needs are different. All information and work in progress is confidential and I hope to build a rapport with each of my students.


I look forward to hearing from you.

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Fiction on the Taw

by the River Taw in West Devon.



12 – 14 AUGUST 2016

Welcome to Fiction on the Taw, your chance to work with an experienced tutor and award winning novelist Sue Moorcroft in a small and focused group. Fun, interactive workshops will illuminate storytelling and writing techniques to help make your work sparkle.


And, take this fantastic opportunity to review your first chapter and synopsis with Chrissie Loveday, then practice your pitch to an agent/publisher – an invaluable aid in the quest for publication.

This event is hosted by author and Romantic Novelists Association member, Lin Treadgold. Please contact Lin for a brochure and application form. Accommodation is not included but we have a bed and breakfast list and self catering etc.

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My Year in Progress

It has been some time since I last wrote a piece for my blog.  As some of you know I have requested my favourite authors to write an article of their own ‘year in progress’  which was most successful. If you look back you can read about them too.

Many of you already know about my year,  but for those who haven’t been following me closely here are some of the challenges I’ve had to face.

In January, I came across to England from Holland with my husband, Chris, to look for a new house.  He is retiring in December this year and our plan is for the whole family to spend Christmas 2015 together in England and celebrate his retirement as well.  We viewed eight properties and settled on a lovely barn conversion in the heart of the west Devon countryside.  Chris wanted a project for his retirement and without too much hard work this property needs a few renovations here and there, but it’s perfect for our needs. We actually own a riverbank and very often we watch as a herd of cows pass by the house and over the bridge on their way to the next field. There are 39 species of birds and its a wonderful place to do my writing.  I also have a sneak view of Dartmoor. We have been living in Holland 14 years and now I have to learn how to be British again.

Moving house doesn’t come without problems, of course.  I have a house for sale in Holland which doesn’t look like it will sell this side of Christmas 2016 at the rate the Euro is going.  It may be that we have to settle for renting.

So, after unpacking more boxes than I could count, we are now living in England, it’s official!  Sadly, Chris has to stay in the Dutch house until he retires.  However, we are in constant touch, thanks to modern technology and Exeter airport is only half an hour away.

As a fairly new author on the block, I have had to start over and in some cases carry on where I left off in Holland. My book The Tanglewood Affair is ready for submission to various publishers and Harold, the Good Soldier, is a work in progress.  Goodbye Henrietta Street is now well on the way with some good reviews and a new cover on Amazon, thanks to Silverwood Books who rescued me from disaster when my first publisher closed its doors. Goodbye Henrietta Street

Writing a synopsis before writing the book can be challenging, but I had a recent request from an agent to submit the synopsis and first three chapters, so I think it’s worth providing her with an idea of my writing skills and storytelling.

Due to the lovely area in Devon, I shall be in a position to offer workshops for new writers after this year. So watch this space for members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers Scheme.  As I was once a new writer, I must never forget the struggles a writer has to endure in order to be published.  I feel it is important for new writers to attend workshops and share stories with those who had similar experiences.

I have plans to join the Exeter Chapter of the RNA and I have also joined the local amateur dramatic society. I am in the middle of writing a play, but purely for practice.  The skills required for playwriting are very different from novel writing, as I recently discovered.

It’s very strange living in a new place where you don’t know anyone.  What I have discovered about Devon is that everyone is so friendly and thoughtful.  I haven’t heard one negative word spoken about life here.  I have been made to feel most welcome and now I can carry on having a great time and concentrate on writing and staying healthy.


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My Year in Progress with Jean Fullerton

jean1 web picture (3)Author, Jean Fullerton has to be one of my favourite authors. I first met her in 2011 when she offered to do a workshop for new writers in Yorkshire.  Nothing is too hard for Jean.  Her work in the nursing profession shows, not only through her writing, but in the support she provides to new writers and also new authors.  Where she finds the time to write and work alongside her ecclesiastical husband, as well as looking after her growing family, I shall never know.  The main thing is she always has a smile on her face and I really do admire her drive.

Jean’s books are very good.  If you follow the TV nursing  series of a similar style, you will love ‘Call Nurse Millie.’  I have yet to read her latest book of which the information is at the bottom of this page, but if you want to read something different in a romance novel, try going back to the 1950’s with Millie Sullivan, it was a lovely story I just couldn’t put down.  Here are the reviews:

‘A delightful, well researched story that depicts nursing and the living conditions in the East End at the end of the war’ (Lesley Pearce)

‘…The writing shines off the page and begs for a sequel’ (Historical Novel Society)

‘…you will ride emotional highs and lows with each new birth and death. Beautifully written with some sharp dialogue.’ (THE LADY)

I hope you will enjoy reading more about Jean and her year in progress.

 Fetch Nurse Connie - Cover 18th Feb th Jan 2015  doc (2)

 Thanks for asking me to be a guest on your blog, Lin, to talk about my writing year.

My writing year actually consists of two years running concurrently, one for the book I’m writing and the  second is the book being published that year. Readers like to follow character through a number of books and so series are very popular at the moment. As a writer I like them, too, as having built my post-war East London world with the St Georges and St Dunstan’s Nursing Association, I only have to pick up where I left off. However, alongside familiar and much loved characters like Millie Sullivan and Connie Byrne, I try to find new angles on stories and fresh characters for each new novel.

The East London world where I’ve set Millie and Connie’s stories, was a place with a bomb site on every corner and with a chronic housing shortage. Families of six or more children were commonplace and often had to share houses condition often with only cold running water and an outside lavatory.
War-time East London had a flourishing black market and with the close proximity of the docks this undercover economy was soon taken over by criminal gangs in peacetimes. As today, there was a diverse community made up of Chinese, Maltese, Greeks, Turkish, Poles, Irish and the native Cockneys.
In her limited spare time – one day per week – Connie and her fellow nurses would visit the cinema and lose themselves in the latest releases with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or go dancing on Saturday nights in the various dance halls ‘Up West’.

Social attitudes were changing and the many men who returned expecting to find the little woman content to spend the day cleaning the house were disappointed. But running alongside these new ideas were the much more rooted ones such as helping your neighbours, bringing children up to respect their elders, ‘bringing trouble home’, looking after your parents, not owing anyone anything and not taking charity.

Becoming pregnant outside marriage was taboo. Young women were not allowed any sexual liberties before they were married or else be labelled a tart. Young men were expected to be wild and aggressive, sort out their problems man to man and stand their rounds but if they did get a girl in trouble they were expected do the right thing.
My writing year started for me at the beginning of September 2014. This is because I’ve usually just handed in the book due out the following year. I try to take a break in the summer although sometimes it’s to do another project like writing a novella or a short story. However the serious heads-down writing year starts in earnest in September.
I spend the first week plotting the various strands of the new book on a spread sheet and then I write the immortal words, ‘Chapter One’. As any writer will tell you, the opening pages of any novel are crucial for capturing the reader, so I take a lot of time over the first chapter to set the scene, as I’m aware that new readers will be coming fresh to my post war East London world.

By October I’m well into the book but it isn’t long before the edits for next year’s books arrives. I have to take my head out of the book I’m currently writing and get back into the one I finished a few months before. Thankfully these days the edits are small changes they only take a couple of weeks then I’m back to the new book and try to get as much done the copy edits arrive in December.

These are much quicker and I try to turn them around in a week and then back to the 2015 book to get another couple of chapters completed before Christmas. Somewhere along the way I’ve got the cover for the 2015 book through for approval, and so we get to Christmas. As I’m aiming to get the book to my publisher by the middle of July I try to be at least a 1/3 of the way through by the festive season . It doesn’t always happen as life sometimes intrudes.

As the 2015 book will go into production in April the page proofs arrive sometime in Feb. These are just the tiddly little comas and wrong word read and I’m lucky that my Hero-at-Home does these for me so I can plough on with the book I’m currently writing, which will be published in June 2016. That’s usually the end of my involvement with the current book until a month before it’s released when I have to spend time publicising it. So now, somewhere around March, I’m free to get on with the current book. I aim again to have the first draft of this complete before the new 2015 book comes out. I allow myself a week of publicity before going back to the first draft and editing it so I can get the book to my agent by the end of July before collapsing again.

Fetch Nurse Connie.
Connie Byrne, a nurse in London’s East End working alongside Millie Sullivan from Call Nurse Millie, is planning her wedding to Charlie Ross, set to take place as soon as he returns from the war. But when she meets him off the train at London Bridge, she finds that his homecoming isn’t going to go according to plan.
Connie’s busy professional life, and the larger-than-life patients in the district, offer a welcome distraction, but for how long?
Available from Orion Fiction on kindle, paperback and hardback on 4th June 2015

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Life after Bitter Disappointment – Goodbye Henrietta Street Is Back!

Goodbye Henrietta Street final front coverWhat do you do when your publisher writes to you one day, out of the blue, and informs you after less than a year of publishing my book, that they can no longer keep the business open? I had just got the sales rolling in 2013/14 and was beginning to feel, at last, I was an author after ten years of learning how to do the job. It was all going well. After several weeks of decision making and wondering where to go next I suddenly realised that to find another publisher was going to take a lot of hard work with very little reward. Thanks to a fellow author (we girls have to stick together) I got a tip-off to contact Silverwood Books.  I never wanted to self publish and hated the idea of getting tangled up with all that computer jargon to get myself on Amazon.  Yes, they say it’s relatively easy, but I wanted more than that, I still needed an editor. I’d read the book too many times to see my own mistakes. Due to legal restrictions in my first contract I was not allowed to used the edits from the previous publisher.  Okay, whose words are they in the book anyway? However, if the words in the book were identical edits to those done by them, then I would be in breach of contract.  So, rather than be beaten by the powers that be, I took it on myself to re-edit the whole book and get some help to check it out.  The result – an amazing improvement with a slightly new twist in the tale. After my first contact with Silverwood Books, I noticed the difference in attitudes and the helpful way in which the staff talked me through all their procedures.  I have to say they were marvellous.  It wasn’t like self publishing at all, it was more of what I should have had the first time around. It was wonderful working with a team again, I had been rescued! Yes, I had to pay for the work, but in this situation I had to keep my book up there and it had to be an improved version, so it has been worth it. Lin Treadgold Author's photo.  So, take a romantic trip to the Isles of Scilly with Pippa, Sven, Rob, Joan, and Terry. Where did it all go wrong?

After weeks of working with the team, I arrived at my final draft and all the loose ends were in place.  I was delighted with the new cover and very soon I shall have a better photo for you but in the meantime I just wanted to let you all know that Goodbye Henrietta Street is being released again on 16 March 2015. I will keep you  informed about the links to Amazon, but in the meantime I do hope you will support me by sharing my posts and retweeting on Twitter. Thanks to everyone who supported me, you have all been amazing. I got two book shop orders already!



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Author, Linda Mitchelmore. My Year in Progress.

I was visiting Devon last week, looking for a new house for our retirement.  I had a dinner date with authors, Linda Mitchelmore and Rosemary Ann Smith. It is surely amazing how you can make real-time friends  through Facebook and especially as a writer, it is important to socialise with like-minded people.  Linda was most inspiring and through reading this I am sure you will agree.  Rosie taught me that you can do anything if you just put your mind to it.

I had already invited Linda to the blog some weeks ago and through our meeting I have found a new friendship as I am pleased to announce that very soon I shall be living back in England. A revised version of my first novel, Goodbye Henrietta Street, will be out very soon so watch this space.

Linda Mitchelmore

Linda Mitchelmore

So here is Linda’s story about her aspirations for 2015.  I hope you enjoy the read.

My 2015? What does it hold for me in its newly-opened pages? It’s been a long, long time since I wrote a list of New Year’s Resolutions. The list always came with the resolve to also write a daily diary. Neither got past week one. These days I tend to go with the flow although I can be very disciplined when needs be, like when there’s a writing deadline or I have to go to the dentist but don’t really want to – I know both will be for my good in the long run!
So 2015. What will it bring? Do any of us really want to know? I can’t think there’s a person on the planet who has sailed through a year without a bit of sadness, a bit of upset, a shock or two, or a bit of illness.
2015 has started well for me as a writer. The third book in my ‘Emma’ trilogy, EMMA AND HER DAUGHTER, published by Choc Lit, came out as an ebook on 9th January. Large print and audio rights have already been sold. Paperback will, hopefully, follow at a later date. Over the three books, Emma has had a real struggle to get where she is on the closing pages of EMMA AND HER DAUGHTER – she’s been orphaned, ill-treated, made homeless, in danger of being ‘groomed’, ostracised by old friends and neighbours, beaten black and blue, and had her bakery torched amongst other horrors. It takes a strong and feisty spirit to cope with all that but as in fiction, so, too, do some people have problem after problem, tragedy after tragedy, to overcome in real life.

Emma and her DaughterSo, I’ve come to the end of a trilogy which is quite a lot of words in the can….something like 280,000. I wrote Emma the happy ending she deserved, but I don’t know that I can quite let her go. Not yet. But as the title of this last book in the trilogy implies, she has a daughter. What of her? Well, actually, she has a step-daughter as well. And there is, age-wise, quite a gap between the two. That in itself could be interesting as the step-sisters grow up. Not that I have plans at this stage, or even this year, to write their story.
I also write short stories and 2015 has started well for me in terms of stories published and also sales – with three publications and seven sales to date. I enjoy the short story form. And I particularly like writing them in the first person, present tense. I think the reader is immediately in the story with that viewpoint. When I write 1000 word stories they often turn out humorous almost of their own volition – possibly it’s writing in the first person that makes it easier to write humour and in the back of my mind is the fact I have to write short and snappy and get a lot of detail in a few pages. My 2000 word stories and even longer ones at 3500+ words tend to be more emotional. The longer ones will often be relationship stories – parent/child, step-parent/step-child, friends, cousins, brother and sister – rather than romances, although I do indulge myself with romantic trysts and flowers and beautiful rings sometimes!
My novel-writing came out of another writing form – short serials, three or four episodes long, for women’s magazine fiction. I’ve only written, and had published, a handful of those but it was a magazine sub-editor, Jean Haxton, who suggested longer length stories are my strength. Thanks for that, Jean! While making a loose plan for my writing projects for 2015 I had an idea for another serial. And I’ve already sketched out some characters and setting for that – all I need now is a plot!
Last year I signed a contract with Choc Lit for a full-length contemporary novel, ALL THE BLUE SAPPHIRES, which will be an ebook to begin with. I’m waiting on the edits for that and quite looking forward to them as this book is set in the South of France, in the Cannes and Antibes area. I rather hope they might come soon so that I can escape the cold and frost, and maybe snow, of late winter and think sunny and hot, and chilled white wine, and tarte Tatin in sunnier climes. There is also a novella with Choc Lit that will also need an edit sometime. I’m going to be busy, busy!
But all work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl. So I do get out to play sometimes and intend to do more of it in 2015 because as we get (a little!) older exercise is important. Being something of a Scrooge about things like gym membership, pool admittance costs, and spa fees and the like, walking is my preferred form of exercise. I’m very, very lucky. My parents – although not Devon born – met and fell in love in Paignton and, after the war, they set up home here. And I was born in the cottage hospital, as were my children. Devon is a beautiful county to live in. I live now just a fifteen minute walk from the sea front. Fifteen minutes in the opposite direction takes me to the top of a hill and country lanes and a view out over farmland to Dartmoor and Haytor in the distance. I walk down to the beach most days and love the sea in all its moods. It’s also a joy to take my two grandchildren there and make sandcastles and moats, and dig ponds and draw maps (both my grandchildren are mad about maps for some reason) with a bit of sea-worn wood in the sand. My grandson in particular has a very vivid imagination so this activity is peppered with Star Wars, and Thomas the Tank engine, anything to do with princesses (for his younger sister), and tyrannosaurus Rex.
But a girl needs time with friends of a like mind sometimes. And this is where, again, I’m very lucky because I have friends of long-standing in the area, and also newer ones made through writing. I’m a member of Brixham Writers – there are just a dozen of us, and all published – and we meet once a week. We take it in turns to be in the chair and whoever is in the chair that week will have set the ‘homework’ at the previous meeting. I’ve sold more than a few short stories written around the ‘homework’ theme. But we can also read out from work-in-progress or not read at all … the choice is ours … and the group will critique our work in a constructive way.
I also skive off to Exeter once a month when the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Devon Chapter, meet up for lunch – usually midday to 2 p.m. but often it is until the chat runs out or there is a train or bus that must be caught.
So I have a whole year’s worth of meetings and lunches to look forward to. And I have to say that if I’m struggling with something then it eases the struggle a bit to know that I have the escape of tea and tiffin down in Brixham, or a glass of Pinot Grigio and a plate of lasagne and salad in Exeter, to look forward to.
A recently re-found pleasure for me is theatre. I took my daughter and grandchildren to the pantomime just after Christmas 2014. It was my grandchildren’s first visit, and I don’t think I’d been since I was a child when my aunt used to take me to the pantomime on Boxing Day every year. But on this latest visit I think I spent more time watching my grandchildren’s enthralled and happy faces than I did the goings-on on the stage. I’m about to book up for us all to go and see The Wizard of Oz which is a matinée only performance during half term in February. Although I’m deaf and my cochlear implant not up to picking up all the words, however well enunciated and amplified, I can enjoy the visual impact of it all, and no doubt my creative mind will be making up stories about the clothes and the people and the spectacle. Hmm, yes…..already a title for a short story has jumped into my head – Red Shoes.
Hmmm….. better get on then, hadn’t I?

See Linda’s books on Amazon

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My ‘Naughty’ Year with Tanith Davenport


My last blog of the year is from Author, Tanith Davenport who began writing erotica at the age of 27 by way of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. Her debut novel “The Hand He Dealt” was released by Total-e-Bound in June 2011 and was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for 2012.
Tanith has had short stories published by Naughty Nights Press and House of Erotica. She loves to travel and dreams of one day taking a driving tour of the United States, preferably in a classic 1950s pink Cadillac Eldorado.
Tanith’s idea of heaven is an Indian head massage with a Mojito at her side.

Nlissemas 2014

My Writing Year – October 2013 – 14

It’s been an active year for me. Looking back over it, I’m quite impressed, even though I know there are more prolific writers than me – I remember many days of envy at those able to do this as a full-time job. Nevertheless, I’m quite proud, especially of Photograph, which I submitted to Totally Bound around October 2013.

Photograph had been a long time in the making. When I first planned out the story, I was younger than the characters. I picked it up again as part of a creative writing course I began when I was 30 and then left it on hiatus when my debut novel The Hand He Dealt was accepted. So it was about half-done when Totally Bound put out a call for their “What’s Her Secret?” line, and since it contained a heroine with a deeply-held secret, I pitched it and it was accepted.

It was submitted in October but not firmly approved until February 2014, due to some significant (and needed, I admit) changes to the plotline. By May it was out and, as my first novel to have its own publicity team, I had the excitement of seeing it as part of a special offer in Woman magazine. Quite the honour for someone who had only ever been advertised online!

While all this was taking place I was finishing off the sequel to my paranormal novella I Heard Your Voice. Tamar Rising followed my paranormal investigator heroine in her new career as a medium. I had some great fun researching this and its predecessor, as I love paranormal TV (even if I do suspect a lot of it is either faked or exaggerated) and also got to attend some paranormal investigations, although very little actually happened on any of them. Banging in the pipes, table-tipping, ouija boards and people doing a variety of silly walks to avoid breaking laser beams set up across doorways – all great for information but not especially scary. In fact, the scariest moment was when my satnav abandoned me in the middle of a council estate and I had to knock on someone’s door for directions.

Tamar Rising was also quite a challenge for me as I had never done a sequel and therefore never had to keep the interest in an ongoing romance. The easy way out might have been to bring back Tamar’s former lover Reed – if you could use “lover” to describe the businesslike nature of their relationship – but, while Reed was great fun to write, being an arrogant jerk, I had no plans to mess up Tamar’s relationship with Jason. The novella was submitted in March 2014 and is due out on Boxing Day, also from Totally Bound.

However, a particular challenge was my most recently accepted novella, which at the time of submission was called “Ambivalent Brutality”. Inspired by a Norwegian film, the novella followed a team of Norwegian trollhunters with a hero and heroine falling in love while battling a mountain troll. One thing I haven’t written a lot of is action scenes, which you might imagine became quite necessary when dealing with trapping trolls; they also involved a role reversal since my hero was the intellectual researcher while my heroine was a rock-climber adept with multiple weapons. Definitely not your stereotypical roles!

The only minor issue was with the name. While effective, “Ambivalent Brutality” lacks a certain romance, so the title became In the Halls of the Mountain Troll. I was initially a little concerned about this title, remembering the furore about Bigfoot erotica and not wanting my novella to get caught up in it. I’m not sure what would be worse – having someone avoid the story because they think it’s troll porn or buy it and give it a terrible review because there’s no troll porn in it. I’d better make that last part as clear as possible – THERE IS NO TROLL SEX IN IT. I’m open-minded but even I have my limits.

So now that that’s in the pipeline, just waiting on edits, what else do I have on the go? Well, I have a potential series on the go. I won’t give too many details just yet but the first novella of the series, Mrs Hamilton’s Daughter, is almost complete and ready for submission. I have several stories lined up in my notebook to go in this series so I hope it all comes right!

I also have a rewrite on the cards, as one of my shorts, Assume the Position, which was previously published as part of Campus Sexploits 3 by Naughty Nights Press, is about to have its rights returned. As a 3000-word piece it’s too short for anywhere else at present but I hope to rework it into a 10,000-worder and submit it elsewhere. It’s a favourite of mine – the first short I ever wrote, plus an excuse to write eroticism into yoga poses – and I’d hate to see it go to waste.

So it’s been a busy year, and I hope to make 2015 another good year for writing. With any luck I’ll be buried in my series but also handling surprise submissions calls, which always serve to make life interesting!

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My Writing Year with Linda Chamberlain

My guest this week is Author, Linda Chamberlain. I am sure you will enjoy reading about her year in 2014. I hope my own successes are as good as Linda’s! As with any author, the way forward is never in a straight line.  Please do comment and leave messages for Linda’s reply.  DSC_1426

Producing a book is a little like a having a baby. It begins with some strenuous and emotional activity and after a few tiring months you have something that’s very precious.
Like all new authors I think my book is prettier than any others conceived and I happily show it off like a proud mother.
A year ago I was putting the finishing touches to my creation. It already had a name – The First Vet – but it was missing something important. The ending. It was a touching story of love and corruption, a blend of fact and fiction that was full of horses and history, but I was tiring and wasn’t getting on with the task. I was saved from this dreadful state of affairs by a crazy writing project called National Novel Writing Month , which brings authors together online for a mad dash to write 40,000 words.


BookCover5_25x8_Color_350_NEW from Amber

By December it was done – plus another 40,000 words of another novel. I was on top of the world. The next few months were devoted to my new project while The First Vet was put to one side. It was important to read it again in a couple of months so it could be judged it with fresh eyes.
There was hardly a day without writing – thanks to being a bad sleeper I have more time available than a lot of people. By Spring, my book was ready to be seen by other people. A few chapters were sent to some friends; I got some feedback and made some adjustments. Agents and publishers should have come next but an unknown writer struggles to be taken seriously in spite of a background in journalism.
Whoever published it, the writer is responsible for much of the sales and marketing so why shouldn’t I do the whole project myself? So this summer I decided to become an indie author but first had a meeting with Liz Bailey, an experienced writer published by Penguin, who would become my editor. She puts her own backlist on Amazon and was a good source of reassurance and information.
She is an expert on the Georgian period – the setting of my novel – so she was a good choice. Her report gave me some editing to do but also filled me with confidence.
‘Wow, I love this story!’ she said. ‘It’s erudite, literate and fascinating. It flows and you brought the environment to life as well as the world of the horse. The narrator voice is clear and consistent and works really well. Your knowledge of the subject permeates the whole book.’
The romance was sensual but chaste, she said, and the central message of the book was inspiring.
It centres on one of this country’s first vets who was an animal right’s campaigner before anyone had coined the phrase. He was ahead of his time but his work is being rediscovered today. I’m a romantic novelist so of course the love story is central but my protagonist’s battle with the veterinary establishment gives the book some pace.
Then came other tasks that conventionally published authors are denied – sorting out the cover and finding an art director. I also needed to work up a platform on line. The first two were fine; the latter is still being grappled with! I had a cover in mind – something dramatic like War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. My two actors in period costume and a horse walked up a hill to a nearby beauty spot famous for its sunsets and thanks to photographer, Will Jessel, we got the most amazing shot.
It was September by now and pressure was mounting because I wanted to launch the book soon. My laptop gave up on me and work stopped. It gave up three times, on one occasion it locked the book up. I was getting stressed; my family knew I was irritable.
Once the book was freed and the lap top mended, I set about formatting the book for Amazon. It was going to be a paperback and ebook on Kindle. It wasn’t easy but, if this writer can do it, anyone can.
This month I pressed the button that said publish. My book was on line. My blog helped to sell it, my Facebook friends rushed to support and my first week as an author saw nearly 100 sales. There was also my first author talk to prepare for – nerve-wracking but successful.
Amazon reviews started to come in – ‘A great story with a thought-provoking message.’
‘One of those books you can’t put down.’
I’d always wanted to write a page-turner. I was beginning to think I had succeeded.

Linda Chamberlain equine blog is on
Her book The First Vet is now on Amazon.


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The Writer’s Year with Carol McGrath

Another episode in the year of an author.  Today I am pleased to introduce you to Carol McGrath. Carol’s year has been fantastic. The travel, the successes, and her trip to India.  This is a ‘must read’. Please give Carol a vote on this page.


C McGrath 004

Carol’s passion has always been reading and writing historical fiction. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and family. She taught History in an Oxfordshire comprehensive until she took an MA in Creative Writing at The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast. This was quickly followed by an MPhil in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Her debut novel, The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAS, 2014 in the historical category. The Swan-Daughter is second in the trilogy. This novel was published exclusively for amazon kindle in July 2014 by Accent Press. It will be on general distribution in bookshops on 11th December 2014. It is a stand- alone novel as well as second in the Daughters of Hastings trilogy. She is writing the third and final novel of the Daughters of Hastings trilogy, The Betrothed Sister.


Here is the story of Carol’s year.

Writers are always busy. At least, this has been my discovery. Since The Handfasted Wife, the first book in a trilogy which tells the story of The Norman Conquest from the point of view of the royal women, was published by Accent Press in 2013, my life has not just been about writing historical novels. It has involved author social events and promotions, and, of course, I would not have it any other way.
I began writing The Swan-Daughter, the second book in the trilogy, Daughters of Hastings, in October 2012. By October 2013 I had completed the first draft. It takes me a year at least to write an historical novel. This is a conservative estimate because these books do require much research. The Swan-Daughter is about King Harold’s daughter Gunnhild. She eloped from Wilton Abbey with a Breton knight who fought at Hastings and was cousin to William the Conqueror. As these books are complex, much time has been spent in the Bodleian Library Oxford delving into what was written about events in Chronicle and the analysis of the period by latter-day Historians. Even after a first draft is completed I continue researching life during the eleventh century, looking for new snippets to integrate into the world created for the story. During October and November, I went through The Swan-Daughter, again and again, over and over, checking it for different things each time I revised the manuscript. This might be language or character or it might be information or something that is structurally not quite right. Moreover, I read everything aloud for flow and tone. I look at each word to decide if it is right. That was October and November of last year. At last, in December, I was ready and I sent the manuscript to my editor. I was in a queue as she is not only very good but very busy, and she is always worth the wait.


The Swan Daughter
I took a few weeks off writing during Christmas and New Year when my husband and I spent three weeks in India. India is a great place to gather material for stories and for articles. I have many articles about India on my blog. This was my fourth trip there. We travelled to Hyderabad, Goa and Mumbai with my writer’s notebook tucked into my hand luggage. In it, I wrote snippets of descriptions and character impressions that some time will make their way into stories, not necessarily about India. The highlight was staying in the Mumbai Taj where there had been a terrorist attack in 2008. This hotel was recently featured on a television documentary. Did you see it? I find travelling inspirational and will return to why later in this article. Meantime, I discovered that The Handfasted Wife, my debut novel, was shortlisted for the RoNAS in the Historical Category. Now, that really is exciting.
Until last January, I only had a blog which I called where for years I regularly posted short articles with an historical content. I still try to post at least one article a month. These, generally, are full of photographs and they take time to organise and write. I post travel articles here and very occasionally book reviews. However, now that a world of readers was discovering me, I discovered that I needed a web site. My son in law provided this for me during January and by February I was busy updating it. It is useful as I found out when I was shortlisted for this wonderful RNA competition. Readers can find out more about you. They can contact you. You can provide a short monthly events diary and information about your books. Simply, readers can discover the person behind the book. The web site really is useful.
My web site is really simple. As I write articles for Historical Fiction Writers as well as my own blog and also occasional reviews for a Review Blog found via Facebook, I can consolidate this and link them to a page that I have called My Blogs.
In February I began work on my third novel. I had been planning it since I completed work on The Swan-Daughter. In fact, I wrote the first sentence for The Betrothed-Sister in the middle of winter, and I am still working on a first draft ten months later. This work is a complex process of planning characters and narrative, though I have not stayed religiously to my outline. The story does take over. The characters possess me. It is painstaking work. Writing takes time. I cannot rush it. This group of novels have little paratexts, each one a nod to something literary from the eleventh century. I hunt them out. They occur to me as I write and often after I have finished the book’s first draft. For example, in The Swan-Daughter I paralleled Gunnhild’s love story with aspects of medieval romanz, particularly the medieval Tristram and Isolde. In The Handfasted Wife I used Anglo-Saxon poetry, riddles and little Chronicle extracts for many of the chapter headings. In The Betrothed Sister I am integrating Russian folk tales into the text. I have a delightful book of Russian proverbs and one or two may find their way into the story.
The Betrothed Sister is the story of King Harold’s elder daughter who married a prince of Kiev and who called their first child Harold-I wonder why. Princess Gytha, who in the novel is named Thea, is betrothed for much of the story, itching to meet her prince and anxious to escape four jealous Danish princesses. Thea remains an exile in the Danish king’s court until, at last, she is summoned to a very turbulent Russia. During February and March, I spent hours in The Department of Slavonic Studies, Oxford researching, reading The Russian Primary Chronicle and other sources.
At last in March, my edits came through from my editor. I stopped writing the new novel in order to address these. There are always three lots of edits that go to and fro until the novel is as good as we hope we can make it. They take time. We edited through April. The first lot are mostly structural edits whereas the second group of edits address characters, details and so on, narrative really. And, at last, that necessary copy edit. It is thorough.
The RoNAS in March were fabulous. The Handfasted Wife did not win but to be there and to be shortlisted was a thrilling experience. I think the publicity generated is fabulous and my interview on Radio Oxford was great fun. Most importantly, I felt my work was validated. I felt like one of the princesses whose stories I write. The crème de la crème was certainly the Awards Ceremony held in central London in the Overseas Club. It was a deliciously posh event. I got to wear that little black dress and my highest of heels! I walked on them as if on air. I felt I had arrived. I was an author.


I said that I would return to writing and travel. This deserves its own place as part of my writing year. We have a rented house in the Greek Peloponnese. It is in the area known as the Mani. This is a very old world, a little like Donegal in the west of Ireland, but with better weather. Everything is slower. It is a wonderful place to write. We set off in our old Volvo estate through Europe to Italy in late March stopping in Milan, en route, to this house. We have a solid surface company of which I am a director so we went to the Milan Design Fair on the way south. It is always a great event and we often stay in medieval Pavia. Out came the camera and the notebook. A writer never rests. There are too many new impressions to record in pictures and words.
We spent Easter in Greece. In fact I had many notebooks and texts with me so I was able to spend five months there this summer. This is a great chunk of my writing year. My husband was there some of the time and at other times various writing friends visited. In May, writers Jenny Barden and Charlotte Betts visited. In August, writers Liz Harris and Sarah Bower came out. Meantime, I set up a writers group in a mountain village called Neohori. There are artists and writers living there, escaping the world. It has been a great success. We are four core members and others who visit are invited to participate. The three writers living there permanently are very accomplished. One of them has taught in further education and has written plays for small theatres. And I should add that an inspiration is Patrick Leigh Fermor who lived close by since the nineteen fifties until his death a few years ago.
In July, I returned to England for a month. This was my ham and salmon month. I had been invited to two weddings and I gave a power point presentation on Medieval Women and Marriage at the RNA Conference at Telford. One of the best parts of this conference was the Blixt Hill Event. Historical writers organised and presented their period and their novels dressed in appropriate costume. I think Jenny Barden was a brilliant organiser. It was an inspiring and superb conference.
In August, I coordinated, from my Greek eyrie, the HNS Conference 14 short story competition. The fifty plus entries were of a high standard and the winning story called Salt which is about women who gutted herrings during the First World War in Grimsby, was fabulous. It was moving and beautifully written. I reviewed several novels for the Historical Novel’s Society glossy review magazine during my writing year!
One of the things I have enjoyed most since returning in October from Greece has been the theatre. Last week we went to the RCS productions of Love Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing. When you have been theatre deprived for months you doubly appreciate the RSC. It is also another aspect of my writing year because if you are ever looking for idea for plots and brilliant dialogue the theatre is a source of inspiration.
And now another October is indeed ending. And I should sign off before I ramble on and on. As I reflect on my writing year I think, yes, I did accomplish much. The Swan-Daughter was published on 24th July. It is an e publication until 11th December when it goes into general distribution and paperback. Last Friday, I received a lovely gift from Accent Press, a box of advance copies of The Swan-Daughter. What a perfect way to close this writing year. It looks fabulous. In fact, I think I must read it. No, best not, I say to myself. Carol, always remember, you are only ever as good as your last book. It is time to get back to The Betrothed Sister. Hopefully, readers are waiting for it and when the first draft is finished, this is when the hard work really does begin.
And may I say thank you to, Lin, for hosting me here. It is such a pleasure to visit.


My Links
Follow me on Twitter @carolmcgrath



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The Writer’s Year


Tanya Crosse, author of ten novels.

My guest today is the lovely Tanya Crosse. We met earlier this year at Morwhellam Quay in Devon. With other romance writers I am compiling the experiences of my author colleagues whom I invited to take part in ‘The Writer’s Year.’ I hope their stories will inspire others to keep going.  Here, Tanya provides an insight into life as an author.  I am presently reading her first book Morwhellam’s Child which portrays life in a Devon mining town. I have to say after reading what Tanya describes as her tragic year, I can truly empathise with her about the ups and downs of being an author.  I found this a fascinating story.

Tania told me she had always yearned passionately to be a writer of historical novels, particularly of the Victorian era. Having penned three novels in the 1990s, she was told by all the agents and publishers she approached that she had the talent but the era was wrong. Then she visited Morwellham Quay, the restored Victorian copper port and major tourist attraction in Devon, and was inspired to write a dramatic saga illustrating the port’s history. Knowing how incredibly difficult it is to get published, and having a direct sales outlet, she decided to have the book printed herself. It sold like hot cakes at the quay’s gift shop, but also sold in local bookshops and other tourist outlets such the National Trust. The first print-run sold out in weeks, and the following year, due to demand, she reprinted double the original amount.

In the meantime, Tania had fallen in love with nearby Dartmoor whose rich and fascinating history was going to provide an abundance of inspiration for further novels. She was half way through writing the first of these when her husband secretly sent a copy of Morwellham’s Child and her then work in progress to Pan Books, and consequently signed a contract with them for both stories in 2003, with publication following in 2004 and 2006 respectively. Since then she has completed a series of ten historical novels based on the history of the area. I wish her every success with her latest book Teardrops in the Moon. Read on now for Tanya’s story about her writing year.

Tanya's latest book Teardrops Under the Moon

Tanya’s latest book  ‘Teardrops in the Moon’


When Lin first asked me to write a blog based on my previous year’s writing, I wasn’t sure it was something I could do. The reason for this was that, due to unforeseen and tragic circumstances, this past year has been utterly untypical for me in writing terms. But after due consideration, I thought that my story might just inspire new writers to keep going. Just because I have ten traditionally published novels under my belt, doesn’t mean to say that my writing life is without its problems.

To begin at the beginning, I was unable to write for most of 2013 owing to problems with my elderly mother. I had struggled to complete Teardrops in the Moon by May, much later than I would have liked, but my publisher and my agent were very understanding. Teardrops was the tenth and final instalment of the Devonshire series I had planned back in 2003 when I had let my imagination loose on the amazing history of western Dartmoor and the surrounding area. Including Morwellham’s Child, there were originally to have been seven books – five set in the Victorian era and two during the Great War. One of the Victorian sagas was too long, though, and had to be split into two, so if you ever read Cherrybrook Rose, you must follow on with its sequel, A Bouquet of Thorns. Then, when I was part way through writing the Victorian stories, my agent, the lovely Dorothy Lumley, secured me a contract for two 1950s sagas set in the same area. As there is a thread that links all my earlier books, I decided to make Lily’s Journey and Hope at Holly Cottage part of the network by making some of the characters descendants of the Victorian families.

So, over the years, I have written about farming and mining on the moor in the Nineteenth Century, Dartmoor Prison in Victorian times which was just as barbaric as you might imagine, the isolated gunpowder factory at Cherrybrook, the building of the Princetown Railway and the second railway through Tavistock, life at the isolated quarries, the Great Flood of 1890 and the Blizzard of 1891 as they affected both Tavistock and the moor, and Tavistock’s workhouse. For the 1950s novels, I drew from the many changes on the moor at the time, when industries were long gone and workmen’s cottages were being condemned. The Princetown Railway met its demise, people’s lives had been altered irrevocably by the Second World War, and young men were doing their National Service. Yet Dartmoor still held its secrets, both ancient and more modern.

I think that gives an idea of how I find the inspiration for my books. I find an interesting subject, research it in depth, and then just allow my naturally vivid imagination to envisage exactly what it would have been like to live through that particular set of circumstances. Of course, you have to develop gripping personal stories, realistic characters your readers will become emotionally entangled with, and all the other trimmings expected of a modern novel. Characterisation, dialogue and structure all have to be spot on, and although you have to hold your reader spellbound, your story must be utterly believable.

So, getting back to the year in question, it began with a most devastating event. Although I knew Dorothy had been unwell, I wasn’t aware of how serious her ill-health had become, and it came as a huge shock to me when she passed away at the beginning of October last year. She was so kind and understanding, and helped so many aspiring writers to establish their careers, my own included. Although I had already achieved publication before I signed up with her, my career would never have flourished without her representation. You could sit down and discuss things with her; she always listened to your point of view and put forward suggestions with such tact; although she taught me so much, she never bullied and I always felt I was working with her rather than beneath her. She was one in a million and is missed by so many.

Her death also, of course, left me without an agent at a time when I really needed one. Having completed the Devonshire series, I was ready to move on to something different. I had various ideas which I had previously tossed about with Dot, all of which she liked and which we had planned on playing around with once I got back to writing, which I knew wasn’t going to be until the New Year. City based sagas, though, seemed to be the main way forward. I spent the first five years of my life in south west London and have strong memories of that time, and so it seemed the logical place to start. It was quite an industrial area, and so I am using the same method as I did with the Devon based books.

So it has been trips up to London to refresh my memories of my early childhood, hours spent in local studies libraries and researching online, and, of course, building up the first story in my head. Some authors, I know, plan out every scene before they start writing the actual book. I might do a half-page plan. I know my characters instantly. I suppose I must have a natural intuition for them, but also find I have it for time and place as well. Perhaps the key is that I carry out such detailed research first that my characters and their storylines just grow out of it. All I know is that I just sit down and write, and feel my way through the story with all its twists and turns and the subplots that wind themselves around the main plot.

Now, in October 2014, having completed most of the research for this new venture, I have penned almost half of it. This might not sound much, but I have also researched and written a substantial partial for another idea I had been discussing with Dot. And then earlier in the summer, Teardrops in the Moon was released. As I have built up a substantial readership in the South West, I concentrated my publicity campaign there with several exciting events which, if you are interested, you will find listed on my website. One of the things I was asked to do was to give a talk, dressed in my crinoline, at Morwellham Quay’s first ever literary festival, and to present the prizes for their short story competition, which I felt was a great honour. Now, all these events take an enormous amount of planning, but it is all part of being an author, to say nothing of standing up in front of an audience to talk about one’s latest release. And I don’t just like to talk. I like to give a performance that will keep the audience entertained, interested and inspired to buy a copy!

Because of the 1950s sagas, Teardrops in the Moon is not the final novel chronologically in my Devonshire series. But, as explained above, it was originally meant to be the final instalment, and I believe still feels like the last one emotionally. It brings together all the characters from the Victorian series so that fans can see what has happened to them in the intervening years. There are four main families involved, and relationships have developed between children and grandchildren. The outbreak of the First World War sees each one of them involved in the war effort or the war itself. Dartmoor might seem isolated from the rest of the world, but it in fact had a huge role to play, as well as giving up its sons to the fighting. The heroine of the story is Cherrybrook Rose’s younger daughter, Marianne. Just as spirited as her mother in her youth, Marianne eventually enlists as an ambulance driver with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in war-torn France. Her earlier secret vow is challenged beyond imagining, and it takes all her courage and strength to face the horrors of war. And who is the stranger from her mother’s past who seems hell-bent on destroying the family even when the war is over? I also had the brainwave of a poignant epilogue set in the summer of 1939, when war was on the horizon yet again. This also provides a link through to the 1950s sagas, bringing the series full circle.

As I write this, I am looking forward to taking part in the Tavistock Heritage Festival at the end of this month. There are all sorts of events taking place over the weekend, all based on the town’s fascinating history from medieval times onwards. My own event, though, is the only one representing the First World War. I am going to be chatting to people on a very informal basis about the role of the town and the surrounding area in the conflict, based on my two Great War novels.

Released in Spring 2013, Wheels of Grace was the fictional account of the Dartmoor village of Walkhampton during that terrible time, centred on the wheelwrights at the hub of this tiny, close-knit community. The war leaves no one untouched as its evil tentacles reach everyone in the village. Later on in the story, the heroine goes to work as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse at Tavistock’s Mount Tavy Hospital for injured soldiers, which specialised in shellshock. This is now an independent preparatory school, Mount House, where last November I gave a talk about the time it was a hospital. The school’s lectures are open to the public, and I was concerned about pitching to an audience with an age range of seven to eighty! I shouldn’t have worried. By keeping to the point, I kept everyone interested, and the children asked some most amazing questions – most of which I was fortunately able to answer!

Anyway, because of this connection, for my event, Tavistock’s amateur dramatic society is lending me a nurse’s uniform from their production some years ago of Oh, What a Lovely War! This will all be adding to the atmosphere as people drop in for a chat. I have a CD of original First World War music which will be playing in the background, and heaps of Union Jacks and Kitchener posters. So if you happen to be in Tavistock on 25th October, do call in to see me at the Subscription Library.

So, looking back over the past year, I suppose I have achieved a great deal, even though I haven’t been firing on all cylinders writing-wise. I do hope, though, that this has given an idea of what being a writer is really like. It isn’t just a case of meticulous research, writing the perfect novel and getting it published in one of the many ways that are open to us all nowadays. You must get out there to know your audience, whether it be through social media or in person – or preferably both. I don’t know what the future holds for my career, but what I can say is that I’ve had a ball along the way!

If you wish to know more about Tanya please visit her web page.


If you would like  to take part in The Writer’s Year please send me an author photo, a cover picture of your book and no more than 2,500 words about your year between 2013-2014.  I will also need a brief introduction about you.


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