Monthly Archives: July 2011

My Writers Circle – join up

I have been a member of for many years and would recommend this as a place to bounce off your writing ideas to other members.  Please do join.  I am sure you will find it a very friendly forum to meet with lots of like-minded writers, all genres.  This is a mixed forum for published and unpublished work and general chat about life, the universe and everything. Very helpful for new writers. You can see reviews for poetry, scripts, novels and general short stories.  Go to the Welcome Board first and then join in with the other members.


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Don’t Just Write Your Novel…

I have spent such a long time being so immersed in putting my novel together I kind of forgot how important it is to write and do other things as well.  Flash fiction, competitions,  projects for writers etc.

This all adds to your CV.  I really must make a conscious effort to diversify.  Sticking to one book, editing and trying to make it work is fine, but you do need to read more on how to write and get published and learn from it.  A publisher or an agent will probably feel you are making an effort if you can show you won a writing competition or are presently working to write straplines for an advertising agency.  When you apply for a job I am sure you always state on your CV everything you have done to make it look impressive.  I think now I have to start writing for other means instead of only working on my novel. My CV needs to have more writing experiences.  I think it’s because I am retired and don’t need to work any more.  Being self-employed for twenty five years hasn’t made me feel I want to go back to earn money. My time is done.  I am on a pension now and I don’t  feel that sense of urgency and commitment I used to enjoy so much.

BUT… I think now is the time for me to start afresh.  I am too young to retire completely.  My own mother never retired.  She was 89 when she passed away in November 2010 and was a lesser known actress on TV, but she had a never ending amount of energy right up until she had her stroke.  She was still doing TV programmes and tap dancing until a year before she died.  It’s sad to think that one day you are fine and enjoying life and in an instant it is all snatched away.

So my plan is to start again.  Life begins at 62.  My father gave up on life at the age of 62 and died at 72.  He was a prisoner of war and I don’t think he ever recovered.  He smoked and then it was too late.

I am reasonably fit but I do find life in Holland to be rather – dare I say it – boring.  It’s lovely in the summer (despite all this rain) but in the winter it’s as though it all shuts down for five months and it’s in those months I need to feel needed.  The point I am making here is that if I don’t get out there and do something about it, I’ll fade away.  So this is my new plan for 2012 and I shall start a new business in the field of writing, I mean writing is a business once you start looking for publishers.   Perhaps do some reviews for people needing help on their first three chapters.  There are so many people out there who need help with writing. I am all for those who want to learn how to write, it is so rewarding. Not everyone can afford to pay someone for critique.  I do reviews and critique but it’s supportive and gratis.

My time is my own and that’s a great position to be in but sometimes I feel like a dog in a forest.  Which way do I go?  I am sure something good is about to happen, I can feel it.


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Submissions to publishers and where to start.

I think now is the time for me to blog on my daily adventures to submitting to publishers.

I have now reached a stage in my writing where I realise six years of writing one book is just taking too long.  Am I afraid to submit it or am I just so intent on getting it right that I’m just not ready?  Someone said to me the other day – ‘for goodness sake – just send it in! ‘  I’m new to this and to help others I thought I would keep a record of my ideas and discoveries during the journey.

I have various contacts through the writers’ conferences I have attended in the last three years.  It’s been difficult for me to make a decision as to when is exactly the right time to send it off.  Timing is important.  With the book awaiting a report from the RNA New Writers’ Scheme I find myself a little bit in limbo.  I want to make any necessary changes.  I mean after all the RNA are the experts in these matters and I would like their advice to see if there is something I could have done better before I send it away.  Then I thought to myself, I know the first three chapters are fine, so if I send it off now, then by the time they manage to look at it, my book will be fully edited.

So here I am in the process of doing just that. I sent two packages to the UK on Saturday and hopefully I will manage to do another one this week.  I feel it’s all about doing this one step at a time.  Check out the internet, use agents and publishers recommended by authors of the same genre.  I’m glad I joined ROMNA the online forum for member of the RNA.  Everyone meets together  to help each other.

It’s very important to read the guidelines thoroughly before submitting.  Do exactly as they ask.  If you have a query – ask them but don’t make it too complicated, use KISS – keep it short and simple.  Write a good biography about yourself.  Don’t trade yourself up too much, say exactly as it is.  If this this is your very first novel – say so.  Write about the trials of getting started and why writing a book is important to you.  Put anything into the Bio that might prove interesting to the publisher.  For example I mentioned about my being in business for 25 years – marketing experience.

In the coming weeks I will keep you informed if any of my submissions prove interesting enough to write about.


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My Interview on Radio Scilly

On my recent visit to the Isles of Scilly I was invited on to Radio Scilly’s ‘The Book Show’ with Linda Thomas.  There are two reviews – one is the trials and tribulations of writing my novel -Goodbye Henrietta Street –

and the other is a book review of ‘Palm Oil and Small Chop by John Goble – unfortunately the Radio Station misinterpreted the title – I am hoping they will change it soon for the sake of the author John Goble.

Please go to the following link to listen again to the programme

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Visit to Zwanenwater Nature Reserve

Last night I visited the Zwanenwater Nature Reserve near Callantsoog in North Holland.  This is a dune nature reserve close to the sea and is excellent for seeing birds such as spoonbill and bluethroat.  The flora of the reserve and the insect life are excellent.  Here are photos for your delight.

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Opening Chapter of my Second Novel

I am needing some comments on this one – at the moment it’s just an idea for a first chapter, first draft – does it bore you or leave you wanting more?  I will post more as I go along. Please leave COMMENTS



April 1977

‘Room for Rent in 12th Century farmhouse, close to Lyme Regis.  Would suit single person working locally. ₤14pw.

Tel. Axminster 4925

I must give them a call later, I thought.  In the meantime, here I am, new job, new lifestyle and roll on summer.  It wasn’t going to be too difficult to ‘up sticks’ and  leave Yorkshire, surely?

I drove down to Cresswell’s Secretarial Agency in the centre of Middlesbrough.   I know Anne Cresswell, she’d sent me on a dozen missions to various companies over the years and we’d built a rapport. At first, I wasn’t certain about the extended contract but, hey! Why not? Nine months isn’t long and being a temp, I often get bored being in one place for too long. Anyway it’s all good experience.

I put on my best trouser suit, the light grey one that makes me look taller. I parked the car and walked into the town centre. .  At last I began to feel I was moving on in life. I dashed into the hairdresser for blonde highlights. It’s surprising how a new hair-do can be so uplifting. She’d cut it ear length this time and I think I suited it better.

Anne greeted me with the usual ‘Good to see you again, take a seat.’ She handed me the application form.  ‘Just fill out the basics, I’ll do the rest’ she said as I leaned on her desk with a pen in my hand.  I checked it through.

Name … Jessica Stamp

Age… 32

Marital Status… Single

Address… 6aCoulby Avenue

Great Ayton, N. Yorkshire.

Experience & Education –Private Secretarial School 2 years.  Shell UK 8 months, Medical Receptionist local GP, 6 months, Personal Assistant to Research Director, ICI,  1 year.

‘That’s fine Jess, it will be enough. I know most of the rest.  This colleague of mine wants you down there by Monday of next week’ Anne said. ‘They got a pile of paperwork that needs sorting. One of their staff will be off work for a number of months, this guy needs a PA.’

‘Gosh you managed to sort that one out with gusto, how did you…?’

Anne tapped her index finger to her nose and smiled.  ‘We got a link-up with most of the agencies around the country.  I made a few calls.’

Heck, that was quick, I thought – but why not?  Never being one to waste time stewing over my next mission, I accepted.   Going south might get me away from the cold foggy mornings and depressive winters of the north.

More to come on the Prologue

Excerpt from Chapter One


The trees strobed the afternoon sun along Belton Lane, each bend as sharp as the next one. I pushed my fringe out of my eyes and slowed down in case someone came from the opposite direction at a speed not meant for a road like this.   I couldn’t imagine two cars being able to squeeze side by side, the tall hedgerows seemed like a railway embankment.    The stone wall peeked from behind the hawthorn and honeysuckle, disguising a potential disaster. If someone had been coming along ignoring the signs, as sure as hell it would have been a head-on collision. Sounding the horn seemed a good idea.

Ahead, the road straightened out as I pushed on deeper into the woodland.  The sun’s rays filtered through the sparse April canopy. As I drew closer, at the end of the road was a five bar gate. The old plaque seemed in need of a coat of paint and the letters spelled an age of rust.  Through the windscreen of the car I squinted at the words ‘Dalewood House’.  I stopped the car and got out to check.  Through the woodland a great tit called ‘teacher teacher teacher’ and I heard the repetitive notes of the song thrush through the trees. I used to be in the Girl Guides; bird calls were part of the Nature Watchers badge. I was patrol leader with an arm full of badges. Mum was forever sewing them on in neat rows.  I suppose her obsession for perfection has reflected in my later years too.

It was one of those days when everything felt beautiful.   The weather, the sun, and I could hear the lambs bleating in the distance.  I felt my heart beat as I took a deep breath.  After travelling down the M1 and aroundLondon, I needed this. I’d travelled since four-thirty that morning.

I pushed the gate back and slid the lock over the post and in the distance I saw the house.  Wow, I thought, this looks great!   The tarmac had run out of tar and the ‘mac’ was muddy access.  I was now on a track where the holes in the gravel were the size of footballs and more than ankle deep in puddles. Dad’s old Viva needed some TLC despite the low mileage, so I drove on a further taking extra care.  The shape of the old house became clearer as the scenery opened on to the parkland of a private estate.   I could see the sheep and lambs frolicking in the distance.  I was right – Spring is amazing. But was I really in the right place?

The obvious shape of a house loomed among the trees. It was large, built of timber, tile and red bricks. The roof seemed as if it was about to sag.  It had probably settled that way over the last two hundred years or more rebuilt with the same pantiles time after time.   A chimney stood tall through the centre of the house and the charm of the mullion windows seemed to beckon me.

As I stepped out of the car; it was the silence, as if nature had stopped, even the bleating of the lambs fell silent, but only for a brief moment. I heard a cuckoo; it must have been the first of the year.

Now, where was the front entrance?  I noticed among the tangled ivy an old wooden door and so I walked down the path and knocked, there didn’t seem to be a bell.  God, it was eerie. You know that sickening feeling when you realise you could be raped or killed and no-one would miss you?  I decided not to linger and went around the back. I found another door and knocked again.  On the ground were pair of gardening gloves and a knife, one of those tools where you scrape the weeds from between the paving slabs.  It seemed whoever had been doing the gardening had abandoned the job.   A couple of magpies seemed to laugh at me and I realised perhaps I’d made a mistake.  Today was Thursday?  Yes?  I decided to go back to the car and wait half an hour to see if anyone turned up, perhaps I was little early. So I waited… and waited… There was a Mars bar in the car,  so I destroyed the wrapper and took a bite of chewy chocolate, it had melted in the warmth of the glove compartment.

On checking the time I took the decision to walk back to the gate. Yes it was Dalewood  House on the name plate for sure, so where the heck was Mrs. Dijksman? Well, that’s how she had spelt it on the phone.  She’d told me it was a Dutch name pronounced like the man who made the dikes.

I waited forty five minutes until I’d had enough. Then I gazed in the mirror and found chocolate on my lips, so I rubbed it off with a paper handkerchief. There was no point in hanging around; I would go back to Lyme Regis and to my room at the B & B. How bloody annoying was that?  All this for nothing – a complete waste of time. I felt absolute disappointment, I’d come all this way, having built up my hopes to consider lodging here. Perhaps it wasn’t going to be the way I had planned it after all.

I returned to the car and drove almost to the gate when a battered green land Rover came toward me bouncing over the holes in the track. The woman behind the wheel beamed at me and we both leaned out of our respective windows. She spoke first.

‘Hello dear, sorry I’m late, ‘got held up with the shopping and the traffic in Axminster, it was dreadful, there was an accident.  You’ll have come about the room I assume, you must be Jessica?’


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Update of Rare Large Tortoiseshell Butterfly

I just received this message from Will Wagstaff on the Isles of Scilly

A quick update to say that your butterfly is a different individual to the one we saw last week. I sent the photo to one of our local experts who compared it to our one and there are significant differences between the two. Also there was one in Cornwall on roughly the date you had your one on St Agnes so it may well be that it is then that they arrived in theUK.

It looks like there have been a few sightings – this is, indeed, a rare occasion.  All this strange weather we have been having.  (Photo coming this evening) See previous post

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Read More About the Badger Cull

Go here to read more about the Badger cull here too

Have your say here.  Interested to hear your comments

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Chris Treadgold finds a Rare Butterfly on The Isles of Scilly

My husband took a picture last week of a butterfly thought to be extinct in the UK.   We were told it was a Comma, but after scrutinising the picture on the screen we realised it was more than that.  Possibly a rare Large Tortoiseshell.  We got some expert advice from Will Wagstaff on the Isles of Scilly and sure enough here is what he said.

‘Yes you were right it is a Large Tortoiseshell. There were at least three records until this year with the first in 1934. I then saw one on St Agnes many years ago. However since you went back we have had another record. This one was in the extension of Lower Moors last Weds. It was found some 20 mins before I was going through on one of my walks. We had just found it when the original finder came back with others. It stayed in the area all afternoon along with three Commas. The one we saw looked more worn that your one so I suppose it could have been the same individual.

Although extinct as a breeding species for some 50 years they do turn up as a vagrant occasionally. I gather there have been several records in Dorset of late.’

Good old hubby eh? It’s the rarity you always wanted to find, to be the first.  I think he was.

QUICK UPDATE – Since the report from Will Wagstaff, we have confirmation that the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust have requested details of the finding for their records


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A Note From a Small Island

In 1969 I was in Cornwall on a camping trip.  We reached Penzance and decided to take a day trip to the Isles of Scilly.  I remember it was foggy but warm, I think it was August.  We sailed on RMV Scillonian II and arrived around lunchtime.  It was a quiet town (until we got there!) but we had lunch in the fog and could hardly see any scenery at all.  There was something about the place that made me want to return, you couldn’t begin to explain it. I think it was the people, the atmosphere of island life and the delicious ice cream at the dairy.  We only spent about four hours on the island and took a bus trip in the fog.  It was great fun especially with the commentary and jokes about the Scilly Motorway and the wonderful scenery which couldn’t be seen.

A year later I wanted to return to Scilly, there was something calling me back, to see it without the fog. I did return in 1970 to discover  a tropical paradise.  The white beaches, the azure blue sea, a blue only matched by places such as Jamaica and the Seychelles. The palm trees and mesembryanthemum, daisy jewels cascading down the boundary walls.  Tall spikes of agapanthus and the magnificent gardens on the island of Tresco.  … And this is England!

Since those days I have returned many times and , for reasons I can’t explain, I seemed destined to write a romance novel based on Scilly.   At first I thought of a title ‘First and Last Outpost’ because the Isles of Scilly are the last outpost before the coast of the USA.  A couple of years later I changed the title to ‘Goodbye, Henrietta Street‘ a novel set on the islands and in Whitby, Yorkshire, where my character, Pippa Lambton leaves  home for the islands to find respite after a personal tragedy. After meeting with the handsome nature warden Sven Jorgensen, she is left with a dilemma. At the end of her holiday, will Pippa see Sven again when they live 500 miles apart?

This year in 2013 I will return to Scilly.  I have travelled the world in my younger days and seen a lot of life in Africa, the Far East and the USA. I know those who visit  these islands feel the same as I do; you just got to keep coming back.  I remember years ago telling someone I couldn’t understand anyone who went to the same place every year for a holiday.  I have to say that Scilly is exceptional for scenery, wildlife and flowers, but I think perhaps now I do understand.  If you find a place where happiness is overwhelming, why should you want to go anywhere else?

There is a real Henrietta Street in Whitby and I used it for the book.   I met a couple on a boat going to the island of Bryher.  They told me they also go to Whitby for their holidays and guess what?  They always hire a cottage on Henrietta Street!  I knew I had to write this story!   I now hope my book will be a good advert for the tourist board.  My readers can follow the journey of my characters in Cornwall and Yorkshire. Scilly has lost quite a few visitors this June due to the climate of 2013 but they also lost the use of the helicopter service.  The ferry Scillonian III has recently been refurbished and more seats are available. I will signing my novel on 3rd July on board the ship from Penzance to St Mary’s.  I hope you will be travelling with me. My reviewers are telling me I have made the story in Goodbye, Henrietta Street so real they want to visit the islands.

Goodbye, Henrietta Street is launched by Safkhet Publishing on 1st July. If you wish to purchase  a copy now, please go to the Amazon web site.

Come and say hello during my most awesome live book tour – ever




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