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.
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.
So, 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?
LINDA MITCHELMORE – FEBRUARY 2015
See Linda’s books on Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Turn-Full-Circle-Linda-Mitchelmore/dp/1906931720