Category Archives: Writing

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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!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lin+treadgold&sprefix=Lin+Treadgold%2Caps%2C197

 

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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.

 

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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 http://www.scribbling-inthemargins.blogspot.com 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.

 

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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
https://www.facebook.com/daughtersofhastings
http://scribbling-inthemargins.blogspot.gr/
http://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
Follow me on Twitter @carolmcgrath

http://www.carolcmcgrath.co.uk

 

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Link to Amazon for my book


For those of you who were asking me recently about my book.  Yes, you can buy it on Kindle as well as paperback and here is the link

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Goodbye-Henrietta-Street-ebook/dp/B00DB8IK1E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376568707&sr=1-1&keywords=lin+treadgold

 

Enjoy the read.

 

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A Visit from Author, Anne Stenhouse


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Today I have invited first time novelist, Anne Stenhouse, who is a performed playwright and has also published short fiction and articles. Anne is based in Scotland and began to write novels with a serious view to publication about six years ago. By joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, she took up their challenge of producing one book a year for reading by a novelist published in her genre. That floated around but is now firmly anchored in Historical romance.

Anne says:
MARIAH’S MARRIAGE started life in the New Voices first chapter competition of Mills & Boon and after visiting with one or two others, was picked up by MuseItUp of Canada. It was e-published by them on 3rd May and is available from their bookshop, from Amazon and from Barnes and Noble. Links below.
Anne has dropped by to share some Monday thoughts and a short extract from Mariah’s Marriage. She has a blog, Novels Now, and the link for that is also below.

Thanks for inviting me to visit, Lin.
My Monday thoughts are always full of how much I’m going to get done in the coming week. My Friday thoughts might reflect on why the list is still the same length although I spent the whole week chasing my tail. This week, I’m really, really going to start the new work in the right place and re-order the words already written.
Let me explain. There were two characters in Mariah’s Marriage who stayed with me after the book was completed. The lovely Judy Roth, my copy editor, made me understand their story more thoroughly and that process has lifted them from being just the sub-plot to rather important in my head.
Because they were in the earlier book, I thought I should begin in a follow-on fashion, but I now think I need to go back in time a bit and tell some of their story as a parallel to Mariah and Tobias.
I’m beginning to have superstitious shivers so won’t say any more. Here’s a wee taster of Mariah’s story.

Mariahs Marriage

Mariah reached out to catch the side of a screen. Instantly, her hand was
covered by a larger one. Tobias, she knew without looking. Comforting warmth
drove out the cold of shock and she gasped. How she had ached for his touch while
she lay prostrate. Now the moment was spoiled by a room pulsing with anger and
the frustrated hopes of others.
“Good morning, Mariah,” he said. “I am glad to see that your indisposition has
been relieved.”
She bridled at the words whispered into her ear because he was telling her that
he knew exactly what had caused her indisposition. How could he ignore the
allegations being made about him in order to chastise her?
“It may return at any moment, sir, when I am overcome by the scent of so
many blooms,” she said. His low chuckle inflamed her temper but he was moving
away from her and she took a seat as far away from the main group as possible.
The earl bowed to Jerome. “Sir, I would be glad to meet your relatives.”

For further details about Anne and forthcoming Maytime Blog Tour:

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=585&category_id=69&manufacturer_id=278&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

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Cover Reveal with Brook Cottage Books


Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to be part of the Cover Reveal for Goodbye, Henrietta Street by the lovely Lin Treadgold. Have a look at the amazing cover.

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Italian Meets Authors


When members and friends of the Romantic Novelists’ Association met for lunch in York on 22 March 2103, we weren’t sure if everyone could make it.  That morning the snow came down yet again and I waited at Jamie’s Italian Restaurant with some anxiety as to whether or not the event was going to be disppointing.  Oh ye of little faith!  Within half an hour and wearing boots and warm coats, the girls arrived by train and car. The day before, it had been a rough ride for me on the ferry from Holland. Janice Cairns came all the way from Scotland with hubby Archie. Author, Jean Fullerton spent a couple hours on the train from London. York is a very good venue for those living at opposite ends of the country.

In times such as these, it’s so refreshing to know that the RNA ladies never let you down!  It was an amazing afternoon, with people we had all either met before or for the first time through the internet.  Networking is so important, even in this most casual of environments.  The food was amazing and I hope we can do it again next year.  I want to thank all those who made the effort in the awful weather. The event was a huge success.

Below are L-R Shirley Dickson, Hazel Osmond and Christine Marples

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York Racecourse at 10am that morning

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In the  foreground are writers Lynda Stacey and  Angela Wren.  Background is author, Sylvia Broady, Chrissie Bradshaw, and soon to be published with Safkhet Publishing, Janice Cairns.

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L-R Alexandra Weston, Jane Lovering, Samantha Yagiz,  Jean Fullerton,  and Julie Heslington.

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Author interview with romance novelist and poet Lin Treadgold


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Author interview with romance novelist and poet Lin Treadgold.

Lin Treadgold

Lin Treadgold

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Notes From a Small Publisher


Kim Maya Sutton, Director and Managing Editor, provides an overview of her world at Safkhet Publishing.

First let me thank you, Kim, for taking time out from your busy schedule to do an interview on my blog.

No problem. After all, that’s part of my job description. It’s lovely of you to have me.

Safkhet was founded in early 2010. You have moved onwards and upwards at a steady pace despite the current global financial slowdown. What are your aspirations for Safkhet and what might you have learned from small publishers who have moved into recent decline? 

 The one thing my grandmother taught me was to never buy anything if you haven’t got the money for it. To us, as a small independent business, that means we will never invest in anything we cannot afford. It also means we will never invest in print runs that nobody actually ordered. Never mind that it would not be good for the environment either, it would seriously dent our account. At best, we print 100 books when we are not sure if there is a market for them and then go on and promote until we dream of nothing else anymore.

 I would like to ask what inspired you, over the last three years, to make a side-step in your career to move into publishing. What was it that helped you decide this was the way forward?

 Publishing is not a side step for me. I always wanted to be a journalist. When I was a kid, I worked for the school magazine and tried to figure out how to become something for which there isn’t even protection in the term itself. Anybody can call themselves a journalist. I could not find a decent school back then, and for an unpaid internship for three years, I did not have the funds. So, I did the logical thing (at least what I thought was logical) and became a computer scientist. Believing that computers are everywhere and it would be only good if I knew how to handle them, I learnt all about desktop publishing, graphics, etc. During my studies of computer sciences, I already worked as a freelance designer for company logos, brochures, booklets, computer handbooks, etc.

When love pulled me to Texas, I decided to study the US culture, acquire an American accent, write academic texts, study photography with a professional, and work on my art. All still with the one big goal in mind: to have my own company that combines everything I know and love. Back in Germany, I felt  I needed more of a stable economic background and hence studied international management (what with globalization and such, the international angle seems important). We already worked in publishing at the time, packaging, translating and editing for five major German publishers.

After my Bachelor, I applied at some very fine schools (Harvard, Cambridge, Napier, to name a few) for a Masters in Communication, Journalism, Publishing. I leaned back. convinced that nobody would have me, and ended up having to pick between all of them. I decided to go to Cambridge and get the MA in Publishing.Right after starting the program, we secured a small investment from a business angel and were hence able to open our own publishing house.

 

The Safkhet image is that of an Egyptian goddess of wisdom, books, and libraries. She is symbolised holding a palm stem, used to keep a record of the passage of time. In the next five years how you do see publishing as a whole, where do you feel the market is going with paperbacks versus digital? What is your own wisdom on the publishing industry?

 

I’d like to think of myself as wise, but alas, I am not. My grandfather was—he spoke Latin, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, German, Italian. He used to be a Jesuit monk, a POW, a paediatrician. I merely strive to see all I can in the time I have. Trying to see the future I do not. When something new happens, I just simply adjust and change. I am not scared of paper books vanishing. Should that happen, I’ll publish just digital books. Or maybe I’ll open a cookie restaurant. Or a dog-walking business. Or an art gallery. Maybe I’ll finally fulfil that other dream I always had and open a hotel with excellent food and an ocean view. Other people have wise things to say about where the publishing industry is going and I am boring my students to pieces regurgitating those thoughts—I better not do that to you and your readers.

 I note you keep close contact with your authors and never fail to return an e-mail within a few hours. Perhaps you might share some of your daily routine. What is a typical day for you?

 In the winter, the alarm goes off at 7 and we turn over and decide to go for a short nap. At around 8, we get up and do some gymnastics. The office manager at this point sits on one of the gym mats, staring at us trying to remind us that being in the office at 9 is a really helpful thing and that the beach walk takes an hour. We hurry out the door with an apple and go on said beach walk. This is where we hold our first editorial meeting, talking about what’s going on, discussing submissions, prioritizing what needs to be done, etc. Once back, we go to the office and carry out the plan. Being available to our authors and readers alike is on top of the list so my outlook, Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress are always open and I regularly check on them. In the meantime, I bounce back and forth between book production, lecture preparation and marketing/promotion work. We quite often work until midnight and in busy times do not really take a complete day off. Instead, we sleep in a bit longer, take a longer lunch break (in which we still talk strategy) and go home a bit earlier.

In the summer, the schedule just starts earlier. The alarm goes off at 5, we get up at 6 and we are in the office usually before 8.

On the subject of submissions, I know you are always keen to help new writers. What advice could you provide for the new writer who wishes to send a submission to Safkhet?

Follow our guidelines! It’s the most important thing to us.

Many new writers know very little about the role of a publisher and how the system works. What are the typical errors new writers make when submitting a manuscript to Safkhet?  What advice do you have in this respect?

 They don’t follow our guidelines. It’s easy though – so just do it.

As a publisher, what inspires you when you open a manuscript for the first time?

At first, I need a good synopsis. One that actually tells me what the manuscript is about rather than keeping me guessing. I am busy so I need this overview.As for the manuscript itself, I love it when they are simply formatted without frills. When the author has used the spellchecker at least. If the text on top of that is interesting, I am pretty likely to send a contract the author’s way.

I note on your website http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/index.htm Safkhet provides the author with the following services.

Marketing and publicity including media coverage, bookshop and library distribution, online promotion and global marketing where appropriate

Experienced editors with a track record in a broad range of topics

Thorough copy-editing and editorial guidance

High-quality production

Eye-catching jacket designs

Entry in our annual catalogue

Effective rights sales

Personal support after publication

As Safkhet Publishing grows in the coming months/years, do you plan to move from small to large publisher or are you content to remain ‘small independent publisher’ with a ‘family’ of authors?

We have absolutely no problem with growth, why should we? We are constantly looking for new authors, yet will always want them to integrate into the family of authors. One thing I would not really want is to be swallowed or merged or whatever by one of the big publishers. But to be perfectly honest, if the offer was good and all our authors wanted it, I’d probably do it anyway.

Your business partner is a lawyer, Will Sutton. What is Will’s role in Safkhet? I gather his knowledge of legal issues is very useful in the business. How does Will help you in the daily routine?

Will is an anthropologist and lawyer. He is the editor of the fantasy imprint and as such has the exact same responsibilities in the imprint that I do in Safkhet Soul. Additionally, he handles most legal issues and, believe it or not, he’s the website designer and webmaster. Because, although I studied computer sciences, I despise programming and leave my fingers off it when I can. I become cranky when I have to do it. The only exception is our company database, which I handle. Will knows nothing of databases. Anyway, otherwise, he’s the sales contact for bookstores and libraries while I am the promotion and marketing contact. That responsibility distribution is what works for us and our business partners so we went for it.

The Safkhet image is now moving forward at a steady pace. You have three main categories of genre. Safkhet Soul displays the stories that touch a place in the heart, Safkhet Fantasy, the choice for high quality fantasy titles, and Safkhet Select, the best of quality and innovatively different non-fiction. Are there any new genres planned for 2013?

No. If something strikes our fancy though, we have proven in the past that setting up an imprint can happen very fast.

Again, Kim thanks for sharing the inside secrets of the Safkhet Publishing success and I am sure our family of authors appreciate all the hard work you have done for them.

Thank you for having me!

Finally, my own book, Goodbye, Henrietta Street, is on the list of Safkhet Publishing authors. The book will be launched on 1st July 2013 and readers have the opportunity to support me and have their name inside the book if they order before 15 May 2013. If anyone is interested in doing this, check out http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/books/soul/9781908208149/Goodbye_Henrietta_Street.html

9781908208149 - Goodbye Henrietta Street cov

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On Becoming an Author


9781908208149 - Goodbye Henrietta Street cov

Due for publication 1st July 2013

I visited London in September to meet my Romantic Novelists’ Association colleagues; some for the first  time, others I have met before. They’re a jolly bunch of like minded people and we had a most enjoyable couple of hours together, with guest speaker Lyn Vernham from publisher Choc-Lit.

After a great summer and plenty of hard work, it was good to socialise again. Writing is a lonely occupation and thank goodness for Twitter and Facebook, but it still doesn’t make up for the cameraderie of meeting your colleagues face to face.

I’d had a few rejections, the usual stuff ‘ Sorry we cannot accept your submission at this time.’ Or ‘ Yes you can write really well but…’  I think I must have done twenty submissions before my novel began to create some interest. Three e-publishers wanted the book, but somehow this didn’t seem to suit what I was looking for – yes I really did turned down three publishers! ’ The contracts were either in the US and I didn’t want to be paid in dollars due to the exchange rate at this time, or the wording wasn’t suitable for my needs.

My friends at the RNA meeting prompted me to do another manuscript submission. A few days later I went through all the procedures again looking for the right publisher. I needed someone who understood what I wanted for my romance novel ‘Goodbye Henrietta Street’, someone who would appreciate my aspirations. This book was written as a holiday read, something to enjoy whilst sitting on the beach and not many publishers are interested in such a small market for this story, although once the novel is published on 1st July 2013, who knows how far it will travel? Within a day or so, I found a publisher who wanted to publish my novel, their aspirations matched my own and they accepted my submission.   With Safkhet Publishing, we are putting together a plan of action for next year and to date, it sounds exactly what I want. A book launch will be held on The Isles of Scilly and plenty of other great places to do book signings throughout the UK and if I happen to be in the USA, I can promote there too.

The novel is a romance saga located around the islands in Cornwall and in Whitby, Yorkshire where the title of the book is from a real street in that town. I am not looking for stardom and fame, and any new writer who thinks that way might need to think again. All I wanted was to find a publisher who would take a summer-read for tourists on the islands and to say thank you to the islanders for all their kindness and wonderful hospitality. Scilly is a very special place. It’s also a very romantic location and writing a romance surrounded by all the beauty of the islands seemed the right way to go. The other location in the book is Whitby,Yorkshire, written with all the memories of the area I used to live. Safkhet Publishing are very much into the environment, as is myself.  We seemed perfect for each other.  I support  nature as a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as well as the Natuurmonmenten in The Netherlands. Safkhet are very keen to make their contribution too.

My story begins as Pippa Lambton leaves her home after a tragedy, she is looking for respite and a time to reflect. On the Isles of Scilly she meets Sven Jorgensen, a bird watcher and naturalist who befriends her and shows her how to live again through the birds, scenery and wildlife. But during her visit what  has happened to her husband and best friends back home in Whitby? The man she met at the cemetery, was his comment her destiny?  Will the gorgeous Sven tempt her to take one step too far?

The story will allow visitors to the islands and to Whitby to retrace the steps of Pippa and Sven.  I hope they feel they were there too.

I would hope this book helps to advertise the Isles of Scilly at such a turbulent time. The helicopter will cease to operate this year, flights from Southampton and Bristol also. Transport will now be via flights from the south west of England, closer to the islands, and more tourists will travel with the ferry, Scillonian III. It’s not all gloom and doom. I am sure that by condensing the passengers into a smaller travel area will not stop people from visiting, but as yet this is something to be tried and tested.  I shall miss the helicopter very much and my flights from Southampton.

 I hope to go to Yorkshire next year too and take a journey to my own roots. More PR for the title of the book. I was born in Saltburn by the Sea and lived in various towns in the area throughout my life. I absolutely love the North Yorkshire Moors and when I go there I stay with a friend in the village of Commondale. My aim is to go back and see old friends and a couple of relatives and then finish writing my next novel.

To all new writers everywhere my message to you would be to keep going, decide what you want from your novel and stick with it.  Don’t be too possessive, allow critique to flow through you and out the other side, and learn from it. You will have to be thick-skinned. Without the Romantic Novelists Association I don’t feel I would have got this far. Being a member of an organisation is so very important if you want to get your book out there.  It helps you to understand the techniques required to make it all work. The RNA have their own New Writers’ Scheme, enabling the new writer to gain a full professional report each year on their novel until they find a publisher.

I wish every new writer success, just keep going.

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The Sue Moorcroft Interview – Confidence for New Writers


INTERVIEW WITH SUE MOORCROFT by Lin Treadgold

Romance author Sue Moorcroft writes an account of the days when she was once a new writer and joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Within the Association is the New Writers Scheme designed to help writers move their novels into higher places.

First, on behalf of the NWS Forum members I want to thank you for taking the time  to answer questions.

When I joined the RNA, one of the first authors I discovered was you.  How long have you been a member of the RNA and what have been the benefits for you?

That’s nice to know! I think I joined in 2000, but I didn’t keep a record.

One of the most important things the RNA did for me was to give me a ‘can do’ attitude. I was already writing short stories for weekly magazines and I desperately wanted to take the step into being a novelist. Sometimes it felt like the kind of thing that only happened to others – but then I met so many people who were actually DOING it that it gave me a change of mindset. I was going to do it, too.

Also, the RNA has educated me, and continues to educate me, about our genre and the publishing industry. It has given me loads of contacts and, most importantly of all, lots of friends. It has made me a part of a community.

It has taken me a very long to time to write my first book. There was so much to be learned.  Perhaps you would relate the story of your first attempt to write a novel.

I’m going to leave out of the equation the Famous Five rip offs that I wrote when I was in primary school! And the several books I began and threw away after about ten thousand words. The first book I completed was a fabulous experience. My children were small and ‘me time’ was at a premium, so I wrote it a few hours each week. The (cringe-making) title was ‘A Man of Strong Emotion’ and I remember the hero, Mitchell, better than the heroine, whose name escapes me. She had very long hair and didn’t wear a bra, I remember that much. I wrote on a typewriter (early 90s), wrote two drafts and sent the book out twice. The publishers in question couldn’t send it back fast enough! I was ignorant of the proper procedure, and they must have hated my ring binder and lack of return postage. But they were quite polite.

After I completed a second book that was just as unpublishable, I realised I needed education and I took a course. However, I have never enjoyed writing anything more than those first two books, when I had no idea about craft or technique or studying markets. I wrote just what I pleased, and it was mega.

If you were to give advice to anyone considering writing a book, what lessons have you learned from writing your first book?

Don’t do anything I did! Study the market, get educated, learn how to approach publishers in a professional manner. And don’t give up. (I did manage that part.)

How do you deal with juggling your home life and writing?

Writing is my job. I don’t really have to juggle. I work all day, just as if I was working in a bank again – but I work from home. Of course, it’s a flexible career, so if I want to go out one afternoon and work at the weekend, instead, I do. I work about fifty or sixty hours a week, and everything I do apart from actual writing is connected: judging, critiquing, tutoring, etc. I am proud to say that I have wriggled out of all proper jobs.

Many of our NWS members are in the process of submitting to publishers or are about to undertake submissions.  How many submissions per month would you consider is a feasible number?  This is a question I am often asked.

My rule was that I would only submit to one publisher at a time, but agents were fair game – I would submit to five of them at a time, feeling that if two offered to represent me from one batch, I’d jump that hurdle when I came to it. (It never happened.) Because I was writing short stories and, later, serials, at the same time, I always had stuff to be getting on with, and I had lots of submissions out at once. That means that one never loses hope.

 I see you have an international connection, not only your birth country Germany, but also Malta and Cyprus.  Have you used your travel experiences a lot in your writing and has this helped you to open your mind for the stories?

Being part of an army family does mean travel, but it’s travel of a certain type. We usually lived in barracks, so we took ‘home’ around with us, to an extent. Postings were for two or three years at a time and we never went back to the UK during a posting, although family members did come and visit. I don’t speak any languages other than my own and I’m afraid I was so young when I lived in Germany and Cyprus that I don’t remember them (although I’ve returned to Germany several times). I LOVE Malta, though, and it finds its way into my writing. I don’t know how many short stories I’ve set there, but my first published novel began and ended in Malta, two serials are set there (one fully, one partially), and the book after next is going to begin there, I think. I return to Malta whenever I can, and feel that part of my heart will always be there.

Your résumé of short stories for magazines is impressive. Did you begin writing short stories, in the early days, as a way of taking small steps into publishing?

Yes. I was given a book written by the late Nancy Smith and in it she said that if you could sell twenty short stories to national newsstand magazines, publishers of novels would begin taking you seriously. So, when I began my course, I concentrated on magazine fiction. By the time I ended the course, I had earned my course fees three times over – just as well as the school instantly went bust so they would never have kept their promise to reimburse me if I failed.

NB I had actually sold eighty-seven short stories and a serial by the time I sold the novel. Loosely, the strategy worked, but I got a bit behind schedule.

How much time do you spend on writing? 

Lots. Probably 60% of my working week. My aim is to drop the judging, critiquing and teaching, when possible, if only because of the deadlines, which can be stressful

When you first realised you wanted to be a writer, which writing skill did you find to be the most challenging?  For me it was Show/Tell.

Yes, that was a toughie. But sturdy, surprising plots were something I had to work at, too. I was a bit lazy and took the easy route, ie hackneyed, far too often. When I began to concentrate on plotting and originality, my work began selling. Also, I began to see the value of bigger conflicts, making the stakes high for the characters.

Now the question of rejections. Was Choc Lit your first publisher?   No doubt, you went down the usual path of rejections. So looking back, perhaps you could advise, based on your own experiences.

Uphill All the Way, was published in April 2005 by Transita. Although it had a strong romantic content, it was more of a family drama than my Choc Lit books. It was about the eighth I wrote, but the first published.

And, oh yes, I’ve had stacks of rejections. I was with an agent for about eight years and during that time two of my books went into five acquisition meetings between them, but were not bought. Then I went it alone and Choc Lit came along, wanting to publish exactly what I was happiest writing. They bought those same two books – Starting Over and All That Mullarkey. Between times, I wrote Family Matters, which was published in hardback by Robert Hale. It was later revised and published in paperback and e-book by Choc Lit, as Want to Know a Secret?

Also, my ‘how to’ book, Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction was published by Accent Press.

Advice? Don’t give up. Write from the heart but take the market into account.

‘Dream a Little Dream’ is the title of your latest book.

 

Dream A Little Dream
What would you give to make your dreams come true?
Liza Reece has a dream. Working as a reflexologist for a troubled holistic centre isn’t enough. When the opportunity arises to take over the Centre, she jumps at it. Problem is, she needs funds, and fast, as she’s not the only one interested.

Dominic Christy has dreams of his own. Diagnosed as suffering from a rare sleep disorder, dumped by his live-in girlfriend and discharged from the job he adored as an Air Traffic Controller, he’s single minded in his aims. He has money, and plans for the Centre that don’t include Liza and her team.

But dreams have a way of shifting and changing and Dominic’s growing fascination with Liza threatens to reshape his. And then it’s time to wake up to the truth…

This sounds a fascinating read.  I think there is always a story behind a story.  Did the idea jump out at you or did something inspire you?

It came from the most whimsical of beginnings. It’s the story of Liza, who is the sister of All That Mullarkey’s Cleo. So I already knew Liza, and that she was a reflexologist. I wanted to use an anecdote that was told to me about a reflexologist, at their first meeting, and I knew that Dominic needed to have some condition that couldn’t be cured. During an e-mail conversation with a writing buddy, we discussed  titles and how every single word has to be right for the genre. Further down the e-mail, on another subject, he said, ‘Life’s not a dream’. And I said, ‘Now “dream” would be a great word to have in one of my titles.’ And the idea flashed into my mind of giving Dominic narcolepsy, because of the sleep/dream connection. If I had understood how disabling and complex a condition it is, I might have given him something easier to handle! But I’ve been lucky to have tons of help from a guy, coincidentally also called Dominic, with the condition

Regarding your novel ‘Love and Freedom’  Published 01 June 2011 by Choc Lit.  What do think helped you to win Best Romantic Read Award?

A hot hero certainly didn’t hurt! Martyn Mayfair seems to be much loved by readers. Also, I was proud of the plotting in that book – I hid a couple of bombshells and they detonated. And I’d like to take the opportunity to say that I’d recommend winning an award to anybody. It’s the most amazing experience

Viewpoint, quite often. As I’ve appointed myself The Viewpoint Police, they probably get very tired of my pointing out their unnecessary changes of viewpoint or knowing the thoughts of man, woman and dog in one paragraph

When you read first-time unpublished novels, what are the most common faults that occur during the read?

Viewpoint, telling instead of showing, including things that don’t impact on the main thrust of the plot, using adverbs plus weak verbs instead of strong verbs, not giving their characters motivation for their actions.

So, for all our members in the New Writers Scheme and also for everyone else, what would be your personal message?

Educate yourself. Read ‘how to’. Buy writing magazines. Go to writing events, such as conferences and conventions or library talks. Meet authors and learn from them. Meet editors and agents and hit on them.

Don’t give up. I truly believe that the name for a writer who doesn’t give up is ‘published’. It worked for me.

Good luck.

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