Category Archives: Author Interview

Catch up with Rosemary

New York Orphan                  Rosemary                       Swanwick Rosemary

It’s my great pleasure to welcome another of my writing buddies onto the blog today. Rosemary Kind is editor of Alfie dog fiction site, where you will find lots of lovely short stories and books for download. Rosemary is also co-author with Patsy Collins of From Story idea to Reader. Looking forward to hearing about Swanwick as well.

First of all, I’d like to hear more about New York Orphan. I am lucky as I got to read this when it was an idea… Maybe you need to write, from novel idea to reader. Now look at me, I haven’t even offered you a cup of tea. Let’s put the kettle on, and get you one of my Caribbean nutty cakes and tell me how Daniel and his friends are going on…

cakes 2coffee-amp-biscuitHelp yourself to a cake or two.

New York Orphan is proving wonderfully successful for me. It’s far from being my first book, but all of a sudden readers are starting to find my work and it’s been very exciting. I was used to my books selling steadily but in relatively low numbers. Starting to find them selling in hundreds and dare I say it thousands rather than tens, is just an amazing feeling. I keep having to pinch myself.
I put my heart and soul into the book and even editing it was moved by the story I’d written. Having readers on both sides of the Atlantic feel the same way is very special.

It’s brilliant and I’m so proud to have read it early on, and I have heard a rumour that there will be a follow up. The cover image is a credit to the artist as well. And what’s going on at Swanwick? I’ve heard lots of people say it’s a great place to go. Can you tell us a bit more please? Go on, have another cake, they’re practically sugar free.

I’m very much looking forward to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. I went for the first time two years ago, in some trepidation. I’m never at my most comfortable with large groups of people and the thought of a whole week terrified me. What I had not thought about was the sort of people that would make up that group. As many other writers are very similar in character to me, it turned out to be the easiest company and very enjoyable. The creative energy is amazing, and I came away not only energised but making very clear to my husband that I would be going back the following year… and the next one…
So, here I am on year three and it is one of the highlights of my year. I’m running a workshop on Publishing this year so I can share what I’ve learned over the years with other writers.

That’s really good news, and makes me think I should be going there, if it weren’t for so much editing and writing to get on with I would definitely be joining you. Maybe one year soon. Thank you so much for popping in, and good luck with the workshop. Toodles for now, and talk again soon. xx

You can find out more about Rosemary and her writing here.

http://www.rjkind.co.uk

http://www.alfiedog.me.uk/

http://www.facebook.com/rjkind

 

 

 

 

 

Catch Up with Patsy

PatsyIt’s a real pleasure to welcome my writing chum to the blog today, and a job to catch Patsy, between travel trips and workshop days, so thanks for popping by for a bit of a gossip. I’ll put the kettle on and get you up to date with what’s been going on in my life lately and you wouldn’t believe it… but that can wait till later, how’s things with you?

coffee-amp-biscuitThe biscuit is just a starter, I knew you were coming so I baked a cake. And would you believe it I was in the middle of a good book – lots of short stories, oh, and one by the well known author, fancy that, it’s one of yours, Patsy. To be found here.

Digital imageDigital image

Now I happen to know you have a new collection of love stories recently published – With love and kissesPatsy's book.jpg I really love the cover and know your hubby Gary sometimes designs your covers – did he do this one? And this is the second love collection, with All that love stuff being the first. The cartoon images remind me of the LOVE IS, characters that were around in the 70’s.

All that love stuffThat’s enough of me doing all the talking, over to you – Patsy… Have you nodded off? Patsy my blog followers are waiting to hear from you. She’ll be okay in a moment, it must have been that huge slice of cake making her sleepy. Patsy will be with you in a moment. Please check back soon:)

Thanks for inviting me over, Suzy.
No, I’ve not nodded off – just saving my strength ready to dive into that yummy looking cake. Looks like we’re going to need a whole pot of tea to get through that!
Mostly I’ve been writing short stories lately, although I have been thinking about the two novels I have on the go. One is a romance involving horses … Hmmm, that doesn’t sound quite right, does it? It’s humans who’re doing the romance stuff. And there are horses.
The other one is a cosy crime story. That’s if it still cosy is cosy when there’s blood. I’m better at writing them than explaining them, honest!
Come on then, slice up that cake…

Oh, what were you saying??? Sorry was I snoring? Aren’t these lazy Sunday afternoons divine? that’s really interesting, but you know how it is when you’ve eaten too much cake. So lovely having you over, Patsy. Let’s do it all again soon. Must get clicking and buying some of your stories, travel safe to your next destination. That crime novel sounds interesting. Toodles for now. xxx

 

Welcome, Amanda Brittany

Amanda storyAmanda BrittanyAmanda interview

It’s a pleasure to welcome Amanda Brittany on to my blog today.
Hello, Amanda, thanks for agreeing to be my blog guest for January. I always enjoy your stories so it’s a real pleasure to chat to you about your writing.

It’s lovely to be here, Susan. Thank you for inviting me.

Q1/ Do you remember the first story that was accepted by People’s Friend, and how many submissions did you send them before they said, ‘Yes.’

A/ I sold my first story to The Friend in May 2012. It was called ‘Holly’s Harvest’ and I drew on memories of being a Brownie when I was a little girl. I’d only sent in three stories prior to that. But don’t be fooled. I’ve had lots of rejections from them since, and lots of rejections from other magazines too.

Q2/ I really enjoyed your recent serial, the one set in Weymouth. The newlyweds from the fifties were great sleuths. Is this an idea you’ve had for a while, and will there be more from the couple?

Mystery of room 4

A/ I absolutely love cosy crime, so I think the story was drawn from years of enjoying those kinds of books. I knew The Friend was looking for longer reads, particular murder mysteries, so gave it a go. Yes, I think I might be tempted to write more with the couple, as I enjoyed writing those characters, and felt they had more stories to tell. Although writing a murder mystery was very challenging.

Q3/ You write lovely period stories with great characters. Have you ever been tempted to elaborate on a short story for a novel length story?

A/ I have written a few stories that I’ve been tempted to expand, but have never done so. The novels I’ve written recently: Shadow Sisters (written with Karen Clarke) and Phototime, weren’t originally short stories.

Q4/ I’ve read your stories in several of the Annuals. How far in advance do you submit these to editors?

A/ Holly’s Harvest appeared in the 2014 Annual. So you don’t really submit for the annual, as such. The Friend’s editors buy your story, and then decide if they will use it for the annual.

Q5/ How does your writing day go? Is there a set routine you follow, or is it something you get down to when you feel in the mood?

A/ I write better in the mornings. On good days, I will write a story or a chapter of my novel. Frustratingly, there are a lot of bad days, where ideas won’t come, or I’m getting in a muddle with the plot, or I finish a story and decide it’s awful. But I refuse to let those days beat me, and find reading magazines or novels really helps. Or just taking myself out and about, doing something different, or listening to people. I’ve written many short stories that have been triggered by a single sentence I’ve overheard. On days when the writing doesn’t flow, I will edit or rewrite old stories, so I feel I’m being sort-of productive. It’s SO easy to procrastinate.

Q6/ / what advice would you give to writers who submit stories and keep getting rejections? Apart from stop doing it)

A/ Ooh, NEVER EVER stop doing it! I read somewhere that the only writers who don’t succeed are those who give up trying. And never forget when those horrid envelopes drop on your mat, that the most prolific writers get rejections too.
There are ways of upping your chances of success, although I’m sure they are all pretty obvious really:-

Read the magazines you hope to sell to (or the style of novel you are writing)
Attend magazine writing workshops.
Find a fabulous writing buddy, or writing group. It doesn’t matter how good your writing is, another pair of eyes is so helpful. Sometimes we are too close to our own writing to spot the the most most obvious errors. Did you see what I did there?
Read books on writing for women’s magazines, and books on writing generally.
Follow helpful blogs on writing.
Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism. (Develop a thick skin!)
Keep up to date with magazine requirements.
Attending a writing course really helped me, but I don’t think everyone needs one.
Write from the heart, and really get to know your characters.
And obviously – Never give up!

Thanks for sharing your writing life with us, Amanda, and good luck with the books.

To follow Amanda and her writing, click on the links below.

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Mandymand

FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/amandatimoney2

BLOG SPOT: http://www.writingallsorts.blogspot.com

A Touch of Snow

It was such a miniscule amount that I took a picture to prove it. And we went a walk round the block to blow away a few cobwebs.

Here’s our local postbox where I pop in all my submissions and ideas to editors. Doesn’t it look good with a snow hat on.

Post box

Here’s the next paragraphs of chapter 1 of book 2 in the Redington Series.

 

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We left off where Stanly the milkman was chatting to Janice in the grocery shop in the village about the new houses, flats and bungalows being built on the other side of the town.

 

“Not many around here think like you do; and not sure how long I’ll be able to keep going with my rounds. Mind you, saying that, a couple of young wives stopped and asked if I’d call twice a week with bread and milk, so you never know. Their hubby’s work on the roads over in Peterborough; tricky for them to get out early, especially if the babies are sleeping and them without transport. That’s what they were telling me. And with the shop being over this end of the village, makes it easier if I drop milk off.”
“That’s good news. It wouldn’t be the same without you and your deliveries. On the downside, there’s a new row of shops going up on that estate as well, so that might affect us in the long run.” Janice took a deep breath, and ran her tongue along her lip. “According to Jack, he’ll keep on doing the same as he’s always done, he doesn’t seem worried. I’ve spoken to him about expanding. I’m sure it could work.”
The door to the back of the shop banged open. The thin youth with ragged jeans and red and white sweatshirt made his way behind the counter, and picked up the delivery book. He glanced up, “Hi, Stanley, fancy taking a couple of small boxes for me. I’ve got the fruit and veg deliveries today. You know how they’d rather have you bringing them their jammy dodgers than me,” he grinned. “Sorry, did I interrupt something?”
Richie had dark brownish hair that sometimes hung lankly around his ears. On other occasions it stuck up, having a complete life of its own. His hazel eyes were enquiring and always darting from left to right, keeping an eye on every inch of the shop at the same time, Jack was teaching him to become shop manager, only everyone knew Janice held the fort more often than not.
“I was telling Stanley about Jack taking on a shop unit on the new estate. They’re not that big, and we’ve got all the stock and that new delivery van. It makes sense to me, only Jack doesn’t like changes, does he, Richie?”
“Not much. Let’s face it; took him three years to get me a van. He had me going round on that flipping great bike while I was the apprentice, with the basket on the front like an offspring of Granville.”
Janice chuckled, “Mm, I did hear you being called that once or twice. You have to admit it’s an idea though eh?”
“I’m sure you’d manage it between you. Anyway, if the young Royal is going to be attending that new nursery school in Redington, more people might want to come over here to live. We’ll have the television cameras here, Janice; better get your roots done.” Stanley put his cup down and made for the door swiftly managing to duck the pack of crumpets Janice hurled his way. He reached up and caught them in his left hand, then threw her a wink at the door and he was gone.

****************************************************************************

Wordcount is 3,127 and I’m at the end of chapter 1 and got titles for the other chapters and a basic outline worked out. It may change from this, but it’s getting the skeleton story down at the moment. I’m aiming to get another chapter done during next week. More paragraphs of chapter one posted next weekend.

Watchout for People’s Friend author interview, coming soon. Amanda Brittany will be here to tell us more about her writing. Something to look forward to so check back here soon. Have a great week…

Lads night out

It’s the lads night out tonight, after a flying visit up the motorway, they’re off to see the dog racing, place a few bets and have some beers. They were in such a hurry that Alan gave them a lift so they wouldn’t miss the coach.

Iwan going outAlan going out

They bundled into the car so fast I only captured a shot as they left. Our Son turned and waved, but my useless camera wasn’t fast enough to capture that. I did take them by surprise as well though.

I’ve just lit the coal fire, which reminds me,

FIRE

Following on from the promotion of FIRESTARTER, latest novel by Patsy Collins, I promised there would be a visit from Alice and Hamish, main characters in the book.

Unfortunately, Alice sent this message earlier in the week..

————————————————————
Hi again, Suzy Doodling!

I’m really sorry, but I can’t come today after all. Tony has arranged for us to go to an art gallery and then to dinner at Luigi’s. I was sure he said it was tomorrow, but I’d just got my invite to the school reunion and was wondering who else would show up, so I might have been a bit distracted. Not that I was thinking of anyone in particular …

Really dissapointed as I was looking forward to rummaging in your drawers! lol! Reckon you might have had something to go with my mad orange jumper. We’d have mad a fab double act. I’d better go with him though, Tony’s sooooo moody if he doesn’t get his own way.

Sorry to leave you to cope alone with a hunky fireman – poor you, eh? 😉

Alice Xxx

What a shame she can’t pop in, and Hamish has gone out with the lads; never mind, now here’s another text message..

————————————————————————–

Hiya, Suzy! I’ve got good news for you. Hamish is busy so I’m coming to see you instead!

Brace yourself!!!

Jeff x

————————————————————————

Oh, there’s a knock at the door now, wonder who that is?

So, it’s Jeff, Hamish’s mate, how are you?

Wellll hellllo, Suzy! Tell you the truth I was wondering what I’d let myself in for when Hamish talked me into coming to see you. Once he told me he was taking me to see some birds and they really were! The kind with feathers on! That’s where he was today – down the sanctuary. There’s bad weather coming in so he’s doing something or other to keep the birds safe. Once he told me about you I wasn’t paying attention to that and I see for once he wasn’t having me on. You’re lovely!

Let me tell you I’m happily married, Jeff, and Alan wouldn’t want any funny business, so watch it. Hamish did call by, but he went off on the lads night out. Shame you missed that Jeff, never mind. Come on in for a chat then, seeing as Hamish sent you, you’ll have to take those muddy boots off though.

Thanks, Suze. I’ll just take my boots off – my very big boots if you catch my drift …

fireman bootsOh, married? Right. Oooops. Still can’t blame a man for trying, eh?

Wow! Look at all that grub! For me? Thanks very much, saving lives is hungry work!

corned beef piesgingermen

Pile it high and give it a try.

How long have you known Hamish?

Oh ages! Since we were kids, but we’ve been great mates since we both joined the fire service. We trained together and we’ve had each other’s backs ever since – on watch or off.

Did you always want to be a fireman?

Pretty much, yeah. I know how you ladies love a hero!

How does your wife cope with you doing such a risky job?

No lovely girl has got that lucky yet. Our mate William is married and I suppose his poor missus might worry now and then, but me and Hamish and the rest of Red Watch look out for each other and though we’re dead brave, we’re sensible too.

I know that look – you’re amazed I could be single and wondering which of your friends is lovely enough to introduce to me, aren’t you?

Oh, you’re not. Oh, OK.

Have more tea and food, there’s plenty left, go on, go on, go on… oh and by the way, do you find people stop and stare when the fire engine goes past in Hampshire?

Well yeah, I’m on board aren’t I? And oddly some girls look at Hamish too. Can’t think why. He’s all broad shoulders and so tall they could get a crick in their neck, all that blond curly hair and … makes me sick! But I’m handsome too in my own way, don’t you think?

Sorry, didn’t quite catch that. I’ll take it as a yes.

Oh, what’s that, you’ve been called away, no, don’t worry, I’m not in the least worried, I’m glad, I mean glad that you’ve got somewhere else to be that’s important, thanks Jeff for popping by….

I asked him earlier for any hints and tips on fire safety, he gave me this link.

Keeping safe over bonfire night

Firestarter_cover

To order the book, click on the cover, have a great week.

A Man in Uniform

Hello, lovely blog followers, and new ones as well. It’s busy here at Jonesey Mansions, Alan’s painting doors, I’ve been for an early morning swim, while he had a routine check at the Doctors and back home for breakfast. Now to update the blog, then it will be time for coffee break and the cryptic crossword, that’s more Alan’s thing, I’ll be reading.

My writing buddy, Patsy Collins is launching her latest novel ***FIRESTARTER*** on 5th November and to help celebrate, I’ve asked Hamish and Alice to put in an appearance. This should be by the end of next week, so now you can see why we’re tidying up and getting everywhere spick and span for the bonfire party.

Oh, hang on, a text message has just come through, I must share it with you…

**************************************************************************

Dear Suzy, thank you so much for inviting me on to your blog to talk about firework safety. I’d love to. I know your son is a fellow firefighter and of course you’re a great friend of Patsy’s, so you’re almost part of the family.  Thanks for helping her with the research – that meant I got a good bunch of mates to work and socialise with as well as plenty to eat. Very important for morale, that.

I hear Alice Bakewell will be popping in too. I remember her from school, sweet kid but a bit shy. It’d be nice to meet her again and see how she’s turned out.

Look forward to meeting up with you soon!

Hamish Mustarde

x

*******************************************************

Isn’t that brilliant and hopefully we’ll get Hamish to expand on what he remembers about Alice from school. I plan to make sausage and chunky home made chips; they’ll be wrapped in paper, the old-fashioned way. These firemen like traditional things I’ve heard. And as I’m in the middle of this, Alice has texted back as well. Glad to know they’re keen to meet up. Here’s what she says…

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‘Hi Suzy Doodling!
Thanks for those lovely boots with the furry tops, really cool. Well, cosy-cool, you know what I mean!
Hope this isn’t too cheeky, but I heard about your famous green smoothies and Patsy said maybe you’d make me one. She reckons they’re the opposite of Dad’s wine – that looks great but tastes flippin’ awful. Your smoothies look odd, but taste pretty good and they’re healthy too. Would you?
Oh, btw I heard there might be a fireman or two round your place soon. Maybe I could pop round that day? Not because I have a thing about firemen or anything. You know that’s just a rumour. Mostly anyway. Just thought it’d be a good time.
I could bring cakes. Home made obvs. What kind do you like best? And the firemen, what would they like?
Alice
xxxx

p.s. These firemen … do they have muscular thighs? I mean, I just wondered uh … because if they do, they’ll probably need extra cake.

Alice
x

**************************************************************************

Hang on while I send Alice a message back,

Dear Alice,

You’re welcome for the boots, but I have better ones than, for you to borrow. Tell you what, come a bit earlier, and you can have a root around in my wardrobe. From what Patsy tells me, I think we share the same dress sense. There are other things you might like to borrow, and yes, deff bring cakes, but… I’ve heard the firemen like flapjacks and shortbread. They are into the healthy eating, (obviously) it was them who told me about the green smoothies you mentioned. Bring the sprout wine, sounds yuk, but my geraniums need a bit of a pick-me-up, so they might like a drop. So so so looking forward to meeting you, and hope that boyfriend of your doesn’t object to you coming all this way. I’ve heard he likes to keep tabs on you. All for now, Suzy. xx

P.s. Yes, they have big muscles, Alice, from working out at the gym in-between shouts.

*********************************************************

Phew, it’s all go as I said earlier, and I’ve got lots of sticks for the open fire, after knocking down that old shed. A few doors down, the working men’s club has a bonfire, so no need for us to do one, we get to see that, and the firework display is amazing. Then again, when I get the crackling fire going and settle down with ***FIRESTARTER*** the night will go with a bang.

Join me and make Patsy’s rom/com rocket up the Amazon charts….. You can pre-order it here…..

Firestarter_coverDon’t miss this crackling read, fun and frolicks and come back next week to see what Alice and Hamish have to say when they meet up. Now I must get on and make gingerbread, brandysnaps oh, and get the spirulina in ready for the smoothies.

Until next time, keep safe, and get ready for the fire safety talk as well.

Welcome, Glynis Scrivens

visiting CanberraIt’s a pleasure to welcome, Glynis on to my blog today, all the way from Australia. You’ve come a long way, Glynis, so take a seat, and I’ll pour the tea while you have a chat about your writing.

1. Do you remember the first short story you sold to a women’s magazine? Which one was it, and what was it about?

My first sale was to Australia’s Woman’s Day magazine. The story was called “A Red Rose”, a romantic twist. The setting is a wedding. When the bride walks down the aisle, she has to force herself to keep her eyes on the groom. She’s actually in love with the best man, her ex, and hadn’t known he’d be here. Then the director says, “Cut”. Between scenes being filmed, she and her ex sort things out.

2. Are there many markets in Australia for short stories, and how do they differ from U.K. ones?

That’s Life and Fast Fiction are our major magazine markets. They seem similar to Fiction Feast, but with fiction editors changing quite frequently, there’s always a chance to offer previously rejected stories. Take 5 Fiction Feast is a newcomer but essentially uses stories from the UK Fiction Feast, sourced directly. We also have magazines such as Cosmos which publish sci-fi. And a growing number of literary magazines such as Wet Ink and Positive Words. There are other magazines which use stories but have no dedicated fiction editor and approach writers rather than being open to general submissions. Family Circle is an example.

3. I enjoyed your story in Iain Patterson’s Quintessentially Quirky tales book. I may even start sewing dolls of certain people as well, but put them in the garden instead. How did the story in his collection come about? They’re all good stories in there by the way.

I was tired and irritable from lack of sleep when I wrote that story. We’d driven down into northern New South Wales and were staying in a small cottage on a farm. As soon as I went to bed, there was a huge storm. Windows rattled, the wind howled outside, and I ended up with only a few hours sleep. Probably nearly as disgruntled as my character, Connie.

I’d brought a beret I was knitting…

And I felt angry. A bus had hit the new Peugeot a friend had lent us, causing quite a bit of damage along one side. The powers that be denied there’d even been a bus in the street at the time, despite the fact we’d both seen it. My husband had actually been in the car at the time it was hit, and I’d written down the number.

So I needed somewhere to put my anger – and by coincidence one of Connie’s victims may have had the same name as one of those concerned…

4. Above my desk there’s a poster with the article in Writers’ Forum. There’s you, me, Della and Teresa. That was really exciting for me to be with three special writers. We spoke about e-publishing there. Is this something you’ll be doing more of as short story markets seem to be shrinking?

To be honest I can’t see me doing much of this. With short story markets shrinking, and fewer opportunities to resell stories to several magazines, my focus has started to shift to non-fiction. I’ve always enjoyed writing articles. It’s nice to have a certain sale when you write something that’s been commissioned. So in my spare time, I’m reading books like Simon Whaley’s The Complete Article Writer and Deborah Durbin’s So You Want To Be A Freelance Writer?

Having said that, I want to put together some books of my published stories, mainly for family and friends. I might as well put out eBook versions of them. My daughter’s come up with a wonderful cover for me too. I’m aiming to have the first one ready before Christmas.

5. Looking forward to reading Edit is a four letter word. Can you tell us about the new book? What or who inspired you to write it, and what will be next?

I suppose once the title popped into my head one night – as it did! – I wanted to use it. So my antennae were alert when there was something on the Compass Books Facebook page about wanting an editing book for writers. It was more coincidental timing than inspiration really.

Once I got the go-ahead, I kept the younger generation of my family in mind. We’re a family full of creatives – drawing, painting, dancing, music, woodworking, photography. Some already have unfinished manuscripts sitting in drawers.

I’m hoping my experiences might be of help. And I’ve tried to include as many other writers as was feasible. Editing is an individual thing and we each have to find our own way.
There are no plans for a next book. But if the right idea and opportunity come along again it’s something I’d enjoy doing.

Edit is a Four-Letter Word - cover imageBuy the book here

To pay a visit to Glynis’s website, click on this link

Thank you, Glynis for taking time to pop in today, and good luck with the new book. It’s on my list already.

Here it is…

coverThe new cover of my latest e-publication. Don’t you just love it? I know I do, and it’s exactly how I wanted it to be.

A collection of 9 stories set in my favourite made up village in mid-Norfolk.

So far, it’s available on Amazon.com and soon will be on the .uk one as well. Here…

Nine stories in all, ending with The Wedding… It’s taken a while, so at last I can get on with something else now. Like the serial for People’s Friend magazine, and a story for the Alfie dog competiton.

Coming next week, interview with Glynis Scrivens and all about her latest book, which I need to get. Edit is a four letter word.

Welcome, Joanne Fox

DSCF2493DSCF2476

It’s a pleasure to welcome fellow blogger, Joanne Fox on to my blog today.
Joanne, I always enjoy your stories, which I’ve read in People’s Friend and the other magazines as well, glad you could pop over and tell us more about your writing.

  • Suzy/ Do you remember the first story you ever had accepted in a woman’s magazine? Which magazine was it, and what was the story about?
  • Jo/ Hi Suzy and thanks for inviting me to be your guest today.
    The first women’s magazine to publish me was Woman’s Weekly early in 2006. The story was called ‘The Thought That Counts’. It was about a widower who was worried about introducing his new lady-friend to his sister.
  • How this story came to be accepted was, I had entered it for the Frome Festival Short Story Competition the previous year. It didn’t win anything, but was among a batch of stories forwarded by the organisers to Woman’s Weekly for consideration. I was then extremely lucky to receive a phone call from the magazine, saying they wanted to buy it.
  • In 2007 I entered the competition again – and won! Frome was very good to me, and I definitely recommend putting it onto your writing calendar for next year. Even if you don’t win, you may still get yourself noticed.
  • Suzy/ I know from following your blog, that you sometimes have a writing break, and lovely sewing you’ve been doing as well. What was it that got you back writing again?
  • Jo/ It’s not unusual for me to take a break from writing every few months. Mostly, after two or three weeks of not writing, I feel a sort of tension building up in my head. I think that if I don’t start writing again, I might actually kill someone!
  • I did have a longer break this winter – the longest in many years. It wasn’t planned, but I was really enjoying doing more hands-on creative things. I have the mixed blessing of a day job, so if I stop writing it doesn’t necessarily spell financial ruin. Quite naturally I reached a point where I wanted to be writing once more, and I came back to it refreshed.
  • Writing demands a lot of concentration, and also some digging around in your own life for experiences that you can draw on. Although the ideal may be to write every day, sometimes events knock you off balance, or you just feel mentally tired. I think it’s good to take a break. Try new things. Clear your head. If the writing is in you, you will always return to it.
  • Suzy/ Do you plan your story before you start, or do characters form, and then you let it develop as you write?
  • Jo/ My initial starting point is most often a setting or situation that I want to write about. As I let it roll round in my mind, characters appear, and they really lead the story.
    If I find a story isn’t working, usually it’s because I don’t know the characters well enough. What’s driving them? Why do they feel the way they do?
  • At this point I need to go back and rethink. I might do something like a storyboard, cutting out pictures from magazines that relate to my setting or characters. This helps me to clarify things in my mind.
  • It might be more logical to do the storyboard first, but I do better by getting the momentum going with some writing. I love that first buzz of a new idea. It’s like rocket fuel!
  • Suzy/ How long normally would it take you from the first idea, to when the story is ready to submit?
  • Jo/ If it’s a very short story, say less than 1,000 words, I can often scribble a sketchy first draft in a day. Then it will be at least a week before I send it out, to allow for general improvements, tightening up and tidying.
  • At the other extreme, there have been rough ideas or first drafts sitting in my drawer for years. Suddenly I will reminded of one of them. Perhaps something happens to provide the missing link, or I see a new angle, or maybe I decide to tell the story from a different point of view. Though the story might have been a decade in the making, it’s quite quick to finish it off once I pick it up again.
  • Occasionally I write stories set in the 40s/50s/60s. I enjoy these, and would like to write more historical fiction, but the research required adds on a lot of time. Perhaps this is something I’ll do more of in the future.
  • Suzy/ Harvey must be a great inspiration for your stories. Have you any golden retriever stories in the pipeline? The mirror one on your blog is hilarious.
  • Jo/ Harvey had a starring role in one of my People’s Friend Christmas stories a couple of years ago, and the illustrator did a fabulous job. It’s always exciting to open a magazine, and see how your story appears on the page. With this one, as soon as I saw it, I said, “It’s Harvey!”
  • A good thing about dogs is, they make you go out and walk in all weathers. When you’re walking you’re also observing, and chatting to other dog-walkers. I often find ideas that way, so it’s likely that Retrievers and Labradors will continue nosing into my stories.
  • Suzy/ When you’re in a writing mood, how does it fit into your day? Are you an early morning writer, or late night one, or whenever?
  • Jo/ Unfortunately I am neither a lark nor an owl, as I need plenty of sleep! What works best for me is doing some writing first thing. That’s about 7a.m. in my case. If it’s a work day I may only manage twenty minutes or half an hour.
  • As long as I’ve done some morning writing, even if it’s been a short spell, I can always carry on with it later in the day. However, if for some reason I’ve missed doing any morning writing, it feels incredibly hard to make myself sit down and start. All sorts of mundane tasks take on urgent importance, and I easily can fritter away time.
  • Now I am in writing mode again, I’m trying to be disciplined about that morning writing. It seems the key thing for me. Apart from adding a few words to my current story, it also feels good preparation for whatever else that day brings.
  • Thank you, Suzy. It’s been fun, except for the trials of taking a decent photo of myself in the rain!
  • You look stunning, and so does your garden.

Alfie dog competition

Are you all having a go at the Alfie dog writing competition? Read all about it here. I’m planning my entry and the prizes are amazing so if you’re a writer of short stories, you’d have to be mad not to try it. And, the entry fee is downloading 5 different author stories.

If you wanted to download any of mine that are on there, here’s the link showing you where to find them. Great news is that another story of mine, Seeds of Friendship, will be published on Wednesday 5th August.

Today, we’ve been in the garden, cutting the hedge, so it looks all neat and lovely for a while. Sweet peas are growing and a sun-flower has appeared like magic amongst them. I’ll get a pic when they’re flowering. Pink geraniums are blooming lovely, and our patch of scented pinks make the air smell divine when you pop out to have a relax with cup of coffee.

A few stories have gone out, and one back from take a break fiction feast. It’s a story I like, even though it was written when we had a theme going on in our online writing group. That makes it special, as it wasn’t going to be written otherwise. Now it’s gone off somewhere else. Reading some good books as well, and short stories.

No news on the novel yet, but no news is good news they say. So fingers are still crossed, and toes as well.

Sue in garden
Relaxing while dreaming up my Alfie dog story.

Great author interview coming soon. The lovely Joanne Fox has agreed to be my guest later on this month. So glad she’s back blogging in time to pop over and talk about her writing.