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

Welcome, Keith Havers.

It’s time for the September People’s Friend Author interview, and I’m pleased to welcome Keith Havers on to my blog this month.

Keith Havers.                              Digital imageWP_20140909_16_34_34_Pro

 

He’s the first male author to feature on here since I began doing this back in the springtime. And, hot off the press, I hear that he has recently had an email from People’s Friend editor Shirley Blair accepting another story, so that’s good timing for the interview.

This was the first story I read, and enjoyed with your name on…granny at bus stop
S/  I read about the lady at the bus stop story, and enjoyed it. There was no idea of the twist coming. What gave you the idea for this story?
K/ I can’t remember exactly where the original idea came from but it started out as a very different story. My first attempt had the old lady as a slightly confused individual who absent-mindedly collected various items from the people she spoke to at the bus stop. I think it was a scarf from the young woman, the business man’s mobile phone and the little girl’s doll. Although the main character was acting in all innocence, the idea of a befuddled old lady didn’t go down very well at The People’s Friend. Editor Shirley Blair liked the writing though and suggested I give it another try. So I changed it to the old lady recruiting people to help out in the village.
S/  Was that your first People’s Friend submission, and how long had you been sending them stories before your first acceptance?
K/ It certainly wasn’t my first submission. On looking through my records I see that I tried twice in 2008 followed by another three attempts in 2011 before achieving success in March 2012. I think I was having trouble hitting the right tone for People’s Friend so I was concentrating on other markets.
S/  I know you write for several other magazines, how does writing for People’s Friend differ from say, Yours or Woman’s Weekly?
K/ The Friend stories have to be upbeat and have a happy ending. You need a conflict, of course, in order to create a story but you have to tread a fine line. Yours magazine are very clear on the sort of thing they like. They’re not very far removed from People’s Friend in that they like nostalgia stories and those that involve relationships across the generations. I’ve had a few successes with them with ‘grandson’ stories similar to The Rainbow Baby.
Take A Break are very different. Their stories can be edgier and themes can include romance, the paranormal and even murder.
With their readership split between the sexes, The Weekly News also accepts a wide range of stories.
I’ve submitted to Woman’s Weekly several times with no success so I’ve obviously not figured out their exact requirements yet.

 

S/  Does your Grandson know he’s an inspiration for your writing, I loved the knitting story, and what does he think of his Grandad, the storyteller?
K/ Finlay is eight years old and he’s well aware of his influence. In fact I used his real name in one of my stories that appeared in Yours magazine. He’s pretty blasé about it though. He’s more interested in playing football with me.
S/  Do you have a set time for People’s Friend writing, and a target number for submissions; or do you write when you feel the mood?
K/ I have a part-time ‘proper’ job which means I can be called out at a day’s notice so I’m never sure when I’m going to have time for writing. I try to maintain a situation where I have several submissions to various magazines out there. However, since I have now accumulated the grand total of five successes with People’s Friend I’m thinking of concentrating a little more of my time in that direction.
S/  How does it feel to be a male People’s Friend writer in a world that is quite strongly female dominated; (not with dominating females, I hasten to add) And have you ever been tempted to write under a female pen-name?
K/ While The Friend readership may be predominantly female the stories can be about men. Also, many of my stories would work just as well with either a male or a female protagonist so I don’t really have a problem. I have found the womag community very helpful and the fact that I am a man doesn’t appear to matter.

 

I attended a workshop at Nottingham Writers’ Club where I am a member. The tutor was Bead Roberts, a name which I’m sure will be familiar to many of your readers. I asked her about using a pseudonym and she had no hesitation in advising me to use my real name. Soon after that workshop I had my first acceptance and I keep Bead regularly informed of all my successes.
It was quite a struggle to get accepted for People’s Friend but once I had made the breakthrough I found Shirley Blair to be extremely helpful. If your submission is good but not quite acceptable she will e-mail you and let you know where you’ve gone wrong. She allowed me to have three attempts at one of my submissions before it was accepted. In fact, she made a special point of congratulating me that The Rainbow Baby was the first time I got through at the first attempt. None of the other magazines have done this.
I think that the one strength I do have is perseverance. If I had been less determined I would have given up a long time ago. So my advice for those still struggling is to keep sending in those submissions.
Take a look at Keith’s Blog here – Dream it, then do it

You can find him on Twitter here @KeithHavers
Thanks Keith for agreeing to this, and since I put these questions together, I notice from the People’s Friend blog, that Shirley Blair is asking for more male writers. So, hope to see a lot more of your stories in our favourite story magazine Keith, and maybe I should be Steven instead of Susan…

Welcome, Samantha Tonge.

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Hello Samantha,

thank you for popping in to tell us about your story writing for People’s Friend. Glad you agreed to this interview, and look forward to learning more about you and your writing.

 
Thank you very much for having me!

 
Sue/ Can you remember the first story you sold to People’s Friend?

 
Sam/ Yes, I think it was a Christmas one I called Good Times, about a mother reflecting on how times change. For the first time she wasn’t hosting Christmas Day and found it difficult.

 
Sue/ Did you send in many stories before getting an acceptance?

 
Sam/ Not too many – but then I had spent years writing novels beforehand, to hone my skills. Also, I belonged to an online writing group with other magazine writers, who were so helpful at giving me a few pointers. Then, somehow I just clicked with the People’s Friend and really enjoy writing for them.

 
Sue/ You’ve written more than one story lately about Goth teenagers in love. Do you have one in your family?

 
Sam/ Very perceptive! Not a Goth, as such, but one of my teenagers loves wearing black and used to sometimes look similar to the Goth style. I went through a similar stage myself, at university! My father used to despair of the lack of colour in my wardrobe (he is a very colourful golfer.)

 
Sue/ I’ve read more than one of your stories in People’s Friend about Grandchild/Grandparent relationships. Did these have to be altered at all for publication, or were they accepted exactly how you submitted them?

 
Sam/ They were mostly accepted as I submitted them. I love writing about that kind of relationship, across the generations – I think both age-groups can learn something from the other.

 
Sue/ Your cowboy stories are lovely, with great atmosphere and descriptions. How do you know the details are correct when writing about the 1800’s?

 
Sam/ Thank you! Well, I do Google an awful lot! And I had already done some research for a cowboy novel I thought I might write, at one stage.

 

Sue/ I noticed you’d written a children’s story in an issue some time ago as well. Is this something you’d like to do more of, or was it a ‘one off?’

 
Sam/ It’s a matter of time now, what with the novels – but I do LOVE writing for children, it is huge fun and lovely to think of youngsters enjoying the story at bedtime.

 
Sue/ I can’t let you go without asking about the new book release. Without giving too much away, can you tell us anything else besides that it’s set in Paris?

 

Sam/ It is the standalone sequel to my debut, Doubting Abbey. Lord Edward has just proposed to fun-loving Gemma, but she is not sure whether to settle down. Their trip to the City of Love unexpectedly complicates matters, as do her new friendships with a mysterious spy called Joe and a very appealing rockstar, Blade!

 
Thanks Samantha for popping in and for giving us a bit more insight to your writing.

 

For tips on writing for The People’s Friend, why not visit this page on my website? http://samanthatonge.co.uk/page7.php
The most important piece of advice I can give is not to stereotype The People’s Friend as a magazine for inactive, old people. I’ve sold stories about characters of all ages, and the older ones go speed-dating, go-karting, use the internet and have mobile phones…

You can find out more from the links below.

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaTongeAuthor

Twitter, https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

Website, http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Amazon UKhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Paris-Love-Samantha-Tonge-ebook/dp/B00KYU49XK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1407231231&sr=8-3&keywords=from+paris+with+love

Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Love-Samantha-Tonge-ebook/dp/B00KYU49XK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1407231287&sr=8-3&keywords=from+paris+with+love