Tag Archives: People’s Friend

Welcome, Amanda Brittany

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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?

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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

Blog update

 

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Popping in to update the blog as I’ve been quiet on here lately. Busy reading, and doing other things like knitting something small for someone special. A People’s Friend pattern looked good, so having a go at that.

This is what I’m attempting and done the back so far.

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What I’ve been reading lately, is Dishing the Dirt, M.C. Beaton, In like Flynn, Rhys Bowen and also catching up with several weeks of People’s Friend and Fiction feast, My Weekly and Woman’s weekly fiction magazines.

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It takes a while to catch up with the latest magazines, but being as I’ve had a mother of a sore throat and cough, it’s a good reason to curl up on the settee and read all those lovely stories.

The day job is going well, and now there’s less mud and more concrete and tarmac areas, so makes my job a lot easier and the people are really friendly which makes it a great place to go to.

On my kindle I’ve got tons of great reads… firestarter, almost finished, Highland Lass looking forward to reading, Gold Digger, Teresa Ashby great stories, and must write a review soon, This one’s worth reading as well, The Little Kiosk by the Sea, Jennifer Bohnet. Set in Dartmouth. Tons more as well.

When the weather gets cold and nights are dark, it always makes me want to read Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, and Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte two of my all time favourite reads. And there’s quite a good one tucked in there between them, more on that one in the next post.

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Now with so much reading and knitting and eating as we have a smashing dinner lined up from the chef who is so gorgeous that I may just go and jump on him before doing any more of the above, my weekend is wrapped up to perfection.

Look out for a giveaway on the blog soon, and that doesn’t happen very often as everytime I go to give a book away I change my mind.

 

 

 

Welcome, Joanne Fox

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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.

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.

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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

 

 

 

Welcome Della Galton.

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It’s a massive pleasure to welcome Della Galton on to the People’s Friend author page for June. I’ve been following Della’s stories for a long while, so now let’s get a cup of tea, and hear from one of our greatest story writers.

It’s a pleasure to welcome Della Galton to my blog today. I’ve heard you described as Queen of magazine fiction, Della, but for me you’re more like the girl next door. Although perhaps a good thing for you that you don’t live next door to me, or I’d be popping my head in every day asking, ‘what do you think of this?’ It’s lovely that you always find time to help people who are trying to write a saleable story.

I’m definitely more of a girl next door than a queen, tee hee! And thank you for asking me to visit.

S/ You’re always busy on workshops and giving helpful advice, I wonder how you find time for your own writing?

D/ To be honest, Susan, it’s with difficulty. It’s not just the talks and the workshops – I love doing these – it’s the promotion of books I find is a real time eater. As well as doing my own blog I do Twitter and Facebook. I do at least one full day a week purely on PR – possibly more. If I know I want to write a story – as I did today (well half of one) I need to start with that and not even look at social media.

S/ When you had your first acceptance for People’s Friend, how long had you been sending stories in to them?
D/ Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that it didn’t work like that. I had been writing for My Weekly for a long time and my editor there, who was Angela Gilchrist, moved over to People’s Friend. She then wrote to me and asked if I would like to try my hand at writing for the Friend. Not to say that she accepted my first story or anything, but it was what prompted me to try.

S/  You have a clear and crisp style of story writing. Not a word too many, and often the ending isn’t what I thought it would be. So how do you get away with an unpredictable ending for People’s Friend, like ‘moving in the right direction’ with June, who should have gone to Canada, to her family, then pleased herself and stayed in England?

 

D/ Thank you for saying so but I’m not sure my endings are that unpredictable really – not too much for The Friend anyway. I tend to write with a universal truth (something we can all relate to) in my mind and the universal truth of that particular story was that it’s OK to make a major decision and then change your mind.

S/  I enjoyed the article in the ‘Friend,’ with you, at Battersea Dogs home. Was this your idea, or did People’s Friend ask you to go there, and any plans to visit again? I hope so. Did you get your dogs from there?

D/  They asked me to go – and I must say I was absolutely delighted. I love dogs. I couldn’t go there again unless I had a vacancy for another dog though because I would fall in love with someone with four paws and that would be that. It wouldn’t matter that I didn’t have a vacancy – this has happened before. I once had three dogs and then I brought one back from Greece! I am learning to be more moderate. And no I haven’t ever got a dog from Battersea but there’s plenty of time 🙂

S/  I enjoyed the story ‘walking a tightrope’ with the girl who went back to her parents’ home. How long would you say it takes you to get a story just right for the People’s Friend?

D/ Probably about two hours to write the beginning and then two days to get the end and polish it. That’s how long it takes me to get a story right for most mags. I know that people say The Friend can be hard to write for because they have a lot of restrictions, but actually I find that it’s the opposite. I think more restrictions make for easier writing because it’s clear what you can and can’t do.

S/  Writing as you do, for a range of magazines, how would you compare writing for People’s Friend, in relation to the other women’s magazine markets?

D/ I think there can be a perception that the Friend is very cosy and won’t take anything sad, but I haven’t found that to be the case. I’ve written plenty of sad stories for them. I don’t like twee stories – I like something to happen, I like a bit of pain – that sounds awful, doesn’t it, but it’s also important to make sure the ending is hopeful and upbeat. And the other key thing to remember is that the characters have to be warm. They don’t like baddie characters very much, tee hee!

S/ Any other information you can share with us about writing for People’s Friend would be great, thank you. That little blue book is my short-story writing bible as well, and the toolbox series is fabulous. Thank you, Della, for taking time out to pop over today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY…. (Sorry, just had to say it!!)

Thank you for having me, Susan. And thanks for saying such nice things about my books. And for the birthday wishes – don’t tell anyone how old I am!

More on writing for The Friend

One day a couple of years ago I was feeling quite poorly and it was all I could do to struggle to the settee. I wanted something to read but not just any old thing. I wanted something comforting ¬¬- something that wouldn’t tax me too much, something that would make me smile and definitely nothing distressing. I had several magazines around the place as I always do, but it was The Friend that I reached for. Now that is a very good thing to bear in mind if you’re writing for them. Ask yourself these questions:

Is my story comforting? Is it easy reading? And is someone likely to be cheered and/or inspired when they have read it?
If you would like to know more about writing short stories I’d be delighted if you’d take a look at my latest book, The Short Story Writer’s Toolshed. Click here to buy or find out more.
Also, my latest novel, which is definitely not a suitable story for the People’s Friend is called Ice and a Slice. Click here to buy or find out more.

Della’s website is here

 http://www.dellagalton.co.uk/

Her blog is here….http://www.dellagalton.co.uk/?page_id=28

 

https://www.facebook.com/DailyDella

https://twitter.com/DellaGalton

Thank you Della for spending time to chat on the blog, I’m reading Ice and a Slice at the moment…..

 

 

Welcome Pat Posner

Hope you’ve got a cup of tea, or coffee, so that you can settle down and enjoy this wonderful interview wit Pat Posner. I’m thrilled that Pat has agreed to be our featured author for May. Her stories are magical. For regular readers of People’s Friend, you will know that there aren’t many issues without one of Pat’s stories in there.

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Your favourite, Pat Posner
Friend favourite, Pat Posner

I began following Pat’s stories when I read a Cresslethwaite story. The mobile library was shutting down, and the character in the story depended on the library for her busy days in the tea shop. She came up with the idea of finding a corner for books, and this became the lending library. It was such a lovely story, I immediately wanted to go and visit Cresslethwaite, and have a drink in that tea-room, chat to the people, and find a book. That is the mark of a good story teller, and I’ve been hooked on Pat’s stories ever since.

 

S/ Pat, my first introduction to your stories was one set in the picturesque village of Cresslethwaite.
Where is this lovely place? Is it somewhere you’ve visited, or a mixture, because wherever it is, I want to go and visit.

P/ Hello, Susan. Thank you so much for inviting me here for a chat.
Cresslethwaite has quite a lot in common with the small villages and settlements in Littondale – a dale in North Yorkshire. It’s probably most like the main village, Arncliffe, where the outside locations for Emmerdale Farm (as it was in its early days) were filmed.

S/ We’d like to know a bit more about your Craikeworth Hall stories please? Did you write these with a particular place in mind, and did you need to research, or are the stories purely fiction? Since putting this issue together, I read on the letters page that one lady gave her son the middle name Craik, after the hall. The registrar wanted to put Craig, but she was adamant, he would be Craik. You’ve started a new trend Pat.

P/ I was researching traditions related to Shrove Tuesday and came across information about the Skipping Festival held in Scarborough on Pancake Day. It has been an annual event since 1903. Well, I’d already got a few characters (downstairs staff of a big house called Craikeworth Hall) ‘screaming’ for a story and, all along, I’d known they were from the early 1900s. I’d spent quite a while with them already – making sure their names were not only from the right era but also matched their personalities. Characters’ names are very important to me, once they’ve got the right name they spring to life.

Anyway, I decided Craikeworth Hall would be somewhere a couple of miles away from Scarborough and that some of the maids were hoping to go to the Skipping Festival. The rest, as they say, “is History”.

S/ Now, Pat, we can’t go any further without talking about the pre-fab stories. Set in the wonderful Broome Park Village, 1950’s era. Family spirit and sharing with neighbours is the theme that comes across in these adorable stories with those brilliant illustrations to match. You have the knack of showing us how hard times can be warm and wonderful in these stories. What made you choose such an unlikely setting for a series that can never read enough of?

P/ I honestly don’t know how I chose it. The prefab village and the villagers living there just sort of ‘came’ as the complete deal. When I realised the village was near a park, I chose Broome Park Prefab Village for the name because my favourite park when I was a tot (in the 1950s) was Broomfield Park – there weren’t any prefabs near it, though.

S/ We also love the Lobb Clough Farm stories. Recent one has been published in May issue of People’s Friend. Did you live on a farm, or is it purely from imagination?

P/ We do live in a farmhouse on a sheep farm but, although they seem to think differently, they aren’t our sheep and we aren’t farmers. I have used our farmhouse and surroundings in short stories and in a pocket novel but Lobb Clough Farm and its labourers’ cottages are set on a different Lancashire moor. The stories take us back to life in the 1840s.

S/ with so many series of stories going on, it’s sometimes easy to forget that you also write loads of stand-alone stories. Do you prefer to write something completely different, or are you happier writing the favourites?

P/ Oh, that’s a hard one to answer. As long as I’m happy with a story-line and I feel I really know the characters, I’m happy to write their story whether it’s a stand-alone or part of a series. Though, shhh! I think I love my prefab folk the ‘mostest’.

S/ How many stories did you send to People’s Friend before you had an acceptance? I know it wouldn’t have been many:)

P/ I think it was only two or three. “A Dog for Grandad” was published in 2006. I think that was after I’d had my first Pocket Novel accepted. But after that one short story acceptance the next few mss were rejected (with very helpful comments). I was still mainly writing children’s books back then so I didn’t try any more stories for the “Friend” until around 2010. The first four were rejected but I kept trying and “Cream-tea Tuesdays”, the first Cresslethwaite story was accepted in 2011.

S/ Any other information you have to tell us on People’s Friend Pat, your journey to becoming one of their top writers would be great.

P/ After the Cresslethwaite acceptance I really, really stuck at it and concentrated only on writing stories for the People’s Friend. I’d always loved the magazine – reading it for research (very important) as well as for pleasure wasn’t a hardship – and, after a few more acceptances, to think I might become a regular “Friend” writer kept me going through the rejections – and, yes, I still get a few! My editor, the lovely Shirley Blair, gives fantastic feedback and very often her comments help me turn a ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’. I feel the entire PF team are friends and I hope I’ll be writing for the magazine, and writing Pocket Novels, too, for many years to come.

S/ Amazing interview Pat, and thank you so much for taking time to let us into your People’s Friend world.

You can find Pat’s blog here…..http://writeupthehill.blogspot.co.uk/

Her latest Pocket Novel is on sale now.  Tangled Web009

Also she has lots of children’s books, can be found on her blog. I like the look of this one.

punch and JudyLooks good doesn’t it?

 

Look out for another interview in June…………

 

 

Welcome Suzanne Ross Jones.

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Hi Susan – and thank you so much for inviting me to visit your blog today.

Q1.  When did your first story appear in People’s Friend?

Suzanne.     My first People’s Friend story appeared in the issue dated 6th October 2010. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was thrilled – especially as a lot of luck was involved in that first acceptance.

I don’t generally enter writing competitions, but a series of editor interviews appeared in Writers’ Forum – these were written by Sue Moorcroft and were each accompanied by a competition, with the winning entries being published in the relevant magazines. I felt The People’s Friend competition was too good to miss – not because I expected to win, but because each entrant could request a critique from Sue.

My entry, The Baby of the Family, made it to the final ten – which was a lovely shock. As a result, I was invited to submit future stories directly to Shirley Blair – and my next submission, Home Comforts, was accepted. Shortly after that, Baby was also accepted.

Q2.  Did you send many in to them before you had your first acceptance?

Suzanne.    I’d been writing off and on since I was 16 and, while I’d mainly concentrated on writing novels, I did have the odd attempt at a short story. I’ve always been fond of The People’s Friend – it was always my gran’s favourite magazine and she’d introduced me to it when I was a child – so it seemed natural to submit some of my stories to them. My first People’s Friend submission was in 1994 – and I continued to send them a story or two most years until they accepted Home Comforts for publication.

Q3.  I know you write pocket novels. Roughly, how long does it take to write one?

Suzanne.    I fit my writing in around my family and a day job, so my writing time’s limited. It usually takes me around three months to write a People’s Friend pocket novel from idea to submission.

It takes me a while to write my way into a story, so the beginning is always slower than the middle and the end – and there don’t seem to be any exceptions to this, even if I already know the setting and who’s involved.

The pocket novel I’m working on at the moment is the last in a trilogy (Kinbrae Kisses) about the McGregor brothers. The setting was already there, so you’d think it would have been a faster start – but it wasn’t.

Q4. How far in advance do you send a seasonal story for example, I know you like stories with snow scenes.

Suzanne.    I do like snow scenes very much. I think they’re handy for writers, as they can force characters to stay together in one place.

For seasonal stories, I try to submit at least three months in advance. I’d like to work further in advance, but I never seem to get organised in time.

When I post out a seasonal story, I always write a note on the envelope to highlight that the submission is time sensitive.

Q5. How many characters would you say was enough for a people’s friend story?

Suzanne.    Three or four named characters are probably more than enough for most short stories. As with all things, there will be exceptions and more characters will sometimes work their way in, but I try to keep characters to the minimum absolutely necessary for the story.

Q6. When you visited People’s Friend headquarters recently, what was it like to meet the people who say ‘yes’ to so many of your stories.

Suzanne.     Meeting the editors at The People’s Friend was fantastic. They were all so welcoming and every bit as lovely in real life as they’ve always seemed. I so appreciate that the editors I’ve worked with, Shirley Blair and Tracey Steel, took time out of their busy schedules to speak to me. I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to be invited to visit.

Newly available for Kindle:

It Had To Be You – originally published as a People’s Friend Pocket Novel.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Had-Be-You-Kinbrae-Kisses-ebook/dp/B00I6NKI78/

The Housewarming & Other Stories – a second collection of 12 short stories, all previously published in The People’s Friend.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Housewarming-Other-Stories-Short-ebook/dp/B00I7C5AN0/

Published in Large Print on 1st April – available in libraries soon:

Your Secret Smile

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Secret-Smile-Montcraig-Sweethearts-ebook/dp/B00E0FET4E/

The second McGregor Brothers Pocket Novel will be on the shelves in newsagents and supermarkets in May.

Facebook writer page: https://www.facebook.com/suzannerossjoneswriting

Twitter: @sj_suz

Blog: http://www.suzanne-sj.blogspot.co.uk/

Thank you Suzanne for popping by for a chat, and great to know that you have more stories in the pipeline.

More from People’s Friend writers soon.

Another week.

Another week is underway, and I’ve been decorating. Rubbing down with sandpaper, undercoating and glossing our landing, hallway and down the stairs. Alan reaches up to the high places, balancing on ladders which I don’t care to watch.

I’ve been entering some competitions, like this one at Cremona Hotel.  It’s free to enter, so just time if you have something suitable.

There are some more on that website as well.

I’m in-between jobs as you can see from all the painting and writing I’m doing, and reading of course. Too cold and wet for the garden for me yet. A couple of things lined up, so fingers crossed. In the meantime, I’m editing the first three chapters of my novel to go out to an agent/publisher.

People’s Friend sent a story back to me, and the reply was to say, ‘that the story relied a shade too heavily on the plot, not allowing the characters to spring to life.’ Now, for me, that’s a good response, giving a clear indication of where the story can be improved. Quite often I get, ‘plot not engaging enough to hold the reader’s attention.’ So, I have the plot, now to whoosh the characters up a bit. Somehow, I do have to agree with them. They know what they want, and their readers of course.

Two more stories of mine are available for download on Alfie dog.

IMG-20130628-00081Hope you’re all keeping dry and safe. Until next time………. Adios amigos…….

More on People’s Friend and junk telly.

 

 

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Thought I’d pop in a poll for the New Year, and just to show off that I can:))

More on People’s Friend as I’ve been reading it as there’s not much on t.v. is there?  The best day was Friday, as we should have gone back to work, but I’d not been too well so we watched some black and whites.  49 steps, then another spy film with a little old lady like Miss Marple called Miss Froy who went missing from a train.  One about white feathers and another spy one.  So I’m well into the spy stories now.  It’s when the comedy, or lack of it comes on that we miss John Sullivan’s ‘Fools and Horses’ or the Two Ronnies.  Miranda was funny as usual, but the Royale Family was cringing to watch, and I normally like Mrs. Brown, but the first episode wasn’t too bad, where Mammy thought there were hidden cameras, and she kept saying things like – ‘Oh I’m now going to cook a nutritional meal for all my family with fresh vegetables, no convenience foods around here.’  That was funny, but the second episode with the nativity play wasn’t funny at all.  We laughed more at the old episode of Vicar of Dibley.  If anyone writes good comedy scripts, that’s you Suzi, I’d send some in to the BBc please, they need something fresher and funnier.  I do still like Miranda though, although the faces to camera go on a bit.

There’s a great seasonal story in P.F. by Suzanne Ross Jones.  Here’s another modern story as it’s written in the form of e.mail messages.   I like the pages where they show covers from years ago as well.  Interesting to see how much it’s changed, yet stayed up to date as well.  I’m pleased that there are still the classic stories as written by Ginny Stewart who has been writing stories there for as long as I’ve been reading.  Lots of puzzles to do as well, so I’m still enjoying the issue, great value for money.  I know I go on a bit, but it’s worth it.  (The magazine I mean, not me going on:))0

This is my 100th blog post, so for now I’ll say Happy New Year to my followers.  I would have done a book giveaway, but you know me, I love all my books far too much for that.