Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for April, 2015

Today we met in Beccles Library to discuss social networking, after all, if you’re writing a book you want people to know about it, right? We had intended looking at all aspects of social networking and started by booting up the laptops and looking at blogging using the WordPress site. We soon found that the WiFi connection was not strong enough for us all to be on line at the same time and unfortunately we achieved very little but we had fun. Many thanks to all at Beccles Library for letting us use their room.

27th April Beccles Library   27th April Beccles Library~1

Read Full Post »

I hope you will join me next weekend on Facebook. It’s a one day promo for my latest Chatty Cat book! http://bit.ly/1FtO8u9

Chatty Cat~Spring into Summer~draft FRONT cover

Read Full Post »

Virtual write-in

Morning. The next virtual write-in will be this afternoon (Wednesday) from 3-4pm (UK time). Please leave a message on the ‘Just Write it!’ page to say if you’re joining us. Thank you.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Just-Write-it/366023433491753

Read Full Post »

Welcome, Susanne McCarthy

*offers Susanne a cup of tea*

Coconut Loft~cup of tea

(Cup of tea courtesy of The Coconut Loft Art Gallery, Suffolk)

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Susanne McCarthy

I come from London, though I haven’t lived there for many years. After a long spell living in Shropshire, we moved to Devon a few years ago – my husband is a Devonian and always wanted to come home, and I always wanted to live near the sea. Now we live twenty minutes from the beach, and I love it.

What was the first story you wrote?

That’s far too long ago to remember – I was telling stories before I could write them down! When I was ten I won a national prize in a children’s writing competition for a rather weird story about a talking parking meter. My first published book was in 1985, published by Mills&Boon – a Long Way From Heaven.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

That particular book was inspired by watching Cheers and Casablanca over Christmas – somehow the two melded together!

Why do you write?

I can’t not write. Stories are buzzing in my head the whole time, jostling against each other until I give in and write them down. Some of them don’t go far, but fortunately a reasonable number work out.

Can you tell us about your newest book?

The book I have just published is called Summer Scandal. It’s the classic bad-boy-made-good, comes home for revenge plot – OK, that sounds really hackneyed, but I hope the strong characters lift it above the mundane.

How did you come up with the story?

The characters came first, and the setting – a small town on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors, in summer. Then it’s a process of fitting it together like a puzzle, asking and answering questions to create the steps which make up the story.

What genre best fits for the book?

My books are all happy-ever-after romances. There’s a fair bit of spice in them, but I wouldn’t describe them as erotic.

What are some of the benefits and challenges to writing?

I really enjoy writing, creating characters and working out what happens to them, why they can’t just fall in love and be done with it by page three, and how they eventually overcome whatever it was that was getting in the way.

The challenge for me is that I’m a really S-L-O-W writer. I just can’t stop myself sitting for hours trying to choose the exact word that I want, or going off to play a few games of Solitaire.

Do you attend a writing group?

No. I like the solitude of writing. I don’t think a group would suit me.

Do you have someone to critique your work?

I have several friends who read my stuff. One is American, and picks up for me where I have used terms which would confuse an American reader. One isn’t really into romance, and is able to take a fairly detached view of the logic of the story. Then there are a couple who do like romances. All of them are good enough friends to tell me the truth.

Also, if there is a specialist area (horses in Summer Scandal, for example) I try to find someone with relevant knowledge. People are amazingly helpful.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

Of course! It’s called Chasing Stars, and it’s set on a fabulous private yacht cruising the Mediterranean. I’ve never come across a romance set on a yacht before. And the heroine is a martial arts expert, which opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Just write. And read. The usual advice is to read in your genre, but really just read anything. Read to enjoy, read good popular fiction – over time, the way good writers structure sentences and plots will sink into your brain.

What is your writing routine?

I usually start writing at about 4pm, and go on till about 10. I have tried starting earlier, but my brain doesn’t seem to want to cooperate before then. I have a workroom, with a very large desk which is usually very cluttered, and I have a file for each book I am working on.

Unfortunately I have to share my writing chair with Holly, my Border Terrier, who insists on lying behind me so I am perched on the four inches she will spare me. I’m sure Danielle Steele never has that problem.

Susanne McCarthys dog~Holly

Do you have an editing process?

Oh yes – editing is an essential part of writing. I usually edit a bit as I go along, then leave the whole book to rest for a few weeks before going back to it. Then I go through it to make sure it makes sense, that the characters are consistent, that there’s enough tension in the right places. Sometimes I find I need to do a bit more research to make sure everything is accurate.

The next edit is the “technical” one – to make sure the words flow, that there isn’t too much repetition or over-use of words, that the grammar and spelling are all correct. To do that I often switch the font to Comic Sans 16 which helps me pick up small errors.

Then I leave it again for a while, then print it off and read it through to see where I can make improvements – lots of scribbling in margins. After that I send it off to my Beta readers, who may point out problems or make suggestions (In Christmas Secrets, one reminded me that I hadn’t mentioned what had happened to the heroine’s guitar.)

And then finally I read it through again – just to see if I enjoy it!

How important is it for you to share your writing?

Once I am happy with a piece of work, I really want people to read it, to enjoy it. That’s why I decided to publish direct and to keep my prices low – I am in the fortunate position of not needing to depend on the royalties for income.

Where can people go to read your work?

As I mentioned, my first book was published by Mills and Boon in 1985. In total I had twenty-five book published by them, and some of them are still available as e-books on my Mills and Boon author page.

Unfortunately they have not wanted to publish any of my more recent books, so I decided to publish them direct on Amazon, where they are available both for e-readers and hard-copy.

Summer Scandal: http://goo.gl/nkobht

Christmas Secrets: http://goo.gl/DiL9Tc

Rogan’s Game: http://goo.gl/pquqCp

Where can people find you on the internet?

I have a website, www.SusanneMcCarthy.com – you will find information about all my books, including the ones which Mills and Boon have not yet made available for e-readers. I have also put a couple of short stories on there.

I am on Twitter – @McCarthySusanne.

And I also have a Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Susanne-McCarthy/1396398157284544

What do I do when I’m not writing?

South Devon is a fabulous place to live. I love being able to walk my dog on the beach – especially in winter, when we often have it to ourselves. I love going out for lunch to one of the dozens of coffee shops around here, many of them with fabulous views of Torbay. And I sing in a local ladies’ chorus, which I love.

Thank you, Susanne.

Read Full Post »

Guest blog: Author Sheila Norton.

Read Full Post »

Welcome, Sheila Norton…

*offers Sheila a cup of tea*

Coconut Loft~cup of tea

 

 

 

 

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I live near Chelmsford in Essex with my husband of nearly 45 years. We have three married daughters and six little grandchildren. I worked as a medical secretary before retiring early to concentrate on my writing. I’ve been writing since childhood but my first publications were short stories for children when my three daughters were small. I then won two first prizes in the ‘Writers’ News’ short story competitions and went on to have over 100 stories published in women’s magazines.

My first novel was published by Piatkus Books in 2003. I then had a further seven books published by Piatkus – all under my own name except for the last three which my editor wanted me to publish under a new name as they made up a series – the ‘Tales From’ series, written as Olivia Ryan. Since then I’ve been self-publishing with Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace). As well as re-publishing my back list, I’ve self-published a further series of three books (the Sisters Series), and more recently, two books largely set in the 1960s – ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Ticket to Ride’. And my newest book is a story with grandparents as the leading characters and is called ‘A Grand Thing’. All these are written under my own name.

Sheila Norton~Grand Thing for paperback

 

 

 

 

 

What was the first story you wrote?

It was a short story for Brownies, which was published in ‘The Brownie’ magazine. But my first novel was the more significant ‘first’!  ‘The Trouble With Ally’ was a rom com about a woman who was just turning 50 and had all kinds of ordinary but hilarious problems going on in her life.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

Yes. I’d made previous attempts at a novel but nothing had worked so I stuck with short stories … until the ‘chick lit’ era and ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ made me realise that all the rom com books seemed to be about women in their 20s and 30s. I was about 50 myself at the time and felt sure a book featuring the life of an ordinary working mum of my kind of age could be just as funny. After 18 months of submissions, my Piatkus editor agreed – and I finally achieved my lifetime ambition.

Why do you write?

Simple answer: because it’s what I’ve always loved doing. I’d be doing it even if I had nothing published. It’s more than a hobby, but I can’t call it work because ‘work’ sounds like something you have to do. When I had a full-time job I wrote in the evenings – it was my relaxation.

Can you tell us about your newest book?

‘A Grand Thing’ is available from Amazon as a paperback (£7.99) or Kindle edition (£1.99). The four main characters are all grandparents who help to care for their grandchildren. They get to know each other through the children and eventually support each other through some difficult times. The main narrator is Kate, whose son and two daughters drive her mad by arguing about whose children she looks after the most. The other three characters – Bob, who struggles with arthritis and a possible crush on Kate; Jackie, a young and reluctant grandmother; and Pam, who seems inexplicably angry and hostile – also narrate chapters of their own.

How did you come up with the story?

It’s the result of another observation I’ve made about the contemporary fiction market – very few books seem to have grandparents as the main characters. I’ve acquired six grandkids in less than six years, and they’re a wonderful part of my life. Most of my friends either have grandchildren or other young relatives – and as older people buy the most books I felt sure lots of people would enjoy this kind of story. But basically it’s a family story, so I hope mums, dads, aunts, uncles – anyone who loves family life will enjoy it. I hasten to add that my own daughters are much nicer and less selfish than Kate’s children in the book! But my experience as ‘Nanny’ obviously helped in writing it.

What genre best fits for the book?

Contemporary women’s fiction (family life).

What are some of the benefits and challenges to writing?

Benefits:  I have never been bored in my entire life!  Writing takes you out of yourself if you’re feeling troubled, sad, or cross, and is always there, like a friend, waiting for you to come back to. As a hobby, it’s something you can do no matter what age you are, where you live, if you’re on your own, hard-up or disabled. If you’re lucky enough to be paid for it, it’s the icing on the cake. To be paid (however much or little) for doing what you enjoy is a privilege I never take for granted.

Challenges:  Not many writers can make their entire living from it, so you need either a day job or a pension or some other means of income. Sometimes it’s hard to be motivated and find the time, when you have a busy job and/or children to look after. If you don’t have a day job, writing can be socially isolating so you need to find ways to prevent this. It’s also necessary to come to terms with rejection and criticism. Learning to take these on the chin is part of becoming a real writer.

Do you attend a writing group?

Because I worked at a busy job until I’d had six novels published, I never joined a writing group of any kind – I needed all my spare time for actual writing! But I did join the Romantic Novelists’ Association after I was first published, and have become an active member of the Chelmsford chapter. We’re a friendly group who meet once a month for support and friendship. Apart from this, I prefer to mix with other people socially – friends and family who aren’t writers – as I don’t want my life to become completely focused on writing. It might not bore me, but it would bore everyone around me!

Do you have someone to critique your work?

Yes, I’m very lucky in that my three daughters are very gifted in areas which benefit me as an author! One is a freelance copywriting and marketing consultant, one is a publicity and PR consultant (specialising in children’s books), and the third is an editor and writer in the health industry. I never publish or submit anything until at least two of them have read and edited it – and I’ve had all sorts of help with promotion and marketing too.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

Two new things! I’m working with my agent on the editing of a third book set partly in the 1960s (and partly in the present day). And I also have a brand new contract with one of the leading publishers for something completely different and exciting, which is planned for release towards the end of this year.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Don’t do it unless you love it. No other reason makes sense. But if you do want to write, do it, don’t put it off – you can make time if you’re determined enough. Don’t give up if you meet rejection after rejection – that’s par for the course. If you choose to self-publish, be professional, and above all, realistic. Few of us become millionaires!

What is your writing routine?

Since retiring from the day job, I don’t have a routine. I simply write whenever I can, whenever nothing else is calling for my time. I enjoy the freedom, and it makes up for all the years of fitting in my writing around children and working for the NHS!

Do you have an editing process?

Nothing special. Just – read the book through as many times as possible, be prepared to cut out anything that doesn’t work, and don’t be surprised to keep finding silly mistakes even on the third or fourth read!

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Most enjoy: that feeling when the story takes off, the characters seem to come alive and do things you hadn’t even planned, and the whole process actually feels like magic.

Least enjoy: writing a plan or a synopsis. I never stick to them, as the story always takes unexpected turns as I write it.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

I’d say it’s pretty important – a lot of the pleasure comes from anticipating other people (hopefully) enjoying what I write. But if nobody ever read what I wrote, I think I’d still do it, for my own enjoyment.

Where can people go to read your work?

All my books are currently on Amazon.

Where can people find you on the internet?

My website : www.sheilanorton.co.uk

My blog: http://sheilanorton.blogspot.co.uk

My Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SheilaNortonAuthor

My Twitter ‘handle’: @NortonSheilaann

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I love hearing from readers. As an avid reader myself, I make a point of posting a good review if I’ve read something I particularly enjoyed, because I know what a difference it makes to an author to get feedback from readers. I also always reply to any messages sent through my website. To keep up to date with news about my writing, go to my website and fill in the ‘reply’ form, asking to be added to the mailing list for my email newsletter, which is only sent out a few times each year. I never pass on email addresses to any third party.

Thank you so much, Suzan, for giving me this opportunity – I’ve enjoyed being a guest on your blog! And thank you, Sheila, I have enjoyed it too x

Purple and white tulips

Read Full Post »

Thank you for following my blog. I am now moving it and I hope you will follow the new blog. My new blog is https://suzancollinsauthor.wordpress.com/

Hope to see you over there.

Suzan

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »