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Welcome, Clare Marchant

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Hi Suzan! Thank you for inviting me. May I have a cup of tea? I like it really strong though so two bags in the cup if that’s okay.

*Hands Clare her cup of tea*

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I don’t have a pen name I really am Clare Marchant. I live in Norfolk with my husband and the youngest two of my six children, and our mini schnauzer Fred. With my adult children and grandchildren living locally it is always busy with people dropping in but thankfully the week days are usually quiet. In my spare time I like a trip to the coast for a walk and an ice cream. Oh, and I occasionally get out my saxophone for a quick blast!

You have two books out. Can you tell me a little about them?

My debut The Secrets of Saffron Hall is a dual timeline historical novel. It is set in both the Tudor era and the present day and links two women living five hundred years apart but bound together by grief, love, and a spice more valuable than gold. In Tudor times new bride Eleanor grows saffron which increases her husband’s wealth which grows his popularity at court, but this comes at a terrible price. In present day Amber discovers a book at her grandfather’s home, Saffron Hall, and it contains a secret which is closer to home than she would have imagined.

My second book which was published this summer is The Queen’s Spy. This is another Tudor/present day dual timeline. In the sixteenth century a deaf and mute apothecary to the Queen becomes her silent spy. Whilst in the present day a young French Lebanese girl inherits an old house from her father, a man she never knew. After making a haunting discovery she tries to discover what happened there centuries before.

You were nominated for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. How did you feel? Tell us about it.

Being a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award was just the most wonderful experience. I was nominated because my debut book went through the RNA’s amazing New Writers Scheme and was subsequently published. The winner is announced at the RNA York Tea which this year was on the 18th September. As the event included afternoon tea and cake it was of course a stellar occasion! I am so proud that my book came through the New Writer’s Scheme because I learned – and am still learning – so much from the published authors in the Romantic Novelist Association and it was an honour to have been a nominee.

What is the title and genre of the book you are currently writing?

Unfortunately the next book currently does not have a title! I really must think of one soon before I send it to my publisher. I keep hoping something will suddenly spring into my mind, but so far…nothing! I can tell you that it is another Elizabethan/present day dual timeline though and this time it involves Sir Francis Drake.

Are you working to a deadline? Do you write X number of words per day? How are you feeling?

I most certainly am working to a deadline can you see the grey hairs multiplying on my head?! When I am writing the first draft then I aim for 2000 words a day. I start fairly early in the morning and work through until I take a late lunch. But once I get to editing then it’s just a case of working through until my eyes are falling out of their sockets whatever time that is.

Do you write in first or third person?

So far, I’ve always written in the third person but who knows, if I felt that a character would sound better in the first person I may try that. It’s just the way that they speak to me that dictates how they appear on the page.

How did you come up with the story?

I never have a fully formed idea for a story, instead I will have lots of threads of ideas rolling around my head. Sometimes they are triggered by places that I go to, or artefacts that I see or maybe an article I have read. But slowly all these threads come together and I weave them into a story. It is amazing when that moment comes!

Are you a planner or panster?

I am absolutely a planner. I could never just dive straight in to writing a book, I like to know exactly what my characters are going to do, where they will go and what will happen to them. Although having said that, when I was writing Saffron Hall the little boy Tom just suddenly appeared in the story and he had not been in the plan – I try not to let that happen often though.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

My tip is probably the same as every other author’s – you really do have to sit down and write the book. You can’t edit an empty page. Even if you don’t have much time if you can manage to write a couple of hundred words here and there because it soon adds up. And when you have that exciting new idea for another book just as the one you are currently writing is getting a bit tedious, do not abandon it for the new idea! It happens to us all but you just need to keep plodding on until you reach the end.

What is your writing routine?

I sit down at my desk between eight and nine o’clock and work until about two. I have numerous cups of tea and coffee during that time too although I am trying to steer clear of the biscuit tin! Despite doing several months of historical research before I start I find numerous areas where I need to look details up but that is very time consuming so I just make a note in the manuscript to come back to it later. I don’t like to interrupt the flow when I am writing.

Do you have an editing process?

Yes, I have quite a strict process. I start with the structural editing to make sure that there are no massive holes or anomalies. Writing dual timeline throws up all sorts of problems making sure that the two stories reflect each other, my present-day character can’t discover something that hasn’t yet happened in the historical story and that can take some juggling! I use a software for writing called Scrivener and it makes moving the chapters around much easier.

After the structural edit I do several rounds of line editing making sure that every sentence is as perfect as I can make it, and then finally I do a proof read (or three!) to check on punctuation.

Then the book goes off to my agent and she sends back suggested edits and it all starts again, and then it goes to my editor and guess what? I have to start again! But every round of edits keeps polishing the book so that when it is published, I know that it is the very best that it can be.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

My favourite part of writing a book is definitely the historical research. I love reading about the past – and of course the Tudor era is my favourite – and so diving down rabbit holes reading about different people and events is just the best way of spending my day. I also enjoy the actual writing of the first draft, but I find the editing process difficult it makes my head hurt sometimes!

Where can people find you on the internet?

Facebook: ClareMarchantAuthor

Twitter: ClareMarchant1

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

Readers are the most important link in the chain, I write books so that people will read them and hopefully enjoy them. I’m especially grateful to all the readers who reach out on social media and also those who leave reviews on Amazon which are so important for books (I don’t understand the Amazon algorithms but reviews do great things!), so thank you to each and every one of you who take time to do that, and do come and say hello on Twitter and Facebook!

Thank you Suzan for inviting me on your blog, I’ve had a lovely time. Any chance of another cuppa?

With two teabags?

Yes please.

Formats: paperback and eBook.

If you would to view and/or buy a copy or two here is the link to Clare’s Amazon page

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3zuLWDB

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Welcome, Sue Moorcroft…

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today, despite recovering from Covid. (Dear Readers, please note that Sue and I did not meet up for this interview.)

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

I’m right off tea at the moment! I love it, usually, but Covid seems to have changed it. I’ll have a nice glass of chilled white wine, please.

*Hands Sue chilled wine*

Congratulations in having a book out this Thursday. I just love this cover. In fact, I like all your covers. I hope you’ll be well enough to celebrate on the day of publication. How many books is this now?

It’s a tricky question. Nineteen novels and a writing guide is the cautious answer but A Home in the Sun is a relaunch of my very first novel, Uphill All the Way; Family Matters was a hardback that was rewritten as Want to Know a Secret? in paperback and ebooks and I have a few short ebooks that began life as serials and then went on to large print. I don’t count the serials in the nineteen, nor count a book again when it comes out in a different guise, even though there are actually two editions on my shelf.

Many readers say that they’d like to write a book but don’t where to start. I say that their first book doesn’t need to be a full novel. It can be an article for a magazine, a novella or of course, if they want to write a full novel then go ahead. Not everyone plans at the beginning of their work and here Sue will tell us how she gets an idea to a finished full novel.

I agree with you. After two awful novels that publishers couldn’t return to me fast enough, I aimed at short stories for magazines. I sold the first in 1996 and had placed eighty-seven before I sold a novel – what is now A Home in the Sun. I’d also sold a serial and some writing ‘how-to’. My rule was that if it earned money and was connected with writing, I’d do it. It’s actually been a great pleasure to rework my first published novel. The story is the same as it was and I still like it but I had the opportunity to make a structural change to the beginning and edit it in line with my current writing capabilities.

Where did the idea for this book come from?

I was on holiday in Malta when I saw a guy leaving for work by climbing down the balconies of his apartment block to the street and decided he had to go in a book. I was also reflecting on how much I’d hated leaving Malta as a child and how it would be as an adult. I then read an article in the Times of Malta about there being no divorce in Malta (then) and how it left people in separation limbo. I put those things together. Divorce in Malta is now legal but as the book is set 2000-2005, that doesn’t matter.

One of the army quarters in Malta Sue lived in as a child.

How did you know that this idea would have potential for a full novel?

It was actually the eighth novel I’d written so I was getting the hang of it! Later, I was able to go back and sell three of the earlier ones, after further work. Another became a serial. Publishing can be a funny game but it pays not to throw anything away.

Do you write to a specific wordcount? If you do, how do you know you will able to write to that whilst keeping to the story?

I think there’s a lot of myths surrounding word count. Coming from a background of short stories for magazines, where you’re given a word count and expected to make it work, it’s not that hard. I have a feel for how much conflict and how many goals I need for the two main characters and if I’m falling short I can explore one a little more deeply and if I’m coming up long I can edit down. The latter is my norm. I’m contracted for 95,000-100,000 and my first draft is generally around 110,000. I rip it down in my next draft, the one I send my editor. Then she does the structural edit, which invariably calls for additions rather than subtractions, so I have to tighten again. I always get anxious at the end of the rough draft and think I’m going to mess it up but it’s like a lump of clay. All the material is there. I just have to mould it into the shape I want.

Do you write profiles for all your characters or just the main ones?

Main. I like to know a lot about their conflicts and goals and their lives till now. I don’t feel characters are born on page 1 and when I know who they are already, I know how they’ll react to what I throw at them. I also like to know what other characters think of them. In real life, my husband, son and brothers will each know different versions of me and the Sue my mum knew was different again. I reflect this in my writing.

Do you make up images of your characters or get photographs from the net?

Some of each. I don’t normally resort to photos unless the mental image is hard to keep still in my imagination. I like to know hair and eye colour, general stature, whether hair is curly or straight or if someone has a particularly attractive feature, like a smile.

Do all of your characters have goals to achieve?

Yes, I think so, even if the goal is known to me but not to them. In A Home in the Sun, for example, Judith returns to the UK because she feels there’s nothing left for her in Malta after Giorgio’s accident. However, she immediately begins putting her life in order and adapting to being back in the UK. She worries about her family and wants to help. She also wants her house back, which is tricky because her old school crush is her tenant and doesn’t feel like giving the house up till he has to. Sub-consciously, Judith’s seeking a new status quo but consciously she thinks she’s drifting. If I can give characters goals that conflict with the aims of a different character, so much the better, so at the end Judith can move back to Malta … but not with Adam. What’s she going to do?

At what point do you visit the place in the book?

In normal times, I visit Malta several times a year. It has always been ‘home’ to me.

Sue and her brothers in a different army quarter in Malta.

If the setting is Italy or France, for example, I’ll try and visit early in the process and maybe later, too. All very tricky in Covid times, which is why my earlier book this year was set where I’d set a book before, Umbria in Italy, and next summer’s book be set in France, as Just for the Holidays was. I already have loads of research pix, as well as my memory bank.

How do you build a plot?

I rely on what I call ‘my plotty head’. I give it material in the form of conflicts and goals that interest me and let it begin to weave. I’ve learned to rely on it quite a lot. It likes help from a notebook and pen where I ‘think aloud’ onto the page. Logic plays a big part, too, because I believe everything’s included for a reason, in fiction. If something is part of the story then it has to earn its place. It took me a while to learn that.

Do you use a white board, post it notes, planning apps e.g. Scrivener?

It varies book to book but I’ve never used Scrivener or similar. I get bored by the idea of learning to use software and when I’m planning I do like good old paper and pen, whether that’s on cards or stickies, a notebook or just a big sheet of paper. Maybe I’m missing something good but paper works for me.

At what point do you know when its time to start writing the book?

When Chapter One wants to be written and I don’t want it to escape. I love beginning a book. It’s like being on the starting grid of a Formula One race – everything is possible and you haven’t gone off at the first corner.

Do you write the first chapter then the next and the next or write the beginning and the end and fill in the middle?

Mostly, I write in order, but if a scene or chapter is pulling at me I write it in note form. I find the disadvantage of that is that by the time it falls into place it’s probably wrong. I often put thoughts at the foot of my manuscript and review them periodically to see whether it’s time to pull them in or time to delete them.

My last question: where can readers find you on social media?

Website [www.suemoorcroft.com]

Blog [http://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com]

Facebook profile [Sue.Moorcroft.3]

Facebook author page [https://www.facebook.com/SueMoorcroftAuthor

Twitter  [@suemoorcroft]

Instagram [https://www.instagram.com/suemoorcroftauthor/] @SueMoorcroftAuthor

LinkedIn [https://www.linkedin.com/in/suemoorcroft]

or you can just use my Link Tree linktr.ee/SueMoorcroft

Thank you, Sue. I’m now off to pre order my copy.

Thank you very much! It’s been a pleasure to chat to you, Suzan. Thanks for inviting me.

This title will be released this Thursday, 19th August and available in #paperback #ebook #audio.

Pre order now:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Sun-Sue-Moorcroft-ebook/dp/B08TG2171R/ref=sr_1_1?crid=10EG856Z82ROJ&dchild=1&keywords=sue+moorcroft&qid=1628774209&s=books&sprefix=sue+moor%2Cstripbooks%2C158&sr=1-1


If you would like to have a look at and/or purchase any of Sue’s books please click on this link https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=sue+moorcroft&i=stripbooks&crid=10EG856Z82ROJ&sprefix=sue+moor%2Cstripbooks%2C158&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_1_8

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Welcome, Phyllida Scrivens…

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Thanks Suzan.  I’ll take a Rooibos tea with a drop of milk please. However, by the end of this interview I wouldn’t be adverse to a small chilled pinot grigo!

*Hands Phyllida a Rooibos tea*

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

Certainly.  I live with my husband Victor in Norwich, Norfolk.  I am not a native of Norfolk; in fact I was born in the North-East, but moving here from Surrey in 2005. Although I have always loved to write, including some newspaper columns, short stories and one act plays, it was not until I started working for the Head of Literature at the UEA, that I began to dream of taking the MA in Creative Non-Fiction. This dream became a reality in 2012, leading directly to my first book contract with Pen and Sword Books.

What is the title and genre of your latest book?

This will be my third book and is called The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster 1874: Heroes, Victims, Survivors. It will be published in September. All three books are biographical and based on local figures. The first is the full life story of Joe Stirling, a Kindertransport boy who made an amazing life for himself in Norwich (Escaping Hitler), and the second (The Lady Lord Mayors of Norwich 1924-2017) is a group biography, exploring the lives of the seventeen women who have been the Lord Mayor of Norwich. I am proud that this book won the Best Biography prize at the East Anglian Book Awards 2018.  My latest title is a hybrid of historical fact and potted biographies of the 28 people who died in Thorpe St Andrew in a famous Victorian railway collision, individuals who have until now simply appeared in lists of names.

Do you write in first or third person?

Both.  I do enjoy writing fiction, albeit occasionally, latterly achieving some success in competitions organised by the Norwich Writers’ Circle, of which I am a long time member and former Chairman.  These short stories are invariably in the first person, as I love to immerse myself in the main character, really getting inside his or her head.  I also like to read fiction written in the first person. However, with researched non-fiction, and particularly biographies, I write in the third person and usually present the chapters chronologically.  I think it is much easier to follow a person’s life journey if you start at the beginning, although in recent years there seems to be more scope for experimentation in that genre. 

How did you come up with the story?

I firmly believe that factual stories are often more engaging and fascinating than anything that is made up! I am that person on the bus who will wheedle your entire life story from you by the time we reach the terminus!  I love to interview people about their life experiences, also seeking out others who have known the subject, family members, friends, colleagues and the like. And the number of times following a talk to W.I.s, history groups, Probus Clubs etc, that someone will approach me asking if I’ll produce their life story! I explain that a biography can take 3-5 years to research and write up, I would need to be Methuselah to fit them all in!  Stories are everywhere.  As for fiction, again I will start with something or someone I know and take it from there. Sometimes I think it’s my computer that writes the denouements as I rarely have an idea where a fictional story will end!

Are you a planner or pantser?

With non-fiction it really has to be about the planning. I love the research stage, normally falling into the trap of becoming obsessed by the smallest detail and using up far too time and energy on it. Then, much later, having gathered the enormous pile of typed notes, I then have to assemble the enormous jigsaw that is before me.  My well-honed structural plans often fall at the first hurdle though, as I go off in a direction that is only marginally associated with the topic!  

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Don’t stress about finding inspiration, it will find you.  Be observant. Talk to people.  Don’t be afraid to tell them that you are exploring creative writing. Give and you will receive. People love talking about themselves and often it is just one little detail that will spark your imagination. Write everything down in a notebook.  Some of my best paragraphs come to me at 3 am. Unfortunately, I am usually too tired to lift a pen, or too fearful of waking my husband, so invariably the ideas are not recorded immediately. About 50% of them live in my memory until the morning, but I do sometimes wonder how many gems I have lost inside my head over the years! Start with small paragraphs, add more, join them up, and presto, you have a story. Consider your proposed audience and make sure there is something for them to engage with. Above all enjoy the experience… you are creating something unique.

What is your writing routine?

There isn’t one. I am certainly not a morning person, working better after lunch once the chores are complete, often forgoing the evening TV to catch up. When working on a major project I try and complete a certain number of words in a session, but with non-fiction that is very difficult, as I am constantly referring to books, websites and other reference material as I go along. I try and save some time for ‘normal everyday life’, but sometimes my husband does feel somewhat neglected, especially as I approach the dreaded deadline.

Do you have an editing process?

There is a lot of cutting and pasting involved.  During the actual writing I work on a split screen, with the narrative on one side and my specific research notes on the other. Then comes the edits and they say you should ideally take more time over the edit than when writing. I hate losing precious paragraphs, or even chapters, but it has to be done to achieve clarity and fit in with word counts. My husband reads everything I write and has become quite a proficient editor! I have been lucky to have a publisher who assigns a professional editor to me once I have submitted the so called “final draft”. This has been a fascinating experience each of my three editors working differently. It took about 12 drafts and two months to finalise The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster, but there is no doubt it was a better book by the end of the process.  

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

As I said before, the research is always revelatory and absorbing. Writing early drafts can be painful, but when a paragraph reads well, I can experience a real buzz. I love it when my head is at its most creative and certainly for this new book, I took the opportunity to experiment with novel techniques to add dialogue and dramatise some of the real-life events. Ultimately it is always brilliant when readers tell me they have enjoyed one of my books or been fascinated by one of my illustrated talks. I will admit to being a bit of an egotist and having my name on the spine of a book has always pushed my buttons!

Where can people find you on the internet?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phyllida.scrivens (where you will find links to Facebook pages for all 3 books)

Twitter: @escapinghitler

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

I have been fortunate to be offered two public events during September when I can share stories from The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster 1874. Firstly, I will speaking as part of the the Heritage Open Days in NorwichDetails and tickets can be found at https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/the-great-thorpe-railway-disaster-of-1874-heroes-victims-survivors

Secondly, the official launch will be at Jarrold, in Norwich, on the early evening of 30th September. Again, information and tickets from https://www.jarrold.co.uk/events-diary/events-list/the-great-thorpe-railway-disaster-1874

All three of my book launches have been at Jarrold, and I can honestly say they count amongst the best days of my life. After all the hard work, hours spent online, in Record Offices, in libraries, and at my desk, it is an amazing feeling to walk to the stage accompanied by warm applause from family, friends and fellow book lovers.  I am not sure if there will be another book (I am 66 now), but maybe the latest book launch experience will change my mind! 

Thanks so much Suzan for inviting me onto your blog.  It was a pleasure talking to you.

You’re welcome and thank you for taking time out to tell us about your fabulous new book.

Your pinot grigio is waiting for you.

If you would like to read about these books and/or purchase a copy …

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Phyllida-Scrivens/e/B07BWN8VWF%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

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Normally I leave my writing at a happy, exciting place so I want to go back to it next time but last time I didn’t. I left it with a problem. A big problem which would involve altering four or five chapters.

Yesterday we braved the cold and went out for a cycle ride. The sun was shining and during the ride I was able to see that what I needed to correct wasn’t really that big. I’m delighted to say that when I got home I was able to do the alterations.

Note to self (and other writers): don’t leave your writing at a problematic or boring stage as you won’t want to go back to it as quickly as you would if you left it at a good place!

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Being in the highest tier (tier 4) it can be difficult to get motivated and do things. Although we have to stay home we are allowed out to work, attend doctors, dentists, hospital appts etc and, thankfully to exercise. It’s too cold for us to cycle today, so, despite the freezing temperature, we went for a walk. Not far as it was too cold but it got us out for fresh air and exercise. Now home in the warm and getting ready to write. Wherever you are during this pandemic please keep yourself safe.

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I’m talking to Jo Lambertwriter today, grab a cuppa and come and join us. https://jolambertwriter.blog/2018/02/13/today-tuesday-talk-welcomes-suzan-collins-discussing-the-inspiration-behind-the-chatty-cat-series-and-her-latest-writing-project/

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Welcome, Regina Clarke…

Regina Clarke

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I was born in England and grew up in the U.S. That English connection has always been strong, though, for both sets of grandparents were born in England. I once traced my paternal name back to a time before 1066. It was spelled “clerc” and of course derived in Old English from various monks who were allowed to marry (or the name would have entered the mists of obscurity). I also found a Reginald Clerc, noted in the Curia Regis Rolls of Rutland (1205). After that, I knew I had to keep my own name no matter what. My ancestors had to be honored!

What is the title and genre of your book?

I’ve written a number of books and short stories, but selected The Magic Hour, a mystery/fantasy, for this interview.

How did you come up with the story?

Three powerful things influenced my writing it:

On the back cover description I say this: “Before full night comes, when the air is indigo and objects less distinct, time and space can shift. This is the magic hour, and it reveals what is usually hidden.” I had always wanted to tell a story that took place in that interval. The desire to do that just wouldn’t let go.

Then about four months before I started the book, or even thought of starting it, I had come over to the U.K. and spent some days in the month of September in Glastonbury, visiting ancient monoliths and barrows (and having divine cream teas). The room I had was on Silver Street and I was on the top floor of this old house, and the view was over the wall into the Glastonbury Abbey ruins. Talk about a perfect place to be. There was often mist rising over the stones.

I am also a fanatical reader of mysteries, so I wanted to write a book that had a mystery to solve.

Those three elements all merged for me in this book. It began one day, all of a sudden. I hadn’t planned such a book at all. I was working in corporate at the time (alas) but instead of attending to a technical writing doc, I wrote the first paragraph of the novel. I remember looking at it on my computer and wondering what on earth that was about. Four months later the first draft was done. While I took the book through a lot of revisions, that first paragraph has never changed.

Oh, there was another aspect that influenced me. I was very familiar with the visual effects of migraines. I had studied them for a nonfiction paper and then got mesmerized by descriptions of the visual effects as given by Dr. Oliver Sacks and the brilliant Hildegard of Bingen on both migraines and hallucinations. I knew about TLE, temporal lobe epilepsy, as a result, as well. So these figured as a catalyst to explain why the detective was having visions of another world off and on while pursuing his real-life case in a small town in the Pacific northwest. Like the magic hour—which part is real was the question.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Regina Clarke book cover

Thank you! That was a joy to create. I have a wonderful digital artist doing covers for me now, but at that time I was on my own, though I had an excellent (and free) PaintShop clone I used, and still use. I’d received a Twitter message from a psychologist friend in Toronto and her background image for her profile was this small section of lovely stars in an indigo sky—just the smallest piece—but I loved it. She had no idea where she’d grabbed it from. Eventually, making Google searches relentlessly, I found the original image. It was taken by a photographer, who I credit in the book.

All I did was compress and alter the image to match the Kindle version specs and add my title and name. Choosing a titling font only took fifteen tries before I got it right… J When I created the back cover for the paperback it was a harder, because I did not understand about spines, etc., so that took awhile. But when it was done I was very happy with it—it gave the feeling I wanted of that magic interval of indigo twilight.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I offer the one writers are always given—write every day, preferably at the same time of day. But if that cannot happen, at the very least write something before the day is done. Make it a kind of mantra to do that.

What is your writing routine?

When I was in corporate it was nights and weekends or at lunchtime in the car. But as soon as I had time free I settled into a schedule that is so fixed that when I don’t do it I feel bereft! It is always in the morning—between two and three hours. I’ll do other writing, for my blog or my newsletter or a guest post, etc., in the afternoon or evening.

I think maybe the most important part of all is not even to look at news or social media until you’ve put in your writing time. I didn’t always follow that and would end up engaged in correspondence or researching an article I’d read or almost anything that drew my attention—like one of those people who surf channels on a television set, or an insect checking out the next flower source, only at least insects are following a purpose! I do a lot of research voluntarily or on assignment and have an insatiable appetite for information and the unknown, so left to undisciplined devices, I might not attend to doing what I wanted to do most. I had to absolutely stop it all and just write in the morning time. No distractions.

Do you have an editing process?

I love editing. It is as creative as writing but in a whole different way. It is a feeling of honing and settling and shaping—the actual writing gets the right brain dreaming down, and the editing activates the critical faculty. It is the whole process that brings the book into being.

Of course, indie publishing is the best of inventions! I get to use my inspired self and my critical self to design or approve covers, to learn new methods of production, to explore audience reactions and connect with other writers, artists, and production people.

That said, it is also quite grand that now the self-publishing field has drawn in people so skilled at marketing and promotion. I follow a number them or listen and watch their webinars—these people, the good ones, are professionals who know how to help us find our audience. They also offer a tremendous amount of information free as well as paid—of their skill, wisdom, and help. I am very much indebted to them.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Writing is always, always good, even when it isn’t developing the way I think it ought to at any given time. It’s a world I love to enter. A welcome immersion.

It wouldn’t bother me at all if someone else took care of everyday tasks like shopping and cleaning—I am perfectly capable of spending an entire day writing and editing when in fact there is dusting and cooking and tidying that are waiting on me that simply get forgotten…! This would also open up time for me to create excerpted audio readings on my website for each book, as I want to do. I even bought basic equipment and downloaded Audacity to edit the audios. I then created a page for it on my website, which so far shows only a list of book titles! The audios require blocks of time in the afternoon that are not readily available. I could do it at night but my voice skills are very likely to flag.

Where can people find you on the internet?

My website is at www.regina-clarke.com and I welcome visitors indeed. My Blog at that site is nonfiction, with the emphasis on inspirational posts. BTW, I would be keen to have people write guests posts there on similar themes, as well.

My Amazon Author page is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Regina-Clarke/e/B001K8IWBU

The following sites are good ways to reach me. I am also on Goodreads, though not involved with that site except occasionally.

https://www.facebook.com/ReginaClarkeAuthor/

https://www.pinterest.com/reginac7/boards/

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/regina-clarke.html

https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/members/

https://twitter.com/ReginaClarke1

http://linkedin.com/pub/regina-clarke/10/688/82

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

One thing that is invaluable to receive is feedback. If readers (and other writers) send feedback in emails or in reviews to authors they have read, it is always beneficial. I try for my part to do it for books I have enjoyed. It matters for writers to get other perspectives and impressions.

I would also extend great thanks to you, Suzan, for this gracious interview!

You’re welcome, Regina.

 

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Welcome, Heidi Swain…

Heidi Swain head and shoulders~black and white

Thank you for inviting me to visit Suzan. I’m delighted to be here.

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

I’d love a cup of tea please. Milk and one, not too heaped, sugar. Thank you.

*Hands tea to Heidi*

Cup of tea at Coconut Loft1

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

My name is Heidi Swain. I am an author who writes commercial fiction for Simon and Schuster and my agent is Amanda Preston from LBA. I live, with my family and our rescue cat called Storm, in a village a few miles south of Norwich.

I don’t have a pen name because I would find it all far too confusing.

What is the title and genre of your book?

My current release, which was published on July 13th is called Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage. It is the fourth book I have written set in and around the fictitious town of Wynbridge in East Anglia and it is commercial women’s fiction. Although I’m not too sure how I feel about the ‘women’s’ tag as my other half is an HGV driver and his colleagues enjoy my books. And they are very manly!

Heidi Swain~cover forComing Hme to Cuckoo Cottage

Do you write in first or third person? Please explain why

All of my books are written in the first person but my short stories are third. I never made a conscious decision to work that way. It just kind of happened, however, I do like writing in the first person because you really get right inside a character and find out what makes them tick.

How did you come up with the story?

The story of Cuckoo Cottage came to me when I was writing Mince Pies and Mistletoe at The Christmas Market (my Christmas 2016 release). There was a fabulous character called Gwen who was demanding her share of the limelight. She was completely eccentric and lived in a pretty cottage on the outskirts of Wynbridge. I knew straightaway that her home needed investigating and then along came Lottie Foster.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Thank you. My daughter tells me it is her favourite so far but I find it impossible to pick one as I love them all. However, the Christmas 2017 cover is stunning…

With regards to the cover creation process, my editor, Emma Capron, and I have a quick chat about what we think the focus should be and then the ideas are sent off to Pip Watkins in the art department. So far she has struck gold every time and I can’t imagine that is going to change. She’s hugely talented and knows exactly what we want to achieve.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I’m asked this a lot now and I always come back to the same thing – don’t think, just write. If you have a story you want to tell just blooming well get on and write it! If we all waited for the perfect time, the idyllic writing room and the endless hours of free time, we’d never write a word. Stop procrastinating and get the words down and remember, the world won’t stop turning if you make a mistake. Every word you write is a learning curve but you have to take those first steps to climb it.

That sounds a bit ranty. Sorry. I feel very passionate about this!

What is your writing routine?

This has had a bit of a shake-up recently, and is still evolving as I’m now writing full-time (yay) and determined not to get stuck in a rut, sitting for endless hours and having no social life or fresh air.

I still like to get up early and, weather pending, begin the day with a walk rather than words. If I can manage 25 mins pounding the pavements I won’t feel so guilty about sitting and working on the WIP until lunchtime and occasionally beyond, depending on how the words are flowing.

Afternoons are generally kept for answering emails, writing blog posts and interviews.

However, I’ve discovered that us authors never really switch off, do we? Even when we’re ironing, hoovering or scrubbing the bath, our brains are still untangling plot problems and dreaming up new settings.

Do you have an editing process?

When I’ve completed a first draft, I like to leave it alone for a few days before having a read through and a tinker and then it goes off to my editor. Once she has returned it I’ll work through her notes and suggestions and work on it again. And again if necessary, although so far so good. Next come the proof pages and the finishing touches and voila! A book is born.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled. I’ve left out the bits about months of obsessing and the crucial error of getting sucked into editing as you go along…

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Most – creating a character that resonates with readers and coming up with settings that people would actually want to live in. I readily admit that I would be quite happy living the lives of all my leading ladies!

Least – the sleepless nights spent worrying that my lovely readers won’t like the next story and those (thankfully infrequent) scathing reviews that feel like a blow to the stomach and stick with you far longer than they should.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I’m all over the internet. I adore social media!

Website: http://www.heidiswain.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Heidi_Swain

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterHeidiJoSwain?ref=hl

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heidi-Swain/e/B00YNN3LDI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1483439180&sr=8-2-ent

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

A massive hug if I may? And an even bigger thank you for being so hugely supportive and giving me the confidence to carry on!

You are appearing at the East Anglian Festival of Culture in the Ambassador Room in the Hatfield Hotel in Lowestoft on Saturday 9th September.

I’m really looking forward to this! It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet some fellow local authors and hopefully some new readers. I’m thrilled to have been invited.

Will you be reading one of your fabulous books or talking about becoming a fulltime writer?

I’m planning to read from Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage but am more than happy to talk about becoming a full time author as well. I could chat about all things bookish until the cows come home!

Thank you for a lovely interview.

You’re welcome and thank you for taking time out to tell us about your fabulous new book. I’ve got my evening sorted. Can’t decide on chocolate or chocolate with strawberries…

Presecco Chocolate Strawberries and chocolate  Heidi Swain~cover forComing Hme to Cuckoo Cottage

 

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Welcome, Jean Gill…

jean sm~head and shoulders 

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

After a career teaching English, and writing when I could find the time, I wanted to write full-time. I now live in Dieulefit, a small village in Provence, where we moved from Wales in 2003 after my husband retired (and is the subject of my memoir How Blue is My Valley). My claim to fame is that I was the first woman to be a secondary Headteacher in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire.

From 2008, I also worked as a photographer. Life brings surprises if you’re open to adventures, so I learned dog-training with top international Michel Hasbrouck, and then, two years ago, I trained as a beekeeper. Which means I live with a Nikon D750, two scruffy dogs, a couple of beehives and a man. We also have five children between us so life has been pretty hectic.

What is the title and genre of your book?

Song at Dawn is Book 1of The Troubadours Quartet, historical fiction set in 1150 Provence.

Jean sm Song eBook cover

How did you come up with the story?

I was reading books about the troubadours, who lived and worked in this very region where I now live, and I came across the sentence, ‘Rumour says there was a female troubadour touring the south of France with a large white dog.’ How could I not write that book? Poetry, a feisty woman and a big white dog! I could see Estela in a ditch, on the run, and the Great Pyrenees at her side, and that’s how the story begins.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Thank you and all credit to my amazing designer Jessica Bell http://www.jessicabellauthor.com/book-cover-design-services.html  Yes, that’s one of the things I love about Indie publishing – never again will feel disappointed at seeing the cover a publisher has chosen!

Designing The Troubadours covers was the first time Jessica and I worked together but she understood straight away that I wanted a branded look for all my books, a series look for The Troubadours (three were already written) and finally the individual cover. An impossible task with 18 published books, of different genres, but she pulled it off!

Jean ms troubadours no text

Jessica is free to choose any of my photos if she wants and, for Song at Dawn, the dog on the cover is one of my own Great Pyrenees, Bételgeuse. The 12th century fortified village is also my photo, of Poët-Laval, a 12th century stronghold of the Knights Templar, right next door to me.

I wondered if we’d made a mistake having fantasy adventure vibes rather than a straight ‘authentic history’ medieval tapestry-type cover, given that the period detail is as accurate as a year’s research can make it, but when a reviewer said the book’s ‘like GOT but with real history’ I thought, ‘Yes! We got the covers right.’

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Believe in your own work. If you don’t, why should anyone else? And I’m a big fan of the approach; ‘Don’t get it right, get it written,’ with the P.S. ‘THEN redraft as often as it takes to get it right!’

What is your writing routine?

I’m a morning person, writing either at my desk in a corner of the living-room, where I can look at the garden and listen to Metallica or troubadour music, or outdoors with my laptop. I write about 1,000 words in one session and I try to always stop at a point when I know what comes next. I’m sure that’s why I never get writer’s block (touch wood!)

Do you have an editing process?

I really hate editing but nobody else can make my choices for me, even though I have a great professional editor. I write the book first, only looking back to check details or re-arrange parts and insert foreshadowing. When I finish (hooray moment!) I re-read and edit the whole book (ouch moment!). Then I let my husband read it; he has the knack of picking out a wrong note or something that just doesn’t work. Then my close group of writer-friends read it and feed back. Their feedback is essential and I call them alpha readers because beta readers is demeaning to such top quality writers. Then I consider all the suggestions, make my changes and send the typescript off to my editor for the final polish. She too will make suggestions on content so the pain is still possible.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Editing!

Where can people find you on the internet?

 Everywhere! 😊

Song at Dawn, Book 1 of the award-winning Troubadours Quartet is available free to subscribers who sign up to Jean’s newsletter here http://eepurl.com/AGvy5

Contact jean.gill@wanadoo.fr

IPPY Award for Best Author Website www.jeangill.com

Blog www.jeangill.blogspot.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/writerjeangill

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/writerjeangill

The Troubadours Page https://www.facebook.com/jeangilltroubadours

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619468.Jean_Gill

Watch the book trailers on youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/beteljean

Jean sm twitter banner 2016

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East Coast author event poster

 

 

A lovely day was had at The Loddon Swan Hotel last Saturday (25th Feb) where I joined some lovely authors to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

 

 

 

East Coast author event~Sandra Delf reading1

Sandra Delf

East Coast author event~Helen reading

Elizabeth Manning-Ives

East Coast author event ~ just starting

Enid Thwaites and Sandra Forder on the left

East Coast author event~Get Writing stall

East Coast author event ~Darren and Aisha 2017

Darren Barker and Aisha Khalaf

Me at the East Coast Author event at The Loddon Swan 25th Feb 2017

Suzan Collins

East Coast author event ~Cath Pickles and Worzel    East Coast author event~Worzel

Cath Pickles and Worzel

Thank you to the authors for giving their time and to The Loddon Swan for hosting us and looking after us. Thank you.

 

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