Sunday, 30 December 2018

Make 2019 A Very Happy New Year...

Another New Year approaches and I'm probably not alone in thinking 2018 has gone quickly.

I've had a rest over the Christmas holidays and slept better. I'm definitely going to try to get to bed a bit earlier than I have done this year...

Another major decision is cutting down on some of my other commitments that take up my available time left to write. 

I'm definitely going to be stricter with my time management- always a weak spot.

There's a lot of minor bits and pieces that I'll need to sort out in the next twelve months, but they're not priorities.

  • I have a book to get ready and that's my priority for 2019.

My final word count total for 2017 was 36,444. 

(The aim was to at least break through the 40,000 words this year.)

My final word count total for 2018 is 43,946.

Last of all for this 2018 post...



image:Pixabay

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Seasons Greetings and Merry Christmas...

Christmas Day is almost here and all that needs to be done is get a few last minute fruit and vegetables. Although the shops are only closed for one day, I prefer to have the week between Christmas and New Year without the need to go food shopping again...

I'll update my annual word count at the end of the month as I'm hoping to get some writing done later this week.

Meanwhile, however you celebrate (or don't) I wish you all peace and goodwill...





(image from pixabay.com)

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Review of 2018 - July to December...

Welcome to part two of my 2018 review. In part one it was January to June, and now the busy exciting aspects start with July...

July to December 2018...
July 

This was the busiest month of the year and consequently wrote the most blog posts!

The month began with a guest visit from Leicester RNA Chapter member, Madalyn Morgan with her latest book release Chasing Ghosts.

Quickly followed by another mini-workshop for NWC, along with the deadline for my article for Writing Magazine the day after. Then the weekend of the RNA Conference starting the day after my article went in...

My Writing Magazine article...
Then on the 30th the article was published, a double-page spread in Writing Magazine; Womag Rightscame out and gave the new 'all rights' contract at Woman's Weekly wider attention on social media.

(I even get a mention on Wikipedia.)

August

My office was (unexpectedly) decorated.

September

A much needed weekend away in Scarborough. Attended a dialogue workshop at NWC. And whenever possible took photos of the #Hoodwinked statues around Nottingham before they went off to be auctioned for charity. One of the pictures was used on the back cover of NWC's Autumn issue of the club magazine 'Scribe'.

October

Trying out using file cards for keeping consistency with the characters in my WIP.

November

Taking care of my eye health and moving to a new monitor screen with low blue light- it has really made a difference to my eyes.

December

Fantastic way to end the year, Christmas parties and the NWC Awards Night all in one week.

I won the Mary Street Memorial Shield for a romance novel. One of those ideas that get in the way of what you're working on so you write it down to get it out of the way- for later. Well the 1920's story idea (the vintage fair earlier in the year) became the first three chapters and synopsis for this year's entry.

As I've won this trophy three times now I'm meant to judge the next time it runs in 2020...

My recent trophy win...
Had a fantastic time with the Belmont Belles RNA Chapter at the Christmas party. The guest was Sunday Times bestselling author Carole Matthews.

All of the Belmont Belles are a fantastic fount of knowledge, advice and support; I value their friendship and look forward to our regular meetings knowing I will go home inspired and encouraged to keep working.


So my final word count last year was 36, 444.
My 2018 total still has time to increase and I'll update it for an end of the year total in a few weeks, but I have exceeded last year's total...

Plans for 2019

Keep on with draft two.
Take up opportunities that may come along.
Apply for the RNA's New Writer Scheme in January (there's a limited number of places).

I always think I haven't done much, but when I look back I find I've achieved far more than I realised.

I'm still aiming to get a book out in 2019 under my Serena Lake pseudonym.

As long as I keep moving forward, I'm happy...

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Review of 2018 - January to June...

Toward the end of the year I review the past twelve months to see what I've achieved- or not in some cases- and set a few targets for the coming year.

Starting with the targets I set for this year, back in December 2017:
  • Get that second draft completed. (I'm working on it.)
  • Continue to be open to writing opportunities and experiences. (Certainly did that a few times!)
  • Rewrite/revise a few of those short stories I found on my floppy disks. (Not yet.)
  • More reading and much more writing. (Definitely did this one.)
January to June
2018

January

This was a stressful start to the year with the rewiring and re-plumbing of the house starting. There were holes in the wall and ceiling, as well as floorboards up in bedrooms and on the landing. I still think Lights and Pipes would be a good book title.

February

Despite the router and keyboard failure, as well as getting the house warmed up after the new boiler, radiators and pipes went in on the weekend it snowed- thank goodness we were in a local hotel- the rest of the month was better.

I did a workshop with another Nottingham Writers' Club member, Jill Walmsley, on Competitions: Do's and Don'ts; then at the end of the month there was a Saturday afternoon workshop with local author Claire Harvey.

March

This month started with snow on the 1st of March. I live in one of those regions where snow either misses us and hits everyone else in the country, or we get lots and it stays for days.

I was reading the entries to the 2018 NWC National Short Story Competition and giving feedback on each entry; both rounds this year had short deadlines.

Finally I started back onto the second draft of my WIP. While also looking ahead to GDPR and Podcasts (that would eventually become part of a page on the blog).

The podcast
list...
April

The redecorating started at home (it's taken months) and this blog began it's facelift. I took on the role of Chairman at NWC again, after a three year gap.

Enjoyed a trip to a vintage fair in Nottingham city centre and inspiration for a 1920's story idea.

May

An exciting month with the new flooring going down and the wallpaper finished in the living room.

At NWC I'd arranged guest speaker C.J Tudor, author of  The Chalk Man
(recently included in the Guardian's books of 2018 list).

I also booked a place for the Romantic Novelists Association Conference in July near Leeds.

June

That was a mixed month. I had the sad news that my short story 'The Wishful Spirit' would no longer be available after July, due to the publisher, Alfie Dog Fiction, ceasing the short story download side of the site.

The future of the One Word Anthology (with short fiction by me and Serena, from some years ago, in it) was also under consideration, but thankfully continued to be available.

The One Word
Anthology...
At the end of the month the contract changes at Woman's Weekly became news and led to a new writing opportunity.

Find out what happened in part two of my 2018 review on Thursday...



Monday, 10 December 2018

Awards and Parties...

Only fifteen days until Christmas and I've still got cards and letters to write and presents to buy.

Last week I was partying; minimal alcohol and lots of happy times with writer friends.

Wednesday was Awards Night followed by the Christmas Party with Nottingham Writers' Club.

It's lovely seeing members receive their certificates for placings in the quarterly prose and poetry competitions; and then it's the trophy presentations for the annuals.

This year, among the trophies, was the bi-annual presentation of the Mary Street Memorial Shield for a Romance Novel - though it's not the complete novel, just the synopsis and first three chapters.

The Mary Street Memorial
Trophy winner 2018...
(image courtesy of
Dennis Apple)
This year's competition was close; there were only two entries and knowing the ability of the other entrant I didn't think my entry would win.

What a shock. It did!

I have to say my entry was not as good as it will be sometime in the future- when I've worked out how to tie up the various strands in the latter half...

The comments I received from the judge (a published romance writer and member of the RNA) were very encouraging:

"The judgement call for this competition was very close, as there were excellent qualities overall, but the winning entry was the one I felt had more shape, confidence of writing style, and clarity of direction, with an intriguing opening.  It is a historical mystery romance set in the late 1920s and the writer has created the appropriate period style and ambience well, and worked on making it convincing."

The story was one of those ideas that interfere in what you're working on and has to be written down to get it out of the way (to carry on with the work in progress). I only needed to tidy up the first three chapters and write a synopsis for it.

It's a reassuring way to end a year that has had a lot of disruptions and unexpected demands on my time (that have now set back my intentions for next year).

For now the 1920's story can carry on brewing in the depths of my sub-conscious, while I get back to Serena's 1802 setting and the rewriting; I still have a target to get it out next year, but it won't be June...
















Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The 2018 Diagram Prize Winner is Boiling H2O...

As I assumed a few weeks ago the Joy of Water Boiling did well, so well in fact that it won this year's Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year.
The Winning Title...




It garnered 56% of the votes.

If you have title suggestions for next year's Diagram prize you will find the details of how to do so at the end of this Bookseller article.

Don't forget you can nominate your own odd book title- if you think it has that much oddity... :D


Sunday, 18 November 2018

Eye Health and Updating Computer Monitors...

You may be like me, put off updating equipment until you absolutely need to, but then you get to the stage where it has to be done. Well that was me a couple of weeks ago.

When we got our first computer at home, back in the early 2000's, monitor screens were a bit boxier and generally smaller than those you can get today. Ours was only 15 inches and included speakers- which is great if space is limited.

(Plus it had a much lower screen resolution that would mean display issues on some newer computer programmes.)

Moving on to the next decade when technology was improving and web pages could now fill a wider screen, I was having to use the bottom scroll to see what was on the right hand side of the page.

After my eye test last year revealed vision issues I made adjustments: increased font size on my screen and had the lighting in my office area customised to my needs. My glasses now tint to protect me from bright lights indoors or sunlight outside.

I finally admitted I needed a bigger screen to make everything easier and for display requirements.

Blue light...
 
Wow, the monitor sizes and options, as well as the cost of some of them! You can get a good monitor without paying huge prices.

I did some online comparisons; measured the space available for the monitor sizes and pinned down a few of my must haves: speakers integrated; plus a non-reflective screen- when you turn it off you can't see your face in it.

I was impressed with how many manufacturers are producing screens with eye-health in mind.

(I had tried the Windows 10 option to set the night light display so the blue brightness was lowered, but on the smaller screen it was problematic.)

Although I've only had my new monitor (just under 22 inch size) a few weeks I can feel the difference at the end of the day with the low blue light effect; my eyes are not as tired and I can read a paperback book before bed without difficulty.

Whether the blue light on my old monitor contributed to the start of my macular degeneration, I can't say as age does play a part.

If you're not sure about the pros and cons of blue light there's some interesting information from Zeiss about it and eye care.

When I had my Optician's appointment last week I was relieved that the macular degeneration was stable and all the changes I've made over the year, including vegetable choices, have been helping.

Eye health is very important whether you're a writer and/or a reader.

Are you still working with an old monitor or have you updated?


Saturday, 27 October 2018

The 2018 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year...

This prize has been running 40 years with a number of extremely odd titles winning...

As I blog about this every year and choose the title/s that I feel are strong contenders for the win, I usually have a favourite and another possible.

This year I'm not impressed with the six titles. But I may just be getting tired!

  • Are Gay Men More Accurate in Detecting Deceits? Hoe-Chi Angel Au (Open Dissertation Press)
  • Why Sell Tacos in Africa? By Paul Oberschneider (Blue Ocean Marketing)
  • Call of Nature: The Secret Life of Dung by Richard Jones (Pelagic Publishing)
  • Joy of Water Boiling based on the idea of ​​the Berlin writer Thomas Götz von Aust (Achse Verlag)
  • Equine Dry Needling by Cornelia Klarholz, Andrea Schachinger (tredition)
  • Jesus on Gardening by David Muskett (Onwards and Upwards)

A contender...
I ended up voting for Equine Dry Needling...

If you want to find out more then pop over to the Bookseller website where you can read more, including discovering which of the six nearly didn't make it.

The link to vote is at the bottom of the Bookseller article.

Voting closes on the 16th November and the winner announced on the 23rd November.

Suspect Water Boiling might do well...





Thursday, 18 October 2018

Consistency with Characters...

You probably know that issue of discovering you've given one or more of your characters two different eye or hair colours in your manuscript, well I'm trying to avoid that as I rewrite.

File cards were the solution. Most places sell the smaller standard size cards in a pack of 50 or 100. The lines on them are quite narrow and honestly my hand writing isn't that small so I wouldn't get much on them!

I knew there was a larger size available, and didn't want to resort to buying online when all I wanted was one pack; I checked every shop I knew had file cards.

 Then I found them, in Rymans. The 5 x 8 inch size.

File cards...
Even with my large writing I can get good amount of words on both sides of one card.

As they only had the white file card in the largest size I needed, I had to find another way to highlight what was physical description; characteristics and negative aspects of each character.

In the end I went with little coloured circles- coloured pens are useful and not just for editing on the printed page.

The other advantage was noticing the gaps in those three areas. My hero is doing fine, but my heroine needs some work. Her characteristics are acceptable at the moment, but physical description is a bit vague...

I do write character profiles before I start writing, but then as the characters develop and particular traits emerge I've not added them to the profiles, so the cards will fill in the gaps as I work through the second draft.

Now I have to decide are his eyes hazel green or green? And whichever one, what sort of green?

My lesson from this for the next time is add the details as I go...

Do you have a process to ensure consistency or do you put it right later on?


Sunday, 30 September 2018

Autumn Again...

Goodness where has September gone?

No, I haven't been wasting my time since my last post. I've been working on an entry for one of the annual competitions at the writers' club and putting into practise some of the skills I learnt over the summer.

As home life has been a bit disruptive with various family members at home during the day, I've been trying out writing in the evening. Until daytime's settle down again I'm going to concentrate on rewriting in the evenings, while I can use the time during the day for research, admin, and catching up on interesting programmes and Twitter.

It's not ideal but I will be able to get quiet and work intensively.

Yesterday (Saturday) I was at a half-day workshop on dialogue, so I have been writing a bit.

On my travels around the city centre this month I've been taking photos of the various Hoodwinked robins that have been placed across the city. They've been part of an art trail along with a number of book benches.

The robins have been sponsored by local businesses, and each Robin has been decorated by a local or national artist.

Best of all the robins will be auctioned off in October to raise money for the Nottinghamshire Hospice.

They've been popular with children and adults during the school summer holidays and at weekends. After today (30th September) they will be gathered up and taken to Fernleigh House and Garden to join two more special edition robins.

The robins will be getting a tidy up first as I'm sure they've had a few sticky finger prints on them, as well as whatever the weather could inflict on them.

I didn't get to photograph them all, but I did get eight of them. In fact one of them is on the back cover of the autumn issue of Scribe- the club magazine of Nottingham Writers' Club.

Goose Fair, Goose Fowl...
This one was just off the Market Square. It's very appropriate as this week is the annual Goose Fair and in the past it was held in the Market Square.

Nowadays it's a funfair held out at the Forest Recreation Ground and the car park- of the tram stop next door!

Like any tradition it has its roots in history; at this time of year Geese would have been driven into the city to be sold for the Michaelmas dinner. The Geese came from Lincolnshire and would have been walked all that way.

You can find out more about the origins of the Goose Fair over on the Nottingham Hidden History Team site. They're a fantastic resource for Nottinghamshire history.

Do look at the picture of the huge Goose sitting on the roundabout. Every year this heavy duty statue comes out of storage and appears at the roundabout just by the Forest, on a bus route so it can't be missed; and if you forget it's Goose Fair time its appearance soon reminds you...




Monday, 3 September 2018

A Seaside Visit...

I'm home and catching up from a short break away at the seaside - Scarborough in North Yorkshire.

Unfortunately our four hour journey turned into six hours as not only was Friday lunchtime around the York area busy, but there'd been an accident earlier in the morning and the exit we should have taken off the motorway was closed, so lots of traffic having to travel further along and get back onto the correct route.

It was a relief to finally arrive...

We were staying at a hotel in the North Bay. The views are spectacular whether it's day, night or sunrise- the latter my OH was up very early to photograph while I continued to sleep.

Late afternoon at North Bay
with Scarborough Castle
in the distance...



We did a lot of walking but took advantage of the bus that ran along from the North Bay to the Spa at the far end of the South Bay.
You can walk up from the Foreshore Road to the main pedestrianised shopping area, but it's quicker to use the Central Tramway; it's history in action and only takes a very short time from the bottom to the top or vice versa.

Up or down...
The service is still run by the original company, The Central Tramway Company (Scarborough) Ltd, which was set up in 1881.

Of course it has had a lot of updates since then.

You can read more and see some photos of the trams in action on their website.




There's also a statue in the gardens across from the tramway building...                           

Queen Victoria...

This visit to Scarborough did not have any research motives, but of course history is always around.

The Castle is a scheduled ancient monument; from an Iron Age settlement to a Roman signal station, then on to the 12th century enclosure castle and through to the gun batteries of the 18th century and 19th century garrison during the Napoleonic Wars.

The town was bombarded by a German Destroyer in 1914. In WW2 it was a listening post.

It has strong literary connections too, not only Alan Ayckbourn's long association with the Stephen Joseph Theatre, but also poet Edith Sitwell who was born in Scarborough.

Anne Bronte died there in the late 1840's and is buried in the graveyard near to St Mary's Church.

There are regular boat trips for pleasure, or you can watch the working boats in the harbour. Crab seems to be a popular catch for the boats- and children on the pier with their buckets dangling by a long cord over the side into the harbour water.

The Harbour...




The weather was good and the sea air was refreshing; a much needed break after a busy summer.

Now it's back to work...







Thursday, 16 August 2018

Time and Space...

After so many years of not being able to do much writing during the school summer holidays I'm having to retrain myself- now school and college days are over for my family.

My OH decided to do the redecorating in my office area this week- rather than next year- so I've taken advantage to move my chair position, add a second bookcase (it was on the upstairs landing) to replace an old half-size one that was bowing under the weight of stationery, filing and other useful bits and pieces.

This is my new walls.



My new wallpaper...


It does make my office area brighter and will make a good backing for the framed pictures that need to be replaced.

I just need new curtains or a blind to match...














Monday, 30 July 2018

Appearing in Writing Magazine this Month...

It's been a very exciting Monday and a much better way to start a week than usual.

My article 'Womag Rights' has been published in the September issue of Writing Magazine; subscribers began receiving their copies today, but for newsagents it's Thursday (2nd August).

My article in
Writing Magazine
While the 'all rights' issue at Woman's Weekly (the focus of my article) still remains unresolved for writers, this ongoing situation is like an Octopus uncurling its tentacles in different directions with potential damage from each one...

I'll be guest posting on the Womag Writers blog on Thursday so if you have to wait until then to read the article you'll have an opportunity to join in the ongoing discussions.

September issue
in newsagents
Thursday

Meanwhile shares and tweets on this all rights topic are spreading the word and appreciated...




Sunday, 29 July 2018

Arriving Shortly...

No, the book is not done yet!

Instead there's a non-fiction article due out any day- if you're a Writing Magazine subscriber; otherwise you'll have to wait until Thursday when the September issue is in newsagents, or you prefer digital...

As soon as I have a copy in my hands and have read it- to see what was edited- then I'll be blogging and tweeting about it, as well as posting on Facebook.

It's an important topic for many writers I know...

Magazine topics...



Image from Pixabay.



Monday, 23 July 2018

Podcast Added to My List...

Since I got back from the RNA Conference I've added a podcast recommendation to the list on my podcast page; it's The Bestseller Experiment.

I attended a session on the Sunday morning called Mark Stay: The Bestseller Experiment - how two friends aimed for the top of the Kindle chart.

The hour went quickly but Mark's presentation did cover a lot as he took the audience on the journey he and Mark Desvaux (who writes fiction under the name of Mark Oliver) undertook in their aim to write and publish a bestseller in one year.

Their bestseller is called Back to Reality.

You can find out about the two Marks, who podcast while separated by an ocean, on their About page.

Their podcasts feature writers, publishers, editors and more.

If you've got any recommendations not on my list already, then let me know...






Thursday, 19 July 2018

My Weekend - Work and Play...

I can now reveal that my fun weekend (mentioned in my last blog post) was at the 2018 Romantic Novelists Conference at Leeds Trinity University from Friday to Sunday #RNAConf18.

In the
Auditorium...
The campus was about 5 miles north-west of Leeds at Horsforth.

This is the first RNA Conference I've been to and I would definitely like to go again next year- it's a different location.

Quite a few of those attending had to come by plane from outside the UK. Planes were a constant presence as Leeds Bradford Airport was a few miles down the road; and at night you could hear them, during the day see them coming into land with flaps open and wheels down...

Yes there was a lot of socialising- I didn't get to bed until midnight both nights. Lots of online and offline groups had get-together's. Lots of kitchen 'parties'; fortunately the kitchens were a good size in the accommodation blocks with plenty of seating.

As you'd expect with so many writers together the noise level was high!

I went to each of the sessions I'd intended to on the Saturday. Self-Editing. How to do it effectively with Alison May was very good. The reassuring thing for me was finding out that what I'm doing now with my wip is right.

Remember 'You're in charge' of your manuscript is a quote worth remembering.

I also got to meet #writingchat friend Susan Jones who is a pocket novelist. Maggie Swinburne of the My Weekly Pockets Novels was doing her session at the same time as the editing one, but I met up with Susan for lunch to find out how it went.

Pocket Novelist
Susan Jones
A copy of Susan's latest release was in every goody bag that all attendees received. Plus Susan was a walking promotional tool with her t-shirt and bags too!












Saturday evening was the Gala Dinner so everyone was dressed up- lots of sparkle.




The table was covered in little shapes: stars, hearts, and wine glasses in a myriad of metallic shades.



As you can imagine it was very warm so many moved outside after dinner into the slightly cooler air.

My
 Gala Dinner
Outfit...



Sunday was another fantastic day.

There was a lot of laughing going on in the auditorium just after 9 am.

Liam Livings and Virginia Heath were holding a session called Sensual love scenes without stuffing the turkey.

Let's just say the names Roger and Fanny will be likely to cause hysterical laughter for some time...

There was a serious side to the session; how to use the senses in love scenes and avoiding awful metaphors- just don't mention red onions in plastic string bags!


One of the
accommodation blocks
Before the carvery Sunday lunch I attended a session by the Word Wenches: Two nations, one language of romance?

The Wenches were Mary Jo Putney (one of my long-term favourite writers), Patricia Rice, Andrea Penrose and the RNA's Nicola Cornick.

It was a very interesting discussion panel, and revealed a number of elements that showed the US and UK romance markets are no longer as wide apart as they once were.

There seems to have been a shift as sweet romances gain popularity. Patricia Rice said that publishers were ' cranking back on sex' in books.

At the end of the session I went over to say hello to Mary Jo Putney to tell her how much I'd enjoyed her books over the years- and I still have them (pre-ebooks), and I got a hug. She's a very witty and a smart lady, so it was wonderful to hear her and get an opportunity to say hello properly.

I learnt something from every session I attended across the weekend; and just having the time to mix with other romance writers and not have to worry about every day activities: like shopping, cooking and endless washing machine marathons, it made such a difference to me, both mentally and physically- no time for extra snacks.

Will I go next year? If I can, I will...










Thursday, 12 July 2018

Doing Something Different...

It's been a busy week.

Yes I have been at my desk writing every day this week, for an article commission.

Apart from Wednesday evening when I was doing a mini-workshop at the writers' club. 

We were a small group- half a dozen-accompanied by the cheers and sounds of despair from the England v Croatia match being shown in the pub across the road from the venue we use.

Although we finished earlier than usual due to expected transport disruptions, it was a good evening looking at the topic of conflict.

I really enjoyed the choice of books brought along. The idea was to bring a favourite book and read out a passage displaying conflict, then identify the type, person vs person, person vs society and so on. There were 7 options to choose from...

The books were: The 39 Steps by John Buchan, Final Demand by Deborah Moggach, Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers and another that I've forgotten the title of- sorry.

Concentrating on listening for the conflict in each extracts it quickly became clear that all these authors presented multi conflicts seamlessly, so the reader absorbs each facet without really being conscious of them.

Time for fun...
I'll certainly be checking for that when I work on my novel next week.

I'm now ready for a fun weekend...











Image from Pixabay.com


Sunday, 1 July 2018

Chasing Ghosts - a new novel by guest Madalyn Morgan ...

Today I'm welcoming author Madalyn Morgan to Carol's Corner to continue the celebrations for the recent launch of her post WW2 novel Chasing Ghosts.

Madalyn Morgan
 Madalyn was an actress for more than thirty years working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television, Madalyn now writes and presents radio.

She's a proud Indie Author and has successfully published six novels. Foxden Acres, Applause, China Blue, and The 9:45 To Bletchley are set in WW2 and tell the wartime stories of Bess, Margot, Claire, and Ena Dudley. Foxden Hotel and Chasing Ghosts are post-war - 1949 and 1950.

Over to Madalyn...

Thank you for inviting me to chat about my novels on your fabulous blog, Carol.

Q. For anyone who hasn't yet discovered your books, please tell us a little about your Dudley Sisters Saga and how your new release Chasing Ghosts is connected.

A. There are four Dudley sisters and five books in the saga. Foxden Acres, Applause, China Blue, and The 9:45 To Bletchley tell the stories, the lives and loves, of each sister during WW2. The fifth book, Foxden Hotel, begins on New Year’s Eve 1948 (ten years after Foxden Acres) at the Grand opening of Bess and her husband’s hotel. 

In many ways, Foxden Hotel is a sequel to Foxden Acres. It was supposed to bring the sisters together to end the saga in the way Foxden Acres introduced them and began it. As Bess Dudley’s story unfolds in Foxden Acres her sister Margot (Applause) gets married and goes to live in London. Claire (China Blue) joins the WAAF. And Ena (The 9:45 To Bletchley) starts work in a local engineering factory. In Foxden Acres the sisters’ characters and personalities develop. In their own stories, they grow and mature.

 Chasing Ghosts is a sequel to the third book, China Blue. In 1949 after receiving treatment for shell shock in Canada, Claire's husband disappears. Has he left her for the woman he talks about in his sleep? Or is he on the run from accusations of wartime treachery? Claire goes to France in search of the truth, aided by old friends from the Resistance.

New release...
Q.  Chasing Ghosts is post WW2; did the research give you any surprises?

A. Yes, it did, Carol. In 1949, many food products were still rationed in the UK (especially imported food, and what the government called luxury food, like chocolate) in France too. But rationing ended in Canada in the summer of 1947. The government took dairy products off the ration list first and, because Canada is such a big country with a good climate for farming, they grew their own oats, wheat, barley, every kind of vegetable, and they bred cattle. Once the government stopped sending food overseas, the Canadians lived much better.

Another surprise was air travel. I flew to America in 1961, which I thought was early for passenger flights, but it wasn’t. Flying became popular as early as 1949. And what was even more surprising was the food on passenger aeroplanes. On Atlantic flights (probably other long distance flights too, but it was Trans-Canada Airlines and Canadian Pacific that I researched), the food was excellent. The seats were comfortable and there was plenty of legroom, which led the American and Canadian airlines to advertise with the slogan, The luxury of flying.

Q. There's been a surge of interest for anything vintage, especially 1930's- 1950's. Do you think it's helped your books get noticed?

A. Yes, without a doubt. From 2012 to 2017 there was great interest in pre and post-WW2 novels. There were major WW2 anniversaries between 2009 and 2015 - and thank goodness there were. We must never forget the young men and women who were killed and injured in WW1 and WW2. 

Carol. I know this time of year is very popular for towns and places holding 1940's days. They have old military vehicles and people dress up in the uniforms and clothes of the time, and there's often singers and dancers performing the music of the time, along with stalls and displays.

Q. For any reader who might be interested in discovering more about the time period your books are set in, from your extensive research, what's the best place to start?

A. Talk to your Grandmother. I’m not joking. Elderly people have a wealth of knowledge and a lifetime of memories - and they are eager to talk and pass on their experiences. 

There are good websites too. For my books it’s The War Museum, the Army, Navy, and Airforce websites. Google, Letters WW2. You will read letters written by ordinary people that give a fantastic insight into what life was like in the war. They give a real understanding of how people lived. You’ll meet a multitude of different characters, understand their feelings and emotions, as well as learn about ordinary life at that time. 

Q. Now Chasing Ghosts is released, have you started on another book and what hints can you give us about it?

A. Yes, I have. I usually take a couple of months off in the summer to work on the house and garden, which get neglected when I’m writing. But this year, while I was proofreading Chasing Ghosts, the opening of a spy thriller came to me. It was the middle of the night, but the characters were so real and the action so strong that I had to get up and write it down. When I had finished I'd written the opening 800 words of book seven. The working title is She’s Alive. I was so excited the following day that I wanted to carry on writing, but it wasn’t possible. I just hope the plot, and more of the story, comes to me when I have time to commit to writing it.

Here’s a hint. With the cold war around the corner, there is more to come from Ena and her husband Henry, who both work for MI5.

May I share the lovely surprise I had today?

Carol: Of course. We all like lovely surprises.

Chasing Ghosts is the Historical Fiction Cover Winner June 2018

“This month there is a bit of a theme going on and this cover triggered it! What a clever cover this is – perfectly fits its genre. Even the title caught my eye. The use of a sepia image and the red text is just perfect. The good news is that this is only one book in a 6 book series. Congratulations to Madalyn!”

Thank you for visiting Madalyn and answering my questions.

If you'd like to find out more about all of the Dudley Sisters novels or buy them, then you'll find them waiting for you when you follow this link


More to read...
You'll be able to catch-up with Madalyn on social media too...

Madalyn Morgan's Blog: https://madalynmorgan.wordpress.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Authors Earnings & Contracts in the News...

Authors earnings have been in the news this week with the initial results of the 2017 ALCS Authors Earnings Survey.

There's more detail to come in the autumn when the details will be revealed in more depth, but meanwhile you can read how the news and ALCS have reacted.

Richard Combes, Head of Rights and Licensing at the ALCS on the Bookseller.com website.

In the Guardian Philip Pullman is quoted "The word exploitation comes to mind..."


Meanwhile The All Party Parliamentary Group for Writers has launched an enquiry on author's earnings (UK) "and seeks to identify what environment writers need to enable them to flourish in the future".

The deadline for written evidence is 5 pm on the 2nd August.

I will be submitting written evidence.


As to contracts, the latest news is that Woman's Weekly magazine now want all rights- including a moral rights waver and the pay-cut.

This will severely damage the earning potential of writers who have already seen markets closed, submission lists restricted, and contract changes eating into rights.

For those who may not know, these fiction writers rely on being able to reuse their stories in overseas markets, and as part of a self-published collection of short stories, and then most importantly qualifying for ALCS (Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society).

It's an ongoing situation so keep an eye on the Womagwriter's Blog for more news. You can find out what's been happening so far here and also here.

If you're on Twitter and see a tweet with the hashtag #WomagWritersNeedRights please give it a retweet...


Saving the pennies...

image from Pixabay.com

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Writer's Seesaw...

It's been a bit of a seesaw week so far.

I've made progress on the novel; rewritten another chapter today (as the noisier family members were out enjoying an event some distance away) and reviewing the changes on the next chapter for this week coming...

Sadly I had the bad news on my existing published writing a couple of days ago.

My short story, 'The Wishful Spirit', currently on the Alfie Dog Fiction download site will no longer be available after July 20th.

Leaving port
soon...
So if you want to read it you'll need to buy a copy before then...

It's also likely that the One Word Anthology that both I and Serena have stories in will also go, but I'm waiting for definite confirmation of that.

Of course it does mean those stories are available for re-use at some time in the future. But for the moment I'm concentrating on the work in progress and not allowing these downs to distract me.

Trying to do a little tidying up I had a shredding session yesterday, and of course the container quickly filled up and needed emptying.

No problem, there's a bin bag half full of shredded paperwork, I'll use that and it will be full ready for going to the recycling centre.

Sadly the paper had other ideas and stopped half way out of the container on the way into the bag, so of course when I checked, the non-bagged contents made a break for it and spread far and wide...

A few
escapees...
Next time I'll call someone to hold the bag for me, or better yet I'll hold the bag and they can tip!



Thursday, 31 May 2018

Progress on the Home Front...

The decorating is done (for now) and the new flooring is down in the living room, so I'm slowly working my way through the books that need sorting, dusting and shelving.

They're going back in order- well my personal order...

Meanwhile I've booked to go to the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) Conference in July, whilst I leave the family at home. I'm really looking forward to spending time learning and socialising with other writers- many I know from online.

My other decision is my aim to launch my current wip sometime in June 2019. I have a year to do it... (Imagine scared face with hair sticking up in spikes!)

The hero and heroine of the next story have been reminding me they've been patiently waiting for me to solve their antagonist issue; I think I know how to solve that problem, but that's for later...

After all the times you've heard about the stuff going on in the background, I thought showing you what the wallpaper looks like, now it's done, was reasonable. :-)

My favourite- the hallway...






Going up the stairs...


I just have to find a suitable light shade for the hall light now...






Sunday, 20 May 2018

Write a Love Story - Competition Opportunity...

Love has been very high profile this weekend with the marriage of the Queen's grandson Prince Harry to Meghan Markle at St. George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle yesterday (19th).

The (now) Duke and Duchess of Sussex looked so happy. The sun was shining on their wedding, bathing everyone in Windsor with the feeling of goodwill and happiness- and probably a large portion of those watching the events on their television or computer too.

If you're into romance writing, here's an opportunity to be published by Trapeze, an imprint of Orion Books. There's prize money and mentoring for the winner- if everything completes...

Don't forget to check their answers to some important questions on the FAQ page. It does clarify who can enter.

Romance...
Dating site eharmony are running the competition with Trapeze books to find, as they put it, "the next great love story".

The competition opened on the 16th May and the closing date is the 30th July.

You "submit the first 5,000 words of a love story, along with a synopsis and short biography to lovestories@orionbooks.co.uk" - it will need to be a full-length novel.

Before you rush into entering there's an important line in the terms and condition, so some research is needed.

"The entries will be judged on the quality of the writing and storytelling, how well it fits the Criteria, and the potential based on the synopsis for a full length novel that would fit with books published under the Trapeze imprint." (From competition details.)

The criteria is the 500 word synopsis and the first 5,000 words of the novel (they're calling this the 'proposal').

Trapeze was launched autumn 2016 to publish commercial fiction and non-fiction. The Orion Publishing Group say " Trapeze’s fiction list will publish books by standout voices in the crime, psychological suspense and women’s fiction areas." (From About Orion.)

You can find out the full details of the prize on the eharmony page.

The winner will be chosen from a shortlist of six proposals.

But, do read and understand the terms and conditions of the competition.

Good luck if you enter...


image from Pixabay.com

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Meeting C.J Tudor - author of The Chalk Man...

It was my Wednesday evening out at the Writers' Club last night (that was the 9th, if
you' re reading this at the weekend).

The guest speaker was author C.J Tudor, whose debut novel 'The Chalk Man' was published this January in hardback; there will be a paperback later this year.

C.J Tudor author of
The Chalk Man
As Caroline is a local author the club was already connected on Twitter, so that made arranging the talk much easier for me; being able to suggest what we'd be interested in hearing about and adapting to her way of working.

Caroline began with reading the prologue of her book and there was a definite ooh at the end...

We heard about her journey to publication with the "little notes of hope"- the comments she received from agents she'd submitted her earlier books to; but it was clear that the process can be long and the path not always smooth just getting an agent.

The insights into the actual publishing process (once The Chalk Man manuscript was accepted- after an auction) was something many writers don't usually hear about.

Anyone who ever wondered why it takes so long for a book to be published- about 2 years- would have understood why, after Caroline explained the process she and her book went through. Editing and more editing featured heavily.

But it did also give some useful insights that self-publishers can learn from.

Creating a buzz using social media and the value of book bloggers, especially with debuts.

The value in getting pre-orders and the concentrated effort needed the first two weeks the book comes out.

All writers are aware of book covers, so it was surprising to hear why the cover of The Chalk Man had to be changed for the US market; they had an orange cover.

It seems they don't like black covers...

Caroline's talk was entertaining, and interesting. She is a pantser as a writer and her talk was that way too, but it worked well.

If you get an opportunity to see her at an event you won't be disappointed. And the same goes for the book...

As it says...










Monday, 16 April 2018

A Vintage Break...

That title sums up my weekend.

Sunday I attended Lou Lou's Vintage Fair held at the Albert Hall (no not that one in London);this one is in Nottingham City Centre next to the Playhouse (the smaller of the two theatres in the city).

Going Vintage...
I was looking for a few 1920's pieces for inspiration  on one of my future projects.

Now I love brooches. I have a few inexpensive costume jewellery brooches that my mum wore on her dresses or coat when I was a child, but rarely wear myself.

Possibly that's why I started a board on Pinterest just for Brooches - old and new,

I took it as a good sign for the story, that in my first ten minutes at the fair I got a lovely Art Deco brooch and a postcard of the poster for the New Pullman Express, The Southern Belle, which travelled from London to Brighton in the early 20th Century- this was one of my initial research areas for the idea.

It's unsettling to see clothes and household items that were so familiar when I was growing up, but equally disturbing when the clothes from the 1970's were now considered vintage- though perhaps it's not so bad if you call them retro instead!

There was a wonderful selection of cakes on sale to go with tea in proper cups- no plastic there...

I found a few items of 1920's clothes on one of the rails, a black coat with a high velvet collar, and a couple of dressing gowns with beautiful red/plum silk linings. Even though they were aged (and on a coat hanger) they still exuded that suggestion of elegance. Sadly they had to stay on the rail...

It was a fun and relaxing few hours and has certainly reignited my interest in collecting brooches.

From a research point of view vintage fairs are especially useful for 1930's-1950's household items, clothing and jewellery.

(Etsy seems to be another useful place to look.)

Also there will be true aficionados attending; they dress up with the clothing, hairstyles and jewellery of their chosen decade.

When I stopped for coffee and cake I shared a table with two ladies, one dressed 1940's and the other 1950's. I felt quite overdressed in jeans and a jacket!

Have you been to a vintage fair or similar event and did you enjoy it?


image from Pixabay

Thursday, 12 April 2018

In the Chair...

In the chair does sound a bit sinister, but it's not- thankfully.

It was the writers' club's AGM last night and the post of Chairman was up for election, so I went from Vice-Chairman to Chairman...

I've done the job before so it's not as scary as the first time I was elected to the role in 2012 for three years.

Another member of the club who is in the spotlight this week is talented short story writer Keith Havers.

Keith blogs over at Dream it, then do it, and you'll find a link to read the Writer of the Week spot over on the website of  People's Friend magazine; Keith is the writer this week.

In the distant past it was quite common for male writers to adopt a female pseudonym for the women's weekly magazine market, but Keith didn't follow the trend- and it made no difference to his acceptances.

Right I'm off to tackle my to do list so I can get back to draft 2...



image from Pixabay

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Updating the Blog for April...

Yes, not only is there redecorating going on at home, but on the blog too.

This month I'm going to be having a spring clean of the blog: remove elements, or change their position; a new smaller header photo to start with.

The advantage with updating a blog or website is that you don't get paint splashes in your hair or bits of wallpaper left over...
Decorating & making
changes...

You may have noticed that my blog is now delivered over a secure https encrypted service. It's taken Blogger a while to bring in the https options for those blog owners who have applied their own domain name.

Those who had the regular blogspot in the address bar already had this service, but domain name holders have had to wait until now.

It should make no difference otherwise.

For those in the UK enjoy the remainder of the Easter Bank Holiday.

And a big thank you to all those people who still have to go into work to provide essential services across Easter...



image from Pixabay

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Podcasts - Share Your Favourites...

I know podcasts are very popular, and I have listened to a few writing-related ones, but I never seem to have the time to listen to them regularly, so I know I'm missing out on a lot of interesting and useful information.

I was catching up on a couple this afternoon...

So often now I hear podcasts mentioned on radio programmes, and elsewhere, that I thought they were younger than they actually are.

So many,
so little time...
Apparently the first podcast was created back in 2003. There was an interesting interview (in the Guardian from 2016) with Christopher Lydon; who along with software developer and Harvard colleague Dave Winer produced the first podcast.

If you want to create podcasts there's lots of information on the web. Here's some handy expert tips via Wired magazine.

Just as there are thousands of blogs about a wide variety of topics, there's just as many podcasts available, and of course finding the good ones can be difficult, so here's where you can help spread the word.

Concentrating just on podcasts that are about writing or writing related, I'd like your personal recommendations for those we should all be listening to-no self-promotion! 

If there are enough suggestions I may create a page on the blog for your recommendations, so please use the comments form at the bottom of this post to share details of your favourites, and a little bit about what it is that keeps you going back.

Even if you don't have a podcast to suggest you're still welcome to comment.

To start us off, here's my recommendation; the AskALLi podcasts from the Alliance of Independent Authors. They have four different shows so there's something for varying skill levels.

So over to you; who should we be listening to?


image from Pixabay.com

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Writers and Data Protection...

Many places in the UK have had another fall of snow; not as heavy as it was at the start of March, but still snow, very cold and windy.

I'm at my desk in the warm, thankfully.

Data, it's everywhere: mailing lists, buying from online stores, and subscribing to newsletters.

Coming soon...
On the 25th May 2018 new data protection laws apply, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) apply to EU countries. These replace existing UK Data Protection laws...

The Society of Authors were aware these new regulations could effect authors (and writing related organisations) but all the information seemed to be geared to businesses.

A couple of days ago the latest SoA Supporters Newsletter arrived, and it included an update. and a link to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to read the guidance.

The link small organisations section is useful.

You need to look at the information for how it applies to your individual circumstances. If you have any doubts get appropriate legal advice.

Lots of authors have mailing lists, and some may sell their books themselves; writers' groups have membership details, so these data regulations may apply.

The ICO have lots of pdf links within their pages, and you will need to take a little time to find which bits you need to read.

If you look at the Guide to GDPR you'll find links to basic sections. And yes, you'll find useful links within links.

If you're using a mailing list service such as MailChimp, or similar, you aren't going to have the personal data of those who sign up to your mailing list*, but if you're doing your own mailing list and have the details then you need to know what rules apply to you, and how to store data correctly.

So if you also run a small business outside of your writing life, that needs looking into as well to ensure you're complying.

As consumers it's likely we'll all be receiving emails from businesses we might have shopped with online to confirm we still want them to send us information, receive newsletters and such. I know I've received half a dozen in the past couple of months, and likely even more will be getting in touch before the 25th May if their existing permissions need updating...

The ICO will be continuing to expand the information, so more may be added before May.

(* see this MailChimp article as there may be circumstances where you need to take action.)




Image from Pixabay.








Monday, 12 March 2018

Still Not Enough Hours...

My plan (this year) to use my diary better to keep a track of deadlines, as well as meetings/appointments, has shown me I'm very busy two weeks of every month, and have one week clear and another partially filled.

March is probably the exception as I'm doing my reading role for the writers' club's national competition which takes up some of those free days...

Despite all that I've resumed draft 2 of the work in progress.

Making progress
at last...
As I revealed on Facebook- apologies writer friends who already know this- I'm trying a slightly different method for the rewriting and additions in this draft.

When I started writing my first (abandoned) novel I kept my chapters separate, so each chapter was in its own document. I was using a Brother Word Processor with floppy disks then- that's how long ago it was!

Then a few years ago someone suggested it was better to keep novel chapters all in one document.

Actually I did find that really helpful for the first draft. I made progress through my chapter outlines better, so repeated the process with another longer story that was blocking (the next one in the queue).

When I started the 2nd draft (yet again) I wasn't totally happy. There seemed to be so much that I needed to correct: a major plot point; missing scenes, and secondary characters that had arrived later in the 1st draft but also needed to appear earlier, while some of these extras had missing motives too. It was overwhelming me.

So rather than give up I decided to try each chapter as a separate document, allowing me to concentrate on what I needed to do in each one as I work through.

It surprised me how everything suddenly seemed manageable just by focusing on a smaller piece of the whole- which was the total opposite to writing my 1st draft.

Late last year I was seriously thinking maybe I was only okay at producing the ideas and writing the first draft, but the past weeks I've learnt my characters will not allow me to abandon them or their story.

Confidence is just about restored...