It used to be fun

So, it’s valentine’s week, is it? It must be, as hubby has bought two great big bunches of daffodils. He knows they are my favourite flowers. It must be because they look like golden trumpets and jazz always makes me happy.

Goodreads had suggestions for romantic reads but I didn’t suggest my novel. ” A Lesson for the Teacher” as, although I intended it to be a romance, it turned out to be more a ‘coming of age/adult tale.’ Naturally it included loves and losses but they were only part of the story and the man who was the main romantic interest wasn’t at all like the ’50 shades’ type of man. Setting it in the 1960’s helped me to include that odd mixture of innocence and daring that marked out the ‘ Swinging sixties.’ It seems so long ago.

I doubt if I’ll write an eighth novel, especially after reading “The Light Years” by Elizabeth Jane Howard. What an eye opener, and only the first of a collection! I say I don’t like historical novels but this was such a fine book I felt overwhelmed. Of course it has been dramatised and I would probably never see it but it isn’t only the story, it is also the quality of the writing that made me feel like a real amateur.


A lesson for the Teacher cover

Never mind, I’ve ordered a book on editing so should be learning more of my craft soon!


Oh, self publishing!

I used to get very angry when self published novels were dismissed as rubbish. I knew a number of authors who wrote books that were better than some traditionally published works but recently I have come across the kind of book that makes me rethink my attitude.

It is too easy to pay for your work to be printed and feel that wonderful sense of achievement when you hold it in your hands, but then it goes out into the world and the spelling errors that you missed and the gaps in the plot and the overwriting and the poor grammar are pointed out by readers and reviewers and you realise there is more to producing a book that just getting your ideas down on paper.

How many edits are enough? How many eyes saw your manuscript before it was published? How much experience have you had? Did you read it out loud? Did you show it to anyone skilled in assessing your work?

Time and again we self publishers are told to use an editor and still we think checking and proof reading it ourselves is good enough. Yet we know our characters – the reader doesn’t. We are not writing for ourselves, we are writing for an audience. It is important that they have a firm idea of the participants in the story and if we use too many they can get confused. Multiple viewpoints are irritating but so many writers use them.

After seven novels I am still learning my craft and encourage all authors to treat writing as a skill that is not naturally picked up at school but, like all skills, needs a period of apprenticeship before being confident that what you have produced is good enough to offer to the world.


Writing Crime

Wow – how difficult is that! I’ve been reading a lot of crime stories recently and am amazed at the plots. I love watching Vera on TV and find police shows interesting but I’m not so keen on police procedural novels. I think I need to identify with the detective and when it’s a grumpy old man I’m not always on his side. It’s different if it is a maverick rebel. Robert Goddard is good at writing those.

I am really trying to watch which posts get the most views as I would like to connect with a few more people. I think giving the posts a good title is probably key. I’ll see if this one works. meanwhile, I’ve done the short story for the competition. That’s two this month.

I use the bookworm picture when I’m posting about books or writing. Is this a good idea?bookwormclipart

Buying books

I never used to purchase books. I always used the library, and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to read the same book more than once. Then I began to write reviews and found if I did not write them as soon as I finished a novel I forgot what it was about and if I had already taken it back to the library I could not give it a fair review.

Of course, there are some writers whose stories stay with you for ever, but not many, especially as I read about two books a week.

So I started to buy books. not from bookshops but from amazon and not when they were full price but second hand. There are books I mean to buy but they are too new and too expensive at present. I am happy that my books are still available as used copies, although ” A Lesson for the Teacher” ( the 1960’s romance) and ” Never Run Away” are also on kindle. I can see that the rarer they are the more the price goes up and I no longer post( as the publisher) to America.

I’ll try to ration my purchases this year as there is no more room on our bookshelves. I am now about to start thinning out all the magazines I have collected over the years to make a space. Wish me luck!img_0244

Book Review. A Portrait of Rosanna.

I have always enjoyed books by Elaine Hankin but this one gripped me more than most. It was fascinating to read how Rosanna interacted with the men in her life and how the whereabouts of the portrait was a constant mystery throughout. The descriptions of Italy were fascinating and the characterisations excellent. A thoroughly good read.

I did begin to wonder whether folk gave up on purchasing paperbacks when the book they required was on kindle. Knowing that my first book, Lane’s End is no longer available as a new book and was never an e book I checked on amazon to see if it was there. Happily there are second hand copies for sale, which is how I buy my paperbacks.

Since my kindle stopped working I have gone back to getting most books out of the library unless, like A Portrait of Rosanna, I want to keep them to read again.bookwormclipart

Treading water

Now we are in 2019 I feel I should be starting something new. I have completed my talk and once I decide on the readings to accompany it I will be ready to try it out.

The other task I wanted to complete was to publish a poetry anthology, either on my own or with another member of the Sea Scribes but that needs finding and sorting an I’m not in the mood.

A twitter writer suggested turning Christmas cards into book marks, but my book marks are part of my marketing strategy so giving away alternatives wouldn’t work.

I wish all my followers from all over the world a Happy New Year. I am grateful for any comments and always ready to contribute to discussions if I know anything about the subject.bookwormclipart

Public Speaking

After sending a short story off to a website I started writing my next talk. This will be about Sussex in Fiction and I have chosen a few authors to give as examples of how the County is used as a background in a number of novels, notably those by Simon Brett and Peter James. I’m sure there are many others I have yet to discover but I have completed six pages so do not feel the holiday period has been wasted.

Naturally I have included my six Sussex based novels among those mentioned although I only quote from two. They can all be found through the website while more about my activities are still on

I look forward to continuing my association with the local W.I.