Tag Archives: help with writing

Countdown

Late blog this morning as was busy early, but just popping in to say have a great weekend all! The countdown begins and next week I will be posting short extracts of some of my published short stories and maybe novel extracts too on here in my own countdown until Friday!

So watch this space folks!

Happy Friday!

dreams-1

 

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Need help?

I am so blessed that from the day I started to work with writers on critiques and edits, I have never been without a steady stream of work. I also work with Cornerstones and so take work from them, at the moment I mentor three lovely writers. I arrange my day so I write in the mornings and then  some days, like today, I just work, but it’s great and I am so grateful I get to do what I love every day.

On my wall is a plaque that reads ‘Create The Life You Love’ and I can’t actually believe I did.

I plan to introduce a couple of day-long workshops next year; one will be local to where I live, another might be in London if we have enough interest; a day workshop on writing and where to take your edits. If anyone is interested in the London one please let me know as I will need to look into venues. I also would like to offer some more mentoring with novels or short story collections as I feel this works really well so might open a couple of spots initially for people with serious intentions of making 2017 their year. So if interested in this, please let me know.

If you are simply looking to hire an editor or someone to really critique your work then please do check out my website. It gets busy but I am happy to pencil you in for edits — a couple of spots still available for 2016 but then I am booking for 2017.

Check it out!

www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk 

So I wish you all an amazing weekend whatever you do… and remember if you want to give an unusual Christmas presie to a writer friend why not give them a gift card for a critique of a short story (2- 5000 words) £50 including follow-up… or for shorter pieces up to 2000 £25 and  I will send a certificate and they can use it any time in 2017.

That is all!

life-is-about-moments-create-them-motivational-daily-quotes-sayings-pictures

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Stay Positive

I keep out of political discussion; I never expressed my Brexit view all over social media nor will I blog about Trump and what’s happening over in the US. While I live in Britain I have a deep connection to the US and hence my debut novel about Kennedy and my many trips over there and my many special friends. But what I will say is in this time of unrest and hate, stay focussed on what matters to you.

 

Yesterday I did not blog as I, like so many across the world, watched how the events of the election panned out and then, well  did what I always do, I wrote and then I went for my yoga class, which is a great way of keeping grounded. And then I had lunch with the man and then edited all afternoon.

 

Keep in mind what matters and let’s see what happens next. Yes it might be scary, and yes I am with you all on that one… but try to remain focussed and calm, if you can. That is all; please no political responses; that is not the purpose of this blog.

Love one another ❤ Do what you love ❤ Be with people you love. ❤ LOVE.

That is all.

 

And anyone wanting to read my novel who hasn’t yet… here it is! American flag and all!

Got yours yet?

Got yours yet?

BUY ME

UK

USA 

Have a good day folks. Find your peace.

If not… read my novel!

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Out with the old… make fitness a lifestyle

Well, that day has come. It’s the final day at my lovely old gym. It is in a converted house and has been a wonderful place to discover that going to the gym can not only be fun but can be life-changing. I never thought I would feel that way about a gym. And the people who run it are just the best people. What I lost in inches I gained in friends… ten fold.

I have a talked about it before and yes I know it’s a writing blog but it’s also about life, what inspires us and what makes us who we are. With a sedentary lifestyle in front of the computer, it became more important than ever for me to join a gym and that was part of my move back here.

So it’s my last class this morning in the old gym but on to better and bigger things and they have been working tirelessly to create something wonderful.

Look at this! LINK

If you are local and would like to come along there is a free open day tomorrow and the following day (Friday and Saturday 26th and 27th August) and I can’t wait!

 

Open days

 

I like that the new gym will be called Lifestyle Fitness because I do know that fitness, like any positive habit, and that includes writing, has to be a daily habit, a lifestyle choice, not something you can dip into from time to time. Really, how many fitness splurges and fads and diets have we all been on? There is nothing to be gained from doing something like that short-term. What is the point of detox and intensive workouts for a month if you are going to go back to the habits that made you need the gym in the first place? It undoes all that effort, right? Yo-yoing is unhealthy. And that is why I made a commitment to myself to join a gym, to go every week day (unless s sick, injured, on hols or the gym is closed) and to make it part of my lifestyle. And that’s exactly what I did. Next month that will be two years.

And hey, if I can do it, anyone can — trust me.

With anything, we want in life (and health has to be a priority right?) — but in your writing too —  if you’re serious and you want to achieve your dream, you have to make the process a continual daily habit. You have to get up every day and you have to do it, whether you feel like it or not… and do it for yourself. You find the time, you make the time. That is why I get up at 5 am to write so I can spend my two hours a day at the gym.

This is the press release I wrote (well it’s adapted from something I wrote) about Dave Rowe and how he came to run this gym. Everything is a story and one day I might be writing a novel set in a gym, who knows!

New Gym Echo August 2016

Inspired?

So whatever you want from life, to be a successful writer, to run a marathon, to win gold… make it a daily habit and a lifestyle choice.

I will not be blogging tomorrow (open day fun!) and we have a bank hols here on Monday when I will have been with the man (who I met at this very gym!) a whole year ❤ ❤ ❤ so you see, it really did change my life… so I wish you a truly wonderful weekend and I will be back Tuesday!

WHOOP TO LIFE!

Me spinningWho is this mad person?

We raised a staggering £3500 on that charity spinathon event! See… way more than just a gym!

 

 

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In The Spotlight Guest Author: L. G. Flannigan

My author today, I am delighted to say, I met (virtually) some time ago through Bridge House Publishing when one of her short stories was runner-up in our competition and published in On This Day. I finally got to meet her in person at a book launch at the end of last year. She is a wonderful writer and she asked me to work with her on a couple of her  YA novels over the years but one of them really stood out and I urged her to submit it. Which she did. It got close to being signed, in fact one publisher did offer to publish an eBook but she held fire on that; it was also shortlisted in a big competition. Now that novel IS published I have asked to tell you something about her journey…

 

Please welcome L.G. Flannigan to the spotlight …

spotlightoj-md

L G Flannigan

Author L.G.Flannigan

Introduce yourself: Have you always wanted to be a published writer? Tell us something about your path to having your first book/story published.

My eleven-year-old self knew I wanted to be a published fiction writer. However, my avid reading had me aspiring to be a marine biologist (even though I can’t swim at all well), a lawyer, a scientist, a detective, a textile designer… In other words, I wanted to do whatever profession the main character did in the book I was reading! In my late teens it was to be a book called Occupations that had me training to be an Occupational Therapist eventually specialising in Forensic Psychiatry. Through that I ended up contributing a chapter about Occupational Therapy to a Forensic Psychotherapy book and I rediscovered my love for writing but it wasn’t until over a decade later that I took a course in creative writing. This course gave me the encouragement and confidence to start sharing my work and in 2010 I entered a short story competition run by Bridge House Publishing and I was fortunate enough to be a runner-up with my tale Trojan. It gained a place in the anthology On This Day and most importantly gave me the conviction to carry on writing. I have now written six novels and have ideas for many others!

Did that journey involve an agent? If not did you try to get one? Any advice about that?

My first novel, Blood Rain, (for young adults) was met with many favourable responses from agents and came close to snagging one although it never came to fruition. I tried again to get an agent for my debut novel Ordering Flynn Matthews and again I had good feedback but still no success.

Undeterred I tried publishers and it was positively received however as many authors know breaking into the market is tough. I hoped that my shortlisting for the 2015 Choc Lit Search for a Star competition might trigger interest from established publishers and I have still not given up. A US Indie publisher offered me an eBook contract but after much thought and reflection, including advice from the Society of Authors, of which I’m an associate, I decided to self-publish. It is important to have self-belief, so I now imagine how Ordering Flynn Matthews will be successful and that I’ll have a choice of agents and publishers!

Do or did you ever belong to a writing group? Crit group? Did you ever have someone professionally critique your work before first submitting? Or do you have friends or anyone else who sees it before you send it off? Has that changed since you became a ‘successful author’?

I have been a member of a writing group and met some great people who I still stay in touch with but with my writing and having started work, I don’t have any spare time to keep attending.

One of the best things I did was to get my novel Blood Rain professionally edited by Debz. Whenever I feel the need to blush I think how naïve I was so early in my writing career to send it to agents without proper editing and no longer wonder why Blood Rain was initially rejected out of hand. Thankfully Debz was able to provide a detailed critique which importantly provided a mix of encouragement and constructive criticism. What was clear was that I had a lot to learn in the art of writing. Where most would probably scrap that first novel I was determined to rewrite it. I sent it back to Debz who responded positively and as I said earlier, it eventually came close to getting an agent.

By the time I sent Ordering Flynn Matthews to Debz for more great insightful editing it had been edited numerous times by myself using the lessons learned with Blood Rain. It’s been through even more edits since then!

I have four main people who read my writing, bless them. My dear friends Carrie and Sam, and my husband and daughter who are my harshest critics! I can’t imagine submitting anything before they’ve seen it.

Hmm, not sure I can say I’m a successful author yet. I’ve had two short stories published, another due to be published this November and of course Ordering Flynn Matthews was self-published last month.

Who did you first tell when you heard your first book had been accepted?

My husband.

What happened next? Can you tell us something about working with an editor? How important is that to you now – is there a lot of discussion and does the editor make a real difference to your work?

I didn’t accept the publishing contract for Ordering Flynn Matthews but I can tell you what it’s like working with Debz as an editor. She’s excellent and thorough and yes her input has made a big difference to my writing.

Tell us something about your writing day, routine.

I work part-time in a library so my days, no matter what I am doing, are immersed in books which is a lovely place to be. When I’m not at work I try to be at my laptop ready to write by 9am. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on just one idea however my concentration is aided by a large mug of Rooibos Earl Grey tea, and then the hard work starts. I will write for at least four hours a day although it is often way more. I take my wildly excitable dog out for a mid-day walk which helps me stretch my legs and the different scenery inspires and helps me think through a character or plot problem.

I’m having slightly different issues to deal with at the moment, but no less enjoyable, because publishing Ordering Flynn Matthews has created some distractions. I’ve been writing extras for the Ordering Flynn Matthews website such as newspaper articles and scenes from the novel written from the point of view of different characters. In the novel the main character, Ellie, is a moderator on Flynn’s Fan Forum so I have also created a forum which readers can join if they want to. It’s still writing but not as we know it!

What or who inspires you most? Any particular people, authors, books?

Having worked as an Occupational Therapist I have come across many people who have faced profound difficulties yet have been able to get on with life and often with a smile. It is these people that I think of whenever I need inspiration. Public figures can also inspire and like many others it is hard not to feel admiration for the way Nelson Mandela conducted his life especially how he encouraged forgiveness having experienced the exact opposite. Finally, I feel inspired by all successful authors – it’s a tough road but if they can make it, with a lot of hard work I can too.

Why do you write? (Now that’s the question!) What do you want your stories to do?

My husband plays a lot of golf and I encourage it because it’s a real stress reliever, is not bad exercise and is sociable and I get a happy spouse. I sometimes play the golf widow card but the real truth is, and I’m not sure he has figured this out, he is actually an author widower. You see I let him play golf so he can’t fully see how much time I devote to my writing. It’s just that I can’t not write. It satisfies an itch and relaxes me. And I hope my stories give the reader enjoyment and a chance to immerse themselves in another world.

As a writer I find that I tend not to take the well-trodden, predictable road in my stories and while this can mean that it is hard to categorise my novels I am happy to strike out on my own. This also means I portray my characters honestly, even if occasionally the reader dislikes them, because that is the truthful way to write them.

How much marketing have you had to do? How comfortable are you with self-promotion?

I’m not comfortable with self-promotion so this makes marketing difficult. As I said earlier I do want people to read my novels so I have to accept it’s a necessity and come out of my shell otherwise no one will know about them. Marketing is a much different matter compared to writing and the two aren’t necessarily compatible. I’m aware it is a real issue for many authors and whether self or traditionally published it is part of the job. Self-publishing means I have to create the strategy and then have the energy to implement it. Social media is obviously a crucial aspect of marketing so I have been developing my on-line presence which for me is relatively easy because I have the skills and experience to do so. Also, like my heroine Ellie, the online community allows a degree of anonymity which suits my personality. So, I am doing all my marketing and I’m sure when I have mastered it I will feel great satisfaction but it is certainly not easy.

Tell us about the latest published book…

Ordering Flynn Matthews is a pacey contemporary novel about love, loss and betrayal in a world of social networking, celebrity obsession and media frenzy.

The story centres around Ellie, a university student, who feels more confident online than she does in real life. She has been a fan of Flynn Matthews since she was twelve and is a moderator on his fan forum spending most of her free time on the internet connecting with fellow fans and sharing information and photographs of him. Desperate to meet Flynn she makes a vision board of what she wants, hoping the universe will deliver him to her. Coincidence or not she bumps into him and has her fangirl illusions destroyed. He has a drug problem and he’s not the hero she imagined. While she’d rather not have any more to do with him Flynn needs her. In knowing him Ellie becomes unwittingly embroiled in a series of mishaps, and naïve judgements which put her in the media spotlight. This exposure impacts on her family and puts her closest friendships in jeopardy.

It’s fun, thought provoking at times and an unpredictable read.

 

Follow LG on Twitter – Twitter

Facebook – Facebook

Website: www.lgflannigan.com

Website for Ordering Flynn Matthews: www.flynnmatthews.com

Flynn’s Fan Forum: www.flynnmatthews.freeforums.net/

Available as an ebook on Amazon: AMAZON

What next? Tell us about work in progress and aspirations. Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

My immediate task is to market Ordering Flynn Matthews. This marketing business is like having children I reckon. Before you have them people tell you how much they will change your life and you nod in blissful agreement but truthfully you have no idea how they will change and enrich your life… until one micro second after they are born and those earlier words of wisdom hit home and you actually see the depth of what you have been told.

That’s how I now feel about marketing. I knew I would have to publicise my novel; after all I’d read it on the internet but what that means in practice is a whole lot more far reaching. At the moment I am therefore neck deep in publicising my novel and trying to simultaneously edit the next one, Failing Flynn Matthews, which is a follow on to OFM, but can also be read as a standalone.

Eek! Not sure I can think ten years ahead but I would love to keeping having new ideas, my husband’s golf handicap lower and to have many readers enjoying my stories and eagerly awaiting the next one.

Any advice for writers who are trying to get their work published?

You have to have a good product so my first advice is to get it edited. An impartial, professional evaluation will make the world of difference. Have an online presence so that you can connect with your audience, and other writers who, in my experience, are generous in sharing their advice and experience. And finally, don’t give up.

Tell us something random about you for the pure hell of it

I can touch my nose with my tongue!

Which of your characters would you most like to be friends with and why?

Flynn because despite his flaws he’s honest, loyal and fun.

Finally: can we post an extract of your latest published book?

Yes! Here’s the blurb for Ordering Flynn Matthews:

Using a vision board university student Ellie brings heartthrob actor, Flynn Matthews, into her life. She quickly realises he isn’t the man she thought he was – he’s a foul-mouthed narcissistic drug addict. And it’s not fun being in the media spotlight after her life spirals into chaos from just knowing him.

How will Ellie cope with the way her life is now she is trending on Twitter, being exposed by incriminating photos and hounded everywhere she goes; not least, when the press find all those messages her teenage self once wrote on fan sites about Flynn? And does she even want him now?

 

Extract From Chapter 3

 

Breathless I sneak another look. Flynn Matthews is running towards me. There’s a substantial gap between him and the photographers.

                I manage to shout out, “Psst, this way!”               

                Hearing my words, he throws a glance behind him and then speeds over to me. Hopefully it’ll look like he went down the passageway that runs parallel to our alley. We sprint along the path. I pull him into the recess of our front door and watch the photographers run past the end of the alley.

                “Thanks,” he says in that dreamy voice of his.

                “That’s all right,” I squeak wishing my voice didn’t do that when I get nervous.

                “Is this place yours?” His blue eyes sparkle down at me.

                I nod. It’s all I can manage.

                “Do you mind if I come in and lay low for a while?”

                I hear him, but my brain and mouth have disconnected and I can’t formulate any words.

                “They’ll figure out I came down here soon. Can I babe, please?”

                He just called me babe, Flynn Matthews called me babe. OMG.

                He touches me on the arm, “Please.”

                His hand on my arm electrifies my body jolting me into action, fumbling for my keys I let him in. He follows me up the stairs and into the kitchen. I can’t think of anything sensible or normal to say.

                “Would you like a drink?” is all I can spurt out and I’m still squeaking.

                “Yeah, sounds good.”

                I dare to look at him as he pulls out a chair. He spins it round and straddles it; he leans forward resting his arms on the chair’s backrest. He can even make sitting on a chair look sexy.

                Of all the ways I’d imagined meeting Flynn this scenario hasn’t been one of them. Sitting in a cafe alone he asks if the chair opposite is free, I say yes, he sits and I am witty and erudite, happily ever after ensues. And in real life all I can say is, “Tea, coffee, orange juice?”

                He frowns, “I was hoping for something a little stronger, it’s been a heavy morning as you saw.”

                I open the fridge, “There’s some bottled beer.” But that’s Dad’s.

                “Not really into beer.” He smiles but there’s a hint of irritation in his voice and a little sigh.

                Understandable really considering he was being chased. I remember the bottle of whiskey Dad bought last Christmas because his cousin was coming round.

                “We’ve got whiskey, will that do?” My voice seems to be returning to its more normal pitch.

                “Now we’re talking.” He runs his hand through his famous flick of hair momentarily distracting me. “Anytime today babe,” he says his mouth twitching at the corners.

                “Sorry. We don’t have any mixers I’m afraid.”

                He raises his eyebrows at me as if I’m some sort of nutter, “Fine by me, don’t usually have them, I like my whiskey straight.”

                I put the glass on the table and pour out a couple of inches of the brown liquid. I stop but Flynn nudges the bottle, “You might as well fill it to the top babe. Gonna join me?”

                I shake my head.

                “Suit yourself,” he says draining the glass and then pouring himself another.

                I feel sorry for him. Being chased has stressed him out.

                “So you know who I am? Silly question, course you do.” He flashes his ever so white teeth at me focusing his eyes on my t-shirt.

                I feel foolish. Why did I have to wear this t-shirt, today of all days.

                “Nice t-shirt.”

                “Thanks.” With all the stress he hasn’t asked me my name, “I’m Ellie and—”

                “Good. Nice pad.” He casts a quick look round the newly fitted kitchen. A couple of months ago he’d have thought the place was a dump.

                “Thanks. I live here with my—”

                “Why don’t you sit down Emma.”

                “Ellie.”

                “Yeah I meant that, sit down Ellie.” Flynn takes another gulp of whiskey.

                I sit opposite him plotting how I’m going to get an exclusive interview for the forum. I’m already thinking of titles for the thread. “Why were they chasing you?”

        “If I can give you any advice at all babe, it’s choose your friends wisely.”

 

©L.G.Flannigan 2016

Ordering Flynn Matthews

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Thank you so much for your wonderful answers and for being on my blog today, which I know will inspire others. We wish you all the very best with this… go on folks, give it a try!

If you want it you will never give up… and this book is a great one to add to your collection 🙂

But don’t just take my word for it 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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Do it

If there are four words that sum up my life and that I’d give to you, my friend, it’s these:

Do What You Love

And that is as simple a message, and as important a message, as I can offer.

So long as what you do does not offend or hurt anyone else… then do it.

You have one life (that you are aware of anyway)… so make sure you’re having fun with your life. Make sure you do a job that you find satisfying and that you love. There is nothing more empowering or fulfilling. The day I set out to do what I love, everything else fell into place. No regrets. We regret only the path not taken.

That is all.

Enjoy your day!

Be grateful

… for everything.

 

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The Power of the Critique

Canvey Writers new logo

 

Short post this morning as much writing to do but I wanted to say well done to all of the lovely writers at Canvey Writers who took part in their first full-on crit session last night.

 

The table was set and we worked on three shorts and poems by five different writers…

 

Canvey Writers 2

I had provided some guidelines on critiquing and the work was shared a couple of weeks in advance… I said be kind, be honest, be constructive.

If done well then a good critique session will empower the writers…

But we must be mindful that we are all at different stages in writing but, as such, we can help one another AND  it really is the only way to grow. The group has been going for eighteen months now so it’s time to step up the game and learn.

I learned a lot about poetry crit from the wonderful Gini who led that session for us. Normally I would hold two groups, one for prose and one for poetry but this time we joined forces and that way I think we learn more!

Great evening and as usual we just about fitted it all into the two hours!

And now to write…

 

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Schools out!

You know that feeling that comes right before a holiday. That.

I have had such a busy  few weeks with deadlines and workloads (nothing new really) but this week has been particularly full on. This will be the last blog post for just over a week. The plan is to finish some work and have it sent off later, most likely this evening and then that’s it. Tomorrow is the first day of a much-needed break. I will be at the gym and then nails and then… we go to get the new car from being serviced ready to drive to Wales the following day. The man is on the mend, not 100% but on the mend. I have really missed him but should see him briefly today. Then shopping tomorrow after a spin in the new car and he wants to treat me to dinner, the night before the holiday. Yes, that. That is the feeling.

I like to think as people and yes as a writer too that every day should have that feeling about it; that wonderful sense of anticipation and hope. The man said something to me yesterday that flipped my heart over and made me realise how much there is to look forward to and plan for. So far, since I lost Lee, I found that in my work; in my submissions, in my dream building. And that has never left. I am writing and dreaming and planning for the life I want. But now, now that something that was missing is back in place. No longer am I planning a trip with just me, but as two. It’s a wonderfully liberating feeling for me.

I am going to my house in Wales. I have planned a day clearing things, loft and outbuildings are all that’s left and these don’t have too many things (I hope) … so we can enjoy some quality time together. On the list is a picnic in the mountains. He saw little of the beautiful North Wales last time as we only had 2 days and it snowed… in March.

So all I will say is have a great weekend and week everyone and I will see you on Monday, August 8th!

That is all 🙂

Ps Will also be catching up on my reading for fun! Yay!

school's out

See you after the hols!

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In The Spotlight: J A Corrigan

Please welcome to the spotlight a very talented writer who I first met at the Hay Winter Festival some years ago. We were at an event and she was one of the people who held out her hand for a business card when I said that I worked for a short story publisher, Bridge House Publishing.

Later she submitted to us and we published her first short story in one of our collections. I knew then that she had talent. She also contributed to and was published at CafeLit, an ezine I edit for.

But, somewhat like me and my own writing, while she liked writing the short stories, her real passion lay with the novel and she asked me to critique some very early drafts of her first novel. Which I did. In fact, I saw that novel a few times and got to see how it developed and how her writing skills were honed. When that novel didn’t find a home but had a few near misses, I advised her not to give up. She had talent. I then got to see a new novel that was a departure from the historical thriller she had written. This was dark and wonderful and psychological which I love. The novel was then reworked a few times and the responses to it got more and more positive.

“Don’t give up” I kept telling her. “It will happen.” It did for me and I knew it would for her as she is a great writer but above all one she was prepared to put in the hard work to achieve it.

 

And it did happen and here she is to tell us all about her journey to publication of her debut novel, that dark and wonderful psychological thriller, now targeted for a nationwide promotion in WHSmith. Not envious or anything 😉

Well deserved and so without further ado please welcome the fabulous Julie-Ann Corrigan to the spotlight to end her Blog tour…

spotlightoj-md

Julie ann photo

J A Corrigan

  1. Introduce yourself: Have you always wanted to be a published writer? Tell us something about your path to having your first book/story published.

 

I wrote stories as a little girl, and wrote diaries as a young teenager. I remember telling lots of people as a young adult that one day I’d write a book. Tentatively, I started writing in 2009, and was lucky enough to have Bridge House Publishing pick up my first short in 2010 – The Half-Read Manuscript – a supernatural tale, but with some humour, and written for Young Adults. Six year later and after much hard work and anxiety, I have just had my first novel published – a psychological thriller – Falling Suns by Accent Press.

 

  1. Did that journey involve an agent? If not did you try to get one? Any advice about that?

 

As all writers know, securing an agent is difficult – almost as difficult as securing a publisher; some would say even harder!

I had several near misses securing an agent, with both the first book I wrote, and the second, Falling Suns.

I signed with an agent, and then Accent Press offered on Falling Suns.

 

 

  1. Do or did you ever belong to a writing group? Crit group? Did you ever have someone professionally critique your work before first submitting? Or do you have friends or anyone else who sees it before you send it off? Has that changed since you became a ‘successful author’?

 

I have used literary consultants, especially at the beginning of my journey. I also have great writing friends who read my work and that is invaluable.
Although the feedback I received early on from professionals really did set me up. I think it stopped me from getting into bad writing habits early on and ultimately saved me a lot of time.

These days, my agent is my beta reader, although I do still like to send to writer friends. My agent has the patience of a saint!

 

  1. Who did you first tell when you heard your first book had been accepted?

 

My husband. I called him at work!

 

 

  1. What happened next? Can you tell us something about working with an editor? How important is that to you now – is there a lot of discussion and does the editor make a real difference to your work?

 

My editor at Accent Press is a very talented woman.  I was dreading the edits but when I actually sat down and tackled them it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought! She suggested getting rid of the lines the reader would skip over, and did a great job – I do think the final book is very tightly written and that is in no small part is due to the editor. She also picked up on continuity issues.

 

  1. Tell us something about your writing day, routine.

 

Early start – 5 – 6am. I write all day if I can, until 4 or 5 pm. We recently acquired a dog so now I always go for a walk around midday. However, if there’s something I need to finish I have a wonderful dog walker! I often write at the weekends, but only for a few hours in the morning.

 

  1. What or who inspires you most? Any particular people, authors, books?

 

Over the years there have been many authors who have inspired me. I decided early on that it was the hard working authors who were ultimately the most successful. Writing is a job and to be successful you have to see it as work, even if you love doing it. Writing is like having homework every day of your life!

 

  1. Why do you write? (Now that’s the question!) What do you want your stories to do?

 

I write because I am much better at expressing myself in words than in speech. It is my ‘talent,’ if you like!
Ideally I would like my stories to inform the reader, and give the reader something to think about and possibly debate with others.

I also love to entertain. I want readers to enjoy, even love, reading my stories.

 

  1. How much marketing have you had to do, even with a big publisher? How comfortable are you with self-promotion?

 

I think you have to do a fair amount of marketing even if you are with a large publisher, and definitely as a debut novelist.

I’m not at all comfortable with self-promotion but would find it so easy to promote other people’s work!

 

  1. Tell us about the latest published book …

Falling Suns is essentially a book about grief and loss, but it also a tale about vengeance and corruption.

 

  1. What next? Tell us about work in progress and aspirations. Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

 

I am working on my next novel. It is triple narrative (I like multiple point-of-view stories) and I hope to have it finished soon.

I can’t think about 10 years ahead – I just hope I’m still alive, and still writing.

 

  1. Any advice for writers who are trying to get their work published?

 

Persistence, persistence, persistence.
Read a lot, and seek good feedback on your writing.
Write what you want to write and don’t write for a market in which you have no interest.

 

  1. Tell us something random about you for the pure hell of it

 

My favourite meal is beans on toast, washed down with a pint of milk!

 

  1. Which of your characters would you most like to be friends with and why?

 

Jonathan. He’s loyal and fun. And in my mind’s eye, he looks good too.

 

So can we read some of your work?

YES!

Blurb to whet your appetite:

A psychological thriller for fans of Belinda Bauer, Mark Edwards, Clare Mackintosh – a dark and brooding tale about the horrors that can lurk within a family.

Ex-DI Rachel’s small son is missing. Then his body is discovered. Her cousin Michael is found guilty of his murder and incarcerated in a secure psychiatric unit.

Four years later, now divorced and back in the police force, Rachel discovers that Michael is being released to a less secure step-down unit, with his freedom a likely eventuality. Unable to cope with this, she decides upon revenge, assuming a new identity to hunt him down and kill him. However, as she closes in on her target, her friend Jonathan, a journalist, uncovers some unnerving information about her mother and others in her family and begins to suspect that Rachel’s perception of the truth might not be as accurate as she thinks – that she might be about to murder the wrong man…

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

 

Five days later

 

Charlotte had left for California on a two-week holiday, staying at her house in Venice Beach, and catching up with Jacob who was filming in the States. Liam had taken her to the airport the day before; they had both said I should stay home and rest.

Jonathan had called me earlier in the morning asking if he could come and visit. I’d said yes easily. Liam was going on to visit his parents from the airport.

I could not rest.

The house was desolate and empty and I was spending too much time in Joe’s room. Waiting for the toffee popcorn, waiting to glimpse the petrol blue, but seeing and sensing barely anything; only hearing the ticking of the Dr Who clock on the wall, the ruffling of the matching Dr Who curtains, feeling the cold breeze that floated through the open window. No Joe.

I sat in the rocking chair. Liam had bought it for me for breastfeeding, which, to my distress, I’d been unable to achieve. I’d done all the right things: I’d loved my baby, but the milk didn’t flow. As Joe grew, I blamed myself for his propensity for sore throats and bad colds, sure they were due to the lack of mother’s milk.

As I thought of my inability to feed Joe, cool air from the window blew into a mini gale giving me goosebumps, but it was good to feel cold, good to feel anything. I rubbed at my breasts roughly and from nowhere the image of a young Michael Hemmings’ face intruded. I squeezed my eyes shut as if this would erase the impression, and gradually it did fade.

A plate with one lone muffin and a knife sat on the floor. I slipped downwards onto the carpet and cut it into equal halves, as I’d always done.

One half for me, one for Joe.

I ate my half and it tasted of nothing. I placed the plate with the remaining muffin on Joe’s bed, in the middle of the blue Tardis image that filled the duvet cover, thinking back to the last day of the trial. Of Margaret and Dad’s confession. It explained why my son had gone easily with Hemmings.

I lay on top of Joe’s Dr Who rug and stared at the ceiling. I’m sorry, Joe.

Eventually the chime from the door roused me. It was exactly one and I smiled at Jonathan’s familiar punctuality. But it wasn’t Jonathan; it was my dad, his face more gaunt than the last time I’d seen him and any anger I held slipped away.

‘Hi Dad, come in.’ I stepped sideways.

He held a package wrapped in brown paper and offered it to me. ‘Hope I’m doing the right thing.’

I took it from him. ‘What is it?’
‘The day Joe stayed at our house …’
‘I don’t want to talk about it. Really, I don’t.’
‘Joe did some paintings,’ he pointed to the package, ‘I

thought you and Liam would like to have them.’
I placed the package on the hall table. ‘I can’t look. I can’t.’
‘When you’re ready, love.’
‘How are you? And Margaret?’
‘We’re all right. I want to talk to you.’
‘Come through.’ We sat down. ‘You should have told me.’
I did want to talk about it.
‘I know.’ He leant onto the table, wedged his elbows on

its edge. ‘There’s something I do need to tell you.’ I waited.

‘You wanted to know why Michael came that day, to see Margaret? Because he did go only to see Margaret. There’s something your mum and I have never shared with you. There was no point; it wasn’t relevant. But you should know. Margaret looked after Michael when he was very young. Full-time. Sam and Bridget were building their business, your mum had left her job as a teacher to have her own children … but she didn’t fall. So she looked after Michael.’

‘What?’ Was I that surprised?

‘Then you were born and she stopped. Caused a lot of aggravation between your mum and Bridget. Truth was, Bridget didn’t like having a kid, it suited her to palm Michael off onto Margaret, then Margaret having a baby – you – inconvenienced her.’

‘Margaret looked after Michael?’

‘As I said, often. He stayed over, it worked. I travelled a lot then with my job.’

‘Michael came over to our house when I was growing up. I used to tell you but you chose not to listen.’ I looked up at him. ‘Not often, but he came.’ I turned my eyes away towards the window. ‘Did you know he came, Dad, to visit?’

He shuffled in his chair. ‘Of course I knew he came occasionally. But there’s nothing alarming in that, is there?’

I shrugged.

‘Well … as I said, your mother did look after him, so I don’t think it’s that strange.’ He exhaled loudly. ‘Soon after she stopped taking care of him he got meningitis. It changed him, even after he recovered. He became odd. That’s what we all put it down to, the meningitis. Sam did as much as he could but Bridget wasn’t the best mum. Not unkind, just not cut out to be a mother. It was Sam who wanted a child, not Bridget. That was why they only had one.’

‘Margaret hasn’t been the best mum either.’

‘She’s tried. She wanted you, was desperate for a child.’ He placed a clammy hand on top of mine. ‘You two clashed from the minute you were born.’

I knew there was a part of that statement that was true. We clashed from the minute I could question her. ‘Why did she give up teaching?’ I remembered why I’d been so upset the day Joe disappeared, and it wasn’t just about Liam’s suspected affair, it was more about not being able to work. But the two were connected. I’d felt he could do whatever he liked, and I could not. ‘Maybe if she’d carried on with her job … she wouldn’t be the way she is.’

‘Maybe.’ He wriggled in his chair. ‘Michael has always had a sort of love/hate relationship with your mum. I think he missed her.’ He looked up at me. ‘He became aggressive towards her on the one hand but he wanted her, loved her, if you like, on the other. I kept out of it. The day he came, after you’d dropped Joe, I was called on to do something unexpectedly for work. I knew you wanted me around when you left Joe … I knew that, so I didn’t tell you I’d been out all day when you picked him up later that evening.’ Guilt passed over his features as it did mine, I was sure. ‘Michael had taken the coach down from Chester for the day, that’s what he told us.’

‘You should have told me when I picked Joe up. And you should have told Tom about this.’

‘There’s no point telling them anything now, Rachel. It’s over. Michael came to see Margaret, that’s all. Nothing sinister.’ He watched me. ‘As it wasn’t sinister if Michael came over occasionally when he was growing up. No matter what we know now, he was my nephew. Someone who’d spent the first part of his life with us. I’d always felt a bit sorry for him despite his history with the police, but now … the guilt eats at me every day.’

‘Dad, he spent the whole day with Joe.’

He seemed to tuck into himself and then stood, tears forming in his eyes. ‘Your mother was trying to be nice; she knew he had no relationship with Bridget, that Sam found his son difficult.’

‘Margaret trying to be nice?’ I rubbed my finger in a small well of water left on the table. ‘I find that hard to believe.’

Margaret wasn’t nice. That would never be a word I’d use to describe her, although I accepted that she portrayed that image to many people. She was active within the church, did a fair amount of voluntary work. People didn’t love her, but our small community held her in respect.

She was different outside the four walls of her home. I knew it, and my dad knew it too. I touched my scar and a memory floated to the surface.

I think it was the summer after the auspicious Boxing Day when I went on my first school trip. Two nights in the Peak District, camping. The highlight of the trip, apart from frying bacon every morning around a campfire, was visiting the Blue John Caverns. I’d missed my dad but loved being away from home and my mother. The school bus was due back into Birmingham and the car park of our school at 6 p.m. It was a Thursday, I think. The teacher had made a call from the service station to the lead parent (no one had mobiles then) saying we would be on time. We arrived back at 6.10 p.m. Margaret was picking me up. My dad was away with his job. My teacher and I were still waiting at 7.30 p.m. No Margaret, and no answer on our phone at home. We waited. Still no Margaret at 8.30 p.m. Everyone had gone, just the teacher and me left. Eventually, he took me home. Margaret answered the door in her dressing gown, a copy of Madame Bovary in her hand. I don’t remember what she said to my teacher, not a lot I’d guess. My teacher didn’t know what to say. I think he mumbled an apology for disturbing her – she had that

effect on people – and he left as quickly as he could. She didn’t say a word to me, only looked at the heap of my rucksack and the plastic bag that held wet and dirty clothes. I took everything up to my room trying desperately not to cry. I pulled out the Blue John brooch that I’d bought her from the gift shop and put it in my bin. I felt so stupid.

When finally I went back downstairs to the quietness of a house that always felt so empty without my dad around I realised my mother had gone to bed.

So I did so, too. Hungry, sad, and still cold.

Now I watched my dad making his way to the kitchen door and away from me, if he’d ever been with me. Without Joe, whatever we shared had come to a full stop. In that moment loneliness engulfed me completely.

‘This is all too much for me, love,’ he said. ‘We can’t change what happened.’

‘Why do you love her, Dad? How can you love her?’

‘She is who she is. I’ve always stood by her, through everything.’

‘She doesn’t love me; she didn’t love Joe. I don’t understand.’

He didn’t even try to contradict me. ‘Some people, people like your mother, are difficult to understand, but it doesn’t stop me from loving her. And she did love Joe, in her way.’ He stopped, looked defeated. ‘And I love you.’

‘Did she love Michael?’

He peered through the kitchen window. ‘I think she did.’

A sharp pain stabbed at my stomach. ‘I can’t see her again, any time soon.’

‘I understand. Look, I’ll come around again next week, to see you and Liam.’

I nodded, followed him through to the hall and watched him amble down the driveway. As I closed the front door, I noticed the package on the hall table and picked it up.

Walking towards the cupboard under the stairs, I opened the door and placed it at the back unopened.

I made my way to the kitchen and sat at the table. Loneliness was becoming a part of me but perhaps that was a good thing.

© J A Corrigan, Accent Press 2016. Extract published with kind permission of the author and publisher. Permission must be sought if you wish to reproduce or quote from this extract.

 

You can buy the book from all usual outlets. Here is the link to Amazon…

Falling Suns

Buy Me

Follow Julie-Ann on Twitter: @aspirinnovelist and @julieannwriter

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Website: jacorrigan.com

This is a wonderful book and I urge you all to give it a whirl… expect to hear a lot from this author…

Thanks so much Julie- Ann and I look forward to being at more of your launches!

Also, folks, look out for this book on train stations and airports! It has been spotted!

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Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Be happy and never stop believing

You might groan, or perhaps indulge me by stifling a small polite groan when I come into my writing Blog and talk about other things, about the gym or my life but the general message is the same no matter what. And that’s you have to keep going if you want to achieve your dream. I give talks about my writing and that message comes across (or I hope) loud and clear. When I depart this world that has to be my epitaph: I never gave up.

Once again I see friends who have strived for publishing success alongside me for years, finally achieving their dream. I had the pleasure of attending Julie-Ann’s launch last week and she ends her Blog tour right here tomorrow when she will be walking Into The Spotlight. Another lovely client of mine also now has her first novel out there and she has agreed to come on here. And another writing friend who we published at Bridge House and had several novels published has finally seen signed by an agent. People… it happens. But the message has to be: NEVER GIVE UP.

So you might need to stifle the groan soon when I tell you how this philosophy of mine has always been inside me, but was nurtured when I was surrounded by positive people. To have that mindset; that sense of self-belief even when the chips are down, you have to get the strength from somewhere.People, good friends made all the difference and so did music. I am going to leave you with the message I had on my wall for years, and it came from (this is where the groan might slip out) Barry Manilow. Yeah I said it… but listen up folks, no matter your dream, take heed of this sound advice:

 

Barry quote never give up

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Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing