Sunday, 2 September 2012

Linda Mitchelmore guests on keeping it all in mind


Today I welcome Linda Mitchelmore to the blog with her writing tips for continuity.  

Linda has had over 200 short stories published worldwide, and has won and been short-listed in many competitions. Her debut novel was published in June by Choc Lit. I'm delighted that Linda is willing to share her method of keeping track while she's writing.

Take it away, Linda:


I've got the sort of head that can hold all the dates of all my friends' birthdays and anniversaries without forgetting any of them (but not the dates of wars and reigns of kings and queens!). And I can remember what I need when I go to Sainsburys rather than taking things at random from the shelves and forgetting the necessary milk and loo rolls.
But alas, that same brain can't remember if I've given my heroine blue eyes or brown, if she's 5' 6" or if she's only 5'4". And was she wearing a green dress (and if so what shade) when the (black-haired? brown-haired?) hero first kissed her, or was it a blue one?
So....for my writing I need my 'visuals'. I tear out pictures from magazines and I try not to use famous faces like Kate Moss or Jude Law because we all read so much about their private lives I wouldn't want any of that to spill over onto my characters. Less famous models than Kate Moss are a good source, though, as are the men and women in adverts for anything from cat food, through watches and probiotic yoghourts to Jaguars. Hairdressing mags are good, too. The Sunday glossies often do features on shoes and bags and if anything catches my eye I cut it out and add it to my 'visuals' pile for future reference. 

I've even used the male models in the Cotton Traders catalogues for a hero or two ....there's a dark-haired one who's modelled in there for decades now and I have to say I think he's matured with age! As to colour of dresses or furnishings or whatever.....a good paint chart is essential - they have some great names, too ...eau de nil, chartreuse, midnight, apricot blush to name but four. Estate agents' sheets are good for houses/flats/country estates.

So, once I've chosen how my heroine and my hero (and another two or so main characters) look and where they live, I pin those pictures on the wall in front of me, and there they stay until I've written THE END.

And then, of course, it all begins all over again....:)


Life in Devon in 1909 is hard and unforgiving, especially for young Emma Le Goff, whose mother and brother die in curious circumtances, leaving her totally alone in the world. While she grieves, her callous landloard, Reuben Jago, claims her home and belongings. His son, Seth, is deeply attracted to Emma and sympathises with her desperate need to find out what really happened, but all his attempts to help only incur his father's wrath. When mysterious fisherman, Matthew Caunter, comes to Emma's rescue, Seth is jealous at what he sees and seeks solace in another woman. However, he find that forgetting Emma is not as easy as he hoped. Matthew is kind and charismatic, but handsome Seth is never far from Emma's mind. Whatever twists and turns her life takes, it seems there is always something - or someone - missing.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Getting your book up on Kindle - my first go at it handled

Minxes of Romance: Author Spotlight - Elizabeth Bailey: The minxes are delighted to have Liz Bailey here with us today, answering the minxy questions. She'll be telling us too about her new releas...

The lovely minxes of romance very kindly offered me a slot today, to tell them all about my new historical romance Mademoiselle at Arms.

This is my first foray into Kindle on Amazon and it's an interesting experience. My nephew Llewi has done the tech stuff for me - brilliantly! It only took him two hours to put the book up originally (whereas it would have taken me two weeks). Then we looked at a book on promotion and discovered there was more to do.

Llewi hunted down the best search words and reformatted the description, and we've put it on Kindle Select. By coincidence this Q&A came up on the very day we republished the book! Here it is:
Mademoiselle at Arms

If you're interested in getting a book up on Kindle and don't want to waste time messing around with the tecchie stuff, Llewi is now offering his services at a very reasonable rate. He's off to uni in September, so he can fit in this help around his studies.

£45 just to format the book correctly and upload.
£60 to hunt down the search words and do an html formatting on the book description as well as formatting the book and uploading it.

Llewi is on and will welcome any questions.

I've dithered for six months or more with looking at how to get this book up without having to do it myself, and I checked endless services for price, etc. It's a minefield out there, and thus a joy to me to have someone I can trust doing the work. In due course he's going to due my Smashwords as well, so he's going to be a godsend to me. I've got several books almost ready to go and more in the pipeline.

Isn't this a wonderful world for authors?

Sunday, 8 July 2012


Today I welcome to the blog the multi-published Victoria Lamb, who is going to talk about the dreaded boomerang!  Over to you, Victoria:


Coping with Rejection by Victoria Lamb

 By the time you’ve finished a novel, it’s become a part of you. To have it rejected by an agent or publisher can feel like a personal affront. Yet rejection is an intrinsic part of the publishing business: we all go through it at some stage, and sometimes it’s the quickest way to improve. So how to cope with the hurt of rejection, and still keep writing and believing in yourself?

Stay professional
Allow yourself some natural moments of pique, then get yourself in hand again. Rejection is horrible. But you can’t please everyone all of the time. It’s as simple as that.

Was your rejection justified?
Next, consider carefully whether your work was perhaps less polished than it should have been, or on the wrong track altogether. This should not be an emotional decision. If advice has been given, assess it coolly. Not all advice is helpful. On the other hand, few novels spring fully formed from a writer’s mind, and even a rejection note can be useful.

Submit again to the right places
Finally, be brave and send out your work again as soon as any changes have been implemented. Be sure you target the right people. Check that the agent or publisher handles your genre. Sometimes a rejection has a simple explanation like that and is no reflection on your work. One example of an ‘unseen’ disadvantage is when a similar book or writer has already been accepted, so they can’t commit to yours because of a potential clash of interests.

Keep writing
This can be the hardest advice to follow when you’ve pinned your hopes on one particular story. But if you demonstrate that you’re more than a one-book writer, it tends to work in your favour. New writing also allows you to create much-needed emotional space between yourself and a rejection. Don’t keep starting new stories rather than improving work that’s been rejected. But when that unpleasant letter arrives, it can be reassuring to remind yourself, ‘There’s always the next book.’

Victoria Lamb writes historical fiction. The Queen’s Secret (Bantam Press) is a Tudor novel available in hardback and Kindle edition, and in paperback from July. Witchstruck is the first in a paranormal romance “Tudor Witch” series from Corgi Books for young adult readers, and will be published in July.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sue Moorcroft with Tips for writing short stories for the weekly magazine market

 Today I'm introducing Sue Moorcroft, whose novel LOVE & FREEDOM won the Best Romantic Read Award at the Festival of Romance 2011. Sue is published by Choc Lit, but she has been multi-published in short stories and knows the market backwards. Welcome, Sue! Over to you:

Sue's Tips for getting your short stories published:

  • Read the magazine, several issues.
  • List the adverts and regular columns for a rapid picture of the reader.
  • Study the style, especially the fiction. Write to it. EXCEPTION: don’t study the ‘big names’ fiction because ‘big names’ are allowed to break the rules.
  • Don’t confuse Readers’ Own Stories with the fiction. Readers’ Own Stories tend to be horrid; fiction nice.
  • Think upbeat, not downbeat. Think exasperation, not anger. Think Planet Magazine Fiction – it’s a nicer place to live than Real Life on Earth.
  • Style tends to be light, chatty, accessible.
  • Even a mature readership doesn’t want to read about old ladies being shoved into homes by busy relatives. They really, really don’t.
  • Don’t write from the point of view of an animal or inanimate object.
  • Write to the magazine for their guidelines or download them from the Internet. Follow them.
  • Avoid violence/gore/sex.
  • When you send a story to a magazine, if you have been published send a brief, friendly, covering letter saying so.
  • You need the desire to write for mags! – the operative word is ‘for’. If you don’t want to be part of a brand then magazine fiction is probably not for you. EXCEPTION. If you’re a well-known novelist you’re in a good position.
  • Write to wordcount with a tolerance of +/- 3%. Yes, really.
  • If you get a letter asking for changes and you can possibly make them, make them and send the revision with a nice letter thanking the editor for the guidance. You’re a big step closer to selling the story.

Good luck!

Sue Moorcroft writes romantic novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes. Her latest book, Love & Freedom, won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 at the Festival of Romance. 
Sue is the author of over 130 short stories and 4 serials for the weekly magazine market, a ‘how to’ book, Love Writing – How to Make Money From Writing Romantic and Erotic Fiction, is the head judge for the Writers’ Forum fiction competition and a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


It is my pleasure to introduce guest blogger JANE LOVERING, who recently won the Romantic Novel of the Year 2012 with "Please Don't Stop the Music" which was also shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan Award. Here are Jane's 5 top tips for writers:


1.        Don’t be too hard on yourself.  All right, there are some writers who knock out 5,000 words a day – there are just as many who write 50 and then go and have an ice cream.  Setting yourself goals is good, but make sure they are achievable for you.

2.        Don’t tell everyone you are writing a novel.  Pretend you are shut up in that room learning Sanskrit or playing Scrabble (learning a few words of Sanskrit may be advisable, just in case they ask...).  Otherwise you will be subjected to cries of ‘haven’t you finished that book yet?’ when you’ve only been at it for three weeks.  And ‘no’ isn’t an acceptable answer...
3.       Do it.  Go on, just write.  Don’t spend all your time talking about writing, thinking about writing, going to writing classes and reading ‘how to’ books on writing (although these are fabulously good, obviously).  There is sometimes a tendency for writers who are just starting out on the writing journey to become so absorbed in trying to ‘learn’ writing, that they forget that the best way to learn any skill is simply to do it.

4.        Read, read, read.  Every spare moment you have (when you’re not writing, obviously), read.  You might think that you don’t have time, but it is possible to wash dishes and read and read whilst walking the dog.  I have the bruises to prove it.

5.        Enjoy it!  Life is full of miserable, horrible tasks – writing is not one of them.  Write with a smile on your face – you are actually doing what so many people dream of...WRITING!

How much can you hide?Jemima Hutton is determined to build a successful new life and keep her past a dark secret. Trouble is, her jewellery business looks set to fail - until enigmatic Ben Davies offers to stock her handmade belt buckles in his guitar shop and things start looking up, on all fronts. But Ben has secrets too. When Jemima finds out he used to be the front man of hugely successful Indie rock band Willow Down, she wants to know more. Why did he desert the band on their US tour? Why is he now a semi-recluse?And the curiosity is mutual - which means that her own secret is no longer safe ...

Link to Jane's website