I am absolutely thrilled to be interviewed today on fellow RNA member Arabella Sheen’s blog. See here for the full interview and chit-chat.
If you haven’t discovered her books yet, take a look at Arabella’s impressive Amazon page.
It’s here! Three Hundred Bridesmaids can now be downloaded from all Amazon sites, for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.
The novel was previously published by D C Thomson in an edited form as ‘Love And Lies’: People’s Friend Pocket Novel Number 883. I am absolutely thrilled (and totally amazed!) to be able to announce that ‘Love And Lies’ is a contender for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award 2019. Best of luck to all!
Yes, it’s the wedding season and ‘Three Hundred Bridesmaids’ is arriving soon!
Three Hundred Bridesmaids is a short novel I originally wrote for The People’s Friend and which they were kind enough to publish as a Pocket novel, ‘Love and Lies’ earlier this year. Thank you People’s Friend! Truly a good friend to writers.
The time has come for me to self-publish the novel and Three Hundred Bridesmaids is available to pre-order on Amazon now, so please take a look!
This is from the book description on Amazon:
The opening scene of ‘Three Hundred Bridesmaids’ takes place on a remote Dorset hilltop in the middle of the blazing hot heatwave of 1976.
We travel back to 1975 and follow Rosie Peach as she starts her first job as a music teacher at Shaston Convent School. It is not long before she falls for the dashing David Hart, but he is haunted by his dark and troubled past and is unable to give her the love she craves.
Rosie’s friend and colleague, Grace Browning, cautions Rosie against David as a suitable partner, but what exactly are her motives and who is she intent on pursuing?
The situation is complicated by the arrival of Tristan Proudfoot, a conductor, who has romantic designs of his own.
A madcap trio of sixth form girls keep us entertained with their ludicrous antics while the drama unfolds and a cast of irrepressible nuns join forces with the redoubtable Miss Spiker to do their utmost to ensure the path of true love runs smoothly.
The final scene before we return to tender and touching events on the remote Dorset hilltop involves a plate of chocolate eclairs and iced buns, a fight on the Nuns’ Lawn and a denouement quite possibly even more complicated and far fetched than the silliest opera plot.
The conductor Tristan Proudfoot from my ‘Sing with the Choir’ novels pops up in Three Hundred Bridesmaids, but as a younger (and slightly better behaved) man.
The main setting of the story, a convent boarding school in Dorset in 1975/76, is entirely imaginary, and the fact that I attended a convent boarding school in Dorset in the 70s is, of course, pure coincidence.
My short story From Me To You has been published today in Love Sunday magazine (comes with The Sunday People) and I am overjoyed!
It is set in the present day, and in the sixties, and has a musical theme (no surprise there). The theme is GRATITUDE which is very suitable for Mother’s Day.
The story began life as just the sixties section but after a couple of rejections and useful feedback, I decided to add the section in the present day, to give the story more purpose.
Hope you enjoy!
No blog on my website is complete without a plug for my novels, so here goes:
Make a Joyful Noise A musical romantic comedy
The Funny Business of Life Mozart, Messiah and Murder
Oh, and there’s a Pocket Novel out now, The People’s Friend number 883, full of romance, humour, mystery and music…just in case you’re interested!
I am thrilled my story ‘Pardon My French’ has been published today in Love Sunday (the magazine that comes with The Sunday People). Thank you Love Sunday magazine!
Quite a few people have asked me how this has come about, so I thought I would share the story’s journey.
It started life as a 2,000 word story, sent to The People’s Friend. They said this:
“Many thanks for letting us see your short story… I’m afraid we’re going to pass on it at this time as overall we felt it was just too over the top.”
Anyone who has worked with The PF before will know that their feedback in invaluable; most magazines don’t have the time (or inclination!) to give feedback, but PF is really keen to encourage and help writers. So, another thank you, this time to The People’s Friend, for making me think and for being so polite.
Pardon My French went off to Woman’s Weekly next, after indenting some paragraphs (PF prefer no formatting, Woman’s Weekly like some paragraphs). They said this:
“We enjoyed reading it, though I’m afraid we won’t be proceeding with a commission on this occasion.”
More useful feedback – they enjoyed reading it. Thank you Woman’s Weekly!
While I was trying to find another market for the story, which was tricky because so many magazines are closed to unsolicited submissions and prefer to work with writers all ready known to them (how do they expect anyone to get started?), I read an article on the fabulous Womag website. For those of you who don’t know, Patsy Collins runs the Womagwriter’s Blog, and it is an absolute mine of useful information about everything to do with Women’s magazines and a great place to hang out if you need cheering up after a rejection. Thank you Patsy!
The article that caught my attention was this:
Thank you, Sharon! Through you I discovered a new market for short stories and thought I would give it a go.
I cut down Pardon My French to 1,500 words and tweaked it a bit, then sent it off to Flavia Bertolini at Love Sunday (see Sharon’s article for all the details). Flavia acknowledged receipt by email the very next day, then accepted the story the next week. It was published eleven weeks later, that’s today. Thank you Flavia!
I am delighted with the illustration chosen and over-the-moon that Love Sunday put a line about my People’s Friend Pocket Novel at the end of the story (did I mention the lovely PF are publishing my novel as PF Pocket Novel Number 883 on 21st March 2019?).
I have compared the story I sent to Love Sunday with the one printed today and learnt a couple of things for next time which I am happy to share:
Love Sunday like single quotation marks.
Love Sunday use less semi-colons than I do (most people use less semi-colons than I do). They prefer the dash.
To end up, I thought I would take the chance to shamelessly promote my own two self-published novels, Make a Joyful Noise and The Funny Business of Life, because if you can’t do that on your own blog, where can you do it? Both the novels are half-price (99p) to download for your kindle at the moment; they are also available in paperback. I can guarantee they are quite ‘over the top’ but hopefully not too much and only in a good way!
I knew my visit to the Burne-Jones exhibition was going to be fun when I was greeted by two giant festive slugs, complete with sparkly cables of lights, on our arrival at the Tate. It was a totally unexpected sight! Here is one of the magnificent gastropods:
The drawings and paintings were as beautiful as ever and I wished, not for the first time, that it was still fashionable to have wild hair, hair that does its own thing, even, dare I say it, frizzy hair? These beauties hadn’t spent their time straightening their locks or taming their tresses with Frizz-Ease. They could just be themselves. Sigh.
Though for sheer volume, for really wild hair, I refer you to this picture, ‘The Bridesmaid’, by John Everett Millais:
Or maybe this one, ‘The Lady Of Shalott’, by Holman Hunt:
All this has reminded me of one of my stories: ‘The Woman with the Funny Hair’ from Miss Peach’s Dream.
Here it is:
What was I doing, head back, screaming at full throttle, clinging to a total stranger on the Dragon Ride at Legoland?
The day had started peacefully enough.
“Mum! Where’s my school jumper?”
“Mum! Tina’s pinched my tights again.”
“Mum! Have you ordered that stuff from the internet yet? I need it for tomorrow…”
“Jane! Where’s my tie? Keys?”
“Hang on,” I bleated. “Listen! Isn’t that the phone?”
“Hello, Jane? It’s me. Are you coming to visit today? Why not? You know they’re not looking after me properly, don’t you? I can’t think why you dumped me in this home… and ‘home’ is too good a word for it, why, the tales I could tell you about what goes on in this place, they’d make your hair curl…”
“Sorry Mum, sorry everyone,” I whimpered. “I’ll sort it, I promise. Whatever it is you all want, I’ll do it. Yes, Tina, yes, today, of course, I won’t forget.”
I had just five blissful minutes to myself once they had all left – time to slap on some anti-ageing serum. My God! I averted my eyes from the mirror quickly. When would this stuff begin to take action? And it’s costing me a small fortune, I thought guiltily. I ran my fingers through still damp hair to give a bit of root lift. Should I use that conditioning spray I had bought? Where was it anyway?
I managed to get to work looking vaguely respectable, although the house was a bomb site.
“Hi Miss!” called Darren cheerfully as I passed him in the corridor.
“Hello Darren,” I whispered. I had noticed a couple of mothers waiting for me by the coat hooks outside my classroom and so quickly pressed myself against the wall, beside a cupboard, hoping they would give up and drift out to the playground.
“She’s late again, I expect.”
“But I really need to speak to her – Jacintha wasn’t happy in class yesterday – bless her, she’s such a special child.”
“Everyone’s unique, no one’s special,” I muttered from my hiding place.
“There you are Mrs Worm,” boomed the Headmistress. “I need you to go on the trip today with Miss Kirby and Mr Grip – we need a mature member of staff present – so I’ve covered your class for the day to make you free.”
“Thank you,” I gulped, “I think.”
Once on the coach, I soon fell asleep. I was on holiday in the south of France with George Clooney, I was sailing across an azure sea, fluted champagne glass in one hand, my eyes sparkling attractively with the merest hint of intriguing laughter lines…
“Miss! Miss Worm! Me and Daisy have eaten our packed lunches and now we don’t feel so good…”
“Could you stop the coach?” I begged the driver.
“Not on the motorway, no,” he barked. “Deal with it.”
The day passed in a blur of queuing – for entry, for toilet stops, for rides and for snacks. We worked our way across the park until we arrived in front of the Dragon Roller Coaster, next to the Castle.
“No,” I said firmly to the row of imploring faces in front of me. “You’re too small to go on this. Well, some of you are, so it wouldn’t be right for anyone to go on it.”
“Not fair,” sulked Darren. “Never get to do what we want.”
“I wanna go on the Dragon Ride,” whined Daisy. “Why can’t I?”
“Not fair, not fair,” chorused the children. “Dra-gon Ride, Dra-gon Ride, not fair, not fair…”
Then suddenly, unexpectedly, something in me exploded and I turned, turned to face the children and staff.
“You don’t get to do what you want? You don’t? What about me? When does anyone even ask what I want? Maybe I want to go on the Dragon Ride. Have you ever thought of that? Maybe I will go on the Dragon Ride!”
With a hysterical cackle, I ran to the tunnel where the last passengers were getting into green plastic carriages, pushed a couple of startled people aside and leapt onto the train.
I had the time of my life, shrieking and wailing with the best of them, chugging up the narrow rail and plunging down, down to the depths, all with twenty five beady-eyed children and a couple of bemused colleagues amongst the audience. It was only when the ride stopped I realised I was attached like a barnacle to the man next to me in the carriage.
“You’ve made a bit of a show of yourself, haven’t you?” said the man’s girlfriend sitting opposite. “Put him down now. He’s spoken for.”
“Don’t know why you care,” I replied loftily. “He’s not exactly George Clooney, is he?”
With that, I jumped out of the carriage pretty smartly and fled. It was a shame I had to slink back a few minutes later to retrieve my bag.
“That’s her, the lady with the funny hair!” shouted a little girl to her mother.
“It’s rude to point – don’t they teach you manners?” I retorted, fleeing the scene for a second time.
On the way home, Miss Kirby gave me a picture from the photo booth next to the ride; it showed a red-faced woman, frizzy hair streaming in the wind and eyes mad with fear, reaching out to a man who was shrinking away in obvious terror.
“Mr Grip and I bought this for you,” she explained. “It’s already on the internet, along with a few other action shots.”
I glanced behind me and saw that every child on the coach was bent over a mobile phone.
“What made you do it?” asked Miss Kirby. “It was so out of character.”
“No idea,” I laughed, looking proudly at the picture, “but it was fantastic, fabulous fun!”
I have recently finished reading this beautifully written novel by Barney Campbell. There is much technical information to absorb about the life of a young soldier on active duty in Afghanistan, but this is cleverly woven into a heartfelt story that sweeps the reader along. By turns savage and tender, this is a truly uplifting read that will live on in your mind.
Review written on 11.11.2018