Saturday, 9 September 2017

This is IWSG writ large... must decide!

The final year of the M.A. will entail completing five hours work every day for as many times  as I can manage until next October. And I'm still trying to finish River Dark before the end of this October.

But one big decision is which book idea to work on for the final year of the degree?

I have three ideas:
a story which is semi-autobiographical and about life during the war of independence in 60's Africa
a comedy about Adam trying to find Eve through the centuries, village life, and his battles with Lucifer
and a story of a wool monger's wife who runs her late husband's business and is a spy in medieval Shrewsbury at the time of civil war.

Little time left and I must decide!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

IWSG - September - a fascinating insight into the life of author Glynis Smy.

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing one of my favourite authors, Glynis Smy.
Glynis is a very popular author with a great demand for her books, and it is always good to hear what another author has to say about the process of creating a novel and the work entailed in achieving recognition. 

Thanks, Carole, for inviting me along. My name is Glynis Smy, and  I live in Dovercourt, Harwich, Essex, in England. It is a coastal town and I love nothing more than pondering the next chapter of my novel when beside the sea. I am married, have three adult children and two granddaughters. I care for my elderly mother and write novels. 

What events in childhood, or in later life, Glynis, led you to decide to become a writer? How did you begin? Can you remember? And who read these early writings. Were they private, or did you share them with other children or adults? What form did they take?

I've always written poetry and short stories, but while living in Cyprus, an online friend in a writing forum challenged me to turn a short story into a novel, and Ripper, My Love was born. I kept my poetry to myself, but ten years ago, when I was fifty, I decided to publish a poetry book and gift it to the few folk invited to my birthday celebrations. It was my coming out celebrations and a sharing of my inner feelings. 

When you were a child, did you have a favourite author who gave you a love of reading and the idea of becoming a writer? Are there authors that influence your writing today? As many well-known authors advise, do you read others’ work, and write, every day if possible? 

Enid Blyton was my favourite! She could tell a story and I envied her talent. I wanted to be her. Today, I admire many authors, but I aspired to write like Catherine Cookson. I read other writers as a beta reader, and I read for pleasure every day. Each day, no matter how little time I have, I like to write no less than 100 words. This makes me stay focused, no matter how few words I bash out. Every word has to count towards my current projects though - they cannot just be anything, or that is a waste of my valuable writing time.

Do you write for a certain genre? For a niche market? Is your work fiction, non-fiction, or do you write both? Or perhaps you write for the eBook market, in addition to your printed work, or only produce eBooks?

My genre has always been fiction in the form of Historical Romance Suspense / Historical Romance / Romance, mainly set in the Victorian era. In 2016, I also added crime to my list, writing about a detective Morag 'Rags' Blake. It is a current project of what I hope to be a series. I write for digital and print-on-demand paperback readers. 

 Is it easy for readers to discover your work, and how do you increase sales? Do you sell online? Are you in independent bookshops and in bookshops such as W.H.Smith? I’m sure the beginning writer would be interested to know a little about how you went about achieving this.

At the moment I use mainly Amazon for my sales. It works for me both in paperback (Createspace) and eBooks. I've never approached independent bookshops, but do sell at book signing events. However, I am hoping to approach stores when I've completed my detective novels. 

Beginning writers would be fascinated to know how you find your writing ideas, your inspiration.  

Reading historical romance inspired my earlier books. A conversation about who might have loved the murderer of prostitutes, Jack the Ripper, sparked an idea for the two books about Kitty Harper. Maggie's Child was inspired by a 

Romanian programme about women giving up their children due to their desperate circumstances, and I wondered what it must be like to give up a child, despite wanting one so very much. The Penny Portrait was about a young girl in my home town, a coming of age story of a creative pathway in her life. Folk wonder if there is a little of me in the character, as she also leaves and then returns with a new career under her belt. Heels and Hearts is a medical romance with a difference. I set it in the UK and Cyprus. I lived in a Cypriot village for eight plus years and used my memories of the village as a setting for the story. 

Are market trends important to you, or do you write to please yourself? 

I write to please myself and hope that at least one person enjoys my efforts.  Earning money from my work is great, but I do not put pressure upon myself to make that the ultimate goal.

Have you attended writing courses, taken online courses, writers’ retreats, or do you think you might do so in the future?

I have taken a few courses and attended events, however, I feel now that writing time is so valuable I need to focus on my projects. 

Social media is my marketing platform and is valuable to any serious author nowadays. I set aside time to communicate with the outside world. I undertake book signings when asked, and yes, my books are in local libraries. I've presented one workshop but do not attend book festivals as an active participant, simply as a leisure event enjoying the hard work of other authors. 

Do you find social media helpful? Or just time consuming?

I try and connect via my Facebook page and use Facebook Ads to work out the age range and sex of my readers. 

Do you have a publisher, or are you self-published? How did you go about seeing your book in print? 

I'm a self-published author and use Createspace for paperback copies. I still have a hankering for an agent or publisher but time will tell if that dream comes true at any point. That said, self-publishing is more popular nowadays, so the road I've chosen is not a bad one.

Do you belong, or have at some time, belonged to a writers’ group, and did you find this useful?

I attended one for one day. It wasn't for me. I've decided I'm a hermit writer - only coming out for social gatherings. 

Do you use libraries for research, online resources, or both?

I use both. I also use the knowledge of others in the wide world. It is amazing what feedback you get when you ask someone in a job that you need to learn more about for a character.

At what stage did you begin to think yourself, or call yourself, a writer? 

When I was short-listed for the UK Festival of Romance - New Talent Award in 2014. It hit home that I'd achieved something as a self-published author when I stood beside well-known traditionally published authors.

 Do you read ‘how-to’ books, and are there any you would recommend for the writer who is just starting on a career? 

Ooh, Jessica Bell's In a Nutshell, Self-publish Your Book, Collins Complete Writing Guide, and From Pitch to Publication by Carole Blake, all sit beside me.

Could you tell me could you tell me what you are working on at present, and what direction your writing will take in future? 

I've just written The End on a novel called Whitefoam. It is a thriller with a detective lead character and is set in my home town. I aim to write three more in the series. I am also writing a sequel to Maggie's Child called Maggie's Men. Maggie's Child is the novel that reached #1 in the Victorian section of the paid listing for Historical Romance on Amazon, and recently made the top 100 again and sat with the likes of Barbara Erskine, Josephine 
Cox, Danielle Steele, and Dilly Court.

A great achievement, Glynis! And finally, could you provide a list of online sites where you can be reached and where readers can find out about your work in progress and future publications?

I also send out a newsletter. Do visit my blog and subscribe. 

Thank you so much, Glynis. I'm certain that your comments will be of great interest to other authors beginning the craft or who are some way along the road.  


Thursday, 31 August 2017

For IWSG - An Interview with freelance writer Julie Louise Phillips

Welcome Julie, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed today. I know you have worked hard, like so many authors, to establish yourself as a writer -  having success with your short stories and spending long hours researching in local libraries, obtaining first hand information of historical interest, - and it would be helpful to others just beginning their writing journeys to hear something about how you achieved your success. First of all, I'd like to ask you if you have attended writing courses, writer's retreats, and if you found this helpful?

Julie Louise Phillips
Yes, I did a year’s Creative Writing course with the Open University in 2007/8 and a Writers Bureau course in article writing too. I also went on a writers’ holiday in Fishguard this time last year.  I’ve also been to the National Association of Writing Groups’ writing conference a couple of times and three retreats with my writing group. They were well worth going on because you meet other writers and learn a lot about writing skills.

Do you find social media helpful? Or just time consuming?

It's fits and starts with me regarding social media. Sometimes I use it a lot, and then not so much. It was beginning to impact on my writing time, and I have to write when I can because I work in a local school. So when it is term-time, I only access social media at weekends and I impose a time limit. It's far too easy to be distracted by social media. 

Are you a member of a business group, do you undertake book signings or visit Book Fairs. Are your books in local libraries? Are you to be found at workshops and do you give talks at book festivals or as visiting author in schools? 

No, I'm not a member of a business group, but I do hold book signings and I am available to give writing related workshops. I find most libraries will only have your books on their shelves is you donate a book first, and as I think libraries are to be treasured, I am happy to give them one of my books. I did facilitate an author visit for a friend that was amazing, and I would like to undertake an author visit myself in the future. 

Are you aware of your target audience, and if so, how do you connect with them?

Via my publishers really. I had some feedback from families through them, people whose ancestors featured in my WW1 books and that was nice.

Do you have a publisher, or are you self-published? How did you go about seeing your books in print?

I have a publisher for my non-fiction, although I haven't ruled out self-publishing. I sent a synopsis to the publisher and they accepted it. 

Do you belong, or have you at some time, belonged to a writer's group, and did you find this useful?

Yes, Wrekin Writers based in Telford. They are absolutely responsible for me getting my writing act together and being published. I would recommend that people do join a writing group, but make sure it is right for you. Not all writing groups are a good place for everyone, so shop around. 

    Do you use libraries for your research, online resources or both? 

For my WW1 books I used three libraries and also did some research on-line and in museum archives. I also used an on-line newspaper archive and the archives at Birmingham Library as well as buying related books on Amazon to read and going out and interviewing people. 

At what stage did you begin to think yourself , or call yourself, a writer?

I still don’t!  I still can’t believe I’ve had anything published. To me it’s a passion. I love reading and writing but it isn’t ‘work’ to me, it’s a pleasure.

Do you read ‘how-to’ books and are there any you would recommend for the writer who is just starting on a career?

Yes. I think they are good for new writers as they give you some ideas on how to go about writing. Simon Whaley’s books on writing are great as are Jane Wenham-Jones’s Wanna Be a Writer books. Della Galton has a good book out on writing short stories too.

Could you tell us what you are working on at present, and in what direction you think your writing will take in the future?

I am working on my 5th book for the publisher Pen and Sword. It is a book about suffragettes and women of note in  Birmingham, but I shall still write short stories for women's magazines. I'd like to finish a novel and get that published. 

And finally, could you provide advice for the beginning writers out there? 

I'm not one for making resolutions, as I think they're only good for setting us up to fail. There's so much pressure to do things better or to be a better person that it's no wonder we don't succeed and abandon our intentions a few weeks later.

Writing is also like that. We get all excited about a new idea and are completely absorbed in it for a while, only to fall out of love with it and never finish it.
The key I've found is, before I even write a word, I look back at those projects and ask myself why I abandoned them. The answer is usually that I became bored with it or simply didn't know how to advance with it, so I just gave up. I then make myself look at the abandoned project and try and, if I think I can, I try and finish it. This process then allows me to move on to the next project without the Spectre of past, unfinished writing projects, hanging around my neck.

So, if your writing resolutions have faltered, take a step back, look if there are any previous projects that you didn't finish and are holding you back. Finishing these might be all you need to move forward.
Thank you so much, Julie. I'm sure this will encourage many writers not to give up. And I'm sure other readers will join me in wishing you every success in the future. We look forward to reading more and more books from you. 

[ Julie's books can be found on Amazon, and her blog address is  ]

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


Another Jelly meeting at the Alb, Shrewsbury. Do you remember Jelly, an idea imported from America? Termed 'Jelly', equivalent to our word 'jam', it was for people who worked alone, running their own small businesses and was the forerunner of today's business hubs, such as the MarchesGrowth Hub in Shrewsbury.  Good to see that there are still people who keep Jelly meetings going and that Jelly is still advertised on Eventbrite.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Pet Peeves - Reading, Writing and Editing

Hello again.

Pet Peeves was the theme for Alex's latest blog hop in August, and although I didn't use it at the time, it interested me very much.

Reading? I have begun to follow writer  Stephen King's advice given in his brilliant book, 'On Writing', one of the best books on the subject I've ever come across. In it, he says that he reads every day, even including Christmas Day. I don't think I'd go as far as that, but he is right when he says that it is only by reading other writer's that our own ability improves. I think of myself of a lapsed reader, having spent my teens and twenties glued to a book, I am busy trying to catch up.

Writing? Again Stephen King is correct when he says that unless we write daily, when we return to our work it is stale and we've lost the momentum. Yes, we know this, but how many writers ignore this fact of our writing lives to our cost?

And finally, Editing? If you can't afford a living, breathing editor of some ability, then the next best thing is the app. Pro Writing Aid. I'm sure many writers would recommend other programmes, but this works for me, wouldn't be without it, and it fits neatly into any Word file you have created. Now to put my own advice, or mostly Stephen King's excellent advice into practice! 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Chapter One - River Dark

(the beginning of the next adventure for Joshua and Sam!)

The Emily Grey

A Terrible Enemy

If I’d known I would be hunted down like a criminal, I would have run away from Atterley Hall the moment I heard that horrible screaming, but this was the first day of my new life, and I wasn’t giving up now.

   As the wintery sunlight broke through the early morning mist over the parkland, I took a deep breath, charged through the archway into the stable yard, and had to jump back from the sweating body of a huge, black stallion, rearing up and thrashing the air with his hooves.

With an angry shriek, the horse began a furious dance, swinging his body from side to side and trying to shake off a terrified groom clinging to his lead rope. The small, grizzled-haired man was strongly built with thickset shoulders and huge fists, but he was no match for the angry beast. Pulled off his feet, his boots sliding on wet cobbles, he punched the stallion’s neck, making him wilder than ever. Bellowing with rage, the beast gave a violent twist of his spine, flung the terrified man into the air, and I watched in horror as he landed on the yard with a sickening thud.

Then the stallion trotted towards the groom’s body, about to bring his enormous weight smashing down on his tormentor, and desperate to stop him, I yelled, ‘Thunder, don’t!’

At the sound of my voice, the horse seemed frozen in time. His head was thrust back, his mane rippling with a life of its own. His heavy body hung motionless in the air. He was balanced on his hind legs, the muscles in his haunches rippling under the skin. For one terrified moment, I thought he would topple backwards. But with a tremendous effort, he heaved his body forward, his hooves clattered harmlessly on the yard, and the man scrambled to safety. 

It took a moment for me to realise the stallion was trotting towards me, with a few strides of his long, powerful legs he’d be on top of me, and I feared I’d be trampled. But at the last moment, he sidestepped delicately and came to a bouncing halt, his chest towering above me.

In the sharp morning air, I felt the heat of his silky body. His breath formed white clouds around his muzzle, wetting my face. Then with a swift movement, he dipped his head in a playful manner, stared at me with huge, liquid eyes, and nipped me on the shoulder. He had not forgotten me!

A day in the life of Carer and Author Carole Anne Carr!

So much to do, the sun is beckoning, but it will have to wait! I'm on the last forty pages, editing my latest Ironbridge Gorge adventure 'River Dark'. With husband's illnesses, this has taken far longer than expected. Enjoying returning to blogging, so best to make a list for today:
  1. Stop blogging and sort out the day.
  2. Make sure husband is safe and worry whilst he ventures out on his mobility scooter.
  3. Edit River Dark. 
  4. Prepare first post - interviews with authors. 
  5. Phone opticians.
  6. Write in rusty German to friend and post email. 
  7. Sort out bills.
  8. Laundry
  9. Add beginning of River Dark to social media
  10. Get on with it, it will soon be Christmas. Arghh!!!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Interviews with Authors in August

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, kitchen and indoor
Julie on retreat with Wrekin Writers 
During August, I shall be adding interviews with a variety of authors who are at various stages of their careers, some specializing in fiction and some whose strength lies is the field of non-fiction. So do come along and support them and ask questions, and if you would like be to included, just let me know. There will be something of interest and something you can learn from their varied experiences. The first of these authors, Julie Louise Phillips Freelance Writer is a much loved writer, followed by many people on Facebook. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Writing Volunteers Needed!

Halloween 'Thin Time' - Book Signing - Newport, Shropshire
I've been encouraged to return to blogging, after a two year gap, by the amazing Teresa Heath-Wareing, and it is also a requirement on the MA course I am taking. Now I am looking for people who will help get this new blog of mine under way. Julie Louise Phillips had very kindly agreed to go first, and I do hope there are other people who will join in. As I shall post these 'interviews' here, on twitter, on my website, LinkedIn, Pinterest...etc. it might also be beneficial to you too. The blog is aimed at beginner writers with hopefully help for any one starting out in a career. But I'm also interested in anyone who has gone through the early processes of becoming established as a writer. It will be a question and answer format - how you began, why, what you are doing now... If you would like to help me out, do let me know. Thanks so much.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Where are you going to Begin?

Author Carole Anne Carr with customers at a book signing - Blists Hill Heritage Site

There is often the question of where to start if you are thinking of becoming a writer. Shall I write fiction, or non-fiction?  Is a short story easier to write than a novel? If I complete a short story, where shall I send it. How do I know that it is good enough to show anyone? Or shall I just write for myself, not show anyone and hide it in a drawer? Would a Writing Group be a good idea? And why do I want to write at all? Am I anxious to express a story that has been in my head for years? Did I read a book and think, 'I could do much better than yet? Have you decided on the reason for why you want to be a writer? Is it something you must do, or do you have a desire to write a bedtime story for your children? Whatever your reason, I shall be talking about some of the reasons for writing, my struggles to become a writer, how to do about becoming a writer of different genres, and what, if any, are the financial rewards.