I’m reading One Plus One by Jojo Moyes at the moment, the perfect novel to curl up with on a chilly night. I read Me Before You earlier this year and was so impressed by her writing; I’d been wondering if I’d feel a little let down by this one, but no. This story, about a single mum struggling to find a way to afford a place in a private school for her gifted daughter whilst struggling with jobs, life, and a flatulent dog named Norman, really springs to life off the pages – I love it. Wish I could write like this.
I completed edits for Rainy Days and Roses and am now waiting for a release date. I think this is the best thing I’ve ever written (although I always think that when I’ve just written something) but . . . I want my next piece of writing to be longer, novel-length if possible. I’m 20k words into another story set in Bagley, Suffolk, in Rose Cottage, and eventually want to write a third set in Bagley which will take place during WWII. Achieving this may take years. I haven’t written a word this week as so much has cropped up –
1. Hugely complex personal and transportation problems.
2. A broken furnace, which had to be replaced after several days of scrabbling around for firewood. The furnace decided to pack up during the first spell of bad weather this season.
3. Helping Boy 2 apply for film school.
4. Poring over cook books. Miss W is now a vegetarian so am searching for new recipes that are acceptable to her. She does help with the cooking.
5. Watching Call the Midwife with Miss W.
6. Wrapping Christmas presents.
Usually I plod on with writing whatever life throws my way but haven’t been able to this week. I did receive a few reminders of my writing life this week – a check for a story I wrote last Christmas and a certificate from the Oklahoma branch of the Romance Writers of America – Paris Rose placed in the International Digital Awards. I’ve placed the certificate next to my desk and hopefully it will spur me on to keep writing when I’d really rather curl up on the couch with some chocolate and watch Call the Midwife.
June was a month during which I just had to reconcile myself to not writing. Youngest son was home from school, and children with autism can be pretty demanding, especially when their safe routines suddenly disappear. What I DID manage to do was edit Rainy Days and Roses and join a very nice group of writers for help/insights/critiques/moaning sessions. And then last week I had a wonderful time in Perry, LeClaire and Chicago. Hot weather, lightning bugs, wine, lunch looking over the Mississippi and two days in one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities I have ever visited.
Even though I wrote quite blithely in the paragraph above that ‘I just had to reconcile myself to not writing’ it wasn’t an easy or happy time for me, because writing has become a habit I need in order to relax and feel fulfilled. So before I went away I scribbled about a 1000 words, a possible opening for something new, and now here I am back into my normal routine (phew!) writing in the afternoons, and also this week trying to promote Paris Rose, which had its general release yesterday.
Life seems to be full of little surprises when you write. Sometimes they can be a bit unpleasant (characters refusing to do what you want them to, lukewarm reviews etc) but sometimes they can be rather lovely. Yesterday I heard that a ghost story I wrote a while ago called The Man in the Cardigan is going to be included in a print anthology which will be on sale in the UK in early October. So a
m now looking forward to a reread of The Man in the Cardy in the company of other ghost stories and receiving a release date for Rainy Days and Roses!
So much has happened since my last post, we’ve been lashed by tornadoes, had a high school graduation and I’ve twice returned to Perry. A few weeks ago I signed the contract for Rainy Days and Roses and I’m pleased because I LOVE this story, probably more than anything I’ve written before. It did take a bit of blood, sweat and tears to get right and I slashed the first 10,000 words and added a few new characters, read it through one last time and sent it off. When the Wild Rose Press accepted it 6 weeks later I read it again (spotting a few things I will change) but mostly really enjoying reuniting with Zelda, Dan, Maggie, Vera, Elsie and Bernard.
In other writing news I sold a short story to True Story, Summertime Blues will appear in the August issue.
After a monumental struggle, I managed to create a signature for my email, so now everyone who receives email from me can click on my Facebook and Twitter links and buy links to my books on Amazon!
I turned 53. Mr. B gave me a Charlotte’s Web T-shirt, book about E. B. White (Charlotte’s Web is the novel that made me want to write) an apron patterned with owls and a canvas bag and mug featuring the cover art for Paris Rose.
I’ve been promoting Paris Rose like mad and received some lovely reviews on Amazon – always a thrill to read.
And as always I continue to write, in 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, while waiting for the school bus to arrive, while the chili is simmering, while my pot of coffee gurgles away in the morning . . .
It’s been a crazy, busy few weeks and as so often happens writing has had to take a back seat. Whenever I finish a writing project, I plunge into a bit of a panic, convinced I will never come up with another idea. I was so involved with my last project and absolutely in love with the characters. So when I was finished with them I felt lost. Started frantically reading my impressive collection of writing books, all worried because I can never plot and plan my writing in an organized manner, no matter how hard I try.
I am a pantser. I have a vague, but promising idea, pop into my head. I write a few paragraphs. And as I write, I know more and more about the people who are going to inhabit my story, as if they are telling me themselves. I’m not fully convinced this is the best way to go about things, but it is my way.
This morning I made my usual pot of coffee and checked for Paris Rose on Amazon – and there it was, the story I labored away at early in the mornings and in snatched moments before the school bus arrived, what an utterly indescribable feeling.
I’m not quite sure where or when I acquired this vintage print but it was several years ago in one of the little junk/antique stores I used to have time to poke around in. I love this little cottage, the trees towering behind it, the lupines, roses and daisies in the front garden, the curving stone path that leads to a green door that has been left ajar. I’ve probably spent a bit more time than is healthy wondering what is beyond that door. Naturally, I had to write a story featuring this cottage and I finished Rainy Days and Roses yesterday, and now I need to send it out into the world, and it seems so strange not to be grabbing every spare minute in the day to work on it. Whenever I have something going I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever come up with and this is how I feel about the story of Dan and Zelda, childhood friends who find themselves fixing up a ramshackle cottage in a small village in Suffolk, England . . . Now it’s completed I can finally do some housework and feed the children.
Paris Rose is going to be available free on Kindle from March 17th – March 23rd, and it now has an official release date – July 16th. I am making a blog appearance on Angela Hayes blog in a few weeks and am meanwhile trying to come to grips with blogging and tweeting and facebooking whilst getting to work on a new project. Spring is just around the corner. Weather is gorgeous and I have lots and lots of laundry . . .
I’m back from a wonderful, relaxing week in Iowa. I had the chance to catch up on some writing – 3 whole days to myself with nothing to do but write! Now here I am, trying not to feel too deprived as I carve out my usual bits of time here and there, a little in the afternoon, some in the evenings if I’m not too tired. While I was away I discovered an audio review of An Accidental Kiss – it’s actually 6 months old. It was quite a thrill to listen to it.
Yesterday I received the cover art for Paris Rose – and it’s so lovely. An artist named Debbie Taylor did it and I feel so lucky to have landed her. I’ve added a Paris Rose page on this blog where you can see it, and I’ll add any more information, such as a release date, when I know. I now have the galleys so it’s getting close.
I finally feel I’m getting into the swing of things with my next novella, which has been a bit of a struggle and received a big thumbs down from Entangled Publishing last year. However – along with their rejection they also told me exactly where they thought I’d gone wrong. Of course it stung, but after several months of procrastination I steeled myself and slashed away the first 10,000 words (ouch!) and have started a big rewrite. I’m glad because in spite of it being a bit of a mess, I like this story very much. It’s called Come Away With Me and it’s set in a small village in England. There’s no mice in this one, but there is a cottage with a leaky roof and a nosy neighbor named Elsie.
I was about eight years old, in bed with a bad cold, reading Charlotte’s Web. I’d read many, many books before this one, in fact I’d been a book addict for over a year. But turning these pages, enthralled, I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to write stories that would make people laugh, cry and compulsively turn the pages to discover what happened next. I fell in love with the idea of being a writer that day, and it’s a dream that has never let go, even though life has insisted on taking me in several conflicting directions over the years. Awful first chapters have gathered dust in drawers, slightly better short stories have found their hopeful way to the desks of editors, usually to be returned with an encouraging little note or a ‘thanks, but no thanks.’
Over the years, I learned that writing is actually quite hard and thought it might be better to take up knitting instead. But I preferred reading over knitting, and every time I read a good book, my old dream would stubbornly reassert itself. And one day, when I had three very small children, I began writing short stories. With a gulp, I joined an online writing forum and began submitting my writing for feedback. I read craft articles and looked at writer’s websites, trying to learn everything I could. I began entering competitions – I even won a few. You can find one of them here – http://www.andreasemple.com/competitionwinner.htm. I am still very proud of Walter. Years passed and I began writing confession stories. I was actually being paid. Of course I wasn’t a proper writer – proper writers earned a ton of dosh, did book signings, were on best seller lists, had thousands of brilliant reviews on Amazon . . . And then one day I admitted wistfully to my now sweetheart, “I have always wanted to be a writer” and he said “how great you got to be what you always wanted to be.”
That statement woke me up and made me see myself differently. I was a writer after all, even if I did scribble in longhand at the kitchen table while the children played. Even if I was earning very little money. Even if I was completely devoid of glamour. And so I did what writers did – I continued to write even on the days when the words didn’t seem to be there, and I continued to submit, even when I knew there was an excellent chance of a polite and crushing rejection. I write because there is nothing else quite as thrilling or satisfying for me in the world. Reading was finding myself in someone else’s world, writing was losing myself in my own – it was my first love. I became completely addicted
When did you fall in love with writing??
Me in Paris, posing by Notre Dame Cathedral, September 2013
]My novella, Paris Rose, is to be published by The Wild Rose Press! This one took me a while to write and was partly inspired by my trip to Paris last September. I set most of my stories in either England (where I am from), Denver (where I have lived for the past 20 years) but I so wanted Paris to feature in a story. And I came up with Paris Rose, the story of Lucy, a Paris-trained chef who winds up in Denver. Most of the action in Paris Rose takes place in the Denver suburbs I am very familiar with, but a single, very important scene is set in Paris, a city I love and carry the most delicious memories of.
Where do you set your stories?