Friday, 25 February 2011

The Books Beside My Bed

I have got five books beside my bed waiting to be read:
I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson, The Postmistress by Sarah Blake , Spencer's Mountain by Earl Hamner Jr, A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French and Parky's People by none other than Michael Parkinson.
I've been dying to get round to the Allison Pearson one, firstly because I enjoyed I Don't Know How She Does It so much. I was hooked as soon as Kate distressed her Sainsbury's mince pies with a rolling pin to make them look as if they were home made! This book is about a young girl obsessed by David Cassidy. I loved The Partridge Family. Each week they would meet a new person on their travels, solve their problem and sing a song. Wonderful!
I chose The Postmistress simply because the cover caught my eye and the blurb looked interesting. It's about three women whose lives change forever one night during the war.
Spencer's Mountain is the foundation for another favourite TV show of the seventies: Walton's Mountain. On a recent trip to Washington, we drove out to Schuyler and found the Walton's Mountain Museum set up in the old elementary school. It had homespun displays and hospitality, but it was worth it. I felt as if John-Boy was going to rush in, pushing his glasses up his nose at any moment.
I picked up A Tiny Bit Marvellous at the airport. I love those offers in WHSmith: two books for £20. And even though they are more expensive than a normal paperback, you can often get them in this inbetween format before they come out in the cheaper paperback size. But as I've had this one since November, it probably has already been released!
Lastly, Parky's People. I usually only have hardbacks for Christmas. I wanted this one to recapture his iconic interviews with Hollywood stars such as Fred Astaire.
I'll let you know what I thought of them another time.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Get Writing 2011

I thought I'd tell you about the Get Writing conference which was held yesterday at the de Havilland Campus of the University of Hertfordshire. Great for me because the novel I was pitching was called Gipsy Moth (built by this aircraft company!).
I was very nervous. Firstly because I didn't know anybody there and secondly because I was going to pitch my novel. However, I needn't have worried because everybody was very friendly from enthusiastic new writers like Lucie Wheeler and the lovely Fran from Germany who made sure that I didn't leave my handbag behind in the lecture theatre (!), to the writing professionals like Jean Fullerton, Sue Moorcroft and Sarah Duncan.
Waiting for the pitch was the worst bit. I think it would have been better to hold the pitches in the morning instead of the afternoon, so everyone could relax over lunch. As it was, I didn't dare have my glass of Merlot, in case it would impair my performance (!) and had to wait until I got home.
Walking up the two flights of concrete stairs to the scary room 208 was, well, scary. However, Simon Taylor wasn't, and the five minutes passed very quickly and I was soon walking back down the stairs relieved it was all over.
The title of the conference was Get Writing, and think that the organisers, the Verulam Writers' Circle, did everything to make sure that we did.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Writing my Novel

Hello, I thought I'd tell you how I wrote my novel. I started with the first 1,000 words, and decided to do some research before I went any further. So I travelled to Devon and revisited the area as well as doing some research in the public library in Exeter. Then happily, I set off and wrote forty chapters. I was very proud of my work and asked a local reading group to access it. Ouch! Their comments really hurt! I also had a report done by Cornerstones, and although honest, it was helpful and I realised that I had a lot of work to do. The trouble was that I couldn't bring myself to get on with it for several months until I went to one of their workshops run by Helen Corner and Lee Weatherly where I met lots of lovely people, including Ava (Aiveen) McCarthy, and was finally kicked into action. I even got a letter published in Writing Magazine about it to show how determined I was! However, despite lots of submissions to agents, I still wasn't published, although Robert Hale showed some interest, they thought it wasn't for them. So last year I joined the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writers' Scheme. I had a wonderful feedback, which although wasn't quite what I wanted to hear, showed me where I'd gone wrong. So now, I hope at last that I've got it right!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

My Novel

Hello again!
My novel is called Gipsy Moth and is set in Devon in 1930.
I've always loved Devon and was amazed when I first went there in my teens to see the countryside - the rolling hills - rolling right down to the sea! This was after spending several holidays in comparatively flat East Anglia, or the metropolis of Brighton and Hove.
I had also adored Gentian Hill by Elizabeth Goudge, set in Torbay during the days of Nelson. However, for my novel, I choose the 1930s because Devon was a favourite holiday destination for my family between the Wars.