Tag Archives: author

Frustration, Focus and Fun- That’s what my writing brings me.

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In the hands of a reader


Let’s look at frustration – Does expectation feed frustration? 

I want to write brilliant novels that readers want to read and I want someone, an expert, to take the publishing  part out of my hands. It’s a big ask, I know but I’m asking.

The writing frustration comes and goes and, when the writing goes well, it’s a feeling like no other.  After the hard work that went into publishing ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ I can’t imagine how I’ll feel when someone tells me that they will do the publishing part. Frustration be gone!

I’ve read that the best way to deal with frustration is to focus on the outcome I want instead of the obstacles in my way and that makes sense to me. I’m in this for the long haul and the success of publishing of my novels will seem even sweeter after scaling a series of obstacles. Those obstacles? They are just stepping stones to my goal.

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Rocking Romance at the Tyne Book Festival

I try to focus on the right things – the possibilities rather than the problems. Whoever observed that if you chase two rabbits, you’ll lose both didn’t know the tenacity of an author.   Only two?  Writing involves taking time to promote book one and my writing , to complete re -writes on book two and to plan book three. Believe me, having my  head in three different novels takes focus and I’m not letting any of them get away.

Playing with words is fun and, as a writer, I do this every day. The other fun part of my writing life is talking about my writing journey to readers who might just buy my novel  and using social media to network to readers and fellow authors. I’ve learnt that 4 and 5 star reviews from readers who have paid for your book and enjoyed it are the best reward for sharing your work with readers and that’s a good thing because new writers rarely make a living from their novels. The fabulous leg photo I used above was sent to me via Facebook by a reader who was reading this on holiday. It made my day.

Making my novel better is fun.  Novel two has had an excellent critique full of great advice from the wonderful RNA new writers’ scheme. I’m enjoying a final redraft and revision of the novel before pitching it to agents and publishers this summer.

Winning awards is fun! OK only one award so far. The highlight of my writing year was to receive the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy at the Romantic Novelists’ Association gala dinner last July. I’ll be sad to return it from its pride of place on my sideboard but there is a future winner who will give it loving care next year.

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Eileen Ramsay presents me with the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy 2016

 

My first pitches for novel two will be at the Romantic Novelists’ Conference  this July.  Wish me luck!????

 

 

 

What’s the title? How did the pitches go?  I’m looking forward to writing about this in my next blog . It will be all about the book and its reception. (Note that I don’t say it’s rejection????)


Welcome to my World

I spend a lot of the year in my make believe village of Dunleith and it is as familiar to me as my home town. I like to travel and visit other countries and bustling cities but it’s always a pleasure to revisit Dunleith and see what’s going on or what could go on if I stayed there a while.IMG_2389

Dunleith first appeared in my debut novel, ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’. Lots of the action in my second novel, ‘It Only Takes a Minute, Girl’, is set there, as well as in Newcastle and London’s theatre land. While novel two is being critiqued by its first reader, I’m taking a short break from the village but I am looking forward to getting back shortly because there is enough trouble brewing in one household to start novel three.

So where is Dunleith? I have the only map and can see it sitting in the Northumbrian borders; a tranquil beauty spot near to rivers, hills and dales as well as golden beaches. It is a perfect place to bring up children or visit for a countryside break. Most of its younger inhabitants can’t wait to move away to the bright city lights of Newcastle or Edinburgh or further afield but they make their way home to relax and recharge or to lick their wounds and to see familiar faces and places.    

An overnight stay here would have to include a bracing walk, because there is always a breeze, followed by a few drinks at the Bridge Inn. The pub is full of locals who will be happy to include you in their craic. Elsie would expect you to call in at The Singin’ Hinnie at some point for a plate of her  scones singing fresh from the griddle and smothered in butter served with a pot of tea. She has a jar of instant but her coffee making skills have never improved so tea is the safer bet.

If you’re pushing the boat out, Whych Elm Hall has a spa and fabulous rooms but there are plenty of farmhouse B and Bs in the area. Whych Elm is well worth a visit for Saturday dinner or Sunday lunch but you will have to book well ahead because  the French and Geordie chef partnership has made this a popular eatery for the city folk. There are fresh Geordie stotties and mufflers alongside pain baguette and pain brioche and there will be pease pudding and clooty dumplings featured as often as chateaubriand and casoulet.

Sunday morning at Weddell’s shop in the square is where all the local news is shared along with buying the Sunday papers. The shop is a treasure trove and, if you get lucky with the weather, Dot Weddell sells Doddington Dairy ice cream. Their local flavours, once tried, are never forgotten. Sit in the square with your ices and watch Sunday unfold until it’s time to head back to your real world.

great ice cream
great ice cream

Haven’t the time? Haven’t the money for a break in the borders? I can transport you to Dunleith for £2.99 on Amazon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jarful-Moondreams-Chrissie-Bradshaw-ebook/dp/B01HRZ1HAW

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How do you make a dream come true?

I have just fulfilled one of my dreams.

A JARFUL OF MOONDREAMS, a contemporary novel about three strong women from the North, is published on July 22nd and people are ordering it on kindle from today! I didn’t realise that I would be so excited about launching my book.

 Here is the beautiful cover showing the Moondream jar

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Ebook is available as an ebook on Amazon from today.

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jarful-Moondreams-Chrissie-Bradshaw-ebook

It will be available in print by the end of the month.

I hope it finds lots of readers who enjoy reading my story of Teri, Cleo and Alex as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If you buy a copy, Welcome to Dunleith. It is a village with more stories to uncover.

Music and Moondreams

 ‘Music is the soundtrack of our lives.’

Dick Clark

Can a certain song take you back to a time or place or bring back being with a special person? Music does that for me. That’s why I am pleased to be part of a music blog event organised by Elaina James. You can read about her journey into song writing on www.mslexia.co.uk/author/elainajames and on www.elainajames.co.uk.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll listen to music in different ways.

Way 1 -Listening to music using head phones to block out all other distractions, the instrumentals sound fantastic and the lyrics are so clear that it’s like being transported to another world. I love to do this under the shade of a beach umbrella and, if there is no beach, lying on my bed comes a close second.

Way 2-Going to concerts and sharing the music with friends and other fans is a different experience. Who doesn’t get carried away by the atmosphere of a concert and a live performance? I remember most concerts quite vividly because of the thrill of getting the tickets and the anticipation of going as well as enjoying the event. Two of my favourite gigs have been David Bowie and Dolly Parton so I have eclectic taste.

Way 3- When I’m active, I like music to spur me on. I have a few favourite running tracks and they can keep my spirits up when the weather is bad or the legs feel leaden. If I have to face the gym, there has to be music to distract me and I prefer a Zumba class to the treadmill.

I use music to ease me into the writing zone too. I tend to play a few tracks when I’m using social media or sorting out my mail and before I start to write or at the very beginning of a writing session and then turn down when the writing gets going.

imageJean Paul Richter, the romantic writer, said, ‘Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life.’ I like the idea of music acting as moonlight and, when I was writing the first draft of A JARFUL OF MOONDREAMS, I created a playlist around the moon motif within the novel. Both melody and lyrics are important to me and each song is a glimpse of how someone relates to the moon. I wonder which of my tracks you will recognise?

My playlist starts with a 50s ballad and the unique voice of Sinatra singing ‘Blue moon,You knew just what I was there for,You heard me saying a prayer for,Someone I really could care for’. My novel takes place over five moon months and, yes there was that special blue moon in the July of 2015.

Van Morrison’s Moondance comes next, ‘Well, it’s a marvellous night for a Moondance,with the stars up above in your eyes, a fantabulous night to make romance,’Neath the cover of October skies.’ I love this  song it is so uplifting and to maintain the upbeat mood, I have Cat Stevens singing, ‘I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow—Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow’

The timeline  of A JARFUL of MOONDREAMS takes us through the pink moon of May, a mead moon, a thunder moon a blue moon through to a September  harvest moon. What no cherry moon? Prince’s rendering of Cherry moon had to be on my playlist. ‘How can I stand 2 stay where I am, Poor butterfly who don’t understand, Why can’t I fly away in a special sky, If I don’t find my destiny soon, I’ll die in your arms under the cherry moon.’ Sad news this month, won’t  we all miss his extraordinary talent?

The Waterboys follow on with ‘ I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the moon.’ Bruno Mars completes the list with my most modern track. ‘I sit by myself talking to the moon, trying to get to you, in hopes you’re on the other side, talking to me to.’

So there you have the songs that lead me into my book. I think that writing  and music go together but aren’t all aspects of life enhanced by music?

 

 

How do debut authors get published?

image‘Sometimes, on the way to a dream, you get lost and find a better one.’ Unknown

My  2016 new year plans for publishing ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ have changed. It’s  usual for me to let my resolutions slow to a crawl or fall by the wayside (What dry January? Who said diet?). I’ve surprised myself by increasing the challenge and moving forward on this year’s resolution much more quickly than I intended.

Those of you who read January’s blog may recall that I was going to send submissions to agents  for several months and wait to see if someone would represent me before turning, as my last resort,  to self publishing. A good plan, I thought.

Sending off three or four  submissions per month was taking up a day or two of writing time and then there was the waiting  for an answer, or no answer to deal with. It took up more thinking space than I thought it would and each month it was hard to settle into writing book two.

In January, submitting was a new task. In February it was a chore that had to be done if I wanted to be published. By March, the rejections started coming in; I received three very thoughtful rejection emails. ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’  wasn’t for these agents but they wished me luck.

I had been prepared for rejection but the ‘not hearing’ from agents is hard even though I know they’re really busy people. So, with my March  submissions being even more of a grind, I decided to give the submissions a rest for a month or so and just get on with book two. I didn’t want to call a halt to getting my book out there but I had submitted to eight agents and,  if they didn’t want it, who would?

I enjoyed becoming immersed in writing my new novel but, without looking for the topic, I kept reading  about self publishing in news articles, on twitter and on Facebook.

This has happened to me before and I recognise that  it’s a sign that I want to do something even though the rational part of my brain is not so sure.  It’s a bit like seeing pregnant women everywhere when you’re feeling broody. My understanding of this is that it is the reticular activating system filtering and focussing on the thing your subconscious knows you want. ( A Lou Tice course during a previous career taught me this and showed how it could be used to come up with solutions to your goals.)

A couple of my own previous examples are – I kept seeing people with terrier pups when I was in a position to have a dog at last and it had been a long awaited goal. I kept reading about authors who were in the RNA new writers’ scheme when I felt like I wanted writing support but wasn’t sure where to find it. Once I had my pup and once I was on the RNA new writers’ scheme, those pups and writers were still about but they didn’t register in my RAS with as noisy a ‘ding’  every day because I had achieved those things.

I decided that, if my RAS was flagging up self publishing and I was less enthusiastic about sending  submissions, I had the answer  to rethinking  my plan.

It was an article by Rachel Abbott- don’t you  love her thrillers?-  about her route to self publishing that first got me thinking. Rachel’s novels are best sellers but she couldn’t find an agent. Her success has been phenomenal and she got her agent. Lizzy Kremer represents Rachel now but she still self publishes .

A Facebook friend sang the praises of Matador, part of Troubadour publishing, who supported her self publishing journey. Accent press advertised their new venture in the self publishing market. Well established publishers are collaborating with authors who want to self publish. Why not give it a try?

I had to discuss financing this plan with the other  half  of the team and, straight away,  he said, ‘Yes, do it.’  Readers, if you’re out there, (I had already married him) I did it. Gulp, big decision made.

I sent my novel to the two reputable publishers that I’d heard of and both gave me a good choice of levels of publishing and marketing. I decided to go with Octavo ( part of Accent press) who were offering a discount to RNA members and, now the decision is made, I’m delighted to be starting on this exhilarating journey.

My book, ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’, will definitely be available worldwide as an ebook and as a paperback this year. How exciting is that?

Was my decision too hasty or would you have done the same as me?  Has your RAS ever gone into overdrive about a goal? I’d love to hear your views.

 

 

 

 

I’ve got it in writing – Dday is here.

 

 My retreat

imageI have a duvet day marked in my diary for today. On a typical Dday I’ll get up, make breakfast and take it back to my duvet along with the papers, my iPad and my laptop. Duvet days can be very productive. Look at today, I’m writing my blog at 9.30.

It is Sunday so I have already had scrambled eggs, browsed the headlines and made a start on my blog in the first hour of duvet habitation. Soon, I’ll need a nap.

I only have this sort of day if I am ‘slightly’ ill or recovering from something. Few and far between means that Ddays are appreciated. Why on a Sunday when everyone relaxes anyway? Because tomorrow I have a minor hospital procedure and I need to prepare.

OK, if you’re curious, it’s a colonoscopy. I have one every couple of years and it means that I need to have a clear colon so, after breakfast, no food for the rest of the day and at lunchtime a drink that ensures my colon is squeaky clean. Although I need to rest and be near the loo, today will be very productive!

I’ll write a few pages of book two. My WIP is going along really well so I may write more pages than a few but I’ll make sure that I stop in time to watch a film, not chosen yet, and to finish off ‘We are all made of Stars’, my current read, by Rowan Coleman.

Why can't I join you?
Why can’t I join you?

I may even have some company in the afternoon but I won’t be the one getting out the cake and coffee because it’s too tempting. Mr CB will be host and will also be catering for himself today. He has volunteered to dog walk this afternoon too.

So, excuse me, it’s time for a hot drink and a flick through the Sunday supplements. I must read Liz Jones’ diary to find out if she is a happy bunny this week. I live in hope that one day she allows herself to enjoy life.

Tonight, I might just go through my own diary and mark in a new Dday that I can look forward to.

Life is what happens…

‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’

I first heard this in John Lennon’s song, ‘Beautiful Boy’ and John’s fate is my reminder to appreciate each day as it comes whether your plans work out or not. 

We do thrive on plans that take us forward though, and I’m happy that my writing plans for 2016 are forging ahead.

I’ve completed my final draft of  ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ and , each month, I’m sending it off to two agents and a publisher. I figured that this means I’ll always have one of two people considering my work and won’t have all my rejections back at once.

Talking of rejections, I’ve just had my first. It was a nicely worded rejection and I’ve been told so often that I’ll get lots on my journey to publication that it was a sort of right of passage. Opened it, read it, over it.

As well as looking for representation, I’m looking into self-publishing. My plan is to be published one way or another and, while  I would be delighted to be taken on by an agent who loves my work, I’m prepared to go it alone.

I’ve sent ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ out into the world to be read by my nearest and dearest. That, I feel,  is harder than giving it to strangers. ”Love It!” ‘Hated Neil” “perfect summer holiday read” ‘Ha! I can’t believe ….(spoiler)” ” I loved that man” It is lovely to hear that people couldn’t wait to find out what happened to my characters. I even got “Is there a sequel? I want to know more about….”

I’ve loved writing for the past couple of years but now I’m learning how satisfying it is for my novel to  have readers. I know I’m going to have great fun when I’m taking it out into a wider field and promoting it. 

While the first born is getting out there, novel 2 has not got a title. There are several that I like but I don’t want to pin it down yet.

With number 2, it’s easier to make writing time, to allow the characters to develop as they come to life on the page IMG_1592and to allow the odd new twist to appear in the story. There’s a welsh terrier who wants to make an appearance. He’s a lovely character like my welshie , Oscar,  but older and wiser. I’m enjoying drafting this story because I’m getting rid of the ‘this is rubbish’ voice that used to crop up when I first started writing. If it whispers that it’s rubbish, I say that I can always go back and change it. I’ve written right up to THE END once so I can do it again because I’m a writer.

 


 

The Pyjama Game

I’ve enjoyed reading the furore about parents in pyjamas taking their children to school. What a range of opinions!

school run

“The head is quite right and it shouldn’t be allowed” at one extreme to “What does it matter as long as the children are taken to school?” at the other. Added to this, I’ve heard several debates on morning dress code. Is there one?

I know that Cleo Moon, the deputy head in ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’, would not want to antagonise the parents of her pupils by dictating what to wear in the morning but she might be given the job of speaking to one or two culprits by her boss, Teflon ( nothing sticks to him) Telford.

I was head of an inner city school and know how hard it is to get the children into school and how absence is often due to parents who can’t organise their life well enough to send their offspring out of the door in the morning. I’d have been happy to have the pupils arriving in school clothes and would not have felt responsible for the parents garb.

How can a headteacher decide when to draw the line? Isn’t it acceptable to expect a dress code for your pupils in school but sheer bossiness to extend it to parents? To send an open letter to all parents is sledgehammer to a nut tactics. If it was a handful of parents, a quiet friendly word would either do the trick or put you in your place by telling you to mind your school’s business and not theirs. Is the head going to ban parents from showing body art, piercings and unusual hair colours next?

imageI was interested to discover that the wearing of pyjamas during the day became fashionable in Juan-les-Pins when Coco Channel started the trend in the 1920s. This present trend is not new. I’d prefer Coco pyjamas to a onesie any day but if other adults want to dress like big toddlers it doesn’t concern me.

In an interview about entertaining, Nigella, of the great-tasting food, admitted that she often served her guests in her nightwear. I do hope they’re of the Coco Chanel elegant but comfortable style and not fleecy onesie style but, whatever they are I wouldn’t refuse a Nigella dinner.

It’s all down to personal choice. I  feel sluggish if I’m in my nightwear  until lunch time. I wouldn’t eat dinner in a dressing gown either because these garments signal bedtime to me. There are other comfy loungewear clothes with the same cut and comfort of pyjamas that I would wear so I’m sure it’s all in the name.

Who remembers the shell suit? Worse than a onesie or not?

imageOne bonus of wearing pyjamas morning until evening is that it would save that walk of shame when you have to leave somewhere early in the morning in a party dress and killer heels. That’s a look that won’t go down well at the school gates either.

Writing plans for 2016

A Jarful of Moondreams‘ is about romance and family relationships. Cleo and Alex are sisters and it’s complicated. They infuriate one another but they both want what’s best for Teri, their mother. Can they fall in with Teri’s plans and survive a whole summer together!

A Jarful of Moondreams
A Jarful of Moondreams

Somebody liked my writing. I don’t know my ROMANTIC NOVELIST’S ASSOCIATION  reader but I’m very thankful for their support and advice.

Report from New Writer's Scheme
Report from New Writer’s Scheme

This arrived in December and I’m taking the advice on board and then getting my novel out to people.

Here is my plan for 2016.

I’m going to look for a brilliant agent and a two book publishing deal.

Whether I get an agent or not , I’ m going to publish ‘ A Jarful of Moondreams’ and ensure that lots of people find out about it and want to read it. I will self publish if I don’t find my agent or publisher

I’m going to finish book number two in the Dunbridge series and send it out to publishers and agents.

When I’ve got book one published, I’m going to take it to local libraries and radio stations and talk about it and read parts of it and encourage more readers to try my writing.

I’m continuing my RNA New Writers’ Scheme membership and going to the RNA conference in Summer. There is always lots to learn

I’m really excited about 2016 !

How’s the writing going?

How’s the writing going? I usually dread hearing that query but, for once, I’m happy to talk about it because I’ve been writing a lot and I think it’s going well.

My first novel, A Jarful of Moondreams, is in the hands of a reader of the RNA New Writer’s Scheme and I’m considering  where to submit once it is returned.  I thought you might like to  see the Moondream jar that catches the dreams of my heroines.

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A Jarful of Moondreams

I’m excited to start a new novel and I’m tackling this one differently. I’m creating the characters and outlining the plot at the same time. When I’ve done this, I’m going to divide my plot into sections and then write a first draft without stopping to edit or proof read.

image As Terry Prachett said, I’ll be telling myself the story. I edited as I went along last time and this wasted quite a bit of time as large chunks were changed anyway. That’s the plan anyway! I haven’t got a title as yet.

If my feedback from the New Writer’s Scheme is positive, I’ll send my first submissions off in batches of three. I’m looking at agents and publishers who accept submissions direct. I’m prepared for rejections. I keep telling myself that I am, anyway!

I’m going into hospital for a big op this month and I’ll be forced into inactivity for a couple of months afterwards. I’m going to use the time to bash out draft one of novel 2 and to submit novel 1 in a methodical manner without taking rejections to heart

Here’s hoping that the op goes well, the writing goes well and the submissions go well. I’ll be back to let you know.