Life Cycle of a Writer: Seven things I found out in That Big London

This usually Midlands-based Romaniac was out and about recently – seven days in the big city with RNA meetings and the summer party thrown in. Pretty exciting for a person who normally lives mainly in the thick of charity shops and card emporiums, you might say. But not only was it fun – the week away was a timely means of stepping out of my comfort zone and getting ready for the next writing chapter. A kick start was needed, in a very big way. Here are seven things I noticed, visiting the hub:

  • The RNA Summer Party is still a brilliant place to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and the committee meetings and AGM  are NOT ONE BIT SCARY AT ALL. The welcome is warm, the Joan Hessayon Award is always a lovely tribute from a caring husband to a lady who believed strongly  in the NWS and the short listed books are of a very high quality. Choosing a winner must be hellish. Dr Hessayon buys fizz too, every year. Congratulations to Kate Field – a worthy winner – The Magic of Ramblings is fab.

STAIRS                      INDIA

  • Sometimes, if you’re patient, surprising things happen. Tower Bridge opened for us (I’m assuming that was the reason) and I saw Stephen Fry in the very flesh (Yes, the real live Stephen Fry) just being his normal lovely self in Waterstones. I’d like to say I rushed up and wowed him with my witty banter but actually it wasn’t quite like that. Anyway, nobody fell over or burped or anything.

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  • I CAN wear big shoes. It’s just…not for long.

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  • Visiting places you’ve mostly seen on a Monopoly board is never going to get boring.

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  • Maps are amazing – tube plans, guide books about Hidden London, street signs. I love them all. You have to have them the right way up though. Just saying.

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  • A foxy new note book and pen is often all you need to spark off a brand new book. Or two in this case. #worryingbrainoverload

DFLY

 

  • Going home is sad, but coming back is even more fun. In fact,  I’ll be in the big city very soon. So all good. Just hope Stephen gets the memo.

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So, what does London mean to you?

 

 

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Life Cycle of a Writer ~ Jan Brigden ~ the fear and ultimate joy of my first author talk …

Earlier this year, my lovely publisher Choc Lit  announced they were off on tour and would be hosting events at various libraries around the country. On offer was an afternoon of author talks, Q&A sessions, fun quizzes, goody bags, a chance for aspiring authors to pitch their manuscripts to a Choc Lit editor. Oh, and plenty of choccies!

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When I heard that one of the events would be in Southampton, not on my doorstep, but a place I can get to by train direct from East Croydon, I was tempted to volunteer to be part of the author panel, but couldn’t see past my morbid fear of public speaking. I slept on it, talked to Mr B and as much as the thought of it gave me palpitations, a lingering ripple of excitement in my tummy told me I should go for it; that it would be good for me.

So I fired off an email to the Choc Lit team and before I could bottle out, booked my train ticket.

No backing out now, Jan, I thought.

I was Southampton-bound.

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Alongside me on the panel would be my fellow Romaniac, Laura James, who has written three books for Choc Lit, and Evonne Wareham and Liv Thomas (who writes under the name of Isabella Connor) – both ladies having published two books each. We’d be required to chat about our routes to publication and about our books themselves.

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My book!

 

Hideously nervous, I put together some notes, both detailed and bullet-pointed. Laura had given me a great tip to use highlighter pens for buzz words and phrases.

Other advice I received, all of which I was hugely grateful for, was as follows:

  1. Remember to breathe properly. Might sound obvious, but when I was practising my read-through, this was something Mr B picked up on, along with my habit of saying “Erm!” after nearly every sentence.
  2. It’s fine to slow things down if you feel yourself wanting to canter through it. It also gives you a chance to scan your notes if using them for reference as I did.
  3. Keep your focus on your audience soft as you begin,  until you settle into your rhythm, rather than trying to gain eye-contact with too many people too quickly.
  4. Be yourself. Smile. If you fluff a line, clam up or laugh inappropriately, it will be forgiven. You’re human. It’s your first time.

All of these tips proved invaluable, as did the public speaking/confidence hypnotherapy recordings my best friend sent me which I found really relaxing. Not for everyone, granted, but they did help me to focus on the ‘can do’ rather than ‘can’t’.

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I also drew comfort from my own memories of attending these types of events, sitting in the audience with my pad and pen, taking precious notes and listening to authors talk about their books and feeling so pleased that I’d gone along, as I learned so much. If I could in any way encourage the aspiring authors among our audience and convey to the readers and bloggers among us how very grateful we are for their time and support, it had to be worth all my doubts and fears, didn’t it?

And so off I set, armed with my wad of notes, caught my train to Southampton, which another of my lovely fellow Romaniacs, Sue Fortin, hopped on en-route as she was coming along to the event. We then bumped into Laura at the station and the three of us went for lunch, with both Sue and Laura doing everything they could to ease my last-minute jitters, having both given author talks themselves.

This nice plateful of food helped …

 

Jan Italian Meal

When we arrived at the venue, the rest  of the Choc Lit team welcomed us. I donned my T-shirt and after a lovely meet and greet session, we began our talk.

I heard the quiver in my voice as I began, was conscious of flapping my hands about a bit. I remembered everything I’d been told, though, and managed to engage the audience. We had a few laughs and talked about funny research memories and everyone on the panel had a different aspect and angle which gave the talk balance. I can’t deny I let out a long internal “Phew!” when my turn was over, but if I’m honest, I loved it and felt very proud that I’d seen it through.

FOUR CHOCLITEERS

L to R ~ Evonne Wareham, Me, Liv Thomas (Isabella Connor), Laura James

We then had a fun quiz, lots of interacting and more laughter and the whole event was professionally organised and wonderfully informal. We had some fantastic feedback and even managed to sell a few books. The chocolates kept coming throughout and it was great to meet so many of the people I speak to online.

 

Thank you to everyone at Choc Lit, readers, bloggers, writers and Southampton Library for helping to make my first author talk such an enjoyable, memorable experience.

Should anyone be interested in future Choc Lit library events, have a peep here Choc Lit on Tour for ticket info and notice of who will be in attendance.

Jan  X

 

Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage, Teresa Morgan’s New Novel

We’re delighted to welcome Teresa F Morgan onto the blog today, to talk about her latest novel Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage. Over to you, Teresa …

 

Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog today, and letting me talk about how Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage all started.

I was walking home one day, probably from dropping the boys off at school, when this scene just popped into my head. I envisaged a hysterical woman being thrown over a man’s shoulder into a fireman’s carry to calm her down or shut her up. (I have been put into a fireman’s carry, but that’s another story).

So then, I had to think about why she’d be hysterical, and why would a firefighter be there, or was it something he used to do…

I didn’t want Harry to be a firefighter, as had already pictured him as a landscape gardener, taking his shirt off frequently. But I liked the idea of him used to being one, troubled with PTSD he’d had to go into something less stressful.

I wanted Harry to be a reluctant hero, but his firefighter quality wouldn’t let that happen, and to be honest, when I came back to edit Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage, I loved Harry, so I hope you do, too.

In the past, I’ve been asked if my books are a series and I’ve answered that they are stand alone novels. However, while writing Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage I found a way to link them. I’ve featured the same areas, hence putting them into the same ‘universe’.  This idea was inspired by Sue Moorcroft, one of my favourite authors, who writes most of her novels in her made up area of Middledip.

Knowing this novel needed to be based in Cornwall, I decided to revisit Tinners Bay which I created for Plus One is a Lucky Number. Tinners Bay is based on the seaside town I holidayed frequently at; Polzeath. It enabled me to revisit old characters too, from Plus One is a Lucky Number, but I’ll let you work out who they are.

Enjoy the romance.

Meet Me at Wisteria Cottage

After her house is set on fire and her love life is left in tatters, Maddy Hart can’t believe her luck when a friend offers her the temporary haven of Wisteria Cottage. Overlooking the turquoise blue waters of the Cornish coast, the fresh air feels like a fresh start for her and her broken heart.

Peeking out of the cosy cottage windows, Maddy’s surprised to see her gorgeous but insufferable neighbour Harry Tudor has been employed to landscape the garden. But as the wisteria winding its way around the cottage begins to bloom, an unlikely friendship starts to blossom…

Click HERE for Teresa’s Amazon Author Page

Life Cycle of a Writer: Lucie’s Publication Day

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These last few weeks have been crazy!

In the run up to my publication day on Friday, things have been manic – juggling university coursework and study, writing guest posts for my blog tour, promoting the book on various social media platforms, working at my local special needs school… it was relentless.

balancing_life_lag8-229x300However, all the stress and sleepless nights were forgotten the moment the clock ticked past midnight, signalling the start of Friday May 5th…PUBLICATION DAY!

It was a scary feeling – it still is! I knew people were going to be reading my story, but nothing prepares you for that moment when you receive messages from both people you know, and people you don’t, telling you they have started reading your book. Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they give me a bad review? Will they just not bother reviewing it at all? Will they think I am wasting my time… all these thoughts and more have been circling my mind for weeks and there is no sign of them letting up. But, I guess, this is just part of being a writer. I need to learn to accept the compliments (which is harder than it sounds when you are so self critical of your work) and grow a thick skin for those criticisms, because, lets face it, there will be plenty of those too.

So what did I do for publication day? Well, I indulged the whole day on social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… all of them. Talking to my friends and feeling the pride wash over me as I listened to their wonderful words of praise and support. I was so surprised at the sheer amount of support I received on Friday. I knew the writing community was like no other, but I just didn’t expect such a huge network of praise and encouragement on that day. It was amazing – thank you to everyone who was part of my special day. 20170509_091421

In the evening I hosted a live Q&A over on Harper Impulse’s Facebook page – please do pop over and take a look if you’re interested (There are two video’s as my phone decided to crash after 10 minutes! The wonders of technology!)

And of course, there was champagne!

The following day I held a small party at my house for my close friends and family and we celebrated in style with champagne, curry, chilli, jacket potatoes, Sambuca, music and disco lights! It was amazing! My friends and family were so generous with their gifts for me and my husband gave a little speech as he toasted me and it meant so much because, anyone who knows my husband knows he is not one for public speaking or showing his affection. I think the champagne helped him out 🙂 20170509_091406

And now It is the following week and I have just yesterday started my blog tour. So please do take a look at my guest posts over the next week or so and I hope you enjoy reading them.

What a surreal few days it has been.

I can’t believe I finally did it … I published a book.

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Congratulations, Lucie Wheeler!

Congratulations, Lucie Wheeler!

Cheers!

It’s sparkles galore at Romaniac HQ as we congratulate and celebrate with our lovely Lucie Wheeler on the release of her debut novel, The First Time Mums’ Club.

Lucie, we are so incredibly pleased for you and proud of everything you’ve achieved. You are a human dynamo, with an infectious energy and a quick and witty sense of humour that makes us laugh out loud. You are a warm and loving person, who gives everything, and we treasure your friendship and warmth.

We are so utterly delighted, excited and thrilled for you.

The First Time Mums’ Club is going to fly.

Have a brilliant day.

Lots of Love,

The Romaniacs 

xxxxxxx

The Blurb:

Meet Pippa…

After years of trying and a failed IVF attempt, Pippa is thrilled to see two little lines appear on a pregnancy test. Finally a precious baby to call her own. This is all Pippa has ever wanted… if only husband Jason could show just a little excitement.

Imogen…

A baby is the icing on the cake for Imogen and Alice – proof that their love for each other can overcome any obstacle. But when Imogen starts receiving malicious texts, it’s clear that not everyone is thrilled about the girls’ good news.

And Ellie…

A drunken one-night stand and Ellie’s life is ruined! Pregnant, jobless and the relationship with her best friend, Chris, over- forever. Because Chris just happens to be the father of Ellie’s baby… and potentially the love of her life!

For these first time mums the road to motherhood is bumpier than most!

 

WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 😀 Laura xxxx

 

Raising a Romaniac glass here in the Midlands, Lucie – well, actually it’s a cup of tea cos it’s only six a.m, but I’ll try harder later, promise! Congratulations, and all the luck in the world for your brilliant debut. We are all cheering and waving our pompoms in traditional Rom fashion, couldn’t be prouder. Love you squillions, Celia xxxx

HONK HONK!! Congratulations, lovely Lucie. It’s your special day and you fully deserve all the fanfares and success out there. So proud of you and so excited for you and your fabulous debut novel. Love you muchly, Jan xxxx

Wishing you the MOST fantabulous day, Lucie. I don’t know how you juggle it all with your studies and domestic duties. Your debut novel is SOOO well deserved. You should be so proud of yourself. We are! All the best for today – enjoy the moment – and for your future writing career. You’re a star, sweetie. Love you lots. Deb xxxx

Super proud of you, Lucie, I know how hard you’ve worked, not just with getting your novel finished and everything else that entails, but with all the other things in life that you manage so successfully. Have a wonderful day, you so deserve it! Lots of love, Sue xxxx

 

Behind the Lie: Amanda James and her fabulous new release.

The kettle’s on, the best china’s out, and I’m welcoming Amanda James to Romaniac HQ this morning. We’ve got a batch of scones fresh from the oven, and I’m sure Mandy, having travelled all the way from that there Cornwall, will tell us the proper way to eat them. Cream first or jam?

By eck’, Celia, I’m knackered! It takes longer to get up here than it does to fly to Lanzarote! Imagine that? Are you imagining it? You look kind of puzzled…is my hair a mess? No. Good. Sorry I do tend to ramble on a bit as you know. My goodness those scones look lovely. And the Cornish way to eat them is jam first…I must admit I like them cream first though. I expect that I will be banished to Devon now for admitting such a thing.

Blimey, let’s hope not. You’d miss all those pasties and stuff. Right, that’s the most important business of the day sorted, now for our writerly chat. Mandy, I’ve heard that you’ve been enjoying interviewing some of your latest characters from your new novel ‘Behind the Lie, to really get under their skin. Have you got any more of these up your sleeve that you could share with us?

As luck would have it, I have prepared a little piece for you. I thought I’d let you ‘see’ it rather than just tell you about it – so here’s a chat I had with Simon, the main character’s husband. Hopefully readers will be able to get to know him a little better before they read the book. If they do. Don’t want to assume…

Oh here he is at last. Fashionably late as always. I watch a tall dark-haired man weave through the crowd at the bar and then he turns his head in my direction. His grey eyes sweep my face as he makes for my table. I notice a few other eyes notice him as he walks, female eyes of course. Simon always gets noticed with his assured, confident manner, sharp suits and intelligent gaze. He undoes the middle button of his charcoal jacket and sits opposite, a wide smile lighting up his face. I smile too and lean back in my chair, but Simon laughs showing his flawless white teeth and takes my hand, kisses the back of it.

‘Darling, you always try to avoid my kisses. How are things?’ he asks.

‘Things are good, Simon. I was wondering if we could have a little chat so people can get to know you better?’

‘Of course! You know that talking about myself is one of my favourite things.’ He winks and strokes the stubble on his chin. There is a pause as he watches a pretty waitress sashay past. Then he turns his charm offensive back to me. ‘I’ve ordered champagne, sweetie, hope that’s okay?’

‘That’s lovely. Shall we make a start though while we’re waiting?’ A flash of irritation shows behind his eyes. I can tell that he expects me to be more impressed about the champagne. Simon always expects adoration and subservience. That’s half his trouble. ‘So are you happy with my portrayal of you in the story?’

He leans back mirroring me. ‘Yes and no. I think you might have been a little hard on me in some respects but you have managed to get over my good points. Good looks.’ I get the annoying wink again. ‘Intelligence, ambition and determination to succeed. You have shown my caring side too from time to time.’

The champagne arrives and he raises his glass. I copy him and say, ‘Okay, so where was I hard on you? Wasn’t I just telling it like it is?’ I sip my drink and watch him shift in his seat – a sure sign that he’s on the defensive.

‘Not really. Holly was always your favourite. I mean look how many words you give to her compared to me. You let her ramble on and on about how she feels and what she’s doing. I only get a few short chapters…hardly fair is it?’ Simon’s grey eyes become steel chips.

‘But then the main story is Holly’s, isn’t it? She’s convinced that your son is alive and we all want to find out if she’s right.’ I set the glass on the table annoyed that he’s managed to get me on the defensive now.

‘That’s the thing, Mandy.’ Simon leans forward, folds his arms on the table. I don’t like the way he draws me into those expressive eyes of his. It’s as if I’m a moth to his flame. ‘You never really allowed for my feelings. I lost a son too but my anguish and heartache was just brushed off in a few little throw away lines. Of course I am a successful private consultant and a very wealthy man, but success isn’t everything to me. I have a heart too. It was a shame that you neglected to let me prove that.’

There are lots of responses to this, but I fear I might give too much of the story away of I allow any to leave my lips. I look at my watch. ‘Well I’m sorry you feel that way, Simon. I tried to be honest…and I really must go now, thanks for the champagne.’

His neutral expression darkens in anger. ‘But we only just started…’ Simon stops his words and pours himself another glass. ‘No matter, I’m sure that there will be others willing to share this bottle with me. And thanks for creating me. Without you, I would just be a jumble of words waiting for structure.’ He tries a sunny smile but I can see a few clouds in it.

‘You’re welcome Simon.’ I stand and shrug on my coat. ‘And once I create a character they can never be destroyed. They will always live on in the readers’ head, whether they like it or not.’

Simon’s smile is cloudless now. ‘They will indeed. And I can’t see anyone not liking me, can you?’

‘You never know. There’s no accounting for taste, eh?’ I briefly touch his shoulder and hurry past. I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader to decide…

Wow! You were lucky to get out of that little chat unscathed, I reckon! But, still on the subject of book characters, I was wondering which ones from your childhood (or later) inspired you, and do you see yourself or your own creations in any of them?

I loved George (Georgina) from the Famous Five books. She hated being a girl, but I think she just hated what it meant to be a girl back in those days. As a kid in the 1960s I could identify with that. I wanted to be strong and confident like her. I believed girls were just as good as boys and should be able to do what they did. Do I see her in myself or my creations? Yes, I do like a strong female character. Myself – yes. I am a feminist and do my utmost to get those ideas of gender equality across in day-to-day interaction with, let’s say, perhaps less enlightened people? 

Is it difficult to leave your characters at the end of a story? What is it about some of your own book characters that makes you want to want to bring them back in sequels?

It’s always hard to leave my characters as I have really got to know them well over a three to six-month period. It’s like saying goodbye to old friends. I have written only one sequel and that was Cross-Stitch. A Stitch in Time was very popular and people more or less demanded a sequel! I had left it open, so it was fairly easy to do. I might write the third and final one too. I have one chapter written…

Now some quick-fire questions. You’re at a great party with a brimming glass of bubbly in your hand. Would you rather chat to:

Gandalf or Legolas? Gandalf

Bilbo or Frodo? Bilbo

Maid Marion or Robin Hood? Maid Marion

King Arthur or Guinevere? King Arthur

Aslan or Lucy? Aslan

Worzel Gummage or Stig of the Dump? Stig! I loved that book.

The Cat in the Hat or Noddy? The Cat in the Hat

Well, you must be exhausted after all this socialising. Before you go, Mandy, could you tell us which book you’ve got your nose in at the moment and also what you’ve enjoyed reading lately?

I am totally exhausted and might need reviving with bubbly and more scones. Er…lemme think… Oh yes, I am reading Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. It’s about a woman in a coma and very intriguing. And the one that I enjoyed lately was the brilliant and twisty The Silent Girls by Ann Troup.

And finally, what are you working on right now?

I have a few ideas on the go, all set here in Cornwall. I do have a quirky one called The Calico Cat that is hard to place in a set genre. Thank you for reading it by the way J I do adore it, mainly because I would love to be like the main character, Lottie. I might self-publish that later. I have never self-pubbed so it’s an exciting thought.

Thanks for dropping in, Mandy. I’ve packed the rest of the scones for your journey back. Try not to get crumbs on the train seats, okay? See you soon, and good luck with the new book!

Thank you, Celia! I have loved being here and why not come down for a visit? xxx

Well, I don’t mind if I do. #rushesofftopack

Author bio – Amanda James has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true.

Amanda has written many short stories and has six novels currently published. Her time travelling debut – A Stitch in Time was published in April of 2013 and has met with great success.

Amanda lives in Cornwall and is inspired every day by the beautiful coastline near her home. Three of her novels are set there, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel and Behind the Lie – April 2017 pub – HQUK ( HarperCollins)

Amanda can usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

Author links – Amanda’s blog – http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @akjames61

Facebook mandy.james.33

Book Blurb Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman who has taken back control of her future.

Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go.

Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else. No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth…her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.

Buy Links – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behind-Lie-Amanda-James-ebook/dp/B06XKCP4L6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Summer in Tintagel (Urbane Publications July 2016)
Cross Stitch (Choc Lit December 2014)
Somewhere Beyond the Sea ( Choc Lit April 2014)
Dancing in the Rain (Choc Lit March 2014)
A Stitch in Time (Choc Lit) – http://www.choc-lit.com/
Righteous Exposure (Crooked Cat) – http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/

Life Cycle of a Writer – Sue Fortin

I was just looking back at when I did my last update for Life Cycle of a Writer and can’t believe it was as far back as the end of November where I talked about feedback and had some great input from Sue Moorcroft and Louise Jensen, you can see the post here.

In that post I had recently gone through the editing process for my latest novel Sister Sister and now, by pure coincidence, I am going through the editing stage with my next book – currently untitled and no set release date yet.

In between these two editing stages, I’ve been pretty much occupied with writing my current wip. I must admit, I struggled for several weeks to settle on an idea. I had hoped it would just sort of come to me or that I would find inspiration in my folder marked ‘Book Ideas’. Sadly, this wasn’t to be, all the so-called book ideas either didn’t have enough story or no story whatsoever. I kept telling myself not to panic, that something was bound to occur to me but as the days and weeks rolled by, I started to question my wisdom. In the end I had to sit down and force myself to come up with at least one good idea.

I started by writing down themes I would like to explore and relationships that interested me. Then I wrote down some situations or circumstances that would put these ideas to the test, where there would be conflict and resolution needed. It took some time, but eventually I began to get the inkling of an idea. It wasn’t a clear idea and then took a few more weeks to develop into anything meaningful. By this time, I was up against the clock for my March deadline.

Towards the end of last year, myself and three other Romaniacs, Laura, Catherine and Lucie had planned a writing retreat weekend and this fell at the right time for me. It was the impetus I needed to kick-start some serious writing and to immerse myself in my story for three days without interruption. It was a lovely luxury and I benefitted hugely from it and went on to complete the first draft in just two months. I must admit, it was hard going with this one. Some books seem to flow and other books need rather more coaxing – this one was definitely a high maintenance one, but I got there in the end.

So now I’m about half-way through my structural edits, with several more rounds to go. Once the final proofed edits have been returned to my publisher, it will be back to plotting another novel, which hopefully will be more straight forward as I seem to have ignited my imagination again and already have three new ideas for books roughly plotted out.

Sue

x