Thank you for inviting me over to your blog Heidi. This virtual chair is very comfortable. I think I'll stay for a while, if that's okay?
So a little about myself. I live in sunny Suffolk in a tiny cottage that overlooks fields, where our only source of heating is a log burner and I get a whopping 0.4mbps broadband. All very Good Life – except the only thing I grow in the garden is mint to go in my Pimms. Rather like the old woman who lived in a shoe, I have managed to cram four children, four cats, four fish, five African land snails and numerous hissing cockroaches into this bijou rural haven. Oh – and a husband. He's quite important. And quite lovely.
My boys (yes, four boys – soooo outnumbered) are growing up fast, which is both good and bad. Good because they are turning into splendid young men, need me less and I can devote more time to my writing. Bad because they eat a RIDICULOUS AMOUNT of food, they are a bit smelly, and I have to stand on tiptoe to tell two of them off now (bear in mind I'm 5'9”). So I can also relate to Old Mother Hubbard. (Hmm… my life appears to be an amalgam of nursery rhymes.)
Accidentally having four boys in exactly three years (I had a buy one, get one free at the end) meant I put my work life on hold when they were little, but it was during these stressful early years that I finally discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up.
With two whole years of four pre-school aged children, where I had to strap them all into car seats just to go out and get a pint of milk, reading became a life buoy in a sea of nappies, sleepless nights and Bob The Builder on repeat. Writers such as Katie Fforde and Sophie Kinsella helped me navigate those dark, stormy waters, and my best friend (who also had four children) and I got through books faster than bottles of wine and jars of coffee – but believe me, it was a pretty close run thing. During one of our lengthy post-book analysis sessions, we discussed how different writers tackled love scenes. Some made us cringe, some were verging on the comical and some were plain twee. (When is a penis not a penis?) As we laid into these poor writers left, right and centre, my friend decided we should have a go at writing one ourselves for a bit of fun. And the rest, as they say, is history.
What was supposed to be a love scene in isolation, quickly became a much larger beast and I had the proverbial light bulb moment. Oh – THIS is what I was born to do. Incidentally, my friend managed to produce something that would make E.L. James blush, but my effort was more PG than X rated. I don't DO sex (well – clearly with four children I do – but you know what I mean) and am a romantic at heart.
So skip forward a few years and here I am, several hearty strides along the road of my writing journey. I undertook some creative writing courses and helped set up a small writing group with some like-minded people. I read endless grammar books and How To manuals, wrote short stories (not my thing but a great learning curve), continued to read like a woman possessed, and suddenly I find myself writing my third full length novel.
I'm getting there; Dead Gorgeous was short listed in the Choclit Search For a Star competition last year. I am particularly proud of this book and totally in love with Robert John Whitton, the grumpy hero of this novel who thought he'd died two hundred years ago but is surprised to find he is not dead at all. Now he has to cope with a modern-day woman who asks far too many questions and gives him a bit of a run for his pounds, shillings and pence...
In January I finally managed to bag a much coveted place on the brilliant New Writers' Scheme run by the Romantic Novelists' Association. Anyone with a strong thread of romance in their writing should look at this wonderful and supportive organisation, and unpublished writers of romance would be foolish to overlook the opportunities the NWS offers. Although the amazingly inclusive RNA welcomes non-members to many of their events, as a New Writer I am looking forward to the Summer and Winter Parties, the conference (should I be scared?) but, most importantly, getting back a critique on my manuscript later in the year.
Lucy's Locket, my current work in progress, is about a girl who thinks she needs a magic locket to boost her confidence and make the mysterious and short-tempered George fall in love with her. With a few scrapes along the way, and someone close to her sabotaging all her efforts, she learns that the real magic comes from within. I am equally in love with George – a huge bear of a man with a cat allergy who gets adopted by an unwelcome stray cat! But then I think we have to be in love with our heroes or our stories wouldn't work.
So there you have it folks; I am an ordinary gal/guy just like you, with my hopes and dreams stretched out before me like Dorothy's yellow brick road. I feel confident I will reach the Emerald City. It's a case of when not if, but I appreciate I still have a lot to learn.
It's been kind of Heidi to invite me over to share a bit about myself. If you bump into me at any writerly event do come over and say hi. I'm quite tall, and not as young as I like to think I am, but really very friendly. And as friends really are one of the best bits about this funny old thing we call life, I'm always happy to make a few more.
Erm, can I take this chair home with me Heidi? It really is extraordinarily comfortable...
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