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July 24th, 2015

National-Literacy-Trust-blogFirst, thanks to Simon for last week’s blog. I really like the idea of ‘Demented Optimism’ – as a writer I don’t think you ever get anywhere unless you believe in yourself and your creations. Such optimism may be demented, but it’s essential!

I read an article recently in the Sunday Times Magazine. It was about a man called Denis Pethebridge – and his 30 years of literary failure! In a leather-bound scrap book he had amassed 338 rejection letters. Starting in 1937 he had sent out articles, stories and novels to just about every newspaper, magazine, agent and publisher in the UK…and had rejections from them all. But did that stop him? No. By 1967 he was planning to start a new volume of rejection letters because the first was overflowing. Apparently he eventually self-published a novel in 1996 at the age of 77 and went on to live until he was 94. In his case optimism, however unfounded, was no detriment to his health. You’ve got to have staying power if you really want to be a writer, and not let rejection get you down. Read the rest of this entry »




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Demented Optimism

July 17th, 2015

sheep-cover-blogThis year my first-born turns twenty-one. Travelling all over the world, getting into all sorts of company, and looking exactly the same as it did all that time ago.

You’ll have guessed from the ‘it’ there that I’m not talking about a human child here but something altogether less wet and messy and demanding: my first novel.

‘Sheep’ came out in July 1994. From the outset it was an ambitious, even pushy little thing: it got itself into a W H Smith promotion, received a whole lot of very good reviews (and some not so good), and was immediately optioned for film. I was a proud but completely inexperienced parent, delighted but baffled, as I’m sure many parents are, by what I had produced. From the outset it seemed to have a life of its own. Read the rest of this entry »




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Outside The Box

June 15th, 2015

BoxesI’m thinking about article writing again; getting ready to make a first pitch to an editor later this summer. I’m all set to work on text, and there will be pictures (either ones I’ve taken myself or sourced images with permissions and licenses.) But I’ve just been flicking through some old copies of E-Zee Writer, where I stumbled on an article by the always informative Simon Whaley, and it’s given me some great ideas for bonus features that are sure to make me look like a seasoned pro’ – boxouts, side-panels and side-bars. Read the rest of this entry »




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Stand Back from Your Writing… then Revise It!

June 5th, 2015

margaret-christopher-blogLooking through recent blogs, I was particularly interested in the comments from Kerry Chiron who, like me, is permanently resident in France. My experience is that, over recent years, writers’ and poets’ circles have sprung up. Of course, as in Britain, their quality and usefulness is very varied as it depends on the make- up of the group. I have also found among British friends people who, although not writers themselves, are avid readers and well able to offer helpful comments and suggestions about my work.

I agree wholeheartedly about the positive impact of the internet. It is my research tool, its only drawback being that I often get so interested in my discoveries that I lose sight of the fact that I am supposed to be writing a book!

My first foray into serious writing was when, soon after we arrived here, I realised that Peter Mayle hadn’t invented those bizarre incidents in Provence! Read the rest of this entry »




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Living and Writing Abroad

May 22nd, 2015

Kerry.blogLiving in France can sound like a dream come true to Francophiles living in the UK, but when you’re a budding writer it can sometimes feel like you’re living in exile.

How I envy those bloggers who wax lyrical about their writing groups and litfests, not to mention book signings. When my French friends show an interest in my writing very few are able to read it let alone provide a critique.

The current trend for Indie publishing is also out of my grasp as I can hardly nip over the channel in my spare time to actively promote my book in local bookshops. Looking for an agent is just as difficult as it would be if I were back in Blighty, but at least comprehensive lists can be found on the internet.

Speaking of the world wide web, this is my lifeline, it keeps me abreast of changes in the publishing world and allows me to pester my faithful readers back home with dozens of rewrites! Even finding an editor for my first full length manuscript proved a simple task, again with the help of my trusty laptop, and whilst the editing process taught me a lot, I can’t help thinking it would have been so much more fulfilling to learn this face to face or in a writer’s circle. Writing is by definition a solitary pursuit, but how I crave the contact with like-minded souls! Read the rest of this entry »




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