In the past two years, I’ve grown and changed as a writer. Now its time for this blog to reflect that too. All the old posts will still be there, but in future, I will be concentrating on what I write, and what inspired me to write it. From time to time I will post about what I am reading. There will be a research section for those of you, who like me like their facts to be accurate. Along the way, I will be happy to answer your questions.
So from now, the focus will be more on the writing process, ice dancing, Bergen in Norway. Vikings and Viking beliefs.
Who doesn’t remember the fun of blowing the seeds away from the seed head of a dandelion clock? Sometimes they would all fly free; one huge puff of air and they’d be gone. At other times they clung tenaciously, requiring more effort to dislodge them.
Several writing events are on my horizon, author talks and workshops and a writer’s conference. I am inspired by the dandelion clock in my belief that writers are stronger together. There is strength in numbers. Much like the seed head holds its shape, because they are together.
When a writer gives a talk -they are sharing their knowledge, saying what worked for them, their processes. Learning about other writers, their joys and difficulties can inspire us as writers. To try something different, to do more, to do less.
A writers’ conference is a great example individual writers, coming together to exchange ideas, learn new skills and laugh and share information. They will drift apart at the end of the conference much like the winged dandelion pods. But all will have benefited from being part of the collective. Maybe they made a new contact, leant a new skill or found a solution to a sticky writing problem.
In our writer’s ‘clusters’ we are in a space which allows us the freedom to express ourselves. We are among friends, ones who know how difficult it can be to find the right words.
Double trouble in June /July for me.My desktop crashed-June 23rd and shortly afterwards my internet connection also stopped working. It has been forty-four days minus the desktop and a little over three weeks without the internet. Fortunately, I have been able to read.
Sail Away by Celia Imrie.
Actress and author Celia Imrie tells this story in her own inimical style.Its a delightful story of women of certain age taking chances and making changes. Embracing the posstiblities of now. The author’s depth of knowedge of both acting and luxury cruising make this a lively and entertaining read.
The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris
How could the Chocolat story continue? Joanne Harris returns us to Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, and expands Vianne Rocher’s story. Things have changed in the sleepy town, old rivalries forgotten and even the wind seems content to let Vianne stay put. This is a book that reflects on motherhood and having to let our children grow and change. Vianne’s late child Rosette is ‘different,’ like a wild creature she senses things and has never spoken. Anouk, Vianne’s older daughter has gone to Paris to be with her boyfreind and Vianne misses her. It means that she cherishes her life with Rosette even more.When changes come to Lansquenet with the arrival of a mysterious and charismatic stranger ,Rosette also begins to change. And Vianne has fears for her younger daughter.
Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier
I enjoyed the blend of fact and fictional reality ,which drew me in and kept me engaged with the characters and their situation. To be a Wolfskin was to be regarded as among the best of fighters. Reputation and honour figure large, as does trust and friendship. Neglected Pictish culture and mysticism are explored.While the raiding and conquering the Vikings have their own code of honour.
On the Same Page by Penelope Janú
MIles Franklin is the daughter of a literary family- who would be horrifed to know that she writes romance- a genre they despise. Of course, her subterfuge is bound to come out, especially when her girl Friday enters her for prestigious literary award Add into the mix a handsome publisher, who wont take ‘no,’ for an answer and who insists on meeting the reclusive ( and fictional) author . Entertaining.
Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield
I loved her first book, The Thirteenth Tale, an all-time favourite .Sadly, I wasn’t as thrilled with her second, so I approached this book hesitantly. I need not have worried – it’s a brilliant book It combines some history of the river Thames ( the river in the title) with an almost fairy-tale feeling story about generations of storytellers and the folk tales of the mysterious and unpredictable river. Abduction, murder, identity theft, are all deflty woven into the plot ,which has a magical quality. I have recommended the book to many people. For me, it’s a 5 star winner.
Miss Seeton Flies High by Hamilton Crane
I was browsing the library catalogue looking for a cosy mystery to read prior to a workshop on writing cosy mysteries.This title popped up and as I had never heard of the author, I decided to give it a go. There are numerous books in the long running series.It has an ingenious plot, but not having read any of the previous books I felt disadvantaged by people and references to previous events It has an Agatha Christie feel about it, and the series is very popular ,but for me it didn’t really fit into the cosy category .
Creating Characters from the Editors of Writer’s Digest.
If you are struggling creating characters, then this book is for you. It has a wealth of information from a range of wrietrs. It is easy to read and you can skip between sections and chapters. A very useful book
The DandelionYears by Erica James.
A charming story of inter-generational living which highlights both its benefits and its dilemmas. Love and loyalty, family ties, secrets, disappointments. Of course, there are also romances, poignant and sweet.The book is about the loovongly described setting, and the craft of book binding and restoration,book shops and book selling – things that appealed to me.
The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant.
I was fortunate to win a copy of this book and what an eye opening experience reading it was.
Readers may be shocked to learn that in the 1950s women could be confined to a mental home if they suffered from a prolonged post-natal depression. Esther’s is only one of three stories which interlink at some point to form a cohesive whole. This is a thought-provoking book which would be perfect for book clubs. Highly recommended.
For the past three weeks I have been without an internet connection, which failed and I had to get it fixed.At the same time my desktop computer crashed in an unexpected additonal blow.
While I waited I reflected on how helpless and isolated I felt. I was missing that oh so vital sense of connection. No emails, no Facebook, no easy fact checking.
So Hello again! It’s good to be back, the time away has given me more reading time and also a time to think about writing the sequel to my book
This reflective time helped me connect with the Viking characters in my book Fire & Ice. They lived quite isolated lives.Typically Vikings had a ‘raiding season’ which went from April to October, after which the seas were deemed too dangerous.So a man could be away from home and out of reach for all that time.
Imagine having no contact with loved ones for six or seven months at a time. It reinforced to me the fact that Viking women were tough and expected to cope on their own.I also found out that if male Viking did not return home at least once every three years, his wife had the choice to divorce him for desertion,
All creative people know that getting your name ‘out there’ isn’t easy. So it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge Seth Macey, the talented photographer who generously gave me permission to use this image.
In the two years, that I have been blogging I have changed focus and I think it’s time that my blog content and graphics also reflects this change.
When I started the blog, in 2017 I was hoping to get a fiction book published. I am now a published author, I wrote Fire & Ice, which has been described as a Scandi -Time Slip romance. It was published in February 2019 by Daisy Lane Publishers and got some great reviews. Now, I am busy writing a follow-up book.
So, my focus has shifted, I still love my cats and reading, but I am concentrating more on writing and on research. I want readers to feel confident that I am using authentic detail in my story. So, whether I am talking about ice dancing, or Vikings, or Norway I want to know that the details are right. There is a new section coming on my blog -for research details. I know not everyone will want that level of detail. and that’s okay too, simply enjoy the story.
Follow me on this journey as I find out more about Aussie Blaise and Norwegian Kristoffer, the ice dancing couple from Fire& Ice, whose story conveys that Love is Beyond Time.
Today it is my pleasure to welcome P.L. Harris and her alter-ego Polly Holmes to chat with us about her writing journey. We first met at a book launch and I asked her if at some point she would be a guest on my blog. She is a busy and versatile writer who writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense as well as cosy mysteries. She also holds down a fulltime job as a teacher so her time is pretty full.
What is your latest book about?
My latest book is the first in my Burrum Ridge romantic suspense series, In His Protection. It follows Melody Maddison as she discovers an old photo of her mother with a newborn baby that is neither her, nor her siblings. While she’ll do anything to uncover the truth, someone is willing to go to whatever lengths to keep the truth the secret, even if it means silencing Melody for good.
What inspired it? This book, in fact, the series, is inspired by my niece Kara-Lee through a brainstorming session about two years ago while visiting the Hot Springs at Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne. She asked me, what if you found a photo of Grandma (my mother) with a baby you know nothing about, what would you do?It kind of went from there and it has turned into a series of six books, one for each of the siblings and I can’t wait to write them.
Who is the main character?
My heroine is Melody Maddison. Her mother past away when she was 26 and she has been travelling for 2 years trying to deal with the loss leaving her sister Riley to pick up the pieces. Now she’s 28 and returned home to help her sister sort their mother’s possessions.
My hero is Noah St. Reeve. Noah has been working in Perth and decided to start his own security and protection business, but unsure where to base it. Seeing Melody almost run down by a car cements in his mind his course. To protect her at all costs.
Why should we care about them?
Everyone has a secret, and for Melody finding out the secret behind the photo may lead her to a long lost sibling. If she can uncover the secret she’ll be able to share with them how wonderful her mother really was. We want to find out who the baby is, for Melody’s sake. We want to know if Noah will be able to save her in time and most of all if Melody has the willpower and strength to save her own life in the face of danger.
Did you always want to write?
I loved reading and writing stories, but no I never thought I was good enough to write a story that could be published. I loved to make up stories in my younger days. My imagination would always be racing ahead of me. I loved being in a world of make-believe, maybe that’s why I went into the theatre and became a director and drama teacher. A few years ago, I took some time out for me and I started reading again and I realised I could forget the worries of the world for that moment while I was immersed in the story.
Which books did you love as a child?
Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams romances were my all-time favourite books to read when I was growing up and I still have most of them today. I loved Nancy Drew, I suppose that is why I love writing mystery novels. Also, Enid Blyton’s the Wishing Chair.
You write in several genes Contemporary romance and Amateur Sleuths or cosy mysteries – was that deliberate choice or do you just have so many ideas? Which came first?
It wasn’t a conscious decision, I kind of stumbled into it. I always wanted to write contemporary romance and I knew I wanted to have drama and suspense in them. So I started writing contemporary romance first. I also knew it was a way for me to deal with certain things going on in my personal life and I could express it through my characters. I suppose you could say it was a kind of therapy.
Then when I was looking for a cover for Callie’s Dilemma I stumbled across Mariah Sinclair’s website where I did indeed find the cover, but also stumbled across the cupcake capers cozy covers and that was it I was hooked. I ended up buying 13 covers but had no idea what a cozy was. Crazy I hear you say. Yep, totally.
In His Protection went on hold and I had to research the genre. What it was, what you can and can’t do, it was a whole new world. Then I posted on Amazon the dates I was releasing them in 2018. Why I did that I have no idea because it put me under so much pressure to get them out on time and at the same time I was staging the musical Lion King Jr at school.
In the end, it was a huge learning curve, but it also helped me realise that I love writing cozies and also romantic suspense.
Research into each writing style is the key. Know what the readers want and deliver. I had an email from a lady who loved my book but wanted a recipe in the back like everyone else does.
I do have to try and turn off one genre when I am writing another and that’s where my planning comes it. I love to plan my novel out.
What is the best writing advice you ever received?
Never give up no matter how much you feel like it.
What is the worst? I’m not sure I have had any bad advice. It’s about knowing which bit of advice to take that will work for you and which bits to leave behind.
If you were starting now would you do anything differently?
I would definitely have learnt more about the self-promotion, social media side of the industry right from the start and started that much, much earlier. Follow the experts. If they have tried something and it didn’t work, think carefully if you are going to follow in their footsteps. I would have created another pen name for my different genres, which I have now done, but a year after the first cozy publication. Look out for Polly Holmes in the cozy mystery genre.
You sound incredibly busy how do you manage to fit it all in?
Sometimes, I don’t fit it all in. Although I work full-time, I want to write and I can’t let my busy schedule stop me. It’s something that I can do for me, something that makes me happy (When it’s all going to plan) I do have to try and prioritise especially around the busy times at school like exams and reporting time. Sometimes I am guilty of putting things in the too hard basket and then I feel guilty so out they come and I persist until I achieve it.
Often I ask myself is it worth it? The answer always turns out to be yes. In the long run, I know that I will succeed if I persist. Take the good with the bad and there is always more good than bad.
How long have you been published and how are you so prolific?
I have been published 2 years now and self-published 18 months. I think the key is persistence and learning as you go. You can’t get everything right the first time, but learning from mistakes allows you to improve the next time. Knowing what you want and setting the intention to achieve it.
Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
That is a hard one and I’m not sure if they are fun facts. I love old musicals and sometimes I wish I was born back when Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Ann Miller and the greats were around. Even though I can’t sing it doesn’t stop me from having a go when a great tune comes on.
If I hear music with a good beat, I have to dance no matter where I am. It’s in my blood.
I’m addicted to most reality TV especially House Rules, MKR, Masterchef. I know, it’s very bad.
It has been great learning more about your writing journey- thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.