Ever wondered how an author fills their spare time away from their writing? I suspect answer is as varied as the genres we write but my ‘down time’ usually finds me lost in other creative pursuits. Recently, I rediscovered my love of drawing, something I haven’t done for over a decade. Who knows how or why I abandoned my sketch pad but I suspect it was lost along the busy path of life. Anyway, I ‘found’ my pencils packed away and unloved in a bottom drawer, alongside a brand-new sketch pad. My talents are mediocre but that’s irrelevant, it’s the act of creating an image that I’m loving. In the last three months, I have welcomed the simple thrill of graphite upon paper, observing and sketching whatever takes my fancy. I’ve spent time browsing art supplies and have gained the same comforting feeling that I do when I browse book stores – the excitement of exploring new territory and possibilities renews your energy.
Whilst publicising my books, many bloggers and readers ask about my interest in ringing church bells. Again, this activity supports my lifelong interest in history and music - as a child, I used to listen to the church bells ringing at Polesworth Abbey. Two years ago, I enquired about learning and discovered that St Martin’s Guild, Birmingham have a dedicated school for bell ringers. It looks very simple, but there is an art to handling the bell and the ‘methods’ rung certainly stimulate the ‘little grey matter’. I recognise that I am fairly insular and independent by nature so the enjoyment of ringing within a group offers a contrast to hours spent alone whilst writing. I’ve meet some incredibly interesting people through bell ringing, who also feed my creative energy.
If you follow my social media, you’ll know that my dog is never far away whilst I write. He has a tendency to sleep in the chair while I do all the work but he’s part of my creative flow. I’ve never had a dog before and so, long country walks have become a new-found enjoyment in the recent years. Many authors use walking as a means to stimulate ideas and rearrange plotlines prior to their desk work and it’s fair to say it works. I regularly leave the house with ideas swirling about my mind to return with a completed plotline ready to write.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that any activity that enables my mind to remain creatively fresh and alert is advantageous in supporting my work. And, long may that continue.
It was excitement all round this morning when I was invited onto Radio Tamworth 106.8FM to be interviewed by the fabulous Kiran Parmar, as part of her weekly book show.
The interview was conducted over two hours and we covered a vast array of subjects from wedding proposals, retro jewellery, Mad dog 20:20, tea making and a lot of chatter about my three books.
If you missed the live interview here is the opportunity for you to listen via the on-demand player - follow the link below , sit back and enjoy!
We will definitely be doing another interview as this morning was so much fun!
On-demand player link: select
11:48pm on Sunday, 20th May 2018, I finished the final edits for book 3 'The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm' and was able to press the 'send' button submitting it to my publisher. I have to be honest and say the bubble of excitement that filled my heart was truly amazing. I simply love the story. It is probably the most personal story I have written for many reasons.
Firstly, having published two previous book there were many beautiful people I wanted to thank for their dedication and 'general loveliness' in supporting me since March 2017. These beautiful people have gone out of their way everyday to ask me: how I am coping with juggling the day-job and the dream? How's the writing coming along? Even, are you getting enough rest? Seriously, I have such a wonderful network of folk around me making sure that 'this girl doesn't do too much'. I feel truly blessed, to have them look out for me. I certainly wouldn't have coped with the 'juggle' any other way. Especially given that some folk are still yet to mention my achievement, but hey ho! Anyway, I wanted to acknowledge the beauties in a way that they would never imagine and so, I included either their forename or surname in book 3. Honestly, it was the biggest secret I have kept for ages! I finally burst, and had the delight of telling them when draft one had been successfully written. So, Kitty P, Sharon W, Jackie G, Becca H, Fielding, Salloway, Pardoe, Turner, Woodward, Mr Klym, Mr Phillips and Miss Read all find themselves in the plot. I can't tell you how excited I am for 4th September 2018 to arrive.
The story follows three women, Nina, Angie and Holly through their journey of self-discovery towards happiness. Their three stories slowly entwine and eventually end up at Christmas Tree Farm, a local supplier of spruces. The structure of the plot-line was intriguing and totally consuming to write. The end result is a story that will make you laugh, cry and possibly think about your own experiences in life. As the author, it has certainly made me think back in time to my younger days and question certain reactions.
The main character Nina, works at the Christmas Tree Farm all year around but she has a dilemma: should she date either of her best friends Bram or Zach? To hinder her decision, they are twins of her employer, so should she mix business with pleasure? Nina is cautious. Her twenty-five years have been difficult due to her father suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and she being his only carer. His death last Christmas Eve was the final blow, so this year she cancels Christmas as a means of coping... but Christmas Tree Farm has other plans for her. With the help of her close and trusted friends Kitty, Shazza and Jackie she finds a way to overcome the sorrow and shine like the 'diamond glints on snow'.
I apologise now, if this story makes you cry, but remember it made me cry at every stage of writing after draft one! The acknowledgements will reveal all and honour the 'beautiful people' that have paved my journey in 2017 x
Pre-order via Amazon: The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm 4th September 2018 (paperback copies will be available to order nearer publication date).
The countdown to the announcement has begun, eeeek! I am nominated with 16 other fabulous authors for this year's Joan Hessayon award 2018 which will be announced on Thursday at the Ashmolean museum, Oxford.
The Joan Hessayon Award is generously sponsored by gardening expert Dr David Hessayon OBE, in honour of his late wife Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of its New Writers’ Scheme. The scheme has been run by the RNA since 1962 and is unique among professional writing associations. It aims to encourage fresh talent in the writing of romantic novels that reflect all aspects of love and life, contemporary or historical. Imogen Howson, who co-ordinates the New Writers’ Scheme, commented, “It is wonderful to see debut authors graduating from the New Writers’ Scheme and we are ever grateful to Dr David Hessayon who continues to support the Awards in honour of his late wife, Joan.”
The full list of nominated authors:
Mick Arnold, The Season for Love, Passion in Print
Donna Ashcroft, Summer at the Castle Café, Bookouture
Susanna Bavin, The Deserter’s Daughter, Allison & Busby
Cryssa Bazos, Traitor’s Knot, Endeavour Press
Hannah Begbie, Mother, Harper Collins
Anita Belli, The Traveller and the Rose, Endeavour Press
Lynn Forth, Love in La La Land, Crooked Cat
Erin Green, A Christmas Wish, Aria Fiction
Lisa Hill, Meet Me at Number Five, Choc Lit
John Jackson, Heart of Stone, Crooked Cat
Jane Lacey-Crane, Secrets and Tea at Rosie Lee’s, Aria Fiction
Zoe May, Perfect Match, HQ Digital
Sue McDonagh, Summer at the Art Café, Choc Lit
Kate Ryder, Summer in a Cornish Cove, Aria Fiction
Elaine Roberts, The Foyles Bookshop Girls, Aria Fiction
Tanya Jean Russell, Broken Trust, Evernight Publishing
Awen Thornber, Foxtrot in Freshby, Crooked Cat
You can 'follow' the announcements and Twitter feed by connecting with @RNATweets #SummerParty2018 on Thursday.
Good luck to everyone - let's make it a cracking night!
Update: Despite all your good wishes I didn't win... but I had the most fabulous night celebrating success. Which is what matters to me. The Ashmolean museum, Oxford was a beautiful venue and very fitting for such a wonderful night. It felt more like a graduation party than anything else and so, we let the bubbles flow amongst the chatter and laughter.
I have frequently talked about the 'naughty girls' on the 22:00 Euston London train, well three of us were present and I am proud to say we didn't disappoint. Philippa had the bright idea to visit The Turf, a Oxford bar that she's frequented as a student, so she led a small group towards the fun. Boy, did we have a giggle - apologises to the students present, it's not everyday a bunch of loud people, old enough to be your parents crash your bar! But, we did!
I was slightly overdressed for a uni haunt but what the heck, what a fabulous night!
It's five thirty on Friday, 16th March and I have arrived at this weekend's writing retreat. Yay! If you've followed my previous blogs or Twitter you'll already know that I love writing retreats. I view it as a planned hibernation from the rest of my life so I can indulge my imagination in the current project eg. book 4. I set goals, I tweet goals, I stick and conquer writing goals on a writing retreat. To be frank, I would recommend any writer, published or aspiring, books themselves a 48 hour weekend retreat to focus on their passion. I'd do longer, but as you know, I have a day time job so, Monday to Friday isn't possible.
Anyway, this is the third time I have attended this particular retreat organised by Alison May and Janet Gover, who are excellent mentors by the way. I wouldn't return unless I felt it benefitted my writing psyche, would I? I can honestly say, I have left my 'real' life behind but that's what I do on a retreat weekend. I pack my case, kiss husband goodbye and hope my dog is properly nurtured in my absence but I leave 'my world' behind. I step into Narnia and write. I indulge myself guilt-free for the duration knowing that come Sunday evening, I will re-enter 'my world' via the wardrobe doors and life will resume.
So, my plan for this weekend is quite simple. I am working on a rewrite for book 4. It currently stands at 404 pages but was originally written in first person narrative. I've been steadily working my way through each age changing it to third person narrative. By Sunday evening, I wish to have reached page 404 and go home with a manuscript in my desired viewpoint.
The manuscript was written five years ago, and even I can see that I have progressed as a author in that short time. I initially created it in first person as I felt it was stronger more emotional but... now, I feel differently. So, begins the laborious task of changing the viewpoint. Part of my laughs that I should even consider doing this as I have always been a '1st person' type of gal but I may reached a lightbulb moment that the tale 'feels' stronger in third person. Anyway, I'm going for it. I'm currently on page 247 of 404. By Sunday night, approximately 5pm, I wish to be on 404 of 404. Enough said, it's now nearing six o'clock and I have a date with a bunch of writers and a large Zinfandel in the bar for a get to know each other chat before we tuck into a gorgeous dinner.
(I'll update as the weekend unfolds... rest assured I'll hit my weekend goal, I'm determined x)
Update: After a delicious evening meal, our mentors led a discussion about genre and the importance of understanding the specifics of our story. Our discussion developed to include specific marketing, sales and difficulties arising due to multiple genres. I currently feel that my current project book 4 is the darker side of RomCom. Which doesn't sound quite right given the expectations of RomCom, given my project mixes the lighter and grittier elements of life. Anyway, I need to give genre more thought before I proceed to prevent travelling the wrong track and creating an issue. I finished the first evening with a late night writing session in my room working on viewpoint.
Update: Saturday 17th March.
I woke very early so I could work before breakfast. I managed to convert a few pages from first person to third person so felt happier at starting the day so earlier. It had started to snow by the time I came out of breakfast, so I quickly dashed back to my room for a 90 minute session of work. Our first workshop was at 9am so I happily worked until then.
Today's sessions have focussed on:
I also had my one to one session with Alison May - which confirmed my own thoughts regards my current project. I need to complete my conversion to third person before going back to the planning stage before I do the rewrite. Phew! It seems like a lot but it will be worth it in the end. It might sound like one step forward and two steps backwards but it will be progress. I also had another light bulb moment in a workshop on generating ideas in relation to a future book that my brain is hatching - so I felt I killed two birds with one stone this morning.
At 4pm, some of the group nipped to the bar for a quiet break before returning to our rooms to work. I've plodded along and am grateful to have reached the 300 page mark.
So, my current work plan is:
Saturday night update: I had to be realistic come Saturday night, was I going to make this deadline. Deep down I thought no. How could I convert 105 pages with one day to go. I'd listed my potential writing session during the previous post so knew it was going to be tight. I made the decision that I was going to go for it but if I missed the goal, I would be completely honest with my readers. I'd complete once I had arrived home.
We had our evening meal, the group had a question and answers session afterwards and at 10:30pm I brought myself back to my room... to work. I worked until 1am in the morning which took me to page 330. I fell into bed, knowing that I had to be up at 6am to repeat the effort.
Sunday morning. The alarm rang at 6am, up I got and straight to work. After breakfast, I returned for another mini work session before packing my suitcase and checking out of my room at 9am. By the time the morning's workshops began I was at page 348. It seemed a long way off from the finishing line of 406.
Our mentors led us through two informative workshops on editing and the techniques of editing - which were most useful. It gave me chance to reflect on the routine I usually choose. I might attempt to change my system when next editing and see how it fairs. Editing isn't my favourite task but I have learnt to enjoy it more in recent years.
11am signalled a two hour break in which we were encouraged to work. I settled myself in the silent room and away I went prior to our lunch. I managed to work through to page 389. Suddenly, with 17 pages remaining my goal seemed realistic and maybe the dread of not completing started to fade.
The afternoon workshops were focused upon 'Things our mentors wished they known before being published' - a very honest and frank discussion for the benefit of us attendees.
The final session saw us setting our goals for: next week, next month and the next six months. I have attended this particular retreat three times in the last two years and have completed this task each time. Its vital to know what you're aiming for. At 4pm we broke for coffee and cake which signals the end of the retreat. I quickly consumed my goodies and returned to my manuscript. It didn't take me long to complete the final 17 pages - but boy, did it make a huge difference to my sense of achievement for this weekend. I had completed what I had set out to do. Enough said.
This week has been very exciting for me as Brook Cottage Books organised a blog tour for ‘The Single Girl’s Calendar’. As a reader, I used to love blog tours because I felt I was gaining insider knowledge from the professional readers before spending my precious pennies. I still feel the same way, now that I’m an author. Below are just a few of the beautiful reviews received this week. I can only say ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ to Brook Cottage books and the army of bloggers and reviewers who participated.
The Single Girl's Calendar available on Amazon in ebook or paperback
Brook cottage Books
An interview with Erin:
The Single Girl's Calendar - Chapter One
Thursday evening had started well.
‘The air smells so different at the end of a working week,’ said Esmé, stepping from Stylo Stationery onto a busy Birmingham street alongside her two work colleagues.
‘That’s your Friday night saying – surely it doesn’t apply to Thursday night, too?’ laughed Marianne, for whom a Friday night meant a take away and wine, snuggled on the couch alongside her Jimmy.
‘Technically, this is her Friday night,’ said Penny, whose Friday night goal was three loads on an economy washing cycle before watching the comedy hour.
‘But it’s true, smell how beautiful…’ Esmé inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the possibilities of a long weekend. When invoices for premium paper, double-sided sticky tape and multipacks of cheap biros would be forgotten until Monday morning.
A smattering of street litter flurried along the pavement as they stood contemplating Esmé’s plans.
‘I can’t believe Old Steely Stylo granted you the day off,’ added Marianne, checking her wrist watch.
‘She’s deducted it from my holiday entitlement, so no fear of favouritism,’ corrected Esmé, determined to stick to the facts. She wasn’t taking liberties. At Stylo Stationery the aged owner, Mrs Stylo, treated every employee in an equally harsh and abrasive manner.
‘Even so, she must be softening in her old age!’ said Penny, adjusting her scarf. ‘Maybe we should all ask for long weekends come our anniversaries?’
‘Like she cares about me and Andrew!’ said Esmé, attempting to control her lengthy auburn locks in the spring breeze.
‘She cares for no one,’ said Penny.
‘Seven years tomorrow, who’d have thought it?’ laughed Esmé.
‘Not me!’ Marianne laughed as her dark fringe blew about.
‘Exactly, so I need to make the most of it.’ Esmé blushed in anticipation.
‘You never know, he might not need your assistance, he might have pulled his finger out and organised a big surprise all by himself,’ said Penny, having glanced at Marianne.
‘I doubt it. He’d forget his own birthday if I didn’t do a countdown. But tonight, could be the night…’
‘LookArk at you, jumping the gun – you’ll only be disappointed if he doesn’t ask,’ warned Marianne, buttoning her coat against the March chill. ‘Most men need an arm up their back or an unexpected pregnancy to force them into marriage. Take my Jimmy… twelve years of dating and still nothing.’
All three women shook their heads, knowing the tale of woe which would follow, each was word perfect in their practised lines for the retelling of Marianne’s one and only proposal story.
‘You ruined your chances by pushing your luck,’ began Penny.
‘Really?’ said Esmé in a bewildered tone, feigning interest, much like a first-time listener.
‘I made an appointment with the vicar, tea and sponge cake arranged…’ explained Marianne.
‘All proper and above board, then?’ asked Penny, knowing her lines.
‘I drove us to the local church and then bam… delivered the ultimatum – marry me or else!’ announced Marianne, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
‘Such a beautiful declaration of love,’ said Esmé, her eye lashes fluttered at Marianne.
‘Who’d have thought such a proposal could be perceived as a tad too pushy,’ said Penny.
‘Exactly,’ giggled Esmé. ‘Wasn’t it your fairy-tale dream?’
Marianne nodded in a comedic fashion, her maturity enabled her to laugh at herself, unlike five years ago.
‘I’ve lost count of the nights I’d dreamt of him springing such a gallant gesture, driving me to church and booking a wedding date.’
‘Locking himself inside your car and performing a one man sit-in for eight hours, while you pleaded with the vicar, was a definite cry for help,’ said Penny.
‘A definite answer, though,’ said Esmé, who hugged her friend.
‘The vicar was none too chuffed given his wasted sponge cake and tea platter,’ said Marianne, adding. ‘Seriously, Esmé – joking aside, what have you planned?’
Esmé gave a cheeky grin, before she stared at each colleague in a bashful manner.
‘Oh Lord, if that’s not the face of a woman on a mission!’ cried Penny, her wide eyes sparkling.
‘I’ve got it all planned… candlelight, champagne on ice, bubble bath for two, a slinky silk number ordered from Agent Provocateur and a fresh set of Egyptian cotton sheets,’ reeled off Esmé, trying to supress the shiver of anticipation that ran along her spine.
‘A dirty night on clean sheets, hey?’ said Marianne with a knowing smile. ‘That should do it.’
‘And not too much champagne… be giggly but not drunk,’ warned Penny, her blonde curls bobbing from side to side. ‘And above all… let him think it was his idea!’
Good news! Book three, a Christmas story, has been polished and was submitted to my publisher at the beginning of February 2018. I can’t give away too many details until important people give me the green light but here’s a few snippets…
I'm hoping this blog finds you each happy, healthy and harmonious following a great Christmas and a joyous New year.
I've had a tremendous time spent with my loved ones and even managed to sneak a couple of writing days in amongst the festivities. One of the highlights of my holidays has been the publication of my second book 'The Single Girl's Calendar' which was released just after midnight on 1st January. Please forgive the fact that as I counted down the New year of 2018, I was secretly counting down my own special delivery too! Naughty, but I'm honest!
Anyway, once the clock had struck midnight, fireworks had filled the sky and I'd delivered celebratory kisses, I was thrilled to receive my Kindle version from Amazon. I'd received a paperback copy of the book the day before, so this was the icing on the cake. Who'd have thought that just 22 weeks after my debut novel 'A Christmas Wish' was published I'd be celebrating the release of book 2 - not me!
2017 was one of the most amazing year's of my life, so many of my dreams came true, so I'm truly saddened to say goodbye. But life moves on, and so must I. Thankfully, I have a head full of ideas and the energy to match, so keep an eye on my events diary as I have upcoming visits and talks booked. I'm just completing another Christmas book and for the next month there is a fabulous blog tour to celebrate 'The Single Girl's Calendar'
Love Erin x
Today, we are celebrating the publication of author M.W.Arnold's debut novel 'The Season For Love' published by PIP Press on 16th December.
Believing she was responsible for the death of her husband, Chrissie Stewart retreats from all those who love her. A chance meeting with a mysterious stranger, single-parent Josh Morgan and his bewitching young daughter Lizzy, breathe new life into her and gradually, she feels able to start to let go of the memory of her lost love.
A story of hidden conflicts and internal battles pitched against the desire to love, trust and overcome the past.
I was lucky enough to ask Mick three questions in order to understand a little more about his writing process and goals.
1. How long have you been writing for and when did begin?
I'd always been a reader, I didn't start to write until about 2009, though only started to focus my efforts in 2012/2013. Christmas 2012 was when my Lady Wife read a book called 'The Xmas Factor' by Annie Sanders and insisted I read it. Within a day, I had read it and felt a strong impulse to sit down and my, ancient at the time, laptop. There was no plan, but after writing non-stop all day, my wife forced me off the laptop about ten at night. I've been writing ever since. By the way, that first book cam out at over 120,000 words on the first draft - I learned about editing at the same time!
2. Where did you inspirations for 'The Season For Love' come from?
I get a lot of ideas (too many, as most are only rough-outs) from listening to Radio 2 and this one was no different. As I recall, it'd been a bad day and an Elvis Costello song, 'A
Good Year for the Roses' came on and, apart from nearly causing me to swerve off the road, it sparked the idea for this book in my mind. Miracle of miracles, I could actually remember the idea when I got home and quickly scribbled it down. About all I really planned out was the last paragraph, and that's where the finished book actually ends. Though not the story from
the song, it gave me the idea for my tragic heroine.
3. What type of books do you read for enjoyment?
I still very much enjoy anything by Terry Pratchett. He always was and, probably, always will
be the author I can fall back on when I need something to put a smile on my face. I had the
good fortune to meet him a few times and I treasure the memories. Otherwise, I do tend to
mostly read in the genre I write in. I'm a big fan of Sue Moorcroft, Carole Matthews, Trisha
Ashley, Bella Osborne, a certain author whose intials are EG and whose second novel I can't
wait for, and many others, most of whom I'm at least acquated with. I also loved Phillip
Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy and am thrilled that he's got a new set of stories out
set in the same universe.
M.W. Arnold's debut novel 'The Season For Love' is available on-line at Amazon.