Thursday, 17 April 2014

Author Spotlight: Kemberlee Shortland

I’m delighted to give a very warm welcome to romantic novelist Kemberlee Shortland who is visiting from beautiful Ireland, although she is originally a native of California. As well as being a writer herself, Kemberlee is the force behind independent company Tirgearr Publishing and it is a great pleasure to work with her and her staff. Today, however, Kemberlee is visiting in her persona of novelist with three great books set in Ireland in her Irish Pride series.

It’s lovely to see you here, Kemberlee. First a little about the brand new novel, Shape of My Heart, and you can read about the other two novels after the interview.

Shape of My Heart
Irish Pride Series, book 3

Gráinne has moved back to Dublin to get her life straightened out. She dreams of college and a better life. She’s working for her brother, Kieran, in his newly reopened pub, The Blues Tavern, but the money isn’t enough to support herself and pay tuition. Moonlighting at The Klub! as an exotic dancer seems to be her answer to fast money.

John ‘JD’ Desmond is a detective working undercover in the Blues Tavern. The Klub!, owned by Jimmy Malloy, is being used as a drug front, headed by the notorious Taylor Wade. JD had intended to get Gráinne to snitch for him, but when he falls in love with her, things get complicated.

When Gráinne witnesses Jimmy’s murder, she and JD are forced to go on the run until Wade can be apprehended. Wade lives up to his nickname, The Hunter, and JD and Gráinne quickly find themselves at the end of a gun and running for their lives.
 
Shape of My Heart is available in all e-formats including Amazon kindle from Tirgearr Publishing

Sounds great! Thanks for answering the following questions, Kemberlee.
 
Tell us a little about how you became a writer.

I don’t really know. It’s one of those things that just happens. I was an early reader, so I’m sure that had something to do with it. I used to borrow picture books from the library and write my own stories based on the images. I wrote my first short story when I was about 9. When I was around 15, I started writing a story about a school girl looking for love. Of course, she was my age and looked and acted nothing like me :) By the time I was 23, I’d finished by first complete novel, as of yet unpublished due to the embarrassingly horrid writing! Around the time I was 16-17, I heard the song Paperback Writer by the Beatles. I’d heard it loads of times before, but suddenly it woke me up and I said, “I’m going to be published one day.”
 
Great inspiration!

How much does living in Ireland affect your writing and stories – if it does?

Living in Ireland is great for research. They say ‘write what you know’ so I just go outside. When I lived back home in Northern California, my first books were historicals set around my home area. Now that I’m living in Ireland, my stories tend to be set here. The other thing that’s changed is that, up to now, I’ve only published contemporary tales.

Do you write only romance? Are you planning to write in any other genre?

This is sort of a carry-over from above. I love the romance genre and tend to write romance. I’ve started some crossover stories though. My current WIP is a time travel, a first for me. Also, under a pen name, I’m writing erotic romance. Okay, technically still in the romance genre. I guess I’m hooked! I’d love to write crime or a detective story, but, you know, the last time I tried writing outside my normal box, the characters fell in love!

You’re obviously a real romantic!

What is the most difficult part about starting a new book?

Finding the time to actually write. These days with our new company, finding time to write has been challenging. Doesn’t mean the ideas aren’t still floating around in my head, or that I haven’t written pages of outline for that magic time when I can actually write. They are, and I do. Fortunately, as the company grows, we’re able to bring in more help which, in theory, is meant to free up some 'me time'.

Do you have a favourite writing place?

It really doesn’t matter where I write. Once I get going, I go inside myself. My only requirement is that it be quiet. No dogs throwing toys at me, no phones ringing, no music on in the background. Just quiet time so I can concentrate. When I was younger, I enjoyed having background noise, but not these days. Ask me about my favorite research places next time :)

Oh, sounds intriguing!

How do you promote your books and does it work?

Promotion is tricky. There’s no single thing that’s guaranteed to attract readers into buying books. I do the usual things, like blogging, interviews, getting reviews, etc. But times are quickly changing, so I have to change with them. The new ‘big thing’ is coming from listing services which send members free daily newsletters with recommendations. The author/publisher pays for those listings. This is a new avenue for me, so I’m giving it a try. I’ve seen many well known authors’ books on these lists, so why not mine too?

The most important thing is word of mouth. It only takes a small handful of readers who love your work to tell all their friends about it. I think what works consistently, is just being consistent with promotions, and I try not getting discouraged when the returns are low.
 
I know the feeling!

Do you find time for hobbies?

9-11pm. Nightly. I usually work 9am to 9pm - 9pm is rubbish telly and knitting time for me. Sometimes also referred to as rubbish knitting and telly time. Lol

I love watching TV at night too, but I don't knit!

What are your current writing plans?

I need to find that illusive 'me time', as I have several stories percolating in my head. It’s one thing to have voices in your head. I’m just afraid one day they’re going to come out and it won’t be to go down on paper! I have that time travel WIP to finish, and I’m behind on a couple erotic romances that are long overdue. And, of course, there’s that drawer full of old manuscripts I could pull out and work on. One day.

What made you go into the publishing business and does it curtail your own writing?

We’d thought a few times of getting involved in the publishing business. I’ve worked in various aspects of the book business for more than 20 years, and the hubs has a great mind for figures and technical things. We had an opportunity to buy a small press about 15 years ago when the partnership was breaking up, but ended up not, as one of the partners thought she could keep things alive. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

A couple years ago, I got the rights back to some previously published work and thought to self-publish them. They were only short stories, but would have been a good experiment. We already had the company set up for when I was writing travel articles, so I used it to publish my own stuff. Funnily enough, I got a couple submissions without advertising. The hubs and I talked about it and decided to try another experiment. So we invited a handful of authors I knew to submit something. The rest, as they say, is history. We’ve just entered into our third year doing business and it’s going great.

To answer your second question, YES. I tend to work twelve hour days, mostly six days a week. Seven days if there’s something extra going on. Working those kinds of hours makes it very hard to write my own stuff. After being at the computer all day, the last thing I want is to sit here in the evening. Sometimes, I just can’t get my fingers to click one more key. Oddly though, knitting doesn’t seem to be a challenge! I do schedule time off during the year—the holidays and the midseason break—but my brain has other ideas. As soon as it’s ‘down pencils’ in the office, my brain shuts off and doesn’t let me write. Much. I may have to go back to the old pencil and paper, and relearn the art of handwriting!

Tirgearr is a great publishing company and very friendly towards writers!

Any tips for new writers?

Oh, yes, and this is very important. Soapbox time for me J

You must treat writing like a business if you want to publish.

If you’re a hobby writer, write for yourself and be happy that’s what you’re doing. If you write to publish, then you must—must— treat it like a business. Your book is your product. If you don’t promote it regularly and consistently, it’s going to sit on the shelf collecting dust. And that can be one of the most discouraging things for any writer.

Consider this—you spend months, maybe years, planning to open a shop. You find a great location, fill the space with incredible merchandise, design a wonderful shop exterior, then place some ads. Opening day comes and you’re so excited. Loads of people come in, but no one is buying.

Do you close the shop?

Of course not. You stay open, because this was your dream. Even though no one buys anything the first few days, or weeks, you need to keep promoting. Maybe that next ad campaign will be ‘the one’ that brings in the buying public. Or maybe you get just one customer who comes in and buys something, then goes home and tell some of their friends, “Have you seen the new shop in the town? You must go in. They have that thing you were looking for . . .” or whatever the reason. Those people come in, buy something, and they go home and tell more of their friends. Eventually, the shop will be full of people. And it happens because you don’t give up, but also because you consistently promote.

Most writers I know hate talking about themselves. They prefer to bury themselves in their writing and let someone else handle promotions. That’s fine, but hire a professional if you can’t or won’t do it yourself. If you can’t afford it, then learn the art of self-promotion, and discover the outgoing side of yourself.

Having a business is very hard work. It’s not for the faint of heart. And you must realize, if you treat publishing like any business, the first three to five years are the make-or-break years. To make it takes hard work. Like working twelve to fifteen hour days, six and seven days a week.

And remember, only one in a million writers will be the next JK Rowling or the next EL James. For the rest of us, we must promote and market. Even when it means spending money. However one promotes, it must be consistent. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Just don’t give up.

Nothing good worth having is appreciated when it’s given to us. We appreciate it more when we work hard to obtain it.

Thanks so much, Romy for having me on your blog today.

Thank you, Kemberlee, for such great advice!

Kemberlee’s other two books in the Irish Pride series have been reissued with these lovely new covers.
 
Rhythm of My Heart
Irish Pride Series, book 1

Artist Representative, Eilis Kennedy, gave up a singing career so that other women could have a fair chance at having their music heard. Having suffered rejection from callous men in the industry, she thought she would get away from ‘casting couch’ mentality. But when she finds herself in the office of Fergus Manley, all bets are off. Disgusted by his continual come-ons and lewd invitations, Eilis is looking for ‘the one’ who will take her career to the next level, getting out from under Fergus’s controlling thumb.

Aspiring blues guitarist, Kieran Vaughan, is looking for his big break. But after suffering near bankruptcy at the hands of an unscrupulous business partner, Kieran is left picking up the pieces. He’s unsure if the debts will ever be paid or if he’ll ever have a chance to do something with his music. At his wit’s end, he’s about ready to throw in the towel and find a full-time job with real hours.

When Eilis discovers Kieran playing in a seedy pub in Dublin’s Northside, she knows he’s the one rare talent she’s been searching for. With her know-how and his talent, Eilis will finally get everything she’s been waiting for. Neither of them count on the powerful attraction from first meeting. Eilis is so rocked by Keiran’s forthright words that it sends her running. Kieran risks being arrested as he chases Eilis across Ireland.

Seeing what’s happening between Eilis and Kieran, anger wells inside Fergus and he steps up his pursuit of Eilis. Refusing to let Kieran get in his way, Fergus vows to add Eilis’s notch to his bedpost, whatever it takes.

Will Kieran be able to protect her?

Rhythm of my Heart is available in all e-formats including Amazon kindle from Tirgearr Publishing

A Piece of My Heart
Irish Pride Series, book 2

Mick and Kate thought they were falling in love. Kate hadn't been just the girl next door. She'd been Mick's life, and he hers. When an unforeseen force draws them apart they're left with wounds that refuse to heal. Now, ten years on, Mick's father's will should have been straightforward, except his addendum was like ice water in Mick's face.

It's essential that Mick and Kate work together to save his family's farm. Mick doesn't count on his new manager being accused of murder, and Kate doesn't expect a dangerously seductive woman from Dublin to claim Mick is the father of her child.

Kate thought she was falling in love with Mick all over again; however this newest revelation is too much for her. She is determined to finally say goodbye to her childhood sweetheart forever, but Mick has other plans for Kate's future. And none of them involve goodbye.

A Piece of my Heart is available in print and all e-formats including Amazon kindle from Tirgearr Publishing

The great news is that all three e-books are on a special offer of only 99c/£0.77 each in April!

Kemberlee Shortland is a native Northern Californian who was raised in a community known as Steinbeck Country, home to author John Steinbeck, as well as Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others. With so much literary influence around her, it's not hard to see why Kemberlee fell in love with the printed word.

It was in 1997 while employed by Clint Eastwood that Kemberlee couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend six months in Ireland. While in Ireland, she met a man who eventually became her husband.
Living in Ireland has allowed Kemberlee to study the country's torrid past and unique culture first hand, and has even picked up a cúpla focal . . . a few Irish words.
In recent years, Kemberlee had published several short stories and novels, including the popular Irish Pride Series.
Kemberlee's current work in progress is a time travel romance called The Diary.
You can connect with Kemberlee on her Website; Facebook; Twitter; Tirgearr Publishing
 
 
 
 

Monday, 14 April 2014

More Clearing Out

 
Does anyone keep old hard copies of their unpublished manuscripts? I ask because one of my shelves was groaning under the weight of several heavy folders containing far too many as yet unpublished short stories, articles, poetry and just about every other kind of writing I've ever attempted. I suddenly wondered why on earth I was cluttering up the room with so much dust-attracting paper.

Anyway, in between having a short walk with husband at one of my favourite little places on Loch Lomond over the weekend (between rain showers), I've been filling up the recycling bin. It's been a great opportunity to go through all the various versions of some pieces on the computer files and get rid of the oldest. And I'm making sure to back up everything on two different memory sticks!

Hopefully, at the end of this tearing up frenzy I'll be able to start actually rewriting anything that has possibilities. Must say, it's not just the shelves that feel a lot lighter! Maybe I'll get round to sorting the photos next.

Rosemary

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Facebook Fun with Tween and YA Authors

 
If anyone enjoys reading tween and YA books, or has young people who do, then you might like to drop by the MuseItUp Publishing event on Facebook from today, 10th April until next Thursday 17th: https://www.facebook.com/events/224006297795748/#

Some of the tween/YA authors are sharing recipes and information on background, settings and characters from their books. I'm sure there will be a few give-aways, the winners chosen from those leaving comments over the week.

My two tween books, Summer of the Eagles and The Jigsaw Puzzle are published with MuseItUp and I'll be joining in the fun over the next few days, where you can win a download of either book.

Rosemary (or Ros for these books!)

Monday, 7 April 2014

Let the Spring Cleaning Begin

 
Despite the awful weather we're having, in between fleeting spots of sunshine (blink and you'll miss it), I seem to be in spring cleaning and clearing out mode. Maybe it's my new form of procrastination, or I'm hyper from the large milk chocolate Easter egg my friend gave me - what you didn't think it would last until Easter did you? Whatever the reason, I've been making inroads into the ridiculous number of books lining my long work room from top to bottom right along one wall. And there are more books in the other room. Husband is overjoyed I've taken the initiative at last.

I kept thinking I could never decide which to keep and which must go but it's been a bit easier to part with some of them, especially those enormous tomes I can hardly even lift, and never get around to opening these days. I've refused to get rid of my OU study material and books and I'm compromising on the number of paperbacks I keep. It helps that those with too small writing have to go - I have good close-up sight without the need for specs but can't be bothered making the effort to read tiny writing now when I can get them on the e-reader.


Some books need to stay, however, and we all have old favourites that are irreplaceable. Mine include the several old Bunty and Judy annuals and an assortment of other children's books. Then there are all the wonderful old reference and history books that are a pleasure to use for research since most are illustrated. So far, only one tall bookcase from the nine is almost emptied - if I can find space for the row of cookery books I can't part with. Not because I use them all, but some have been with me all through marriage and other newer recipe books call hopefully to me every now and then.

Today, it's back to spring cleaning the writing as well. I've been sending out lots of poetry this year (my first type of writing many moons ago) and having some success, which is making me look at the whole file I've gathered over the years. Then it's the articles - have had great success with those over the years, so three more are away at the moment. Several short stories have been rewritten and sent on their way, with more to finish or rewrite. Two younger children's stories are out and another is almost ready to send and I've a new middle grade novel to finish. My new novella, The Adonis Touch, is due for publication in late May and I'm waiting for the edits to arrive any day now, and I'm trying to finish a contemporary novel before getting on with the Victorian crime novel.

You might see me online every now and then, if I haven't suffocated under the weight and dust of the books still to be gone through!

Rosemary

Monday, 31 March 2014

Inspiring Writing Books

I still have far too many writing books on my shelves, many of which date to when I first started writing and most of which remain largely unread. I've already given away several over the years and I expect a few more can go at some point. Apart from Stephen King's On Writing (which is still with daughter!), there is one print book that will always have a place on my shelf and in my heart - Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande.


Becoming a Writer

Dorothea Brande's famous book, first published in 1934, has stood the test of time and was greatly influential in making me begin to think like a writer. Both inspirational and practical, her psychological approach to being a writer and her methods have been copied and modernised by others over the years, but Brande's book is still one I like to dip into now and then. I'm still trying to follow her advice to harness the unconscious and to write anything at all before starting the day properly.

Two very different e-books have come to my attention recently and I downloaded both as I was intrigued by their premise - and promise! I've dipped into them and certainly intend reading from start to finish as I can see they will be very useful in helping me move on with novels in a more organised fashion (hopefully).

Write your Novel from the Middle

Written by James Scott Bell, Write Your Novel from the Middle promises a new approach for pantsters and plotters. So far, it's making sense and I'm aiming to put some of his ideas into action to help me move on with my current novel. I like the fact it applies to every kind of writer and the examples he uses from books and films appear to bear out his theory.

2K to 10K

The title of this e-book, 2000 to 10000 (or 2K to 10K) by Rachel Aaron, was intriguing enough to make me download it and I had previously read a little of Rachel's discovery on her blog. Subtitled 'How to write faster, write better and more of what you love' grabbed me at once and the reviews are good on Amazon. The figures in the title depict the increase in Rachel's output once she followed a certain way of working and of approaching her writing. Even the couple of chapters I've read have made me reassess a few things and I look forward to reading it right through.

I'm sure all writers have their favourite 'go-to' books when needing inspiration and there are countless numbers of them these days. Normally, I can't be bothered reading more than a few chapters, if that, but these two e-books contain ideas I haven't come across before. Must admit, this is when I like a print book - nothing beats marking a page when wanting to return to a specific point, but e-books have the advantage of being more affordable!

Do you have a favourite writing book you'll always keep?

Rosemary

Monday, 24 March 2014

Inspiring Writing Conference

Well, it's all over for another year - the Scottish Association of Writers weekend conference. We had a fabulous new venue, at a hotel and conference centre just north of Glasgow in the countryside, where members of writing groups from all over Scotland renewed old acquaintances and made new friends.

Taking part in the Sketch
It was a full-on weekend from dinner on the Friday to departure on the Sunday afternoon and I wasn't the only one coming home exhausted! I did adjudicate the Romance Novel comp this year, delivering the results after the dinner, then gave a workshop on the Saturday. I'm pretty sure the lovely winning novel I chose will find a publisher. I also took part in a friend's powerful, winning sketch on the Sunday about two Romanian sisters and the awful choice my character had to make. Then there was all the chatting and eating in between the work. I was delighted when daughter Vikki was third in the poetry competition, judged by Nalini Paul, from over 60 entries.

We had two interesting after dinner speakers this year, in Allan Guthrie and Jean Rafferty, and some great adjudicators and speakers. It was a pleasure to chat to Shirley Blair, commissioning editor of The People's Friend at the welcome drinks for judges and speakers. Poor Shirley had a record number of short stories to judge and critique in the Women's Short Story Competition and her workshop on the Saturday was overflowing - as you might expect! But she stayed the whole weekend and was charming throughout.

One of the best innovations this year was the final session - the Dragon's Pen. Eight finalists had to deliver their three minute pitch for a book to a panel of three publishers: Allan Guthrie from Blasted Heath, Sara Hunt from Saraband and Jan Mullen from Black and White Publishing. The quality of the pitches and proposed books were superb and it's no wonder the panel had difficulty choosing. We all reckon at least one of those books will soon be published.

Now it's catching up time and looking forward to another year. The conference is a major calendar event here as it offers so many opportunities for writers to share and learn from each other, as well as newer writers receiving written critiques for their precious work. This was where I got my first break many moons ago, after winning the short story competition judged by the late Ian Sommerville of My Weekly who then published the story. Many have gone on to become novelists and some are household names. So if you get the chance to go to writing conferences, I'd thoroughly recommend it.

Rosemary

Monday, 17 March 2014

Travel Inspiration: Cobh in Ireland

In acknowledgement of St Patrick's Day, and the fact I had Irish grandparents, I thought I'd post a couple of photos from a visit to Ireland a few years ago. Cobh was one of our favourite stops.


A pretty fishing and harbour town, the most impressive sight on the approach to Cobh is the 19th century Gothic St Colman’s Cathedral which sits on the hill overlooking the harbour. Situated on the Great Island near Cork, the harbour town of Cobh has links with many famous ships, including the ill-fated Titanic.

Developed during the eighteenth century, when the natural harbour was used to assemble the fleets during the Napoleonic wars, Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’) became a health resort during Victorian times. In honour of Queen Victoria’s visit to the town in 1849, Cobh was renamed Queenstown and thus it remained until it reverted to its Irish name in 1920.
 
Refugees
Cobh was in an ideal position for Irish emigrants who wanted to escape their poverty and sail to the new world across the Atlantic, in hope of a better life in America. The terrible potato famines between 1845 and the 1851 left many unable to survive and, during this period, over 1,500,000 Irish people emigrated to America. It was also one of the great ports for transatlantic liners at the turn of the 20th century.
 
These days, Cobh provides a lovely walk along the sea front with an art gallery at one end and Heritage Centre at the other where you can learn about its interesting history. I'd love to go back and explore this pretty, colourful harbour town again one day.
 
If anyone is inspired by their travels, you could try entering the Telegraph 'Just Back' travel competition.
 
Rosemary
 
 

Monday, 10 March 2014

A Very Good Writing Lesson

Arrival of the Entries
 
For the past couple of months, I've been enjoying reading all the novels that I was honoured to adjudicate for the Scottish Association of Writers' Pitlochry Award - for a Romance Novel this year. Entries had to be between 10,000 and 15,000 words plus a synopsis, so there have been lots of lovely words and an interesting mix of themes and ideas.

I won't say anything about the novels themselves as I have to deliver my thoughts and results at the conference in a couple of weeks time, as well as provide a written critique for every entry. That has been an absolute privilege - I've only done this for short stories and articles until now. It reminded me how much I appreciated the detailed written critiques from the RNA New Writers' Scheme some years ago, when I was starting out as a novelist, and I've tried to be honestly constructive as well as encouraging and helpful. It remains to be seen if I succeeded!

An added advantage of reading other writers' work so closely is the fact it reminds me of what makes a reader want to read on, the kind of repetitions we all are guilty of to some degree but tend not to see in our own work, and how to make the best use of our wonderful language. For me, it's also been a valuable reminder about writing for a particular genre, so hopefully the entrants will agree with most of my comments.

Talking about repetition in general (and not the competition) - one word that many of us use to distraction is very. I'm very guilty of this - see, I hadn't even registered I was using it just now! If this is one of your bugbears, you might find this article on '45 Ways to Avoid Using the Word 'Very' extremely useful! Think I need to print it out and keep it beside me at all times.

What's your most repetitive word?

Rosemary

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Featured Author: Paula Martin

It’s a pleasure to welcome again to the Reading and Writing blog British author Paula Martin, whose novels I thoroughly enjoy for their modern romance, characterisation and authentic settings. Her new novel, Irish Inheritance, is now released and Paula kindly agreed to share some of the inspiration behind this story.

It’s lovely to host you again, Paula. First a little about the novel.

Irish Inheritance

English actress Jenna Sutton and American artist Guy Sinclair first meet when they jointly inherit a house on the west coast of Ireland. Curious about their unknown benefactress and why they are considered as ‘family’, they discover some surprising links to the original owners of the house.

With the help of local descendants, they unravel an intriguing tale of a nineteenth century love affair. At the same time, their mutual attraction grows, even though they each have personal reasons for not wanting any romantic involvement at this point in their lives.

Problems arise when a local property agent appears to have her own agenda concerning the house. Other events pull them back to their separate lives in London and America, and friction builds between them over their decision about the house and its contents.


Will their Irish inheritance eventually drive them apart — or bring them together?

Irish Inheritance is available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon USA, Amazon UK and Smashwords (for other e-readers, or for download to a PC)

Inspiration Behind the Story

About eighteen months ago, I found an article online about a Paris apartment that had been abandoned in 1939, when the owner fled to the south of France at the outbreak of war. She continued to pay the rent, but never returned to the apartment. When she died, in her nineties, in 2010, the executors of her will entered the apartment – and stepped back in time. The apartment, under a thick layer of dust, was exactly as it had been left seventy years earlier, with furniture dating from the late 19th century, and other personal items. The most stunning item was a portrait – and research eventually proved this to be the owner’s grandmother, a French actress. It was painted by an Italian artist in 1898, and a love note found in the apartment suggested he had been having an affair with the actress.

I saved the article because somehow I knew there was the basis of a novel here. Maybe you could call this an inspiration; I tend to think of it more as an itch at the back of my mind that won’t go away! I played around with a few ideas as I scratched that itch. An apartment in Paris was tempting, but I’d already used Paris as a location in two of my novels, so where else? The English Lake District maybe? Again, I’ve already used that location. Then the real inspiration struck. Ireland!

Connemara
 
I’ve been to Ireland about ten times in the last 6 or 7 years, and love the country, the scenery, and the people, but I’d never set a novel there. It didn’t take me long to decide exactly where in Ireland to set the story. Connemara, in the west of County Galway, is one of my favourite areas of Ireland, combining wild mountain countryside with the inlets, bays, and islands of the Atlantic coast. So the ‘Paris apartment’ became a house near the small town of Clifden on the west coast.

The article also inspired the 19th century characters in the novel: the French actress became an English actress, and the Italian became an American artist, and I decided to mirror them in my contemporary characters, who are also an actress and an artist. Once I had my setting and characters, it was time for all the ‘what if…?’ questions that run through my mind as I work out what I think might be the basic outline of the story. I don’t do any detailed plotting, but allow my characters to become my inspiration as I start writing about them.

When I first began this story, I had no idea that a local property agent would have her own ‘agenda’ about the house, or that Jenna and Guy would travel across Ireland to meet with someone who could give them more information about their family history. Maybe that was Ireland inspiring me again, because I enjoyed taking them to visit many of the places I’ve also seen – Galway Bay, the Cliffs of Moher, the Wicklow Mountains, and of course Dublin.

I was delighted when one of my American readers, whose grandfather came from County Galway, said, “Couldn't put it down. Loved your description of the scenery and points of interest in Ireland. That's a tour I wish I could take but won't ever get to make. At least I saw it through your eyes.”

By the way, here’s the link to the article about the Paris apartment, if you want to read more details:


Thanks for that fascinating insight into your inspiration, Paula. I can’t wait to read Irish Inheritance now!

 
Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons. She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
 
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.
 
You can connect with Paula on her Website, Blog and Amazon Author Page

 

Monday, 3 March 2014

London Interlude

We just came back from a lovely three day visit to London last night. I was shortlisted in the recent Holland Park Press poetry competition and invited to read my poem at their results evening. So we decided to turn it into a short break since we don't head that far south very often. Since husband was coming with me, we stayed at a more up-market hotel than I originally imagined near to Kensington Gardens, which I wanted to explore. But the Royal Garden was worth every penny, especially since we got a good deal, and it added to our enjoyment.

Kensington Palace
It was a pleasant experience on the Friday evening, reading my poem out to the appreciative  audience and listening to all the shortlisted poems. One of the judges explained they had received 456 entries from all over the world and there were eleven of us shortlisted for the poem in English prize and six for the Dutch prize. I was very honoured to be included in the shortlist and wasn't at all surprised not to win, especially after hearing the other poems! An American girl was the deserved winner.

One of the great things about such events is the chance to meet other writers and hear the standard of writing around. As with reading short stories if writing them, it's very valuable to hear poems read aloud. It was lovely to meet the publisher and judges too and I was told to choose one of their poetry books as a gift. So I am now the proud owner of a sturdy paperback collection of poems, To Sing Away the Darkest Days, by the main judge, Norbert Hirschhorn, who was away on a poetry reading tour.
Peter Pan
On the Saturday, we exhausted ourselves by walking through the whole of Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, right up to Oxford Street. I adore the London parks and we didn't want to miss the chance to walk in the unexpected sunshine. My main goal in the Gardens was to see the statue of Peter Pan and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I thought it stunning as I particularly like sculpture and didn't realised it had such wonderful detail. Hyde Park was another revelation as it was packed full of wildlife along the Serpentine.



We kept walking on up to Oxford Street so I could visit Selfridges as I've been enjoying the TV programme, although I had to use my imagination a lot! I don't do any shopping at all (and didn't want to), but we had a lovely lunch there. We couldn't wait to get back to the peaceful parks again, away from the noise and busyness of town. so we walked all the way back, via the Royal Albert Hall and a few of the museums. We reckoned we deserved the delicious dinner in the fabulous French restaurant we discovered that evening quite near the hotel.

As the train home wasn't until yesterday afternoon, we spent a leisurely morning walking (again!) to the Victoria and Albert Museum where we added stairs to the exercise. Thank goodness for a wonderful, relaxing train journey all the way up to Glasgow! As I've said before, it's great to get out and about and visit new places, as it certainly stimulates this writer's imagination and always inspires me with ideas for some kind of new writing. Now it's back to reality and finishing those adjudications before my next gallivanting weekend at the annual Scottish writers conference.

Rosemary