Escape to the Country
Leah is accused of a crime she didn't commit. Dumped by Adam, the man she planned to marry, she escapes to Aunt Jayne's smallholding in the Kent village of Winkleigh Marsh. Heartbroken and homeless, she strives to clear her name and deal with her emotions.
Jayne treats Leah's unhappiness with herbal remedies, cowslip wine and common sense in equal measure. In return Leah works hard for the delicious home-cooked meals they share. She wrestles with sheep, breaks nails and gets stuck in the mud - learning as much about herself as she does about farming. Soon Leah is happy milking cows, mucking out pigs and falling halfway in love with Duncan, a dishy tractor driver.
Back in London, steps are being taken to investigate what's happened to the missing money. It looks as though the real embezzler must soon be unmasked and Leah will have to chose between resuming her old life or starting a new one.
That's when her problems really start.
This is your first published novel, is it the first one you wrote? And do you have others in your bottom drawer? Or computer file!
It's the third one I've finished. The first will stay on computer quite a while longer, I suspect! The second is another light hearted romance. I'm currently giving that another polish before trying to get it published. I've also done most of the first draft of yet another romance.
You’re a well-published and popular short story writer. How did you find the transition to writing a full length work?
It was a gradual process. I began a short story that I couldn't seem to end. After a while I stopped trying to keep it short and turned it into a novel. I like it but I'm yet to find a publisher who feels the same way. The next time I had a story idea that seemed like it could fill a novel sized gap I did a bit of planning, including deciding on a genre (romance) and an ending.
I think that writing novels is in some ways easier than short stories. Although it's still important to stick to the storyline there's a lot more scope for adding in all those interesting little details or twists and turns I always have to cut out of short stories. There's no need to decide between short stories and novels though; I still write both.
Had you tried to get this book published before winning the competition?
Yes, twice. First to a publisher who was quite positive about my writing but felt this story wasn't right for them. I also tried an agency and was told they weren't taking new clients (despite their website giving submission details - grrr). I'd previously tried to get an agent for my other novels and never got anything other than a standard reject (sometimes not even that) and had begun to lose heart a little.
How are you finding the whole launch and marketing of your book? Is it more difficult than you imagined?
I don't know if difficult is the right word, but it's more time consuming than I'd anticipated. As a new novelist contracted to a small publishers I didn't expect to have a massive launch party and huge advertising campaign so it wasn't a shock to find marketing is mostly done online and through local press. If anyone would like to assist in this, I've been assured that a few good reviews on Amazon will make a big difference!
Do you miss living the country life?
Sometimes I think I do, then I go back to the farm and pick my way through the mud looking for my dad who's always busy doing something involving hard work. I like looking at the cute calves without having got up in the night to attend their birth or feeding the sheep once a year instead of every single day regardless of the weather.
Tell us one fun fact about yourself.
There are no facts - I'm a fiction writer! (A fun answer)
Are you going to concentrate on contemporary novels, or is there another genre you’d like to tackle?
I'll probably stick to the same kind of style, but if I got an idea I really liked that happened to be a different genre I'd give it a go.
Do you have any encouraging tips for new writers?
Read a lot and write a lot. Get feedback - always listen to this but only change your work if you're sure the change is one you want to make and that it will improve your writing. Feedback can come from a writing tutor or other professional or from writing group, either one you physically attend or online. Do these three things and you're bound to improve.
Remember, no one was born a published writer. Every writer had to learn to spell and where to put punctuation marks and all the rest of it. As far as I know all published writers have at some time had work rejected - if JK Rowling had given up after her 14th reject we'd never have heard of Harry Potter.
Patsy Collins lives on the south coast of England, with her fiance. Over 150 of her stories have been published in a range of British, Irish, South African and Australian magazines including Woman’s Weekly, Take a Break's Fiction Feast, The Weekly News, Woman’s Day, That's Life! and My Weekly. Patsy maintains a blog where she gives details of free to enter writing competitions, rambles on about writing, gardening, cakes, and other random stuff that interests her. She'd love you to visit and perhaps share your thoughts on these important matters.
Patsy entered Creative Print Publishing's monthly competition after featuring it on her blog and encouraging other writers to have a go. She decided to follow her advice and when she was informed her story, Escape to the Country had beaten over 600 other novels, she was very pleased she did. Patsy likes to research her stories thoroughly, so before writing this story she lived on a small farm for 26 years and learned to milk cows, drive tractors and deliver calves just as her main character Leah does. She also tried getting rescued from mud by handsome strangers, but was less successful at that.