Mandy's Musings

Mandy's Musings

Saturday, 16 May 2015

How Many Words Did You Write Today?

At the beginning of the week I decided that I would write a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. I used to write at least twice that and sometimes more, but hell and high water have featured more than I would like in my life lately, so I thought I'd cut myself some slack. Now, when I say hell and high water, I don't want you to worry. I don't have a life-threatening illness or anything like that, just lots of little things keep going wrong and some big ones too. Things to do with my aged parents, problems with material things we own such as our old car, disappointment regarding finding a home for my latest book, that kind of thing. Anyway, things conspired against my thousand words a day and so I managed only three and a bit ( thousand of course, not single words) since Monday.

This morning I decided I would do those thousand words, but so far have only managed one hundred and thirty-two, but I have decided it doesn't matter. They are the first words of chapter six and I think they are pretty good words. I expect they might get swapped around, deleted or changed in some way, but I am happy with them. Isn't that what matters? Surely to have a few words that you are happy with is better than having lots of words that are just okay. Anyway, I thought I would share my one hundred and thirty-two words with you. Hope you like them too.

July dawns were like notes of hope, reminding the days to be bright, fresh and summery.
 Sometimes the days forgot to read the notes or preferred to sit under rainclouds or hemmed in by thick walls of pollution, but sometimes they paid attention. Today was a note reading day. Jo watched from her window as the muted dawn-light revealed the purple shadows and sages of her garden as a base coat, gradually allowing the bolder brushstrokes of sunlight to transform the canvas into a kaleidoscope of dazzling colour. In corner barrels, lupins boasted pink and blue, in hanging baskets, yellow primroses glowed under the blush of red geraniums, and in the foreground, the huge white rose bush Mum had loved so much held a myriad of dew-covered buds, pregnant with fragrance.


Friday, 3 April 2015

Mandy’s Lovely Blog Hop

My fellow writer and friend,  Liv Thomas tagged me in – My Lovely Blog Hop – to talk about some of the things that have shaped my life and writing.  It is a great way to discover new blogs too.

First memory

I have a few, but one that is most vivid is a holiday in Cornwall when I was four. We stayed in Looe, in a rickety old chalet on top of a cliff and my older brother Martin and I would run down a sandy path to play on the beach every day. When it was time for breakfast, Mum would wave a red towel from the window and we’d run back up. I thought that was very exciting. On the same holiday we walked around the harbour and saw sharks hanging on hooks by a fishing boat. There was a sign saying – Please do not touch the sharks as their skin is rough, or something like that anyway. I decided I’d test that theory and grazed my finger.  There was something about Cornwall that thrilled me even at the age of four and it stayed with me ever since. I live there now.

Books

Like many people of my age I grew up with Enid Blyton. Not literally of course. She was much older than me and came from a different background. But I did read all her  Famous Five books and the Malory Towers ones. They were set in a boarding school for girls in Cornwall. Perhaps these books reinforced my love of Cornwall. My brother bought me a copy of The Lord of The Rings when I was thirteen and I devoured it. I was totally swept away in the adventure and derring-do. I can’t remember if I read The Hobbit first, I think I did, and later I tried The Silmarillion but was defeated a few chapters in. Perhaps I should try it again now I’m a bit older. As a young adult I read Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Koontz remains one of my favourite authors and he’s a lovely man too. He actually found the time to answer my letters when I wrote to tell him he’d inspired me to have a go at writing my own novel. This man has sold over 450 million books, but he still found the time to write to me in his own handwriting.  I treasure those letters.

Libraries

I love the smell of a library and the little cardboard tickets. I know they don’t have little cardboard tickets nowadays, but when I was a kid they did. I always felt calm browsing the rows of books and saw it as a place to relax and take my time. When I was a student the library was a necessity really rather than a place of relaxation, as there always seemed to be a deadline to meet, and latterly I haven’t really used the library. I know. That is really bad and I must get it sorted. Libraries are treasure troves and must be protected.

What’s your passion?

Writing and walking by the sea on the cliff paths around the Cornish coast. I get lots of writing ideas when I’m by the ocean.



Learning

I left school at 16 and couldn’t wait to get out of there. I hated school mostly apart from the social side of things. I didn’t like being told what to do and when to do it – still don’t. The only subjects I liked were English and History. The teachers of those subjects were great, which of course made all the difference to my enjoyment of the lessons. I left school with a Grade 1 CSE in both of these subjects – the equivalent of a C at GCSE nowadays. The rest of my grades were pitiful. I wanted to be a hairdresser until I actually became one. Enough said about that the better. I then worked in a factory until I got married at the age of 18 and had my daughter aged 19. Life has a funny way of turning full circle though and by the time I was 30 I was back at school – this time as a teacher. It would take too long to explain how I came to do A’ levels, a degree and a PGCE, but I did and ended up teaching history for 17 years.

Writing

When I was eight I asked my parents if I could have a petite typewriter for Christmas. Once I got it I never looked back. I wrote poems, songs and short stories which I would read to friends and family. They said they enjoyed them ... I never stopped writing after that. All time I was teaching a little flame of hope flickered at the back of my mind that I would write on day. I never really believed I would be published though. It was still a massive achievement for me to have become a teacher, let alone a writer. I wrote my first novel in 2001 and I eventually had a novel published in 2012. I now have five novels published and a further four waiting in the wings.


I hope you enjoyed reading this blog hop as much as I did writing it, and now I pass the baton on to my friend and writer KellyFlorentia. She will post her blog on Wednesday 8th April.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Sharon Goodwin Writes a Fantastic Review for Cross Stitch!

I would like to thank Sharon Goodwin for her brilliant review of my second time travel book - Cross Stitch. Sharon reviews so many authors and I am honoured to have such high praise for my novel. Her wonderful blog can be found here. The review is below. At the end are links to both Cross Stitch and A Stitch in Time :)

Cross Stitch is the sequel to A Stitch in Time  and while there is some backstory in Cross Stitch, to experience the uniqueness of the plot I would recommend you also read A Stitch in Time.

Usually receiving a warning before travelling in time, on her wedding day Sarah receives no warning at all.  This isn’t the only thing that is different (but I can’t say why – no spoilers!).

While those at home are very concerned, Sarah has travelled back to 1939 and Veronica Roth. 

Veronica plays a key part in the story.  I really enjoyed her character development … we see her grow from lack of confidence and fear into quite a spectacular woman.  Telling lies to get into the school where Sarah teaches results in mayhem in the classroom … and this isn’t the only chaos she causes in Sarah’s life!

One of the choices that Sarah makes causes John to be angry (yes easy going John can be a monster when he’s fighting for what he believes in) and their relationship hits a rocky time.  I agreed with both their opposing views so wouldn’t have made a good mediator, unlike John’s dad Harry.

It’s not only their relationship under the spotlight in Cross Stitch, two more important people share a surprise too.  The banter had me grinning.

There’s intrigue with John’s sister Lucy and her husband Corbin.  I loved how this fitted in with the plot.

Totally involved with this story, I read it quickly - I couldn’t wait to see where Sarah would go next, the purpose of her being there or even if she would come back. 

I loved the idea of the ‘Cross Stitch’ and how unpredictable time travel was (and the reason behind it!).  It’s hard to write a review where you really want to share something but you know that if you do, you’ll give a spoiler …

Tension from the challenges faced on the time travel journeys, friendship, family and romance have made this a totally absorbing read for me.

Highly recommended if you like your romances with something different!
 
Amanda James, you are a genius :)




I would like to thank the publishers for providing a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 8 December 2014

Cross Stitch Release Day!

So excited to announce that Cross Stitch, sequel to A Stitch in Time is released today! 


Fans of  Stitch in Time will be happy that Sarah Yates will once again be up to her time travelling antics, despite the fact that she really only wants a quite life and to settle down with her true love John Needler. The past year has seen Sarah whisked away to 1913 London and the suffragette movement, 1940 Sheffield during the Blitz , 1876 Kansas to a grasshopper plague and finally to 1928 London and possibly the biggest medical discovery of the modern world. So ... Sarah figures she’s due some normality at last and is overjoyed that it is her wedding day.

However, Sarah and normality don’t often spend much time together, and on that day of all days she is once again hurled back in time to 1939. And if this isn’t enough, once there, she gets entangled with a very disagreeable creature – Veronica Ratchet, an ‘old school’ school teacher who seems extremely reluctant to disentangle herself from Sarah’s life.
The meeting with Ratchet leads to more adventures, thrills and spills than Sarah can shake a stick at. It is exactly what she doesn’t want and about as far away from normal as you can get. No, actually ... Ratchet and the 1970s Punk Rock era is just that bit further.


I so enjoyed writing this book, and I hope you will enjoy reading it. 




Cross Stitch can be found here and A Stitch in Time here.




Monday, 9 June 2014

Meeting My Main Character Blog Hop

Thanks to the very marvellous Chris Stovell for passing the baton on to me. You can read all about Chris's main character, May, in her latest book Follow a Star which came out last week! I have a real live copy sitting on my table and can't wait to get my teeth into it.  Of course I don't mean literally, what do you take me for? No, don't answer that ... right where was I? Oh yes, you can meet Chris and May here.

Writers like to burble on about their main characters and I am no exception. So without further ado, here goes. Actually there is one further ado. I need to tell you the title of my latest book and show you a picture of the cover. Here it is.



Actually the title is on the cover so I don't need to tell you it. Clever, eh? Okay let's get cracking...

What is the name of the main character? Is she real or fictitious? 

Her name is Karen Ainsworth, but she might also have another name that I can't divulge here as it would spoil the surprise. And given that she is in a novel, I think it's a safe bet that she's not real. Having said, that she's real enough to me. She has bits of me in her,( not internal organs, but character) and bits of other people who I may, or may not have met. 

When and where is the story set?

It is set in the present and in Cornwall not far from where I live.

What should we know about Karen? 

She is slim, blond, thirty and very happily married to a doctor, Tristan Ainsworth who is the GP in a sleepy little Cornish village. Think Doc Martin but without the very scary Martin Clunes. Tristan is much nicer and much easier on the eye. Sorry, Mr Clunes if you happen to be reading this. Yes I know it is unlikely, but one never knows. For the record, I think Mr Clunes is a fantastic actor and probably very nice in real life. Karen has two children and a phenomenal singing voice. 

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

Karen is not as happy as she would have us believe. Oh yes, she adores, Tristan, but since moving to Cornwall at Tristan's behest, she has become withdrawn, reclusive an secretive. She was fine when they lived in Swindon, so what has Cornwall to do with the change in her personality? Moreover she loves to sing, it lifts her spirit and brings untold happiness, so why does she now keep silent? Well, that would be telling wouldn't it? Can't say too much on this, but she does have issues with her past and that does tend to mess up a person's life. However her husband has one or two problems of his own relating to his past also. There is a dark secret that one of them has, and if that secret is divulged, their marriage, their family, and even their freedom could be at stake ... But what is it, and which of them is keeping it? Again, you'll have to read it to find the answer.

What is Karen's goal?

She wants a happy life and to enjoy singing in the choir and living by the sea with her husband and children. Is it too much to ask? 

What is the book's title?

Blimey you have a short memory, it's called Somewhere Beyond the Sea and can be examined again here if you so wish.

Thanks again to Chris for passing on the baton. 

I am now delighted to hand it over to the incredibly talented Juliet Greenwood. You can find out all about her books and main character here  I am dying to find out what she has to say and I'm sure you are too!