Monday, 21 March 2016

A-Z Challenge Theme Reveal


It was a last minute decision to take up the A-Z Challenge for a third year running but I guess I must be an addict!

I'm keeping my posts very, very short and hopefully sweet this year.

My theme for 2016 is going to be ...

No that wasn't the theme that was a drum roll!

It's:

Tips and Inspirational Quotes for Writers

So if you're a writer, aspiring, established or otherwise then pop back on 1st April and any other day in April (the more the merrier) and let me know what you think.

I look forward to hopping over and meeting as many people as I can next month.

Happy Blogging Everyone!

Monday, 14 March 2016

Book Review - The Forgotten Summer


The Forgotten Summer by Carol Drinkwater 

The Blurb

Secrets ripen and fester over a long sweltering summer in France . . .
The annual grape harvest at the Cambon family's magnificent vineyard is always a cause for celebration. But not this year. When an accident destroys the crop, leaving the estate facing ruin, Clarisse Cambon knows exactly who to blame - her daughter-in-law Jane.
It's just the latest incident in a decades-long feud whose origin both women have concealed from Luc, who struggles to keep his wife and mother on speaking terms. But is Luc the saint he appears to be? When tragedy strikes, Jane is thrown into doubt. What secrets has her husband been keeping?
Forced to take charge of the ailing vineyard, Jane uncovers further proof that Luc may not be the man she fell in love with twenty years ago. And, worse still, she knows that her old enemy Clarisse is the only one who knows the truth . . .
For fans of Santa Montefiore and Victoria Hislop, The Forgotten Summer is an atmospheric tale of secrets, forbidden passion and heartbreak.

My Thoughts 

I wanted to so much to love this book but I decided I just like it a lot. I wanted to love it because I thought there was a really good story here - strong. The problem I had was in the plotlines and how slow and ploddy they became. There was a lot of repetition of details, almost as if the writer thought we would forget a few pages down what happened a few pages before. Dialogue was wooden in places. The only person who leapt of the page through dialogue was Clarisse. Claude sounded like a text book and I found myself skimming lots of pages at the end because I wasn't too bothered about how to harvest olives and grapes.
That said, I do think this will be liked by a lot of people I got too easily annoyed by little things like the writer using the word 'about' when 'around would have done at least once.

See what you think - I wouldn't advise against picking this one up but you have been warned.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Letter To Teen Me

Today I read a comment on my last post by blogger and writer, Stephanie Faris and spotted the above, when I hopped over to her blog. It was started by writer, Kelly Hashway.

I liked the idea of writing a letter to my teenage self and mine is below. If you want to join in then add your name to this list and get this code to add the linky list to the bottom of your post or to see the list of names of people taking part. Check out all the blogs on the list, don't forget. But hurry it closes very soon!

My letter to Teen Me ...

Dear You

One of these days you won't be able to eat as many cakes and sweets as you currently do because you'll lose your flat stomach in years to come. I strongly and emphatically suggest that you keep up that gym membership, the one you'll get when aerobics classes were all the rage. Don't worry the exercise gear will get better.

You might not know this now but your interest in music is going to have a huge impact on your life. Sign up for piano lessons and stick to them and get your guitar down from the top of the wardrobe and practise like mad - I promise you'll regret that you didn't. A lot of people will think you have a great singing voice so try not to be so shy and put yourself out there - you never know where it might take you.

Don't stop reading books because your cool friends only read teen magazines. Believe me when I say that one day you'll wish you had a bigger vocabulary because much later in your life it will come in useful.

And don't worry that you still didn't know what you wanted to do when you left school. You really did learn a lot over the years and the older you is going to live a really happy life in a fabulous marriage.

p.s. That heavy make-up was a big mistake. It made you look older than I am now!

Fran (older and wiser)


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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Beat The Rejection

Last November, on a whim, I sent my collection of short stories to two publishers - knowing full well that no one is interested in publishing short stories by unknown writers. But I figured, nothing ventured nothing gained. As I hadn't heard back from either - and it's now March! - I took that as a rejection and carried on with editing my novel.

Then I get this email:

Dear Fran,

Thank you for your submission to [... ] . I was impressed by the quality of your writing, but do not feel the collection of short stories strong enough as a whole. In my opinion, you should focus on one story and expand it to a full novel. Short stories are difficult to sell, unless they come from an established author. If you ever come to writing a novel, we will be happy to consider it.

Kind regards

That's cute, right? I know it's still a rejection, but I didn't take it badly. I took it in my stride and just got stuck in to my other writing projects.

Last year, when I sent my second novel out to agents, I got all rejections. But my reaction to the big fat rejection was a lot more dramatic. I slumped over my keyboard for several minutes after reading the agent's explanation as to why they didn't want to take me on. They were polite (those who did reply) some gave very positive feedback, but it still felt like I was reading a sign in big red letters that said:

FRAN - YOU SUCK! 
PS: BIG TIME

I ate lots of biscuits and I bored my husband senseless about how unfair life was. 

Eventually I moved on. I started to re-draft the manuscript of my second novel. I also launched myself into self-publishing in a different name and genre and it's been exhilarating. Under my pen name I have a book coming out on Monday. No one can reject you when you self-publish. I love that fact.

So ... back to the above rejection letter. Yes I am working on a full novel, and yes I'll certainly submit it to you when it's finished. And no, I will not eat biscuits or go into a coma if you reject me again.

I don't suck - I'm working on becoming a better writer.


Thursday, 3 March 2016

Happy Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day in the UK on Sunday 6th March. I'll be spending  the day, as I have been doing recently, looking after my mum who is bedridden and has dementia. I will bring flowers and a card but she may not understand why.

I'm a mother, too, and I'll be having dinner with my family on the Saturday, both of my children will be with me for a meal for the first time in ages since the older one moved out. It isn't a special Mother's Day celebration or anything, it was just a convenient date but I'm really looking forward to it.

All of this week I've been editing my second novel. Rayna, my main character, becomes a mother but by the end of the novel you are bound to question what kind of mother she really is. Is she all good or all bad or a bit of both? I have been so involved in Rayna's story and I've judged her a lot. I even began to think  a lot about Rayna's own mother, who we only ever meet through her letters. Some beta readers have said what a saint Rayna's mother is and it got me wondering how my children, or anyone else come to that, thinks about me and how I am as a mother.

Am I good, bad or a little in between?


I'd like to think my children thought this of me but who can be that perfect? Is there a perfect mother or is our own mother perfect just because she's ours?

There is no rule book to follow. Mothers can only do the best they can and that has got to be good enough. The best that I can means, deep concern for my children's health, happiness and safety. If they're not with me I wonder if they're eating well, have they got good friends, are they wearing clean clothes? And you can guarantee that if either of my children are ill, I will have sympathy symptoms too!

I love my children to bits and whereas they may not ever write a quote the way Stevie Wonder has (above) their well-being is everything to me.

My Mother's Day quote for my mum would be: The smallest yet strongest woman I know with a big heart and an awful singing voice. Love you Mum.
English: jkklglh