Friday, 30 December 2011

A Knowing Look and Other Stories Post Launch Update and a Special Offer

Since I had my mini-launch for A Knowing Look and Other Stories, I have been feeling quite pleased with the book, mostly because of feedback I have received from others, including reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but also because when I hold the book in my hand, I actually feel a sense of pride that I created it myself.

I was also very surprised and delighted as I was approached by several book bloggers who were interested in reviewing the book. I didn't think this would be very likely considering firstly that it's a book of short stories and secondly because it is self published, so I am thrilled about that. I sent three review copies off yesterday and am now anxiously waiting to see what these readers think of my short stories.

Today I took delivery of a bulk order I made recently, and for a limited time only, I am able to offer signed copies via the drop down button in the panel on the right hand side of this blog.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful New Year's Eve and a fantastic 2012!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

My Writing Year 2011, in Multi Media

I started 2011 with stories published in two charity anthologies in paperback and feeling really happy about that. 2011 itself has been a ride and a half. Here it is in summary:

January 2011 - I became a voluntary reader for 100 Stories for Queensland
Click here to see more about the anthologies I have been involved with

February 2011 - I launched my first writing competition.
March 2011 - I signed a contract with Grimoire Books who are publishing my debut novel in January 2012
Click here to visit the Grimoire Books website

April 2011 I made this short video about my writing for Ether Books.
I really don't like being on video so this was a major thing for me

May 2011 - Nothing But Flowers published. This book includes my story 'On The Corner of Clerk Street' and here it is for sale in The Wallingford Bookshop
Click here to see 'Nothing But Flowers' on

June 2011 - Ether Books launched the latest version of their app. Throughout the year I have regularly had stories in the bestsellers list
Click here to see my list of content available via the Ether app 

July 2011 - I received my author copies of 'New Beginnings' and held my first ever book launch which went really well. Frozen Lime Images turned up and took some fabulous photos for me.
Click here to visit the Frozen Lime Images website

August 2011 - My first radio interview on BBC Radio Oxford

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Mystery Gift Winner & other rambles

Thank you to everyone who helped me to celebrate my launch of A Knowing Look and Other Stories on Thursday. I was quite touched by the amount of lovely messages I received.

The winner of my mystery prize is gillfraserlee. I will be in touch.

Apologies for the delay with announcing the winner, yesterday was an incredibly busy day with the last day of term and all that involves, plus one of my closest friends came to visit, so it's been a bit of a whirl.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Launch of A Knowing Look and Other Stories

Today is an exciting day for me as I am finally able to launch my collection of short stories, A Knowing Look and Other Stories which I have been blogging about in my Self-Publishing Adventures  series over the past few weeks.

I am delighted to now have the book available in all formats. It's been a really interesting experience to go through all of the processes involved, and given me confidence should I decide to do so again in future.

Anyone for a glass of fizz?
A Knowing Look and Other Stories contains eighteen short stories which have had a big impact on me in the past two years, either being placed in competitions, having been published or simply because the emotion behind the writing was so intense. I hope you will enjoy them if you decide to read them; they are quite a mixed bunch so I would be delighted to hear from you if you have a favourite.

Surprises for someone
I am going to give away a mystery prize to one person at the end of today, so if you tweet (using the hashtag #aknowinglook), mention on Facebook or elsewhere online, or even tell your mum/friend/postman about this collection please leave me a message in the comments section under this post and I will enter your name into a hat. I'm not going to tell you what the prize is just yet but it will make a nice Christmas present for someone and will definitely include at least one book related item and a tasty treat.

Thanks for joining me here today  x

A Knowing Look and Other Stories is on Goodreads here.

A Knowing Look and Other Stories can be purchased from the following places online: (Kindle) (Kindle)
Smashwords (All E formats)
Lulu (Paperback)
Or directly from me via the panel on the right of this blog (until the paperback appears online in Amazon, B&N etc)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Wish I Was Here...

The view just above my laptop
Today I am taking part in an online party to celebrate the launch of Janice Horton's new e-book Reaching For The Stars. In the book, the main character, Chef Finn McDuff disappears on a self-imposed exile, so we are all sharing our dream escape locations!

This was a no-brainer for me, as you will see from the very rubbish photo, I have two of my favourite places right in front of my desk at all times. They are Champneys in Tring and Formentor beach in Mallorca, both of which I love rather a lot. If I'm ever having a stressful moment I shut my eyes and imagine the blue seas or the pampering you get at a spa... bliss!


The full blurb for the book follows below:
Scottish celebrity chef Finn McDuff is media stalked and disillusioned after winning his third star and losing his third wife. He decides he’s had enough of all the food campaigns, the TV cookery shows, the constant frenzy surrounding his private life and, after giving up all his accolades and closing down his restaurant, he disappears.

With the enfant terrible of the kitchen missing, two rival newspapers, having lost their media meal ticket, compete against each other to whip up further public curiosity in the missing chef. Love him or hate him, everyone is out looking for Chef McDuff. Who will find him first and whose side will you be on...?

You can find Reaching For The Stars on or

If you would like to join me in congratulating Janice on her book launch, please visit her blog here.

Congrats, Janice!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

My Self-Publishing Adventures: Part 7: Ready for Lift Off!

Print copies in need of a good home
What a difference a month makes! It was just under a month ago, on 15th November, when I decided I would go ahead and self-publish a collection of my short stories.

Today my print copies arrived, which I'm thrilled about.
My book is now also available online in all e formats.

I'm going to have an impromptu launch party online on Thursday so please do pop past my blog to say hello and grab a glass of virtual fizz!

As always, thanks for reading! x

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

My Self-Publishing Adventures: Part 6: Proofs aka What I Will Do Differently Next Time

This is the post of the series I have been dreading writing. It's the one where I admit to my mistakes. So here we go.

After uploading my stories to Kindle & Smashwords, I was on such a massive high that it went so well, I did what I usually do when I feel happy... I told my online friends. Luckily, in this one instance, I only shared on Facebook and not Twitter, or I would have more people to apologise to now.

I shared more because I thought it was such a miracle I'd managed to do the Kindle & Smashwords publishing without any aggravation. BUT, what I failed to realise was I have possibly the most supportive and fantastic online buddies on the planet, and within a couple of hours of saying, "Look what I did," 10 copies had sold via Kindle and 1 on Smashwords. It was only then that I thought... oops... I should have checked it through before I said that.

If you are one of those 11 people who bought a copy quickly, please do get in contact with me and let me see a copy of the receipt via email (if you have it) or my contact me page on here if not. I would like to give you a coupon for the latest version. Since that first upload I have added a full stop (I KNOW!), done a bit more tweaking of the formatting, and changed one of the story titles slightly thanks to something my daughter said... so I would prefer it if you had the up to date version.

As far as the paperback is concerned the first proof looked ok. I then made some tiny tweaks to that as well, and added my back cover blurb. At the time of writing I am waiting for the crash of my letterbox which will signify my final (hopefully) proof arriving.

My next post will hopefully let you know where you can buy the paperback!

Thanks for reading!

The next post in the series is here.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

My Self-Publishing Adventures: Part 5: Interview with Artist Paul Townend

Cover by Paul Townend
When I had my collection of stories sent off for editing, my thoughts turned to the cover. I looked at a couple of stock photography sites as I knew I wanted an elephant on the front cover, but the best photograph I could find was the back view of an elephant and that didn't really go with my story A Knowing Look.

Some of my more regular readers may remember the charity anthology Shambelurkling and Other Stories which I have two stories in. I loved the cover of this book on first sight and in a moment of inspiration I decided to approach the cover artist and see if he had ever drawn elephants.

Now, if someone asked me to draw an elephant, they would get something like this: 

WTH is that?

Yes, I am spectacularly hopeless at art. So imagine how I felt when Paul Townend sent me three pictures of elephants that were all brilliant. But then he took it one step further; he read my story A Knowing Look and sent me the picture that became the cover of my short story collection. I am totally in awe of his talent! 

I have invited Paul onto my blog to find out more about him.

Hi Paul and welcome to Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.
Thanks, Rebecca

Could you tell us a little about yourself in 50 words or less?
I'm a 33 year old artist from Worcestershire. I studied music technology and spent many years working as a Dj and teaching music at youth detention centres, before turning to the visual arts.I sign my work with the pseudonym I was initially embarrassed to call myself an artist.

How long have you been an artist? Is it something you have always been interested in?

I've been a artist for around 5years and I fell into it completely by accident. I was playfully trying to encourage my girlfriend to do more work for her university media course, and I've continued to draw almost everyday since. I vaguely remember winning a drawing competition at primary school, around the age of 5 or 6.I think it was of a haunted house.

Although I continuously paint and draw, I don't really have a huge interest in the visual arts and only really know a handful of different artists that I enjoy looking at, which are mostly personal friends.

You did the most incredible job by drafting the cover for my book after reading my story. Is this the way most of your ideas come to you?

I've only worked in that way a few times so far and was instantly inspired by your words. I could feel the imagery form as I progressed through the story.

Most of my work comes from improvisation and spontaneity, as I never really know what I'm going to do until the pen hits the paper. I usually start with a few randomly placed lines and often something will come out, that I've seen or thought in the previous few weeks. I find it quite exciting when given boundaries to work within for commissions.

What is your favourite medium to work with?

I love using black ink on card.

Which artists inspire you?

My favourite artists are Joan Miro and the Cornish painter, Alfred Wallis. I'm also inspired by the beautiful colours of Matisse. I find it hard to look at their work for any longer than 5 minutes before I'm compelled to start a drawing. My main influence comes from music .

Is there anything you would find impossible to draw?

Being an artist with no formal training, I find any type of still life drawing really difficult. My very first attempts were so incredibly bad and so I have a great respect for any artist who represents things realistically.

If anyone else would be interested in speaking to you about a commission, what would be the best way to get in touch with you?

Examples of my work can be found on my Facebook page - feel free to friend request me.

My email address is: www.paul.dotdotdot.townend (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Please feel free to contact me for any enquiries regarding commissions or purchases etc.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, Paul, and also, of course, for the fantastic cover.

Click here for part 6, all about proof reading and things I will do differently next time I self-publish.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

My Self-Publishing Adventures: Part 4: Interview with Editor Nik Perring

Once I had selected the stories I thought I would include in my collection, I wanted a second opinion and an keen eye to check them over. There was no way I was going to self-publish anything without having it edited, so when I discovered The Story Corrective it was a no-brainer. I had known Nik Perring for a while online but somehow it had gone under my radar that he also edited short stories until I read a blog post he had written.

He did a fabulous job of editing my stories,  so I have invited him onto my blog for an interview.

Hi Nik, welcome to Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.

Hi Rebecca! It’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

Nik Perring
Please could you give us your bio in under 50 words?

I’m an author and editor. I’ve had two books published (with one to come): ‘Not So Perfect’ is a collection of short stories which came out last summer through the wonderful Roast Books; and my children’s book, ‘I Met a Roman Last Night, What Did You Do?’ was published by EPS in 2006. I also founded The Story Corrective.

(I know that’s a little bit over the limit, but what’s a few words between friends, eh!)

What sort of writing do you do?

All sorts! I started off writing for magazines and newspapers, almost ten years ago now. Which is scary. (Really, where did that go?) A little while after that I started writing fiction, and that led to (or solidified) my love of short stories. I had some published, then I published my children’s book, when I was 26, a few years later. And then I fell back into writing short stories and, as I mentioned earlier, was lucky enough to have a publisher as cool as Roast Books wanting to publish them.

So, while my writing’s been varied (I’ve also blogged regularly for over 5 years) it’s mostly been about, or around, short stories. I’m really lucky that people have seemed to really like them.

How long have you been an editor for and how did that come about?

I think that the moment you start taking writing seriously you become an editor of sorts. It’s the only way (unless you’re ridiculously talented or lucky – I am neither) to make your work good enough to be published, or good enough to do the story idea justice, or be good enough for people to enjoy it. It really is a huge part of the process.

But, technically speaking, I’ve officially been an editor since last summer when I started The Story Corrective, an editing consultancy specialising in short fiction. I wanted to provide a simple, efficient, and affordable service to people who want to make their stories better. And I’d been doing that, in different guises (behind the scenes for writer friends, and through teaching, and running workshops) for a few years, already, so it felt like a natural step to take.

I think a lot of people assume that editing’s a really complicated thing, and really it’s not – well, not all of it! All you need is an eye for it, and plenty of experience (which helps develop that eye) – and it’s not all about spotting misplaced commas and typos either; it has as much to do with understanding story shape and structure and how stories work, as anything else.

Do you prefer writing or editing?

I honestly love both. I think I simply love writing and words and stories. And while writing will always come first (I am a writer after all!) it’s really, really brilliant to be able to work with people and their words in other ways too – and editing and teaching allows me to do that.

What is your favourite thing about editing?

This is either going to sound horribly trite or really arrogant – but I really like being able to help people make their stories better.

And your least favourite thing about editing?

That’s a tricky one! I’d not really thought of that before. I love the job. I suppose the money could be better (though if it was, The Story Corrective wouldn’t be so darned fantastic value!).

You have recently had a collection of short stories published, please could you tell us a little bit about that?

Of course. ‘Not So Perfect’ is a collection of 22 short stories. Some of them are very short. Some of them are about things which might sound a bit odd. There are women in there who throw up small animals. There’s a boy in there who’s a shark. There’s a couple counting down the last five years of earth. There are also strawberries. And a lot about love and relationships and how we, as people, relate to each other. 

Do you have anything else in the pipeline writing-wise?

I do. Next spring, The Friday Project (HarperCollins) are publishing a book called Freaks!. I wrote it with the wonderful Caroline Smailes and it’s been illustrated in a really cool comic book style by Darren Craske . It’s another collection of  short stories (there are fifty in this one) and they’re all about people with superpowers, real or imagined. I’m super excited about it.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Nik!

You can find Nik's books on Amazon by clicking on the links below:
Not So Perfect
I Met A Roman Last Night, What Did You Do?

Click here to read the next post in this series: an interview with cover artist, Paul Townend.

Monday, 28 November 2011

My Self-Publishing Adventures: Part 3: Lulu

Uploading my collection of short stories to Lulu was the upload I had the most fun with. I loved the part when you could fiddle about with the prices, I loved flicking through the "book" online and being able to see what it would look like on paper, and I loved creating the cover in their wizard as well. There really was some wizardry going on as the whole process on Lulu was simple and fun... and they even give you a voucher for a free proof copy too.

I'm waiting for my proof copy and then I'll check it through. If everything is ok I'll then be able to click on the "approve" button and then Lulu will very kindly make my book available to buy from not only their own shop but also many different places online as I have got myself an ISBN from them for absolutely free and that means they will make it available on Amazon as well as various other places.

I will, of course, let you know when it is available in paperback!

Exciting posts to come later this week; interviews with my editor and cover designer.

As always, thanks for reading.  x X x

Click here to read the next post in this series, all about the edit for this collection.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

My Self-Publishing Adventures: Part 2: Smashwords

I had heard things about Smashwords from several writer friends and somehow in my head had built it up to be a rather scary place to submit to. I'd read in various places the submission process can take a long time, and be rather complicated. 

However, for me, it was a breeze. I know, how lucky?!

From signing up to Smashwords to having everything uploaded took me twenty minutes in total. I started at 6.40am, thinking I would get started, stop at 7 to get the children ready for school and do the school run and then finish later. When I submitted my file was #2 in the queue, and luckily for me it was all accepted first time, so everything was finished by the time 7am arrived. I would definitely suggest submitting early in the morning, UK time!

At the time of writing this post I am just waiting to see if they accept it into the premium catalogue. Fingers crossed.

You can see A Knowing Look and Other Stories on Smashwords here.

Oh yes, two things I noticed about Smashwords. Firstly they let you download all the formats of your own book for free because it's, you know, your book. (Not so on Kindle.)

Secondly they have a "special" submission page for people who are submitting NaNoWriMo novels. Firstly I thought, seriously? But then it dawned on me that perhaps Smashwords are trying to keep novels of a certain quality in a "special" place. I'm not saying there won't be some excellent novels as a result of NaNoWriMo... just that the actual words written in November should be considered a first draft, and as such why would anyone be submitting already? You know what I mean. Hopefully.

Thank you for reading!  x X x

Click here to see part 3 of this series of blog posts.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

My Self-Publishing Adventures: Part 1: Kindle

My story collection A Knowing Look and Other Stories is now available via Kindle and I am very delighted to say people have actually started buying it, bless each & every one of them.

To think this all started as a passing thought, 'I wish I had my favourite stories all in one place.'

A number of factors followed on from that thought. Firstly I signed up to support National Flash Fiction Day, secondly I read a guest blog by Nik Perring over on The Long and Short of It and thirdly I got bored of my NaNoWriMo projects and as a result started focussing on this. As you do.

Anyway, after the edit and cover design was sorted out (more on both of those later), I got my Kindle out and opened up my copy of Catherine Ryan Howard's superb book Self-Printing: The Sane Person's Guide to Self-Publishing and I have to say thank goodness for this book, it was absolutely perfect as a step-by-step guide to formatting for Kindle.

I was quite surprised as I uploaded my files at 2pm yesterday, and by 7pm A Knowing Look and Other Stories was live on both and

I ended yesterday feeling quite proud of myself. I also learnt some very useful tips like how to create hyperlinks, and I discovered my Kindle has a web browser in it by clicking on one of my own links. Who knew?

Thank you for reading x X x

Click here to read the second post in this series.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Coming Soon...

Here is a sneak preview of something I have been working on. I am self publishing a collection of my short stories and flash fiction.

So far I have worked with Nik Perring who has edited my collection of short stories, and Paul Townend who has created this work of art cover. Both of them will be showcased on my blog in the near future.

I can't put into words how I feel about this project. I'd love to know what you think.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

My Latest Three Publications

If you're a regular reader of my blog you may remember I took part in the Third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign recently. I met a lot of new people, bookmarked a lot of new blogs and took part in all three writing challenges.

The good news is, a rather wonderful lady called Cat, suggested that we create a book out of some of our stories, and publish it to raise money for Help Harry Help Others which was set up by an incredibly brave boy called Harry Moseley who recently died of a brain tumour at the age of 11.

I am keen to support cancer charities so I donated all three of my stories. They were all accepted for publication in the book, which is now available via and as well as from Smashwords.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Friday Flash: Dentist/Actress

At my writing class this week, we were working on character development. We were asked to chose two different characteristics for one person and given five minutes to write a short piece about them.
This is what I wrote:


I’m drilling away at my three o’clock and the nurse won’t shut up. I think how much happier I would be at the end of the day if she would give it a rest.

“Can you pass the…” and I’ve forgotten the name again.
“Polisher,” calls the voice from behind the curtain.

The voice is always there when I forget my words. It feels like a safety net.

I’ve lost concentration again…
“Exit through the door, I’ll…” nudges the voice.
“I’ll be back shortly, Mr Brown, I need to get some equipment,” I say.

I walk out of the surgery and as I head up the corridor, I spot the curtain twitching in my peripheral vision.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Feeling Like A Proper Writer, At Last

The other evening, I was holding a book in my hand. I read the acknowledgments, I read the copyright notice, then I flipped it over and looked at the back. And then at last, from nowhere, into my head came the thought, 'Oh my God I really did write this book'.

It's taken ages for that to happen. It's taken this long to feel real, and I'm starting to feel like a proper writer now. Shall I tell you why?

1. I have started see good book reviews appearing on Amazon and Goodreads from people I have never met and never will, and don't know at all online. Strangers. Liking my book. That is amazing.

2. I have started to get emails from readers asking what else they can read of mine.

3. I have begun to gather up a little collection of rejections. And the rejections honestly don't bother me, as I have accepted that this is an important part of the publishing process. (This is massive for me. I thought I would cry every time. But, nothing...)

4. I have decided to self-publish a collection of flash fiction and short stories. And I have the contacts and knowledge to make it happen.

5. NaNoWriMo isn't bothering me in the slightest. I write so much every day now anyway, I feel quietly confident that I'll finish the first draft of my third book this month.

6. I have been trying out new things. Submitting short stories for anthologies, magazines and learning more about different markets.

All in all I am really happy right now.

If you have read this, you are a part of this process so as I say at the end of many of my blog posts:
Thanks so much for reading.

Rebecca x X x

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Tweet Treats - The Perfect Christmas Present!

It is with great pleasure that I am playing host to the Tweet Treats blog tour today. This lovely little book is the perfect stocking filler, as it contains many quick and easy recipes from people all around the world, including 140 celebrities and is the perfect size to slip into a Christmas stocking.

I have a few recipes in the book myself, keep an eye out for mine when you get your copy!

Without further ado I would like to introduce you to the lovely Jane Travers. Without Jane, Tweet Treats wouldn't exist today.

Hello Jane and welcome to Ramblings of a Rusty Writer

For anyone who has not yet heard of Tweet Treats, could you briefly describe what it’s all about?

Thanks for having me, Rebecca! Tweet Treats is a project to collect 140 character recipes (140 characters is roughly 25 words) sourced through Twitter. I collected recipes from 140 celebrities as well as from ordinary people, compiled a book which has just been published by O’Brien Press, and I’m donating all the royalties to Médecins Sans Frontières.

Why Médecins Sans Frontières?

They’re an amazing charity, and I have huge respect for them. They provide medical care in countries stricken by war, famine and natural disaster, quietly and without blowing their own trumpet. They are utterly non-partisan in their dealings with people, and are funded entirely by voluntary contributions so that they are not affiliated with any country, religious institution, etc. I received recipes from all over the world for Tweet Treats and I wanted to involve a truly global charity; MSF was the obvious choice.

You created the book via Twitter. So, for anyone who may be wondering, what exactly is Twitter?

Jane Travers
Twitter is a social network – but everyone knows that. You might not know what it really means, though. The emphasis is on “social” – Twitter is about building a broad online community of people with similar interests, who come together and chat, joke, discuss and debate. The essential brevity of a tweet (140 characters) is, I think, what makes Twitter great; you have to hone down what you want to say to its bare bones and still make it interesting. It means that Twitter moves fast and stays sharp, as there is no room for waffle in 140 characters. It’s a great exercise for writers, actually, to be concise and clear about what they want to get across. I love it. (And yes, that passage was more than 140 characters – see what happens when I’m not on Twitter?)

Have you met any of the celebrities who have donated recipes? If so, what were they like?

I had to think about that for a minute! I feel like I’ve met so many people through chatting to them online, it can be hard to remember who I’ve actually met. I met Pat O’Mahony, an Irish celebrity – he actually agreed to launch the book for me, which was great fun! Pat is a good laugh and a huge lover of Twitter – he’s even made a documentary about it. I already know a number of the Irish writers who contributed, like Colette Caddle, Claire Hennessy, RF Long, etc. I’ll be meeting Neil Gaiman next month in Seattle and I’m crazy excited about that.

How many new recipes have you tried since creating Tweet Treats? Do you have a favourite?

Gosh, loads of them! I couldn’t give you a number. Last summer, when I was flat out collecting recipes, I tried a new Tweet Treats recipe almost every night. A few of them have become firm favourites, like Banana Nut Bread by @mduffywriter – I have to make large batches of that every time because it doesn’t last long in our house!

What were the highlights and lowlights of getting Tweet Treats together?

The whole thing was an enormous amount of fun, I’m happy to say! There were loads of little highlights along the way; getting the first celebrity (@Tracy_Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring), getting a recipe from my personal hero @neilhimself (Neil Gaiman), and loads of other celebrities gave me a huge kick too! There was a low point in the middle of the whole thing, when I thought I was mad and would never bring the whole thing to fruition. I thought about giving up and that same day @PaulaAbdul tweeted me to ask how the whole project was going and when the book would be out. I thought, wow, if Paula Abdul can have an interest in this, then I’ve got to keep going. And I did. The highlights far outweighed the lowlights, I’m pleased to say!

Would you ever create another fund-raising book?

I’d love to. I love the sense of well-being and purpose that Tweet Treats has given me, and the fun I’ve had with it. However, the only things I’ve had published to date have all been for charity, so it’d be really nice to actually earn some money from writing for myself one of these days!

What would you say are the most positive things that have come from using Twitter for you as a writer?

The network of writers. There are a fantastic bunch of writers, agents, editors and publishers out there, chatting, joking, sharing advice and information, and occasionally having a good rant. Before I found Twitter I was sitting on my own in front of a computer screen, typing into the abyss; now I’m part of a wider community. Writing is a solitary business, but I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be a lonely one.

What are you working on at the moment?

I had been polishing off a novel (women’s fiction). I put it aside when I started working on Tweet Treats, but now I’m trying to finish it off and find it a home once and for all. I’m also working on a YA paranormal romance, which I’m hoping will be a trilogy.

Thank you for joining me here on Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.

No no, thank you! ;)

If you like the sound of Tweet Treats, head over to Jonathan Pinnock's blog as he is currently hosting a giveaway of a copy of the book.

You can find further information via the following links:

FB Fan page for Tweet Treats

You can also buy a copy of Tweet Treats via
Or via

Friday, 14 October 2011

I'm Guest Blogging Today

Today I am guest blogging for the first time ever, thanks to the very lovely Sue who blogs at The Long and the Short of it.

In the post I talk about the importance of having a platform, speaking from my own experiences.

Please do pop by and visit.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

We All Have Days Like That

I had one of "those days" on Thursday. You know, where you're tired, you don't get a minute's peace, you have a bazillion and five things you want to do and no way of achieving them at that precise moment. And to top it all, a sore spot in your guts where you've been kicked by a rejection.

Yes, it was one of those days. I was well and truly fed up. Downward spiralling and not sure how I would ever feel any better. And then I realised the story I had drafted for a magazine that I was really pleased with would never be submitted to that magazine as the publication I intended it for didn't accept work from new writers, I developed a migraine, and all three of my children had a complete meltdown in the middle of my favourite shop. I have never seen them all like that at the same time, it was horrible; shouting, shoving, yelling all at each other but ugh!

So I vented on my social networks. They say a platform is vital to a writer, but in this case it suddenly became my safety net. On Facebook and Twitter I got instant replies from people who either felt the same or offered words of encouragement. I instantly knew, that despite those niggling suspicions, I was not alone.

One of my Facebook friends, who is a fellow Ether Writer and also coincidentally I worked with back in the 1990s said on Facebook: "Some days you're the pigeon, some days you're the statue. This is a statue day." I have never heard this one before and it made me laugh so much. Just the thing.

Since Thursday I decided to cut down my to do list in any way I could. I have removed myself from several online sites which I never used properly but had emails from all the time (LinkedIn, to name but one). I have done a lot of thinking about the next step for my second book and then in a completely coincidental fashion a good friend and fabulous writer sent me a very encouraging email. I was almost there by myself but her words tipped me into the "I will not give up" zone.

I dragged my husband out of the house on Friday and we had lunch outside a restaurant; good food, gorgeous weather and a fantastic bit of city people-watching where I gained a few character ideas.

Then I sorted something out that I hadn't even realised was bugging me. I polished some first drafts that I had sitting around on my desktop for weeks and sent them off to their various places. And I allowed myself a bit more chat time on Twitter. 

It's funny as I feel like a different person today but I wanted to write all this down so next time I have the black clouds hanging over my head I can maybe come back and read this and get back to how I feel today more quickly.

I went out for a lovely family meal last night and during the conversation I discovered my Dad has read my book. I actually didn't think he would ever read it, so I am floating on clouds today.

So the worst kind of day to the best in only three days. That can't be bad.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Third Certainty

Me with Eldest at 2 hours old
They say nothing is certain but death and taxes. I beg to differ. For parents, there is a third certainty. From the moment your baby is born, the cord is cut and they take their first breath, they are striving to gain their independence. As parents we encourage it, we teach them the skills that they will need to grow and evolve and eventually become well rounded, considerate individuals capable of making their own informed decisions.

As a mother, I personally find this difficult. I like the fact that my children are young enough to be inside our house and I know where they all are. I love the way they are growing into sociable, questioning and loving people in their own right. Yet something inside me wants to resist these changes, as much as I know I can't.

On my daughters first birthday I made her a cake in the shape of a '1' with smarties all over it. Everyone watched as she was completely oblivious to what was going on but revelled in being the centre of attention. Years have passed and today she is nine. It seems like only yesterday I was sitting in hospital grinning and saying I would "do it all again in a heartbeat." Last night she had her first sleepover party and this morning at exactly 8.10 I was sitting in the kitchen having an emotional moment thinking about the moment I became a mother, and she was upstairs laughing and joking with her friends. Oblivious, but in a totally different way.

All of us in April 2011
We have reached the "half way to eighteen" stage and it terrifies me. I dread the day she starts senior school and has her own front door key. I dread the day my middle son stops shouting "I love you more than you love me" from the school door, not caring who hears. I dread the day my youngest son stops trying to snuggle in with me in the morning for a cuddle and telling me I am his "favourite person in the whole wide world."

I know, I know, the parent/child bond will be there forever, but it's a different relationship. I am preparing myself for the loss of being at the centre of my children's world.

This certainty is one of my motivations for writing. In 2009 I had a great sense of time racing on. My second child started school, and I started to wonder how I would cope with not feeling "needed" to the same extent any more. I started writing with the knowledge that when my third child starts school (Jan 2012) I will feel a deep sense of loss. When I come home to an empty house, missing the chatter of my children, at least I will always have my characters to keep me company.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Air, Imago or Poison? Possible Causes of the 1854 Cholera Outbreak in London

“Mr Chadwick, pray tell me your thoughts on this cholera outbreak, seemingly affecting the whole of London.”

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Williams; all smell is disease. The miasma which overpowers as you approach the riverside; this is indeed the cause of these symptoms which render so many ill or dead.”

This conversation remained in my mind for many a year afterwards. However some suspected there may be a lacuna present in this simplistic theory of synchronicity between smell and illness.

Mr Chadwick did suggest reforms leading to improvements in sanitation provisions across our city. These changes greatly reduced the incidences of cholera and other diseases. Yet the theory that one would only have to be in the vicinity of the Thames and not so much as touch the water was seemingly flawed.

I would sit through many lectures on the matter, trying to gain knowledge, while observing fellow scientists oscitate or even doze right off to sleep. Their manners were appalling!

I am almost ashamed to tell you it was eventually a French gentleman, Monsieur Louis Pasteur who finally proved Chadwick wrong. Pasteur proved that the cholera was transmitted by germs. What a clever chap.

200 words

This piece was written for a challege as part of the platform building campaign.  
Just thought I'd say that in case any of my regular readers think I have gone barking mad!

Thanks for reading x X x

Monday, 19 September 2011

Snow and Awards

Hi Everyone

No, it hasn't actually snowed outside, but I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed at the moment as I am behind on absolutely everything - domestic admin, online everything, even the dreaded laundry. I am officially snowed under, so please bear with me while I catch up.  Following the school summer holidays I have had family members at home ill for all but one day and now I have my husband at home for two weeks as he is between contracts. It's always my online time that gets shoved to the bottom of the list in these circumstances, unfortunately.

I will eventually visit back everyone who comments on any of my blog posts (I have a special folder they all go in to, which they stay in until I visit back), and respond to direct messages, emails and Twitter/FB messages as soon as I can.

Following on from the snow theme, I have experienced a recent avalanche (but in a good way) of blog awards which I am incredibly grateful for. I am going to bow out of following all the rules, however and simply thank the following people for the awards. Please do pop by and visit them if you have a chance.

For nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award, I would like to thank:
Claire Robyns
Beth Kemp
Christy Farmer

For the Appreciated Follower Award, thanks to:
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell

I would like to thank the following people for awarding me the  Liebster Blog Award:
Shelley Koon
Beth Kemp (again!)

And if I have missed any award nominations (this is highly likely) I am really sorry, please do let me know and I will add your name to my list.

As always, thanks for reading  x X x

Saturday, 17 September 2011

100 Copies Sold - Celebration Giveaway!

Hello dearest lovely readers.

I'm delighted to tell you that I have sold 100 copies of New Beginnings, that I know about, via direct sales. I'm incredibly happy about this, so I'm having a giveaway to celebrate.

But the catch is, it's only open to people who have a copy of New Beginnings.

To enter you have to do two things:
1. Leave me a comment below this post, saying which of the characters in New Beginnings is your favourite and why. Please try to keep your comment spoiler free in case people who have yet to read the book take a look.
2. (Only for people who did not buy the book directly from me.) Send me a message via the comment form here on my blog, telling me the first sentence of chapter 8 of New Beginnings.

The prize is a copy of each of the following books sent to you, PLUS a signed copy of New Beginnings sent to a person of your choice. A friend, a school, whoever you think you'd like to send a copy to.

Poetry Against Cancer is a charity collection of poetry. I don't have any poetry in this book but a few of my writer friends do.

Shambelurkling and Other Stories is a collection of short stories and poetry for children which I have two stories in.

Nothing But Flowers is a collection of short stories for adults which I have one story in.

Of course there is nothing stopping you buying a copy of New Beginnings now if you want to enter the competition.  You can do so via or or via the panel on the right hand side of my blog.

This giveaway will run until 12 noon UK time on 17th October, and I am happy to send the books worldwide.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

In The Wishing Chair

I was delighted when I was asked by Rebecca E Brown to be a part of her new project, the In The Wishing Chair podcast. Rebecca interviewed me a while ago and the interview is now live on iTunes.  She has also done a lovely post all about me here.

Please do give In The Wishing Chair a listen, and if you enjoy what you hear, please don't forget to leave feedback for Rebecca on iTunes.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Spotlight on Bookshops: Blackwell, Oxford

This morning I popped into Oxford, and visited Blackwell.

Blackwell, Broad St, Oxford

The Children's Section

And now for the most important shot of all: 

New Beginnings on the 'Older Readers' shelves

Friday, 9 September 2011

My First Blogged Review

You may remember the recent interview I took part in on Emma Kerry's Notebook. Thank you once again to lovely Emma for hosting this on her blog.

The winner of this giveaway has now read New Beginnings and left a lovely review on her blog. Please do go and take a look here.

Thank you, Nancy.

Emma Kerry is on Twitter here.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell (aka Nancy) is on Twitter here.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Radio, Magazines and an extract from When Dreams Come True

Hi everyone

I have been away for a couple of days but I wanted to share a couple of things that happened yesterday. First of all, I was catching up on reading my copies of Writers' Forum magazine, which I subscribe to but rarely have time to read at home. I started on the June issue (I was on a sun lounger near a jacuzzi, if I need to set the scene!) and I came to an article about Writing Competitions by the lovely Sally Quilford. I had to read a certain paragraph three times before it sunk it, as Sally quoted me in it. It was ironic really, as about five minutes earlier, I was thinking 'wow it must be so amazing to see your name in this magazine'.

I then took myself off to find a part of the spa which had wifi (believe me they are limited) to send hubby a note about this. As soon as the wifi connected I received an email from him saying Radio Oxford had been in contact to invite me onto another show this morning (to discuss 'Back To School' shopping!). I had to decline as my children are all here and it's lucky I did really as just at the time I would have been on, they started scrapping with each other in a "right you're back, we want your attention" sort of way. But it was lovely to be asked.

While I was away I received some lovely reviews for New Beginnings on Amazon, which made my day on Sunday. Thank you to lovely Talli and Anne.

And finally, I have added a new page to my blog today. It's an extract from my second book, When Dreams Come True. I'd love to know what you think; feel free to let me know by commenting on this post or via the "contact" form.

Thanks for reading xx

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Book Review: English Slacker by Chris Morton

I first discovered Chris Morton on the Authortrek website. When I had read a couple of short stories by him, I remember thinking, 'Please let this writer have a book'. And sure enough, he has.

A brief synopsis of the book:
Chambers is an eighteen-year-old student living in the small town of Bracksea, England. Fresh from his final college exams, he is now ready for what is to be his last summer of freedom, which involves going to parties, smoking dope and getting drunk with all his friends. However, what begins as a seemingly innocent and routine set of social events soon turns into a nightmare for Chambers as a suppressed memory – which may or may not be related to the recent disappearance of his best friend Colin – begins to surface. The more Chambers immerses himself in the distractions around him the more he begins to find that he is losing his whole sense of reality…

The book is like no other book I have read. The protagonist is obviously eighteen so the point of view is very different to a lot I have read recently, and his character is also very different to mine; he swears a lot, does a lot of drugs, and quite frankly seems to be having a bit of a miserable life. However, despite all of this, I could not put this book down. I found myself caring about Chambers, wanting him to turn out ok, and constantly keen to know what happens next. Definitely the sign of a good book.

It seems I am not alone in enjoying this book, as English Slacker has been shortlisted for the Not The Booker Prize 2011. Because of this, you lucky, lucky things, you can currently get a free pdf download of the book via the Punked Books website.

And now a plea. Please do download English Slacker, but please also read it asap. The voting for the Not The Booker Prize will re-open shortly and I would like to enlist a bit of help with this. There are a number of reasons, pick any one of them to suit you  ;o)

1. Chris Morton is a brilliant writer.
2. English Slacker is a unique book and deserves to win. It's a fine example of how a high quality piece of writing does not have to sit with an enormous publisher to be wonderful.
3. (This is where I get a bit shameless) Punked Books also publish my book New Beginnings, as well as books by two friends of mine. Any help Punked Books get in the way of publicity, is going to help all of us. Team Punked!
4. Please?

Please 'Like' the Punked Books Facebook page to be kept up to date when the voting starts.

I hope you enjoy English Slacker.
x x x

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

New Beginnings, New Experiences, A New Me

Exactly two months ago, a delivery driver almost got the shock of his life as I got mildly hysterical about him delivering my first box of 50 author copies of New Beginnings to my house. That was the first of many firsts.

There was my first direct sale, my first book signing event, my first appearance on BBC Radio Oxford. My first sighting of my book in a book shop, my first Amazon sale, my first review, all these firsts seem like amazing things. Each and every one as special as the last.

Of course, the main worry when you have a book published is, will people want to buy it? The devil whispering in my ear made me wonder if I would sell more than three copies, (Mum, sister and aunt). But I'm pleased to say my definite sales figure (ie the ones I know about) is 90 to date. The majority of those being direct sales. Not bad for a book that isn't officially published yet!

Two months on, my Amazon reviews are now in double figures. It's such a thrill that people actually want to buy my book, but when they take the time and effort to review it as well, it is appreciated so much, especially as my first ten reviews all have five stars.

I'm quite proud of my achievements with marketing and publicity as a first-timer. I have got quite a lot of reviewers waiting to read the book nearer to the official publication date, I've had numerous bookshops say they will stock the book, and people saying they will take part in my publication date (23 January 2012) websplash. It has amazed me how much I have achieved, just by building up the courage to ask.

New Beginnings has changed me as a person. I now have no qualms at all about calling myself a writer for a start. For the first time in my life I am actually starting to have a bit of self confidence. I'm having such an exciting time at the moment, and if you are reading this, thank you for being a part of it.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

My First Radio Appearance (BBC Radio Oxford)

Today, I was on the radio, as part of the book club feature of Jo in the Afternoon on BBC Radio Oxford.

This morning I was a bit nervous. I took two of my children over to my parents house (by 9am, quite a feat in the school hols) as they were going for a day out to the seaside.

Later, I took my four year old to a friend's house, stayed for coffee for an hour which was a nice distraction. Then I went home to "plan" but being at home on my own sent me into a spiral of nerves so I popped out to one of my favourite haunts to buy some bits and pieces and came home and then distracted myself again with some lunch and a flick through the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2012.

I started listening to BBC Radio Oxford online at 1pm when the show started. It was as the show began and I heard the presenter saying they would be talking to me by name, that the nerves turned into excitement.

I had no idea what I was going to be asked, but I kept telling myself to listen, pause, answer, but I must admit I did have a couple of things I wanted to mention (apart from New Beginnings, obviously) and luckily Jo asked questions which enabled me to mention most of them.

The chat flew by, and by the end I was hoping it would go on for longer. It was a great experience and I hope it won't be the last time I am on the radio.

Many thanks to BBC Radio Oxford, who kindly sent me a copy of the interview to keep & share.