Sunday 27 November 2016

A Jarful of Moondreams - Guest Post Chrissie Bradshaw

Today, I am delighted to welcome fellow RNA New Writers' Scheme member, Chrissie Bradshaw, to my blog. Chrissie was winner of the Elizabeth Goudge Award at this year's conference with her debut novel A Jarful of Moondreams and I wanted to find out more about her road to publication.

How long have you been writing and how did you start?

I started writing fiction a few years ago when I was stranded in Chicago for an extra week. Flights to Europe were being postponed due to volcanic ash and, after I’d read all of my own books and my husband’s, I started making notes for a novel. It was the start of an exciting new chapter in my life.

Did you ever have self-doubts when writing your novel?

When I’m writing, I’m happy and in the moment and time has no meaning. I love it! When I’m reading over my efforts and planning what to change, I’m full of self criticism and wonder whether anyone will want to read my work. I never feel like giving up though.

Can you tell me a little about your road to publication?

I can be impatient, I had a good plan but didn’t stick to it. Once my novel was finished, I intended sending a sample to three agents each month and staggering the inevitable rejection slips. After two months, I started looking into self publishing or ‘supported’ publishing because I wanted my contemporary novel out there when it was fresh. I published with Octavo last July and had the satisfaction of seeing my work published as an ebook and a paperback. I’m OK about what I did but next time I’ll try to find a good agent.

‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ is your debut novel. Can you describe it in one sentence?

‘Dr Foster’ visits ‘Waterloo Road’ in A Jarful of Moondreams as Cleo, Teri and Alex sort out their relationships with one other and the men that they love through seven full moons.

Like me, you are a member of the RNA NWS. How has this benefited you?

The scheme is just brilliant for new writers. It gave me the confidence to go to writing conferences where I could mingle with other new writers and learn from established ones. The opportunity to hand in a manuscript and have an experienced writer give constructive feedback is priceless.

This year you won the Elizabeth Goudge award at the RNA conference. Well done! Can you tell us what it felt like when your name was called?

Surreal and so unexpected. I loved my story and it was written from the heart but I didn’t know if anyone else would feel the same. I had to ask those around me if I’d heard the winning title correctly. When I stood up and went to receive the trophy from Eileen Ramsay, I felt like an Oscar winner! Everyone was so nice afterwards too. The RNA members are a lovely bunch of people.

What was the hardest part of writing A Jarful of Moondreams?

The timeline of events. I made this hard for myself by planning the novel over seven moon months. I had to make sure that I was always in sync with the 2015 moon calendar and that the ‘once in a blue moon’ moment happened at the right time. I’m now quite an expert on the phases of the moon!

Any plans for a second novel?

I’m in the middle of ‘The one about Heather and Erin’ This is my working title and any title suggestions would be welcome. Heather is Cleo’s best friend and, after her minor part in ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’, she demanded her own story. Erin, an aspiring actress, is Heather’s younger sister and wanted a leading role too. Their lives are full of drama and they are finding the road to love a rocky one.

Do you have any tips to pass on to other writers?

There is never an ideal time to write so grab the moments that you can spare. Meet other writers by going to conferences or joining a writing association. My RNA friends keep me going and they understand the ups and downs and the absolute wonder of writing.

Chrissie Bradshaw lives by the Northumbrian coast with her family and loves taking her dog for a daily run along the seashore. Her other feel good essentials are tea, chocolate and a good book. A career in education, as a teacher then as a literary consultant, has given her the chance to share her passion for reading with young people. She believes that there are books to suit every taste and loves match-making a book with a reader. While undergoing treatment for cancer, Chrissie listed the things she wanted to do. (She is very good at lists but not so good at carrying them out!) Top of this list was believe in your writing and make time for it. She did. Three years later, she has one novel published, she has won the Elizabeth Goudge award 2016 from the RNA and she is writing her second novel.

Blurb for ‘ A Jarful of Moondreams

Sparring sisters, deception, family secrets and reawakened love means that trouble and change is in the air for Cleo Moon and her family. Cleo finds that losing control of your life and losing out in love is tough when you have always strived for success. Alex hates the crazy idea that she should be uprooted from her home and friends to live with her selfish older sister for the whole summer. Teri is desperate for her two daughters to bond but worries that she has left it too late. The family ‘Moondream’ jar, an Egyptian urn that has held their wishes for many years, provides links to the past and we discover which of the many wishes that it holds can be fulfilled.

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  1. Thank you for visiting my blog, Chrissie, and good luck with your novel.

  2. Lovely to read about your journey to publication, Chrissie! Love the fact you sat down and started your own book when stranded. All the best with it.

    1. I always like to hear about the different paths to publication too, Rosemary.

    2. Chrissie Bradshaw28 November 2016 at 17:38

      Thanks Rosemary. It's all about making the best of a situation and realising your dreams. Chrissie

  3. Congratulations Chrissie on turning that dream into reality. Wonderful achievement. Also agree that the Romantic Novelists' New Writers' Scheme provides truly outstanding support. : )

    1. I agree too, Rae - it's brilliant.

    2. Chrissie Bradshaw28 November 2016 at 17:45

      Yes we are fortunate to have a supportive and experienced group who work hard and know how to have fun too.

  4. What a great way to make the most of a travel delay!

    1. Chrissie Bradshaw28 November 2016 at 17:47

      We revisited Chicago last month. Same hotel but no delay so only stayed there three days. I have a soft spot for Chicago!

  5. Wow that was certainly turning a positive into a negative wasn't it. Great post, thank you.
    "The Far Side of the Moon" (rocky road to travel) xx

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sue. It put me in mind of Pink Floyd, except that was Dark Side of the Moon!

    2. Chrissie Bradshaw28 November 2016 at 17:51

      Thanks Sue.

  6. Congratulations, Chrissie, and it's interesting to see that your secondary characters also demand their stories are told.

    Thanks for this interesting blog post, Wendy.

  7. Chrissie Bradshaw28 November 2016 at 23:51

    Yes Carol, these two sisters wanted their share of the bookshelf.

  8. I love the idea of starting to write a novel because your flight was delayed! I've never heard of a reason like that before. It's always good to hear about an RNA NWS success story. Congratulations.