Tuesday 24 April 2018

Did Someone Say Ghost? - Guest Post Natalie Kleinman

Natalie Kleinman is my blog guest this week. Natalie was one of the very first guests on Wendy's Writing Now back in 2014 so I'm delighted to be welcoming her back. Natalie's Regency romance, The Ghost of Glendale, will be published on 25th April and I wanted to find out a little more about the novella and also about her writing life.

We’re stuck in a lift. You have two minutes to persuade me to buy The Ghost of Glendale before help arrives. Ready, steady, go!

Phoebe Marcham is twenty-four years old and resigned to spinsterhood, unwilling to settle for anything less than the deep love her parents had shared. Then Duncan Armstrong rides into her home and into her heart, larger than life and with laughter in his eyes and more charm in his little finger than anyone she’s ever met before. The French Revolution is history and he’s been travelling on the Continent, indulging his love of historical artefacts and enlarging his collection. Home now, his thirst for adventure hasn’t abated and, far from ridiculing her family ghost, Duncan resolves to help Phoebe solve the mystery which has left Simon Marcham a spirit in torment for two hundred years.

The Ghost of Glendale is a Regency novella, what attracted you to this period in history?

Oh that’s an easy one. I was weaned on Georgette Heyer who is my all-time favourite author. She had wit and charm and a wonderful grasp of her subject. What can I say about her that hasn’t already been said? She brought that period in history to life for me and for so many others. In a way it took a lot of courage to write this book. It felt a bit like reaching for the stars. Georgette Heyer had done it before and done it better than anyone else in my opinion. But there was a compulsion which I couldn’t resist. I had to try.

What three words would you use to describe your protagonist, Phoebe Marcham?

Feisty, Engaging, Tenacious

How long did it take you to write your novel?

This was a joy to write for many reasons but way up there was the fact that it was always only ever going to be novella length. The main thread was in my head from the start and it just fell from my fingertips. It took something in the region of four months, though it’s over a year since I wrote it. It was submitted to and accepted by The People’s Friend as a pocket novel, which is why I have chosen for the first time to self-publish. My justification to myself was that if it was good enough for DC Thomson it was sufficient endorsement to go ahead.

Are you a pantster or do you plot?

Although I do plot more now than ever before, I am by nature a pantser. For instance, (and I’d be interested to know about your own experience in this field), when writing short stories I always have the beginning and the end. It’s getting from the one to the other that is a mystery until I start writing. In a way it’s similar with a novel, although I do try to have one or two sub-plots waiting in the wings. That said, something may come to me, seemingly from out of nowhere, and take me on its own sweet way. I have been known to write myself into a corner on occasions but mostly it works. The book takes on a life of its own and I go where it takes me.

Do you believe in writers’ block?

Am I allowed to say yes and no? I have suffered – oh how I have suffered – from staring at a screen in despair, wondering what on earth I was going to write next. But I believe these are the times just to get something written, anything written, in order to get things flowing again, even if it’s discarded later. Is that writers’ block? I don’t think so. It’s just a momentary lack of inspiration and that’s where the perspiration comes in.

You have written short stories for magazines. Do you prefer writing shorter or longer fiction?

Oh, both have their place in my heart. There’s a real joy in writing a short story. To create a world and resolve a conflict in a couple of thousand words is very satisfying. My short stories aren’t always happy ever afters but they’re always rewarding, for me anyway. That said, I don’t think anything beats the euphoria of completing a novel and, after however many edits, knowing you’ve done the best you can and told the story you want to tell. I never type ‘The End’. I know when it’s the end.

Is there anything you wish someone had told you before you embarked on a writing career?

Oh yes! I’d like someone to have said “Are you crazy? Don’t you know how hard this is?” But I’m glad they didn’t. I’m where I want to be.

What was the first book that made you cry?

There have been so many, I don’t remember which was the first. In many ways it’s like going to the movies. When I was younger I would bite my lip and either not give way to tears or at the very least hide them from my companions. It was the same with books. Nowadays I cry unashamedly, at films, at books, and even at some of my own stories.

What next for Natalie Kleinman?

I’d love to write another Regency. I’m hoping this one is well-received. In the meantime there is a plot in my head. I know the beginning. I know the end. I just have to get from the one to the other.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Wendy. I’ve enjoyed it so much.

At twenty-four years old, Phoebe Marcham is resigned to spinsterhood, unwilling to settle for anything less than the deep love her parents had shared. That is, until adventurer Duncan Armstrong rides into her home wood, larger than life and with laughter in his eyes and more charm in his little finger than anyone she’s ever met before. Far from ridiculing her family ghost, Duncan resolves to help solve the mystery which has left Simon Marcham a spirit in torment for two hundred years.

The Ghost of Glendale can be purchased here Amazon

Natalie is a published novelist and short story writer whose addiction to the books of Georgette Heyer and love of The Regency have been the inspiration for her latest book, The Ghost of Glendale. 

Working on the premise that you never stop learning, she goes to any and every writing event and workshop she can. In addition she attends The Write Place Creative Writing School in Hextable in Kent, one of the rewards for which is an abundant supply of cream cakes to celebrate the frequent successes of its students. 

Natalie is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She lives with her husband in southeast London.

Social Media Links –

Blog: https://nataliekleinman.blogspot.co.uk/

Natalie's interview has been part of a blog tour organised by Rachel's Random Resources.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Writing Inspiration in Mallorca - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Alright, I admit it. I've been away again but I'm not going to feel guilty.

The reason I'm not is because of my neighbour. She and her husband are in their eighties and are not able to do the things they used to do. Even a trip to the village shop is a major outing for them these days. Whenever I stop for a chat with her, she always says to me, "Wendy, do as much as you can, while you can. One day you'll be old and may not be able to do everything you want to do. Make the most of life while you can."

These words were an echo of those of a dear friend who passed away two years ago and it made me think about the truth in them. Life is for living... for enjoying. I've had periods of my life when things have been challenging but, at the moment, life is great. None of us know what's around the corner and, while we are able, my husband and I have decided to make the most of it. Having wonderful breaks in beautiful places such as the one we've just had in the Tramuntana Mountains of Mallorca, being one way.

We were there for five days and stayed in a simple finca on a hillside studded with orange and lemon trees. This photograph was of our garden and, each morning, we'd pick oranges from the trees and have freshly squeezed orange juice with our breakfast.

Each morning, we'd wake up to the sound of sheep bells and birdsong, and, when we opened the shutters, the air was filled with the fragrance of orange blossom. Once, we looked out to see a heard of mountain goats in our orchard!

Fifteen minutes down a steep and cobbled track (and over stepping stones in a stream) led us to the village of  Fornalutx, which prides itself on having the title of the prettiest village in Spain. It was obvious why - nestled in the mountains, its cobbled streets and warm stone houses with their red-tiled roofs are a delight.

The place is a walkers' paradise but, having only brought trainers, my husband and I were content to take the footpath through the olive trees to Soller in the valley below and then on to Port de Soller. If we were looking for a beach resort, this is probably where we'd choose as it was lovely.

Feeling a bit lazy, we caught the little tram back to Soller, then walked back to Fornalutx, stopping for a well-earned chilled glass of white wine in the square.

The rest of or days were spent, visiting the lovely seaside resort of Puerto Pollensa, discovering the villages of Valldemossa and Deia and eating good food. We were lucky to have several restaurants in the village and didn't have a bad meal. In fact, the paella we had on our last night was probably the best we've ever eaten.

As you can imagine, we were very sad to leave our little finca but holidays must come to an end. My husband needed to get back to work and I needed to get back to my writing. I like to think of these breaks as inspiration for my magazine stories - needless to say, I have already started one set on this beautiful island. 

Speaking of magazines, I came home to find I had a story in the latest People's Friend magazine and here it is!

Monday 2 April 2018

What's Happening With Your Novel? Who knows?

"What's happening with your novel?" 

That's the question I've been asked a lot recently, by family, friends and also by some of the lovely people who have been following my writing journey on this blog.

The honest answer is I'm not really sure. In many ways, I've been extremely fortunate, my novel has won a competition, and several agents have asked to see the full manuscript, but it's just the first step in a very long process. I'm trying to be patient and optimistic but it's surprising how quickly the initial euphoria at sending that manuscript off can change to nail-biting self-doubt as soon as the waiting begins again.

With no news you start to second guess, deciding the reason you've heard nothing from an agent is because:

a) They haven't had time to read it.
b) They have had time to read it but have been too busy to email you.
c) They've read it and loved it but want a second opinion.
d) They've read it and didn't like it but didn't know how to tell you.
e) They've read it and didn't like it but forgot to tell you.
f) The email with the attached manuscript went astray and they never received it.
g) The email offering a contract went astray.
h) The email rejecting your novel went astray.

... and so on.

In the meantime, I've been trying to put it out of my mind by busying myself with writing more stories for the magazines. This week has seen three of them published (one in the People's Friend magazine and two in Woman's Weekly Fiction special). I'll leave you with some pictures of them and promise that if I hear any good news regarding my novel, you will be the first to know... after my husband, children, mother, brother, sister and writing chum Tracy Fells :)