Last Word of the Week: Paula Harmon

Paula Harmon writes terrific books so many of you will know of her already (such as Murder Brittanica). I’m very glad to introduce Paula to LWOTW so we all have a chance to get to know a little more about her.

Paula Harmon photo

LWOTW: Welcome, Paula! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

Paula: The first I can remember was when I was about six or so. It was about the Clangers because I was a huge fan and fundamentally wanted to live in a world a lot more exciting than my own.

Film and Television
The Clangers https://www.britishclassiccomedy.co.uk/the-clangers

And the Clangers were always exciting, I agree! What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

I have very vivid dreams and they often lead to stories if I can remember them long enough to write them down. I’m also a great day-dreamer and spend a lot of time wondering ‘what if…’ – What if I went somewhere different? What if that person is in disguise? What if I found another world behind that door? Having said that I do plan stories a bit – the longer ones that is.

That sounds like a great combination of writerly imagination and organisation. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

I think getting wonderful feedback from readers and interacting with them at writers’ events. I have read from ‘Kindling’, ‘The Advent Calendar’ and ‘Murder Britannica’ and it’s fantastic when people respond with laughter or sighs or surprise in all the places you want them to. And it was great to be able to publish ‘The Cluttering Discombobulator’ in time to give it to my mother as an 80th birthday present. It is a tribute to my eccentric late father.

What are you most busy with at the moment?

I’m working on a sequel to ‘Murder Britannica’ which I hope to have out in 2019 if possible and on the fifth in the ‘Caster and Fleet’ Series. (By the time you read this, the fourth – ’The Case of the Masquerade Mob’ – will have been out a month.)

If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Write something regularly, even if it’s a couple of sentences or some dialogue – it keeps your writing muscles supple and you never know what it might lead to.

Great advice there! And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

A deep wine red.

Thank you so much Paula for speaking with me this week.

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Paula’s links:

https://paulaharmondownes.wordpress.com/

viewauthor.at/PHAuthorpage

https://www.facebook.com/pg/paulaharmonwrites

https://twitter.com/PaulaHarmon789

https://www.goodreads.com/paula_harmon

Last Word of the Week : Louise Walters Books

Louise Walters, the imaginative powerhouse behind Louise Walters Books (open for submissions!),  is today’s guest. Louise Walters Books is a small indie publisher focussing on high quality output in adult and YA fiction in all genres. Louise is a first reader, and also a writer, and now editor and publisher.

LWOTW: Welcome Louise! So, when did you write your first story?

Louise: When I was ten years old. It was about a family of three children who spend the summer holidays with their cousin in her big rambling house in the country. It was full of adventures, and very episodic. I still have it!

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That sounds like a perfect read for a holiday. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

What do I think of them? All three are important for writing. I day dream about my characters. I imagine conversations with them. I plan, to a degree; more with screenplays, less with novels.

That’s a few interesting conversations you must have. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

I’ve had some amazing experiences since I found my agent for my first novel, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase, back in 2012. My debut being published was really something, a dream come true.

Long live such dreams, eh? What are you most busy with at the moment?

I am now a small indie publisher as well as a writer, and working on my authors’ novels keeps me very busy! I’ve been fortunate to find some wonderfully talented writers and I can’t wait to share their work with readers. Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso is the first book published by Louise Walters Books.

FJ paperback

That’s marvellous – more power to you! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Don’t aspire. Write. Rid yourself of romantic notions of “being a writer”. Writers write, that’s all there is to it!

That’s great advice! And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Green!

You can find Louise at these links:

Last Word of the Week: Michelle Emerson

Join writer, editor and indie-author Michelle Emerson and me in today’s chat-fest. I love multi-tasking too! Michelle is the first non-fiction author I have interviewed on LWOTW, and as I have published some non-fiction books myself, it’s lovely to touch base again with that place of writing.

Michelle runs self-publishing services for indie authors, as well as writing her own very successful (and useful) help books for writers of all stripes. She lives in the north east of the UK and has a Shih Tzu called Buddy.

LWOTW: Hi Michelle, thanks for taking the time to chat with us here on Last Word of the Week. Tell us, when did you write your first story?

Michelle: Primary school, I think. As 7/8 year olds we were tasked with writing a ghost story (it must have been around Halloween time) and although I can’t remember much about the story (apart from a dapple grey rocking horse rocking in a bay window on its own) I can remember my teacher (lovely Mr Lenaghan) showing my story to another teacher and how happy it made me feel.

LWOTW: That’s a great memory. As a writer, what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

As a writer I think it’s always good to write when inspiration strikes. That way the writing process is much easier, the content comes from a place of passion, and often flows much better. Having said that, I’m a non-fiction author so I’m also a big advocate for planning. To me, the concept of writing a whole book is overwhelming. However, if I break it down into chunks, writing targets and using bullet points and mindmaps to brainstorm, I’m much more likely to finish writing my books in a shorter space of time.

LWOTW: That’s really interesting. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Publishing my first book. I’m a non-fiction / business book writer and have ghostwritten other books for clients. So to have my own name on the front cover was a big milestone for me. I no longer had the safety of hiding behind my authors’ names, and while it was scary to begin with, it has given me confidence to further publish another three books.

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LWOTW: I suspect that there has always been an author hiding inside! What are you most busy with at the moment?

I’m writing a book about blogging at the moment. All the chapters are scoped out, I have set myself a target of writing 7k words a week, and hope to have it finished within the next month – just in time for Christmas.

LWOTW: Gotta love a target before the holidays! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

You can do this!

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I love that! And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Orange.

 

 

Michelle’s links:

michelleemerson.co.uk

Facebook.com/thewritersassistant2013

Twitter.com/TheWritersAsst

https://www.linkedin.com/in/thewritersassistant/

Last Word of the Week: Jeannie Wycherley

Blessed with a wildly overactive imagination, English author Jeannie Wycherley is chatting with me today. Jeannie lives in Devon with her husband and the fur-kids, three beloved dogs who are spoilt rotten (something I totally understand). Jeannie writes stories that are dark, suspenseful, horror-filled … and sometimes just plain weird in a wonderful kind of way.

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LWOTW: It’s so lovely to meet you, Jeannie! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

Jeannie: I suppose like most writers I began in school. I loved writing, but you know what careers officers are like. They put me off. Instead I followed an academic path – right through to a PhD in history (which I loved doing, don’t get me wrong) – and worked in education for a long time. I ended up burnt out, on anti-depressants and receiving counselling for my struggle with work. Turned out I was just doing the wrong job and needed something more creative.

I started to write again in my early-forties and fell in love with it. It’s a rare day indeed where I don’t now do something related to my writing. My first success was an erotic story entered into a competition. I forget what it was called but it won. I was hooked!

Thanks, Jeannie, that really is a marvellous story and a bit of a reminder to those of us who have put off writing to do something more mainstream! What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Where would we be without any of those things? For as long as I can remember I have lived inside my imagination, a rich and colourful tapestry of weirdness for sure. I dwell there, with the characters I meet in other people’s work and the ones I conjure up myself. On long journeys I settle down for a good day-dream and put those characters in my head to work in different situations. My mind is a magical place, preferable to day-to-day reality sometimes!

Dreams are extremely important on a number of levels. I have my own dreams, as in my ambitions, driving me forward as a writer. I would love more people to delve into my stories. I’m sure there’s something for everyone. My ultimate dream is to write full time and support myself and my husband through sales, but at the moment it’s a balancing act.

I use my own nocturnal dreams as a starting point for stories. I recently wrote a love story (my first one as I usually write dark fantasy and horror) that came straight out of a dream. I awoke having experienced this coherent exploration of my feelings towards growing older, and feeling regret about things I miss from my younger years – a youthful body, the excitement of music and life and dancing, the first flush of true love etc. I really badly needed to write this up, and it became Keepers of the Flame. It’s a story I’m proud of, although a huge step away from what I normally write.

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As for planning, well … I am a planner, and all my work is plotted. I find it makes writing easier, although there is room for manoeuvre within the story if things strike me of course. Sometimes characters – and events – can take me completely by surprise. I love it when that happens.

Yes, that’s brilliant, isn’t it? What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

At the time of writing, the highlight is probably the publication of my debut novel Crone (2017). Sometimes I flip through my own copy and I think, ‘Did I really write that?’ Hahaha! It’s won a few awards that I’m proud of. A Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, and an Indie B.R.A.G Medallion.

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But by the time this piece goes out, it will definitely be The Municipality of Lost Souls. The characters and the setting have me totally hooked and I can’t wait to unleash it. It’s a Victorian Gothic ghost story set where I live on the East Devon (UK) coast – think Jamaica Inn meets The Walking Dead but with ghosts rather than zombies. It’s special and due out in Spring 2019.

Jamaica Inn meets The Walking Dead? Now I’m scared! Congrats on the new publications too. What are you most busy with at the moment?

I am hugely busy! I’ve just launched a new series called The Wonky Inn Books. The first novel, The Wonkiest Witch launched on Halloween, along with the Christmas special, The Witch Who Killed Christmas. These are designed to be lighter than my normal fare – they are clean and cozy witch mysteries.

I’m having such fun putting this series together! Book 2, The Ghosts of Wonky Inn and Book 3, Weird Wedding at Wonky Inn are both written and will be out before the end of the year, with two more to follow in 2019.

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I’m currently writing Book 4 and plotting Book 5. At any one time I seem to have a book being edited, one being formatted, one plotting, one being written and one in marketing. There’s nowhere near enough hours in the day!

That sounds intriguing. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Bum on seat. End of.

Oh yes!And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

My inspiration is drawn from the landscape, and I am so lucky to live where I do, where the forest meets the sea. My favourite colour is green.

 

Jeannie’s Links:

Amazon author page: http://author.to/JeannieWycherley

Website: https://www.jeanniewycherley.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeanniewycherley/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady

 

Last Word of the Week: Fiona Morgan

Fiona Morgan writes ‘thriller romances’ and lives in the small town of Airdrie near Glasgow with her husband and their two daughters. Fiona’s works include the gripping novels Free and What’s Mine. What a fabulous genre!

LWOTW: Welcome, Fiona. Tell me, when did you write your first story?

Fiona: Three years ago.content

You’ve been very busy since! What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Love them. Although a lot of my writing isn’t always planned, the story writes it for me.

That’s great! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

People reading and loving my books!

That is really affirming, isn’t it? What are you most busy with at the moment?

Book number 3, cleverly titled number 3.content2

If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

If you don’t do it it will never get done!

I agree: nobody else can write YOUR book. And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Red.

Fiona’s links:

https://www.facebook.com/fionamorganauthor/

https://www.twitter.com/@FionaMorgan79

http://www.fiona-morgan.pegasuspublishers.com/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/178465356X/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1784652075/

Last Word of the Week: Anne Coates

Today we are speaking with English author Anne Coates, who writes crime thrillers featuring protagonist Hannah Weybridge, a single mother and freelance journalist who lives in South East London – three characteristics she shares with her creator. However Anne insists that the similarity ends there and that gripping fiction takes over in the novels…

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LWOTW: Hello, Anne, lovely to meet you. Can you tell us when you wrote your first story?

Anne: I remember writing a poem when I was six or seven about a bumble bee and later, like many teens, carried on writing poetry before I moved on to short stories. The first one I had published was a “confession” story for a magazine I worked on. It was wonderful at the time but it took a few years before I had another story published.

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A confession! That sounds interesting. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Dreams are central to my writing life. I often think about my characters or the plot before I go to sleep which sometimes results in horrific nightmares as I write crime thrillers! However, my dreams often offer solutions and plot twists. I’m useless at planning in the early stages and like to let my imagination take over and go where it will. Once the first draft is complete I construct timelines and have a card for each chapter and character but even then I go with the imaginative flow.

That sounds like the best of both worlds – planning and pantsing. And it obviously brings about great results! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Being published is a huge buzz but nothing beats having people enjoy my books. It’s such a joy than being at a non-book event when someone says how much they enjoyed a Hannah Weybridge book. Most recently it happened to me at Tessa Jowell’s Memorial Service!

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That’s totally awesome, good on you. What a great feeling. Tell us, what are you most busy with at the moment?

I’m writing the fourth in the Hannah Weybridge series. Plus on the back burner I’ve been toying with a stand-alone which is very different.

I suspect that like many writers, you have quite a number of back burners, Anne. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Read widely – not just your own genre – and write, write, write until you find your own voice. Then write some more.

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

That depends on my mood! Often yellow and red but never orange.

Very interesting! Thank you so much Anne for spending time with us on last Word of the Week.

 

Anne’s links:

Anne’s Website: www.annecoatesauthor.com
Anne’s FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnneCoatesAuthor/
Anne’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anne_Coates1

Last Word of the Week: Tom Williams

Today we’re speaking with Tom Williams, English author of Napoleonic-era derring-do novels who can also dance a mean tango. We like the cut of his jib.

LWOTW: Welcome, Tom. Tell us, when did you write your first story?

I won a short story competition when I was 11. I presumably wrote something before that, but I can’t remember.

LWOTW: Congrats on the early success! What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

You need all three.

LWOTW: I totally agree. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

‘The White Rajah’ was briefly #2 in Amazon.uk’s list for biographical fiction. I felt pretty good about that.

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LWOTW: What are you most busy with at the moment?

This minute I’m replying to a questionnaire. After that I’ll probably do some more research on Napoleon.

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Napoleon crossing the Alps by Jacques Louis David – Bonaparte franchissant le Grand Saint-Bernard, 20 mai 1800 – Google Art Project.jpg

 

LWOTW: Very good idea! Now, if you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Don’t.
You’ll be permanently broke, constantly failing to get any real work done and cursing your failure to make #1 in the biographical fiction charts. But if you really have what it takes to be a writer, you’ll ignore me and write anyway.

That is wonderful advice!

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Yellow

Website: tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk

There are buy links to all Tom’s books at  http://tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk/my-books/

Tom’s Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tom-Williams/e/B001KDZDOY

Tom’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTomWilliams/

Tom’s Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4466401.Tom_Williams

Last Word of The Week: Karen King

Today I’m chatting with Karen King, who started her writing career writing for Jackie magazine (a British magazine for teenage girls), and children’s comics such as Postman Pat and Winnie the Pooh. Karen is a multi-published author of children’s books and romantic fiction. She has published 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, five romantic novels and several short stories for women’s magazines. Karen signed up with Bookouture (the hottest digital publisher around) earlier this year for two romantic novels. The first one, Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel, will be available on 9 November.

LWOTW: Welcome, Karen, it’s great to have you here. Tell us, when did you write your first story?

Karen: I can’t remember. I’ve written stories ever since I was a child and had a poem published when I was about ten. My first published story was in Jackie magazine back in the early eighties.

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A lifelong writer, then. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

I think ideas for stories come in many different ways and often a dream can be the catalyst then imagination takes it further and planning knocks it into shape.

A very neat summary. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Being asked to open a library at a local school when I lived in Worcester and discovering that they’d actually written my name on a plaque on the wall. I was so touched and honoured.

Library plaque

That really is a highlight! What are you most busy with at the moment?

I had a two-book contract with Bookouture earlier this year and my first book, Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel, is out on 9th November so I’ve been busy doing edits for it. I’ve also just finished writing the second book (I can’t divulge the title of that yet) so no doubt will have edits for that soon.

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That’s a lovely sort of busy. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Don’t think too much when you are writing your story. Get the story out of your head and down onto the screen/paper. Then you can think what works and what doesn’t, what you can improve, tweak, rewrite. The story comes first.

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Red.

Thank you so much, Karen, for joining us for the Last Word of the Week.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Clare

Karen’s links:

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Young Adult Books Facebook Page

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenkingauthor/?hl=en

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/3187489145

‘Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel’ buy link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Snowy-Nights-Lonely-Hearts-Hotel-ebook/dp/B07GDTK16B/

 

 

Last Word of the Week: Paula Martin

Today I’m thrilled to interview Paula Martin, a British author whose contemporary romances have great characters, intrigue, mystery, and fabulous settings such as Connemara in Ireland. That’s one of my favourite places in the whole world. I’m interested to hear about Paula’s writing journey.

LWOTW: Welcome, Paula, good to meet you. When did you write your first story?

Paula: Probably when I was about seven or eight. I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember (including cheesy romances for my friends to read when I was in my teens). In 1968, when I was in my twenties, I had my first acceptance of a short story by a magazine, and my first novel was also accepted and published by the first publisher I submitted it to. How lucky was that?

LWOTW: I think luck was only a small factor! But it is the stuff of dreams, I agree. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

We all need dreams, in some form or another, but we also have to accept that not all our dreams will come true – like reaching the #1 spot in the Amazon rankings, for example, which is probably my ‘wildest’ dream!

Imagination, however, is boundless, and can take us wherever we want to go. My imagination takes me on an emotional journey with all my characters, who become as real to me as any real-life friends. I can also re-visit some of my favourite places in my imagination while I write my stories, such as London’s West End theatre world, the English Lake District, Paris, New York, Egypt, and Ireland.

As for planning, this is where I am a contradiction. In real life, I tend to plan everything beforehand; in my writing, I am a basically a pantser. I have a vague idea about where my story is (or should be) going, but my characters take over and tell me their story.

LWOTW: That’s an interesting refelction on your writing processes. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

I can’t pinpoint any one highlight, as there have been so many. Obviously my very first acceptance by a ‘big’ publisher (Mills and Boon), when I was in my twenties, was one of them. Equally, after a long non-writing period, an acceptance by a publisher in 2010, restored my faith in myself as a writer.

Since then, and ten books later, there have been so many different highlights. Knowing people are buying and enjoying my books is wonderful, and a good review can make my day. Another highlight has been making some wonderful writing friends, both online and in ‘real life’.

IMG_3561 Connemara

LWOTW: What are you most busy with at the moment?

I’m busy promoting my ‘Mist Na Mara’ series. The first four books were originally published between 2014 and 2017, and sold steadily during those years. However, my publisher closed in the middle of 2017, and the books were offline for several months before being republished, so I lost the momentum of sales, and am now trying to promote them again. The fifth book in the series was published earlier this year.

All the books in the series are stand alone novels, with different heroes and heroines, but are linked by their setting at my imaginary Mist Na Mara House in the beautiful Connemara area in the west of Ireland. I didn’t set out to write a series, but somehow, one thing led to another!

At the same time, I’m writing the sixth in the series (as yet untitled), which is a reunion story following the acrimonious break-up several years earlier between the main characters.

LWOTW: You certainly have a lot on your plate. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Never say ‘That’ll do.’ Never be satisfied with less than your best, and keep trying to improve on your best.

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Blue, the colour of the sky and the sea.

Paula Martin

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, Paula!

Paula’s links:

Website: http://paulamartinromances.webs.com

Blog: http://heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulamartinromances

Amazon author page: http://author.to/MistNaMara

Last Word of the Week: Steven Neil

Today I am very happy to be interviewing Steven Neil, an English author who writes historical fiction with a twist of intrigue and mystery.

LWOTW: Welcome, Steven! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

I wrote my first story when I was seventeen. I thought I would study English Literature at university and become an author. In fact I studied Economics instead and didn’t write another story for thirty-five years. When I retired I studied English Literature at the Open University and my writing began again.

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LWOTW: We’re very glad that you got back to it! What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Dreams and imagination are the creative spark for any writer but it is planning and the ability to implement a plan that takes a writer through to publication. I always thought I could only write short stories, but if you can write one 2000 word short story, you can probably write ten 2000 word short stories. Once you understand that, it is only a question of having the persistence to write, say, thirty-five linked 2000 word short stories and you have written a novel! That is the way I did it.

LWOTW: That’s an interesting way to go about it. Thanks for that. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Writing and publishing my first historical fiction novel The Merest Loss in December 2017. In doing so, I achieved something I never thought I could do. It took three years of research, during which time I completed a Masters in Creative Writing.

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The Merest Loss is a story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

LWOTW: It sounds wonderful. Another one for the TBR pile. What are you most busy with at the moment?

In some ways writing a novel is the easy part! It doesn’t feel like it at the time but once you embark on the process of trying to market your book, you realise how difficult it is to achieve recognition in a very crowded marketplace. However good your novel is, and however many 5* reviews you garner, you need to work at it to make sales. I’m currently busy creating my social media profile, developing my network of independent booksellers and building a programme of speaking engagements. Books don’t sell themselves on their own when you are a first-time author!

LWOTW: With luck your background in Economics will help! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Never give up. If there is a book in you, it has to come out.

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Brown.

Here is Steven’s independent author network profile, containing twitter and facebook links and buy links:

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/steven-neil.html

THE MEREST LOSS #HistoricalFiction #Romance

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

Available in paperback and ebook in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.com/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.ca/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.com.au/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5