I have always written. As a child I filled exercise books with tales akin to those of Enid Blyton, and Nigel Tranter, later penning stories while my children slept; the unfinished results still in loose-leaf folders somewhere in my loft to this day.
From being a pupil at The Fitzwimarc School Rayleigh I attended college then took up library work as much to fuel my thirst for knowledge as to be surrounded by the written word which was my passion. I researched many subjects whilst refilling shelves and pointing readers in the right direction and often found myself visiting the underground book-safe, known in library speak as 'the stacks' wanting to glean as much as I could from the fragile, rare or simply out of print volumes.
As a married woman with three children, life has always been busy and though now I'm able to write full time it was not always so. My first foray into getting published was by fluke in 1994. My sister, having signed up for an evening class left after a short while and suggested I take her place. Though reluctant at first, attending Marion Hough's 'How to Get Published' course was one of the best things I have ever done.
Out of that evening class came a solid friendship with eight other members and following Marion's suggestion we formed a splinter group of would- be novelists who met every two weeks at each other's houses and who religiously produced at least three thousand words of our fledgling novels. These we read out in turn for a critique and a welcome glass of wine.
Novels being a lengthy business we inevitably lost a couple of our fraternity along the way and to keep up moral those that remained decided to produce a volume of short stories for charity. These we self published and consequently 'the Seven Pens Press was born. Four successful volumes of 'Stories from Seven Pens' were printed in all.
But like anything else Writing is a craft to be learned. It is ten percent talent and ninety percent hard graft. It took a good five years of that hard graft before I got my first article commercially published. It also took encouragement from like-minded people, support from my family and the friendship of a fellow writer named Robert Hallmann.
Robert was already a successful photographer with exhibitions to his name yet his dream was to write stories that could be illustrated by a life time of pictures he had taken professionally. Our shared interest in history was tangible. When he offered to illustrate a local history article I was thinking of attempting I jumped (cautiously) at the chance. It was accepted by the Essex county magazine, Essex Life & Countryside and Robert and I have continued to write together and separately for many magazines.
Subsequently I decided to see if I could turn one successful feature I'd written for a Valentine edition of Essex Life, namely, 'Romantic Essex Girls' into a book, as I had researched so many interesting females but had not been able to use them.
It took a while in the writing. False starts, and periods of not being able to put pen to paper due to family commitments lead to frustrations and self doubt. Eventually I had a synopsis and a few chapters to offer one publisher…only to experience the statutory rejection. For a couple of days I was ready to give up; but then determination got the better of me and I worked solidly to finish my manuscript
Once it was complete I sent it to a different publisher not daring to hope it would be successful…
You cannot imagine how it felt to have it accepted.