A Virtual Welcome To Wendy Clarke

Francesca and Elaine are proud to welcome Wendy Clarke to their blog. Wendy decided to make changes to her life three years ago and hasn’t looked back.

Wendy Clarke

Wendy, with over a hundred short stories published you are certainly a prolific short story writer, where do you find your ideas from? 

The word ‘prolificIMG_1083’ still sounds strange to me, as it seems like only yesterday I was dropping my first story in the post box and keeping my fingers crossed that the editors of the magazine might like it. In answer to the question ‘where do I get my ideas?’ there are many ways. The first is remembering small incidents in my life that might work as nuggets to write a story around – for example my story Out of the Dark in this month’s People’s Friend Special is written around my fear of the dark. I would say my next method is to listen carefully to others, especially my friends. One morning a good friend told me that her daughter sent texts to her signed by her new little grandson… what a gem of a story! That one ended up in Woman’s Weekly. Other than that, I read newspapers, keep my eyes and ears open and never, ever go out without a notebook!

How many short stories do you write a week and is there a pattern to how you write them?

Oh, yes. I am very strict with myself. I write one story a week unless I am on holiday (and even then I am scouting for ideas). As to when I write them, it depends on what I have on my calendar that week. I am not a slave to my writing; I write around other things that I do. It is nice to have a story written at the beginning of the week, though, so that I can move on to other writing tasks such as my blog, marketing my story collection and of course writing my novel!

What made you decide to publish Room in Your Heart?book cover-1

I wrote Room in Your Heart because I was frustrated that once my stories had been published in the magazines they would never be seen or read again. Also, a lot of people I know (like my family) aren’t readers of the magazines that contain fiction and I wanted to be able to show them what and how I write. As a lot (though by no means all) of my stories are romances, I decided to make Room in Your Heart a romance collection. Don’t be fooled by the title, there are a range of stories in the collection – all previously published in The People’s Friend – but they are by no means slushy.

Will you publish another book of short stories and how do you decide what to include?

The Last Rose - kindleFunny you should say that! My second collection, The Last Rose. is being published on Monday – it would be lovely to see everyone at the launch party on my blog Wendy’s Writing Now. I decided to put together the second collection after receiving fabulous reviews for Room in Your Heart and requests for another. The theme of The Last Rose is ‘family and friendship’. It will be published for kindle and in paperback and is available now to pre-order – perfect if you’re looking for a Mother’s Day gift. This time I have chosen stories that have been previously published in a variety of national women’s magazines and I am very excited about it!

I know this year you joined the Romantic Novelist Association New Writers Scheme (RNA NWS) so does that mean you are taking the giant leap into writing a novel?

Gulp… yes it is! I never seem to be satisfied with doing just one thing. Although I love writing short stories, I have also written articles and serials and a novel seems the next logical step. I had been thinking about the possibility of writing a novel for a while but it was only when a particular story of mine was published a year ago that I thought, now that could be taken a lot further. I joined the RNA NWS to give me the push I needed to make a start. I know I won’t have it finished by the time I have to submit for a critique in August, but I hope that I will have something decent to show. It’s certainly a learning curve.

Thank you very much for having me on your lovely blog and for being such a great host.

Blog http://wendyswritingnow.blogspot.co.uk/

Link to Amazon: Room in Your Heart http://www.amazon.co.uk/Room-Your-Heart-collection-romantic-ebook/dp/B00OW466WG

Link to Amazon: The Last Rose http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Rose-Stories-family-friendship-ebook/dp/B00U1WBAC4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1425064370&sr=1-1

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wendy.sargent.376

My Write Place

Francesca Capaldi Burgess talks about where she likes to write

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Sunset the day I posted this blog.

Sunset this evening.

Being comfortable with where I write is important to me, as I imagine it is with most writers. Currently I use the study, at the front of the house, which overlooks the grass and trees outside. It’s rather dark in the mornings, especially in winter, but benefits from the sun later in the day. Many an evening I’ve admired the sunset from my desk, grabbing my camera to capture it. (It never looks quite as good in my photographs!)

Study view.

Study view.

I’ve used several parts of the house to write in over the years. I started in the study, moving out several years ago when my son, Peter, moved back home for a while. He used it as a (very small) bedroom. I relocated to the ‘playroom’, still called that although it hasn’t been used as one for a long time. It does still contain many boxes of toys, along with the washing machine and dryer, tools, my husband’s hifi ‘bits’ and all those things you don’t know where else to keep. I set myself up at the table originally bought for the children to do their homework on. The room has the opposite light problem of the study, which I don’t really like.


The study desk is always overflowing.

From there, I moved to the dining room which had the advantage of feeling more spacious and a bigger table, but alas the disadvantage of no spare storage. I found myself going constantly to the playroom to retrieve things.

When Peter moved back out, I painted the study and moved back in, gathering together my things that had found homes in various other rooms. There is built in storage on two sides, though I have long since grown beyond it.

shelf 2

Just one of the overflowing bookshelves.

Wherever my work base is, I’ve never confined myself to working only there. When I feel restless, or it’s a lovely day out, I’ll drive off somewhere for a coffee. I can sit for hours, whether in a café at a shopping mall, the local garden centre or a nearby park. It allows me to concentrate entirely on that project, not distracted by the dishwasher, washing or any other household chore that suddenly seems more compelling. And if I’m working on new writing, I’m quite happy to write by hand.

Whitstable Retreat snow

Whitstable 2010. My workspace can be spied through the bottom window.

I’ve been away several times on week long writing retreats and I find this also works well. It has the same advantage as working in a coffee shop, in that there are no household distractions. I’ve been to Littlehampton and also four times to Whitstable, where I’m due to return this April. Despite there being other people present, we are all quite disciplined, allocating coffee and meal times which we stick to. We also spur each other on.

Writing Garden

The problem with writing in the garden is the temptation to weed!

In the summer I love to work in my garden, albeit under an umbrella, with several cushions and a big pot of tea. Roll on the good weather!

Where do you like to write?



Twitter: @FCapaldiBurgess

Love Is All Around Us, Or Is it?

Is romance alive and kicking? Elaine & Francesca give their take on it.

Elaine: It’s Valentine’s week. The week of love, romance, hearts and flowers. As romance writers, we write about attraction and love.Hearts

“Their eyes lock and she swiftly looks away.”

“Her body tingles at his touch.”

These are typical words from romance novels describing the first flourish of desire and love. What if you’re in a long-term relationship? What if you have children, does love and romance get lost as life takes over? How does the modern world and romance sit together, or don’t they?

I’m married, between us we have five children and one grandchild, my home is described as having a revolving front door. Or like living on Waterloo Station, which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a main train station in London. Would I change it? No, I love it. Family is everything to me.

Roses2So how do we fit romance into our lives? I get random texts during the day, when we are at work, saying, “I love you”. My husband will pop out for milk and return with a bunch of flowers as well. We are tactile people so there’s the touch of the hand, the kiss when we part company. When we are not in a position to touch there will be looks across the room, (I was so tempted to say across a crowded room).

The question is, do we need Valentines Day with its commercialism and pressure to make grand gestures. Where restaurant meals, in my experience, tend to be overpriced with extra tables crammed in. I sound quite cynical, but then maybe I am. For me love and romance isn’t about one day a year and no one should be judged on how they perform on that day. Love and romance is about all the little things that happen, and oftenLove taken for granted. When someone gives his or her heart and time to you, that is more precious then any amount of money spent on a gift or card. Let me know what romance means to you? I’m sure it’ll be different for all of us.

Twitter: @RobertsElaine11

Francesca: I agree about the commercialism, Elaine. I like receiving a card and flowers on Valentine’s day, and love going out for a meal, but it has all been rather overhyped as the years have gone on.

heart porcelain teddyDo we really need endless Valentine’s keyrings, mugs, cuddly toys, noticeboards, photo frames, figurines, notebooks, fluffy pens, lights, cookie cutters, tea towels, mittens, tote bags, measuring spoons, ice cream scoops and hot water bottles? These are just some of the items I’ve come across on sale this year for February 14th. I am ‘guilty’ of having some of these items myself, but at the same time get tired of seeing them rolled out every year even before the last of the yule log crumbs have been swept away.heart votives

Romance isn’t about what knick-knacks you buy someone.It’s a walk on the beach at sunset (corny but rather lovely anyway). It’s a glass of wine and a DVD, listening to your favourite music together by candlelight or a picnic in the country, stale sandwiches or otherwise. For me, romance is about being together.

love me do badgeTalking of favourite music, I didn’t know that my husband and I had an ‘Our Tune’ until a few years back when someone asked us. I was surprised to hear Andrew tell them it was Take Me I’m Yours by Squeeze. It was played a lot in our “courting” days (does anyone apart from our parents’ generation use that term anymore?) Normally it’s the men who are accused of not knowing such things!

So, do you have an ‘Our Tune’?

Twitter: @FCapaldiBurgess

Link: Take Me I’m Yours by Squeeze

heart house

“Can I, Can’t I?”

Elaine Roberts discusses her new venture.

So February’s here and my daffodils are rising high in my garden.Where did January go?
Sinceimages_2 Christmas, my nose has been buried in my new project, and I do mean buried, hours upon hours of research, taking copious amounts of notes and bookmarking. Thankfully, we have it easier these days than the writers of yesteryear. What I can find in an hour on the Internet would have taken days and several reference books, I’m sure. I’m beginning to think there’s nothing you can’t find on there, why didn’t we have that when I was at school? Homework would have been so much easier.

ThinkerHaving said that, my decision-making lets me down, my problem is I keep changing my mind about where my characters are going to live and what they are going to be called.

I’ve been looking at old maps to see what roads existed at the time I’m writing about images(have you noticed I’m not saying the time it’s set in, it’s a secret, even to me!) How long will it take them to get from A to B. Then there are character names. A name can tell you a lot about a character and their family history. For example, if a lady is called Fleur, then she is likely to be French or, at least have a French connection. I’ve read lists and lists of names, not just trying to find some that I like, but also trying to find ones that my readers won’t say “What!” to. At this point, more out of frustration than reality, I think maybe I have too many characters. Perhaps I could drop some, but no, I’ve planned eleven of my twenty chapters and all my characters are accounted for. So they stay and that’s final. Back to the name searching then.

I have given myself a deadline of getting ten chapters completed by the end of August, so the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme can critique it. I’ve never handed in an incomplete novel before but I’m wandering into uncharted waters. Well, they are uncharted for me anyway. The big question is can I write it, the answer is I don’t know, but I’m definitely going to try. There was a time over last weekend when I did get myself in a tizz over my abilities to write it, so against all my own rules, I started writing the opening scene. Only five hundred and ninety words but psychologically they were probably the most important words I have ever written, mainly because I was chuffed with the result. It’s only the first draft but my confidence has been lifted. I’m actually beginning to think I can do it and, when I do, you’ll all hear my screaming from the rooftops.

PlanningYou know, when I used to just read books, I never realised how much work and planning went into them.

Let us know what your scariest ‘can I, can’t I’ moment was, whether it’s applying for a job or trying something new.

Share it so I know I’m not on my own, please…

Twitter: RobertsElaine11