Archives

FREE FOR 5 DAYS ONLY

EVERY STEP OF THE WAY – FREE FOR 5 DAYS ONLY ON KINDLE!!!!

In celebration of my new novel White Stones, my previous novel Every Step of the Way is for 5 days only available to download on Kindle for free.

This book was shortlisted in 2004 for the Harry Bowling Prize for a London novel. It tells the story of Beth, a young teenager whose world is thrown into darkness and chaos when London is hit by the 1952 Great Smog, leaving in its wake a trail of death and disruption, and changing her life in ways she never thought possible. In the emerging teenager culture of juke boxes and coffee bars, Teddy Boys and gang fights, Every Step of the Way envelops much of the social history of the 1950s.

 

In February 2019, Every Step of the Way was awarded a Chill with a Book Award, as recommended by its readers.

 

A few of the reviews for Every Step of the Way

“…brilliant depiction of early 50s culture, complete with quiffs, drainpipes and juke-boxes, set against the moral as well as economic austerity of the post-war years. The other is the spirited and engaging heroine who for much of the book is alone against the world. …I was rooting for Beth from page one and could not have left without knowing the outcome of her dramatic story. It’s no surprise that this book just missed the Harry Bowling Prize for a novel set in London and if you fancy a warm-hearted read and a touch of nostalgia this is for you.”

“This novel, set in London and Gloucestershire in the aftermath of WWII, gave me a real sense of what life was like in the 1950s, when rationing was still in place and the women who had kept the country going in the fields and in the factories during wartime, were all back at the kitchen sink. It must have been a difficult time for teenagers to grow up in and Kit Domino captures the essence of the 1950’s era exceptionally well. The depiction of the London smog and its effects on the population is particularly harrowing and poignant and this is where this story begins. We follow the life of Beth, a 16-year-old girl living in 1950’s London, who through experiencing love, life and loss, becomes a grown woman by the end of the novel. It’s a coming of age story that is beautifully written, expertly told, and one I simply couldn’t put down. Highly recommended.”

Available on Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Jg7ThD   https://amzn.to/2YgxVY1

Another Rejection? Never Give Up!

Having your novel rejected by publishers is hard, especially when you are first starting out. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your book but it hurts when rejection follows rejection. You take it personally, although it isn’t—it all comes down to finance and whether a publisher is willing to take a gamble. So I can well understand why many writers today go down the self-published route, some not even bothering with even trying for a publisher, feeling it better to keep hold of the reins and control of their work, and of course, to keep all the profit their book may earn.

In today’s world of the ease and acceptance of self-publishing, it is also becoming more apparent publishers are unwilling to sign up a new author, instead preferring their writers to have proven themselves by having churned out and self-published at least five novels, regardless of actual sales attained by each. They prefer too for their authors to already have a large following on social media so that any new book the publisher releases will have a ready audience.

But I wonder how many of these self-published authors still want to find that elusive publishing deal? Become a “proper” contracted author along with the kudos that comes with it? Okay, so we all know even if you are lucky to find a publisher willing to pay you for your work, that tantalizing dream of earning mega bucks will probably never come true. But are authors being truly honest with themselves when they say they don’t that, it isn’t why they write, they have published and that’s all that matters?

Take me, for example. I’ve been writing for many years. I have several novels completed, others nearly so and several more started ready for when I have time to finish them. I’ve been short-listed for a major national writers’ award with one of my novels leading to a top London agent liking my book so much she signed me up. We agreed on a publishing name, talked about the cover…and there the fairytale ended. No one took it up. In the end I self-published through my own publishing business. The novel was well-received, sold a fair few copies and all the reviews were good ones. (Every Step of the Way available through Amazon).

The story with my second novel hasn’t even reached that far. I’ve lost count of the number of rejections I have received. All the publishers I’ve submitted it to like the story and my writing style, they say, and are intrigued by the plot and characters. Yet not one, so far, has contracted it. A major publishing house thought my book was worthy of publication but not enough to take a gamble on me as a new writer. Oh, they did offer me a contract—a partnership contract to publish if I paid them £2,500.00.  Yeah, right. If you like my story that much but are not prepared to take a gamble on me, why should I take a gamble on you doing everything you say you would do in the contract. And I would certainly have to make a lot of sales to even break even. I don’t think so. It enough to make this writer want to self-publish again.

Only there’s a little bookworm wriggling inside me telling me not to give up. I shall continue trying, and keep sending it out to publishers and agents. I have nothing to lose. And whilst I wait for the responses, I am concentrating on my other novels and completing those already started. So, a big sorry to all my fans and followers who were looking forward to reading the book soon.  I know you’ve waited a long time. But it is coming, in one form or another and I hope it will be worth the wait.

Meanwhile, I take heart from the authors listed below who fought hard to be recognized and accepted by a publisher. I won’t mention JK Rowling as we all know her story by now, but the rest are perhaps less well-known. They didn’t give up either. Neither shall I.

John Creasey MBE:  In 1986, he held the record for the most rejections, at a staggering 743 No Thank You’s before hitting the jackpot. His first books, westerns and thrillers, earned him another staggering figure: £10 each!

Fay Weldon: For 20 years everything she sent out was rejected until a publisher accepted her work.

Agatha Christie: Her first who-done-it, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was rejected five times, but undaunted, she continued to write crime stories, and her play The Mousetrap still holds the record for the longest continuous stage-run in the world.

Alan Sillitoe: His novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was likewise rejected five times. Prior to writing this, he had churned out seven novels. He never gave up either.

Alistair McLean: His short stories never got anywhere until the day he won a short story competition and was asked by the publisher to write a novel. His first book, HMS Ulysses, became a hit, earning him £50,000.

Zane Grey: It took him six years of writing stories before finally being accepted. He went on to become the king of cowboy and western books.

Baroness Orcy: The Scarlet Pimpernel was rejected by 12 publishers.

Alex Haley: Before Roots hit the No.1 spot, Alex had received hundreds of rejections.

Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Peter Rabbit received six rejection letters before success came knocking out of the carrot patch.

George Orwell: Animal Farm amassed 23 rejections before the gates opened to success.

RD Blackmore: He never gave trying despite Lorna Doone being rejected by 18 publishers.

Frank Herbert: He received 13 rejections before Dune was accepted.

Thor Heyerdahl: Despite the story of his epic adventure on the high seas, his book Kon-Tiki was rejected 18 times before being published.

Almost There with Harry Bowling

Novel competitions are rare compared with the plethora for short stories and poetry so last week’s announcement calling for submissions to the 2012 Harry Bowling Prize for unpublished novelists is most welcome. It also prompted my first blog proper. I want to tell you a little story. Sitting comfortably? Coffee at hand?  Good, I’ll begin.

 

Every Step of the Way
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a wannabe writer worked for 10 years alone in her ivory bedroom writing and dreaming of being a published author. A fairy godmother appeared in the guise of the Artists’ & Writer’s Yearbook telling her of the Harry Bowling Prize. But there were strict rules to follow: 10,000 words plus synopsis. Unpublished. Any genre. Must be set in London. Our heroine had written two and a bit books. None fitted the last criteria. Undaunted, knowing London well, she set about writing another, centring on something unique to that city. The task complete, she sent off her entry. And waited. And waited. Waited until the day a buff-coloured envelope arrived. Excited, she ripped it open. The dreaded word “Unfortunately” leapt out at her. Disappointed but not disheartened, she began to write another book, a ghost story. Woooo oooo. Spooky.

Two years passed. 2004 arrived. The next HB competition opened. The same rules applied. This time her book was set in London. Well, partly. And it still needed a synopsis. Arrrgh the dreaded synopsis, she thought, almost giving up then and there. Harry Bowling, she learnt, wrote London sagas. Ah ha, was that the magic formula needed? If she turned hers into a saga would it stand more of a chance? After all, that’s what he wrote. So, waving a magic pen, she switched genres, the Goldington Ghost changing into Every Step of the Way. She kissed her entry goodbye, sending it far, far away to the land of the MBA Agency.

Each day she anticipated the coming again of the buff envelope. It never arrived. August almost ended, two days to go before she was to fly away on holiday, the telephone rang. Oh how her heart somersaulted hearing those wonderful words, “I’m delighted to tell you, you have been shortlisted.” She screamed. She cried. She laughed all the way to cloud nine with no aeroplane wings to get there, her feet never touching the ground for months after.

An invitation arrived requesting her presence at the presentation party where the winner would be announced. In an upstairs room of a little French restaurant in London, accompanied by her two ugly (sorry) beautiful twin sisters, she ate delicious canapés, drank copious wine, and met friends she knew from the RNA and many more besides. Such fun, such laughter. Such tension.

Every Step of the Way didn’t win but our heroine was far from sad. For her, being shortlisted was happiness enough. The runner-up prize money enough to buy a flat screen for her computer, the box of chocolates greedily scoffed on the train ride home, the HB book indeed a great read, these things were insignificant to the real treasures received that day. These were the gifts of acknowledgement and recognition she could write good, proof she had something valuable to say. People finally sitting up, taking notice, saying, “Here is a serious writer”. A giant kick to boost her ego, a foot through agents’ doors and a springboard over the slush piles. And finally, joy of joys, she found a top London agent.

(Pssst: This is the part where you grab a tissue) Unfortunately (why is there always an unfortunately?) the agent didn’t find a publisher. “The market’s flooded with sagas at the moment.” “Sagas aren’t popular any more.” “We can’t take a gamble on an unknown in today’s financial market.” Horrible words our heroine didn’twant to hear. But despite all, she never gave up trying to change from a wannabe into a real published author.

A happy ending to my story hasn’t been written. There isn’t one. Not yet.

However, it is certainly not a tale of misery or woe. On the contrary. It’s one of determination and encouragement, of not giving up, of wanting to live the dream and trying one’s damnedest to make wishes come true. For our heroine, entering the fabulous Harry Bowling competition was one of the best things she ever did, from the valuable lessons learned, the tantalizing glimpse of what can be achieved, to all the marvellous, supportive and close friends made along the way.

And friends, this isn’t a fairy story.  It’s true. I know. I am that heroine.

So go on, give the Harry Bowling a go. It’s worth it. And Good luck.  I might even try again. Who knows?

Every Step of the Way, a 1950s London saga, is scheduled to be released on Kindle during 2011.

Kitchen Tip of the Day:
Fed up with cleaning the oven floor? All those horrible burnt on bits? The smoke? The spray cleaner fumes? A pain in the proverbial to kneel on floor to clean, even worse trying to get back up? Do what I do. Place a large, cheap or past-its-best baking tray on the oven floor and leave there. Take out and wash occasionally or chuck in dishwasher every now and again. When it gets really bad, place in dustbin and buy another tray. Sorted.