Tag Archives: writing

What Agents, Editors and Publishers Ask Writers…

It can be quite nerve wracking speaking to agents, editors and publishers no matter what stage of the writing ladder you’re at, but especially so, I remember, when I was unagented and unpublished.

Looking back, there seemed to be several questions which cropped up regularly. I thought I’d share them as, even though I am now agented and have a publisher, they still came up at a recent meeting.

blog picture pen

What genre do you write in?

I found just saying ‘romance’, didn’t really pin down my style of writing very well. Romance is a very broad genre and includes, historical, suspense, contemporary, paranormal, Christian and so on. By defining it as mystery, suspense and romance worked far better and helped to expand the conversation.

Which author would you compare your work to?

I hate this type of question. If I answer no-one, will it make me sound ignorant of other writers? If I come out with an international best-selling author, will I sound too full of myself? I find a good way to deflect it, is by saying which authors I like to read and to say whether they have influenced my writing at all.

Can you sum up your novel in a couple of sentences?

This is actually a really useful exercise and can help no matter who asks you about your book, whether it be an agent, a publisher or a friend. If you can include the theme of your book, how you address this and the genre in just three sentences, then this shows that you really know your book and your market. It also helps to avoid those awkward silences or the false starts that start off, ‘Well, it’s about a woman. Well, two women. No. Actually, it’s about this man …’ Nailing it right down to three concise sentences will not only help to inspire confidence and professionalism in you from their point of view, but it will do exactly the same for you.

Where do you see yourself in 3/4/5 years’ time?

If you can outline your next book in a couple of sentences, this goes a long way to showing that you are serious about being an author. It shows that you have more than one book in you and you are worth investing in. If you can also have a general idea of where you are heading with your writing career, again, this all helps to show your professionalism and ambition.

Why did you want to speak to me?

This can be a tricky one, saying you’re working your way through the Writers Yearbook, probably isn’t going to go down too well. Explain, why you wanted to see them, maybe they have other authors similar to your style, yet you still have something fresh and new to offer. Perhaps, the publisher has a wide reaching audience or it might be because they are a small independent publisher and the family feel appeals to you. If you can come up with two or three reasons, then this will show the agent/publisher that you have done your research and, again, promote your professionalism to being a writer.

Of course, these aren’t hard and fast questions, they may vary and there will, no doubt, be plenty of other questions but I found these formed a good solid foundation to go into a meeting with.


Writing news!

I’m delighted to announce that last week I officially signed with Kate Nash of Kate Nash Literary Agency!

I have known Kate in a professional capacity for several years now and, in the past, she has given me some great feedback and sound advice. They say to find an agent who loves your manuscript as much as you do and one that you can foresee a good working relationship with and for those reasons, amongst others, I am very much looking forward to working with Kate in the future.

Although Kate and I had agreed everything before Christmas, it wasn’t until last week that we were able to meet up. We had a great afternoon in London, chatting over afternoon tea on a Thames River cruise – the time went so quickly we had to head to a pub afterwards to complete the formalities.

shard by the Thames 3

I am pleased to say that my next book is to be published by HarperCollins’ imprint HarperImpulse on 21 April 2016. We are working on the cover and a new title which I hope to share with you soon.

So, now the glamourous bit is over, it’s time for me to head back into the editing cave …







Book 4 Finished!

Today I was finally able to type THE END  – book 4 has now been written. Yay!

Of course, when I say written, I just mean my final draft version. It’s yet to be seen by the publishers and editorial team but I will deal with that in due course, for now, I want to revel in the fact that I’ve completed what I set out to do about four years ago.

Book 4 began life as part of a writing course I undertook through the London School of Journalism and the lovely tutor, Margaret James. I completed about fourteen chapters while doing the course and Margaret’s advice was invaluable but, in the end, I couldn’t finish it – not then, anyway. I clearly remember Margaret’s comment that it was all very nice but nothing much was happening. Ouch.  But she was right and I didn’t know how to fix it. I had, however, fallen in love with my hero (an Irish bike mechanic) and wasn’t prepared to end my relationship with him. Instead, we went on a break. A long one, granted but the three years in between did us the power of good. When I reacquainted myself with my hero and book 4, I knew what needed fixing. This was probably down to the experience I had gained over time as I developed the craft or writing and having three published books under my  belt.

So, since March, I’ve been spending a lot of time with book 4 and my hero and I’m delighted we’ve got to The End in one piece.  I’d like to say I’ll have a glass of wine to celebrate but having just checked the cupboards, I’m out of luck. Diet Coke it is!


Pets in Books

Living in rural Cambridgeshire as a child for several years, while my parents sampled the ‘Good Life’, we had lots of pets and animals – dogs, farm cats, chickens, ferrets and a pony.  But it’s the dogs in particular that deserve a mention. My eldest brother had a tendency to rescue, adopt or foster any four legged canine that needed looking after. Fortunately, we had plenty of land and outbuildings for our guests, which included, a Jack Russell, a Greyhound, an Old English Sheepdog, a Doberman and a German Pointer – although not all at the same time. My mum might have been easy going, but she would have drawn the line at that, I’m sure.

At the time, we also had our own family pet dog, Tramp, so it’s no surprise that I’ve grown up to be something of a dog lover and enjoy it when pets pop up in a novel. They can be a great tool for showing another side to the characters in a book.  Despite my dog bias, it’s cats who have appeared in my last two novels. Okay, the first time in Closing In, Scruffs only had a cameo role but in that one paragraph, he allowed the reader see the not quite so nice side of one of the characters. Don’t worry, no harm came to Scruffs.

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Snoozing Rascal

In The Half Truth, my heroine, Tina Bolotnikov had a pet cat called Rascal who wasn’t there to show another side to Tina, but he helped her solve a couple of mysterious happenings in the house. Rascal in the book was directly taken from a real life Rascal, belonging to my friend and Romaniac pal, Laura E. James. When I visited Laura last  year, Rascal and I became firm friends so it was a natural choice for my character’s pet.



My current WIP has a dog in it – he’s a terrier, although I haven’t made up my mind what breed of terrier, so far he’s been a Jack Russell, a Highland Terrier and an Airedale. He’s been really useful as my hero confides in him and tells him a few things that he wouldn’t necessarily want anyone else to know.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few photos of my own pets, past and present.















Sue Fortin’s Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been nominated by Mark West for the Lovely Blog Hop where I share some of the things that have shaped my life. Thanks for the nomination, Mark.  🙂

First Memory

I’m not entirely sure which is my first memory as I have several around the time I was four years old and we had just moved to St Neots in Cambridgeshire. The one that I remember the clearest is going with my dad and two older brothers to see my mum in hospital. My younger sister had just been born and children weren’t allowed on the ward so my mum, who fortunately was on the ground floor of the local maternity hospital, brought my sister over to the window so we could see her.

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me, my brothers and sister, June 1972



I’ve always been a huge bookworm. My first love being Enid Blyton, especially the mystery series. I went on to devour Agatha Christie and anything with a murder or a mystery to be solved.  Thrillers and mysteries were my first book love with romance being my second. I covered this in more detail on a recent post here.


When I was a teenager my family moved to West Sussex and I had to start a new secondary school in Year 10 (that’s 4th year in old money). Although I never had any real issues with school, I neither loved it nor loathed it, I found myself often skiving days off school, or bunking as it was called in West Sussex. I would seek refuge at the local library and hide myself away in the upstairs Reference Rooms. Rather ironically, it was there I would actually do my school work. I liked the solitude, the autonomy and the silence. I’m not sure what drove me to take days off school and, Mum, if you’re reading this … sorry for all the times you asked me how school was and I said it was great. I actually meant the library was great. 🙂

What’s Your Passion

Other than my family and writing, I suppose it has to be sewing. My nan was a seamstress and pattern cutter in London, I think I inherited my love of fabric and creating things from her.


My day job sees me in an educational environment with 16+ year olds, I have school and college aged children and I have, in the past, undertaken studies through Adult Education and the Open University – I’m surrounded by conventional education and I do really enjoy learning. In fact, I am currently on an 18 month course through my work so, perhaps, I’m making up for all those days I sat in the library when I should have been learning at school or maybe the solitude in the libraries and self-educating was the forerunner to my independent distance learning with the Open University?


Having always wanted to write, one of my first collection of stories was when I was 10 years old. It was all about twin sisters and their adventures – I used to love free writing at school, aka, teacher needs to get on with other stuff. I continued to dip in and out of writing, beginning lots of things but never finishing them. It wasn’t until I had my youngest child and I had time at home that I actually completed a full length novel.  Of course, that manuscript will NEVER see the light of day and I know I’ve improved since then, but then writing is all about learning – the two themes compliment each other in a continual circule. Write – learn/develop – write – learn/develop.


I’m passing the Lovely Blog Hop baton onto

Laura E. James

Celia J Anderson

Jan Brigden

Carmel Harrington



2015 Writing News

As 2014 closes, what a great way to end with CLOSING IN hitting the number 1 spot on Kobo for Romantic Suspense.

I’m looking forward to 2015. My new novel THE HALF TRUTH is due out in the spring and I have a four part mini mystery series being published throughout the year. More details of that later. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some covers soon.

Thank you for all your support – Happy New Year and I hope that 2015 is fantastic for everyone!

closing in kobo number 1


Closing_inEveryone knows that when you’ve written something, try as you might, you can’t always spot your own mistakes, typos, sentence construction issues or general grammar problems. When I finished my first draft of Closing In, I needed someone with a keen eye to look over it for me before I sent it to my editor at Harper Impulse. I knew just the person to ask – my friend and fellow Romaniac girl, Jan Brigden.

Jan really does have an eye for detail. She meticulously went through my manuscript and found all the little, and not so little, errors I had made. She was able to give me solid feedback and advice on how to improve my manuscript, not just technically but she also spotted a few plot holes and continuity issues. I was so grateful, her proofreading really gave my manuscript a boost, making it so much more professional and polished.

Jan has also proofread other manuscripts and I know everyone has been delighted with her work. I would whole-heartedly recommend Jan to anyone who is looking for a proofreader. Over at The Romaniac blog, Jan has now put together a page, please pop over to have a look in more detail at her proofreading service and testimonials from previous clients. Click HERE.

Jan Proofreading ecard