Who am I?
I began writing in 2011 with my first novel, Oh Sharon! and continued with more fiction, until in 2014 I discovered a long forgotten character from my home town, Manchester, UK. I have become a biographer and champion of Elizabeth Raffald and my aim is to achieve a statue to her in Manchester. This is where she made all her major achievements such as the first directory of the growing town and an 800 recipe cookbook, The Experienced English Housekeeper. I still like to write fiction and have written a fictional version of Elizabeth's fascinating life and adventures in a diary format. Published in June 2020, it is called Elizabeth Raffald, An Uncommon Woman.
What is my background?
Like many writers I've done all kinds of jobs, with quantity more prevalent than quality, although I have got some good experience of what not to do. I took jobs that fitted in with childcare, then later moved into full time, cog-in-the-machine type jobs, like customer service, call centre worker, office admin. I always liked to put forward my ideas for making things work better, more efficiently and I did not enjoy just getting on with things the way they are when I could not see any good reason for it.
How did I become a writer?
I've always enjoyed writing, I write all the time, always carry a notebook rather than a make up bag and take notes down wherever I am. I did once try to write short stories and articles which I half-heartedly submitted to some magazines without success. I've since realised it was the format that didn't suit me. I'm more of a novelist than a journalist. It was only during treatment for breast cancer in 2002 that I turned to writing again, keeping a diary of the emotional issues as well as factual details which I found cathartic to write but I intended to write a guide for other newly diagnosed women to explain what actually happens to your body and mind following the diagnosis. I finally managed to edit it and it is now available with my other books on Amazon, here
I didn't write much for a while after treatment, concentrating on returning to 'normality'. I went back to work and even got promoted then in 2008 I became the first President of my local Women’s Institute. I produced monthly newsletters as well as writing reports and speeches, set up the group website and Facebook page and generally found an outlet for my creative expression. The members have been very supportive and I used our book group's feedback to produce my first story. This has since been published as my first novel, Oh Sharon! The reaction so far has been brilliant! Everyone seems to enjoy the story.
During 2010 I became really ill with a bad attack of shingles and I worried that the stress of working at a job I had come to hate was too much for me. At the same time I spotted an MA course in writing at the other end of the country, and I wondered if I had the courage to take a chance on doing something I love. I quit my job and jumped in with both feet, and although the course was a huge disappointment I did find out that I really love to write.
I have to mention this annual competition which taught me more than the MA, and that is that you have to keep at the writing till you finish the first draft. Improvements come later but if you don't have a first draft you have nothing. Get the words down, people!
NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month, is an online writing challenge runs every November. The rule is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days! It's quite a challenge but it is the best incentive I know to keep at the writing practice every day, producing around 1700 words a day. In 2009 I completed NaNoWriMo with a novel called 'Alternative Lives', which is currently on its 4th draft. In 2011 I used the competition to begin the sequel story to 'Oh Sharon!', producing the first draft of about 20 chapters. The novel, Good Men and Mavericks, has now been available as an ebook since March 2012. The third book in the trilogy about Sharon is called House of Sunshine and has been available since early 2012. After that I kept writing what I enjoyed until I discovered Elizabeth Raffald in 2014 and have loved researching her story ever since.