Monday, 2 May 2016

Rings on our Fingers - love stories from the Eighties


 Rings on our Fingers is available now
and Bells on our Toes available to pre-order.
Two Kindle volumes of my short love stories
 published in magazines in the Eighties.

Just 99p! $1.40 each



When I was probably just a few years older than the people reading them, they were published in magazines such as My Story, Romance, True Story - and Christian Herald!  






   


I wrote these on a typewriter that might now find a home in a museum, at the kitchen table when my children were knee high ...

Times have changed – which is what makes these stories interesting I think.  Young people can judge for themselves and older readers will remember perhaps when they were just married, maybe having doubts, thinking about having a family, looking for work, planning a wedding … the stuff of life. Relationships are the key theme along with problems and obstacles to finding true happiness.

Here are a few extracts from different stories that may make you think, scoff, raise an eyebrow, laugh - or something else!

Checking that our frilly knickers showed prettily each time we bent over, we set off — each carrying a new sports bag to match our outfits.

"I know a place — on the common, off the beaten track," he said, looking at me.
I should have said, "No — take me home." But my legs turned to water. It was too thrilling. I couldn't bear it!

I bundled Rachel and Emily onto the back seat of the car and left them in there while I slipped into Joel's house.

At nineteen I was young to be considering a family, but I was very much in love with my student husband. I longed to have his child, I wanted to be a mother and I could see no sense at all in waiting.

I am quite shocked when I read these myself! but you can find many more examples of how social norms have moved on in the last thirty odd years. Passion, jealousy and true love endure, of course.


Happy reading!


Just 99p  /   $1.40



Monday, 25 April 2016

Writing from Life - and some news at the end!


If you are new to my blog and have found me through Surrey Life you might like to take a look here: Surrey village people

'Writing from Life' was a title suggested to me once as a theme for a writing workshop and it got me thinking about how much I use real life in fiction.

Real life setting ...
For my first two novels I am rooted in my local area, but before I could begin to write Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served, I needed to do a lot of research and groundwork relating to the culture and history of a particular group of people. I invented Appley Green, but it is very much based on real Surrey and Hampshire villages – as it straddles the county boundaries. Now I am writing about real village people both for LoveaHappyEnding Lifestyle magazine and Surrey Life.

With Shades of Appley Green, I used real life experience as a Community/Information Support Worker, firstly supporting teenage single Mums who needed information and emotional support; and secondly people with Parkinson’s. Both these jobs involved going out to see people in their own homes and it was rewarding, satisfying work that gave me an unusual insight into people’s private lives.

Be assured I do not use real people in my novels, at least never a whole one! But any fiction writer will tell you, I think, that they observe and pick up their struggles, attitudes, mannerisms and other character traits. These are stored away either in some brain compartment or a notebook and present themselves as you compose your story.

But the way Steph works is very much derived from my experience of working in the community and I could not have written it without this direct knowledge. Also my upbringing in the small town (some would say large village) of Tetbury inspired the whole community theme running through my novels and magazine columns.

As for Secrets in Appley Green, set in the Sixties, I have memories of being a teenager in that decade, and newly married in the Seventies. However, I had to study the so-called Swinging Sixties, reading fiction, factual books and magazines; browsing numerous websites and listening to music. It was great fun piecing together real-life memories, current affairs, fashion, pop music and the rest. I also read through my page-a day diary kept as an 11-going-on-12-year-old – sometimes squirming with embarrassment.

Coming up is something new and yet not new! Rings on Our Fingers, available to pre-order on Kindle now but not to download until 5 May, is a compilation of love stories I had published in magazines in the Eighties.

They are romantic, having appeared in Romance, My Story, True Story - and Christian Herald! But they also reflect real, everyday life of young people. More about this later, but if you’d like to take a look here is the link:   Rings on our Fingers on Amazon  A snip at £2.08 / $2.99 !  Another volume will follow in a few weeks’ time.  

Happy reading!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Surrey village people

Welcome to my blog if you’ve found it for the first time, after spotting my piece in the April issue of SURREY LIFE. This is the first of a new series on people who put life into villages and bring a small community together. Editor, Caroline Harrap, came up with the series title ‘Notes from a Small Village’– apologies to Bill Bryson!

I may have met you at one of 40 or so book signings over the years in various Surrey Waterstones bookshops. If so, hello again! Either way, if you have time, feel free to browse through my 'ramblings' – going strong since 2009! Just click through titles listed lower down in right-hand column. And, please send me a comment below if you want to make contact now!

Those who follow me on Twitter will know of other characters I have ‘discovered’. Take a look here:
LoveaHappyEnding Lifestyle magazine Real people, real unsung heroes and heroines.

My novels are, of course, filled with fictitious people who also do unusual things, but real life does rub off on my fiction. For one thing, I live smack bang in the middle of my imaginary Appley Green world, although my dreamed up village has less traffic than most real Surrey villages! I think a busy road cutting through many a village mars what would otherwise be perfection. Would you agree? More about my Appley Green books on Amazon – just click on book covers.

In my next post here I will be looking at how life experience and real people have helped me in the writing of my four novels.  I do like to mix fact with fiction so that the reader can not only escape but also grab hold of some social realism. Love story there may be, but romance comes with a twist.

I must say how lovely it is to be a columnist for SURREY LIFE, a magazine that always cheers me up and reminds me of what a beautiful county Surrey is, with so many things to do and see.  Who knows where I may end up next? It could be a village near you!

And not forgetting – my books have all been reviewed in SURREY LIFE! Juliette Foster met me briefly at the first Surrey Heath Book Festival and contacted me to review my first two books and the rest, as they say, is history!

Here are the links to Book Corner in SURREY LIFE digital archive:




Until next time! And look out in May SURREY LIFE for the next Surrey village and the next amazing person!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Time Management. Who needs it?

Some people who read my last post said how ‘busy’ I am, but really I can be an absolute sloth when I put my mind to it! I am retired, don’t put in a full week’s work with a two hour commute; am not a working mother of small children, and I don’t have a publisher looking over my shoulder with impossible deadlines! There are plenty of people much, much, much busier than I am.

However, I do manage to get a few things done and it made me think about a training course I did when employed in the 1990s. I was affronted when my manager suggested I go on a Time Management Course. I think everyone nominated for this development training felt the same way, feeling that we packed as much as we could into a day. What on earth could such a course tell us that was new?

The funny thing was that I found it rather a drawn-out course, spread (I think) over two days when it could have been delivered in a morning!

However, it handed out tips that instilled habits for the rest of my life. Lists of tasks figured rather prominently. So did goals, short-term and long-term. Things that needed to be done in working towards a goal were divided into ‘urgent’ and ‘important’, some of course falling under both headings. An estimate of time that a task might take was factored in. Many files and folders were recommended, available to purchase.

Ever since, I’ve kept a scribbled ‘to do list’, never a Filofax system or anything electronic. If I have five minutes to spare, I don’t despair that there’s no time to write up a blog post, or install my new printer, but I can email a friend about arrangements to meet that evening. That’s a very simple example, but you get the gist. Maybe you do this too, even if sub-consciously with mental lists, maybe the rest of the world thinks like this, but I do wonder. People who spend half an hour on the phone complaining about how run off their feet they are, don’t do this. (Nobody I know of course!)

In Shades of Appley Green time management is a real bone of contention between our heroine, Steph, feisty single mother of two, and her boss, Greg, who in her eyes is overly cautious, and she hates him with a passion for taking her to task. Early on their opinion is divided over the idea of senior people using the Internet. He sees dangers, she sees opportunities. He likes rational use of method, she loves people. As the plot develops he becomes increasingly critical over her use of time, in her eyes quite unreasonably!

‘What do you see as the problem areas in your job Steph?”
She thought for a moment. “I think the greatest problem is always time. Or lack of it.”
He nodded, looking down, his face serious. Then he gazed up at her in that very direct way of his.
“This is clear even to me. Do you feel you lack focus sometimes?”
She felt herself bristle. She worked hard, she did everything she could for her clients in the time available.
“Possibly. It’s easy to go down the wrong tracks sometimes,” she admitted.
“If time is the key problem area, there is no place for getting derailed down sidings and dead-ends. Is there? Would you agree?”
“Yes, but it’s not always simple to stick to the mainline fast-track.” Perhaps, she thought, anger rising, you would like to spend a few days doing my job. Role reversal! How great that would be!


I guess the reader suspects that her loathing of him is a clue that actually this is a man whom she will grow to love! But how on earth?


Available as paperback or KIndle:  On Amazon

Monday, 8 February 2016

Two Years On ...

Taken at daughter's wedding October 2015
Two years ago I was diagnosed with colon cancer, with a secondary tumour in the liver. Today I had the result of my latest 6 monthly scan and all is well. With every check-up the prognosis gets better but if, if, if it were to recur, then the more time passes the more slow-growing the tumour, and the better able my body would be able to cope with more surgery and chemo. I don't think about that too much.

There has been much breaking news recently of famous people who have sadly passed away from cancer somewhat before their time. I hope this post will help to redress the balance as there are many more who survive the dreaded ‘c’ word which should give hope to people currently reeling from the shock of a recent diagnosis or feeling the ill effects of treatment.

I wrote here before, a few months after my diabolical diagnosis on 29 January 2014 (the photo there was taken about two months before in Australia, when I was blissfully oblivious of my condition), and again after my second operation, which at the time seemed like hell, but I got over it! 

The actual year of surgery and chemotherapy was one where physically I went through a rich variety of discomforts, lethargy, and post-op pain. Unable to do many normal things, I watched far too much daytime TV!! But on the plus side I had comfort from friends and family, felt at ease with the world - and became quite the expert (not really) on antiques and bric-a-brac! My husband and I enjoyed lunches with old friends and two memorable holidays, slotting them in between operations and courses of treatment.

Then 2015 was a year of gradually getting back to usual activities, like doing the Edinburgh Festival. I also finished my fourth novel, Secrets in Appley Green, set in the Sixties, but beyond that, I’ve also taken up a few new things.

I ran some writing workshops and hope to do more in the future as it is great fun to meet up with people who want to write a novel but need a kick-start!

More recently, having written articles for the online LoveaHappyEnding Magazine about  ‘People who put life into village life’, I am now a monthly columnist, writing on the same theme, for the glossy magazine, Surrey Life! It’s lovely reaching out to villages to acknowledge people who do great things for their local community. If you know of any such hero or heroine, either in Surrey or elsewhere, please do contact me. (Tweet me your email address in a DM. Give me a prod on Twitter if you need me to Follow you, in order to do this.) My debut article is already done and dusted and will appear in the April issue of Surrey Life (in shops mid-March).

Last week I painted a vase in a ceramic ‘class’ for novices! Ta-da! Not exactly a masterpiece but very therapeutic.

I went to my first lunch meeting with the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA), as recently joined. I've also committed to a study project with King’s College, London, carrying out mental exercises and ‘brain training’ to improve understanding of the ageing brain and the causes of dementia. Take a look if you are interested in taking part. The latest new venture is becoming a member of Rock Choir, an uplifting thing to do despite the fact I can’t sing! Oh yes, and I love going to operas streamed into cinemas live from Covent Garden Royal Opera House … 
On the other side of the coin, if there is something I don’t feel sufficiently excited about doing, then I don’t do it!

So – for anyone going through what I went through, or something similar, please keep positive and take heart. The chances of surviving cancer and a sunny future are so much improved these days compared with years ago. It’s hopefully something to get through, get over, move on and do new things!!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Secret is out!

The list at the end of this post is constantly updated, offering links to other varied and interesting articles. 


Secrets in Appley Green – A 1960s village novel takes me back to my own teenage years but the writing of it also led me to reading around that decade, fiction, non-fiction books and magazines. Whilst it was hugely enjoyable to both research and write, getting the detail accurate and credible was challenging. 1960, for example, was very different from, say, 1965.  

I guess it may mean different things to various age-groups - you, your Mum, your Granny, your daughter!

Some of the icons of that revolutionary era, such as The Beatles, may not be mentioned, unless they crept in without me noticing. I did not want to ram endless clichés of the Sixties down the reader’s throat but rather to offer something fresh and yet quite everyday that evokes a time gone by. It is an emotional love story with a twist. 

Like Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served, Secrets in Appley Green and Shades of Appley Green are connected but can equally well standalone. You do not need to read one before the other, but if you do read both you will recognise people at very different times in their lives and know more about them. One or two of the characters occur in all four books!

Without giving away spoilers for either book, there is a big question hovering over the end of Shades of Appley Green. One (lovely) Amazon reviewer said, ‘Miriam creates a perfect atmosphere in this book and keeps an electric suspense throughout. I never expected such a strong cliffhanger in the end – I am definitely left wanting more!’  Well, Heidi, this dangling hook is quite thoroughly answered by Secrets in Appley Green. Many of the same older characters appear as they were fifty years earlier – so yes, there is a link between the two novels. 

It has been a long time coming but anyone who has been following the plot will know that a few problems last year held things up somewhat. Cancer!

Three naïve, but very different, Appley Green schoolgirls pledge to stick together for ever, but when one of them gets pregnant, this pushes their promise to the edge.
A young girl in need of love is vulnerable to the charms of an older man with heart-breaking consequences.
This is Great Britain’s Sixties, an exciting era, gathering pace then in full swing as social change sweeps aside past attitudes, laws, fashion and culture. Youth is finding a voice as parents struggle to adjust.  Its characters span the full social spectrum and take us beyond Appley Green to Brighton, Margate, London, Vienna and Paris.

Miriam Wakerly’s  Appley Green village stories all standalone and can be read in any order, but they are connected. This one can serve as a prequel to all three, especially Shades of Appley Green.


Available on Kindle now and in paperback: 
All my books on Amazon.co.uk
and on Amazon.com 

I do hope you will enjoy reading it!  Look out for more articles and reviews :


Talking about the nature of secrets on Bonnie Trachtenberg's blog:

Looking at the challenges of writing a novel with Anneli Purchase:

Reactions to a 1960s novel.  Linn B Halton's blog

An interview (brilliant questions!) with Zara Stoneley

Reinventing the plot with Sheryl Browne

An interview with Shaz Goodwin where I revealed a few things!

Kicking off a holiday reading list with funny books, courtesy of 

Guest on Brook Cottage Books thanks to Debbie Johnston, aka @jontybabe, where I turn myself about face!

Review by Luke Marlowe  born in the eighties but transported to the sixties! 

Review by Adele @Kraftireader 'zipping through the chapters to find out what happened next.'

Interview with Bookgatherer  Thank you @Emalie2702

LLm Bookshop window - see a tempting extract! (Remember it's in paperback as well as KIndle)

Surrey Life Review January's Book Corner, full-page review by broadcaster and writer Juliette Foster  See page 72 !

Books and Authors  Guest author on Why I Wrote a Novel Set in the 1960s



Friday, 22 May 2015

'So You Want to Write a Novel?'

UPDATE WRITTEN ON 16 SEPTEMBER:
The second workshop mentioned below in red was also a rewarding and enjoyable experience. I shall be doing another workshop on the same theme at the WestEndCentre, Aldershot, a really cool arts venue, in the evening on 16 November. Take a look: http://peo.hants.gov.uk/peo/default.asp


My first writing workshop ‘So You Want to Write a Novel?’ was at Camberley Theatre last night and went well. 
 
To be back to ‘normal’ is wonderful, and fulfilling something I was invited to do last year is a special landmark for me. An enthusiastic bunch of people came along and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I can say that because everyone agreed as much at the end and wanted more! The range of writing experience spanned the full spectrum, from people who had written books already – one self-published children’s author; and another with 15 non-fiction books to her name; to those who had never written anything creative before but fancied the idea of having a go.
A year ago I had just produced my second grandchild! I was also in the middle of a course of aggressive chemo, following a major operation, all this prior to the second big operation in July. The ghostly memory seems like a lifetime ago and, forgive the play with words, but it never seemed to me as a time when life was uncertain.
The photos here capture a moment when my lovely 'class' were in deep concentration, heads down, writing – lost in thought. There were lighter moments, rest assured and much laughter.
Some comments at the end:
‘Hugely useful – time passed very quickly, an engaging lecturer.’ (I'm flattered!)

‘A very interesting and helpful course.’

‘A very interesting workshop that made me think about what is really involved in writing.’
 
 ‘Really enjoyed workshop, size of group was just right. Was managed for all levels. Would like to attend any further courses and understand later about publishing.’
 
‘Loved this – would like even more interactive activities please.’
 
Many thanks to everyone and to Camberley Theatre for providing the room and publicity.
 
Another workshop is planned for the morning of 16 June. Looking forward to this already.
My books are on display in Camberley's Waterstones, by the way, so a friend tells me, and of course available on Amazon.