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Guest Post: Wendy Clarke - Chasing Dreams

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Wendy Clarke, to share her Chasing Dreams story   It might surprise you to know that I never used to have a writing dream to chase… yes really! I was not one of the lucky people born with a pen in their hand, and despite loving creative writing at school, a career as an author had never been on my radar. You see, I didn’t become a writer until my fifties and before that I was a teacher, a wife, a mother. Writing was something I taught, not something I did. A book was to be read not written. Yet, something happened to change this… to allow the writing bug to call to me and let me chase it wherever it chose to lead me. This is my story. It was ten years ago when my life changed and I remember it as though it was yesterday. I had just been told that the small primary school, where I taught English, was closing and all the staff were to be made redundant. I felt numb but it didn’t really sink in until the following week when, instead of going int

Chasing Dreams Part 5 – Taking Chances

My love of writing song lyrics wasn’t the only secret I’d been keeping. I had notebooks filled with ideas for new characters and plots, partially started short stories and even an entire draft of a novel. Around the same time that I entered the UK Songwriting Contest, I also entered a short story contest. When the results were announced I found I had to keep reading them just to convince myself that I hadn't imagined it and that my name really was listed as the winner. Reaching the semi-finals of the UK Songwriting Contest gave me hope that my lyrics had potential, winning the short story contest inspired me to be brave and do something I’d only ever dreamed about. I signed up for a creative writing class.   Now I know in theory attending a course shouldn’t be something that requires courage. I’ve attended many courses over the years, however they were always work related. Well, apart from my brief attempt to learn Spanish, which is probably best forgotten, just like my Spani

Guest Blog: M W Arnold - A Wing And A Prayer

Today I'm delighted to welcome friend and author M W Arnold to the blog. I’d never dreamt about becoming an author. Certainly, I’d had many dreams, most of which never came true, but I’d certainly never considered even writing a book. Back when I was in the Royal Air Force, I went all over the world and read plenty of books during my travels, mostly Star Trek and fantasy, but predominantly, Terry Pratchett. I can still not get enough of this much missed man and author and even now, picking up one of his books will be enough to put a smile on my face. The most I’d ever put to paper was when I was writing a report at work, or filling out a travel claim. I suppose various ideas for stories did pop into my head, but obviously nothing which was enough to ignite a spark of creativity. Nothing much changed, even when I left the RAF and took the plunge into civvie-street, though Mr Pratchett was always there to comfort me. Then, I think it was around 2013, I read a book which I was asked t

Chasing Dreams: Part 4 – Stories and Lyrics

Writing song lyrics is a lot like writing a short story, though admittedly a very short story.  They can have everything a short story should have: characters, conflicts and plots. Plus a repetitive chorus to give weight to a particular point and stick in the listener’s memory to be recalled at random intervals. Of course not all lyrics are like this. Some musicians see them as an afterthought, something that is inferior to the melody, harmony and rhythm.   Some songs lyrics can seem perfectly sensible as you sing along with your radio on the dull drive to work, but if you’ve ever seen those lyrics written down, without the aid of music, you might see them in a less flattering light. For me though, songs with a story are the most powerful.   My favourite is Lonestar’s ‘My Front Porch Looking In’. This song has amazing imagery, both in terms of the scenery and the family that are described. I might not have a front porch on which to sit, but this song always makes me think about my

Guest Post: Elaine Roberts - Dreams

T oday I'm thrilled to welcome author Elaine Roberts to the blog to share her writing journey. Do you have a dream?  For many years mine was always about wanting to be a published writer, but I didn’t think things like that happened to people like me. Then when I was in my fifties my son found a writing course and then a class for me, and then it began to feel like it was possible. I was encouraged to write short stories, which I didn’t want to do, but it was a good lesson in writing to a word count. When a magazine wanted to pay me for a short story I couldn’t believe it, someone actually wanted to pay for something I had written. To say I was over the moon is a massive understatement; I danced, clapped and cheered around my front room. I began writing contemporary stories, and I have several unpublished ones on my laptop but I decided to try writing a historical novel, and The Foyles Bookshop Girls series was born. Now I’m proud to say my fifth World War One novel, Big Dreams for

Chasing Dreams: Part 3 – What If?

If you’ve read my biography you may have noticed that music teacher doesn’t actually feature in there.  Given my struggles with my music A level, my parents encouraged me to have a backup plan just in case my musical aspirations didn’t work out (again).  With that in mind I went to University to study business administration.  From there the move into accountancy seemed a natural progression. Somehow along the way my backup plan became my reality. Looking back I can’t say I have any regrets.  Fortunately, I like the career that I inadvertently ended up in, but then if I hadn't I’d like to think I’d have been more resistant. Despite my change of direction though, I continued to write. Music no longer featured in my career aspirations but it still lingered in my dreams.   I had notebooks filled with song lyrics. A random line, a verse or chorus, or even whole songs were locked away within their pages. Their existence however was known only to me. By this point I’d already failed at

Guest Post: Jack Steele - Chasing Dreams

I'm thrilled to invite author and friend Jack Steele to the guest blog this week: I had the idea of a crime fiction novel in my head for a number of years, but full-time employment and to be honest, a large dose of procrastination let the years drift by. After divorce, my life revolved around raising my two teenage children, so my dreams went on hold. I was extremely lucky to find a job closer to home which was a huge drop in salary, but it afforded me quality time to spend with my son and daughter. When my adult children left home to start lives of their own, I met Sue and a few years later we were married. We enjoyed holidays together and I began to read again which ignited the desire to write my own story. The crime fiction novels I read were either so descriptive that they lacked pace   or so many characters that I became confused with who was actually in the library with the lead piping. I realised that I had to write a novel based on my own preferences. To gain confidence

Guest Post: Catherine Miller - Continually chasing the dream

This weeks guest blog comes from fantastic friend and author Catherine Miller: Continually chasing the dream! I’ve come to the conclusion, that to become a successful writer, you don’t need a degree in writing, you need one in waiting. We often talk about “chasing the dream”, but if it were ever turned into a documentary there would be no high speed chases involved. Instead, we’d all be in one big waiting room continually refreshing our emails. This is why the Great British Pottery Throwdown has had several series, but no writing programs have ever taken over our tellies. That said, there is a certain magic to getting the call or the email that can change the course of your life. But the real trick is to make sure that occurs again and again and again. So, I thought that I’d share what I’ve learned along the way. ·         Continuing to write is the only thing that matters. There are going to be bad reviews, there are going to be books that don’t sell as well, there will be rej

Guest Post: Christina Hollis - Saying Yes to Every New Opportunity

This week's guest is author Christina Hollis, sharing her story about facing her fears when she decided to stick to her new year's resolution: Until recently, I couldn’t say boo to a koala, let alone a goose. That all changed when I discovered — after it was far too late to back out! — that keeping one of my New Year’s Resolutions meant facing several of my fears all at once. I’d been writing romance for a long time and loving it when Pen and Sword Books asked me to write a non-fiction book about the women of Bristol. Much as I enjoy the romance genre, I agreed to the Pen and Sword offer as a few weeks earlier, I’d made a New Year’s Resolution to say “yes” to every new opportunity. This commission was my chance to get back to my roots in more ways than one. I began my career by writing non-fiction articles for magazines, and I’d be revisiting my family’s origins, too. I was born on the Somerset side of Bristol. Every Saturday we visited my grandparents who lived on the

Guest Blog: Karen King - If At First You Don’t Succeed….

This week I am delighted to welcome the lovely  Karen King to the blog to share her Chasing Dreams story. If At First You Don’t Succeed…. I’ve always admired those people who go off on motorbike treks across Europe or drive off into the sunset with just a suitcase in the back of the car. I love the idea of being able to jump on my bike/motorbike or get in my car and take off but having my own transport has always being a difficult one for me. When my childhood attempts at learning to ride a bike ended up with me being thrown off and landing headfirst in a litter bin, I decided that cycling wasn’t for me. A couple of years later, riding on the back of my then boyfriend’s motor bike, the wind blowing against my face, I decided that I’d like a motorbike of my own, but an early marriage and family put paid to that. Later, as my children got older and finances weren’t so tight, I decided to learn to drive so that I could ferry the children around and go shopping without getting a taxi hom

Chasing Dreams: Part 2 – Facing My Fears

It’s funny how one event can cause you to change your plans for the future.  When I was little I had always dreamed of being a musician.  I played three instruments (flute, clarinet and piano), I was part of the school orchestra and the community wind band. Whilst my friends were busy chasing one another around the playground, I was chasing after my dream.  However, after my singing career failed to launch I discovered something new about myself... I suffered from stage fright. I was fine during rehearsals.   I was reasonably okay performing on stage in the orchestra, (there were enough of us to be fairly confident that I wouldn’t be abandoned in a solo again). But as a solo performer, even when I intended upfront to be one, stage fright kicked in. I revised my plans as a result.   Performance was no longer a realistic career objective. Instead I decided I wanted to teach others how to play. It seemed the ideal solution, enabling me to continue to play the music I loved and e

Guest Post: Jane Cable - Business Plan or Butterfly Net?

Today I'm excited to welcome Jane Cable to the blog to share her journey chasing her dreams. Business Plan or Butterfly Net? I was amused a few months ago when I found a worksheet from a course I attended in 2001, and discovered I had written down that my life goal was to write a best-selling novel. At the time, like Elaina, I was working as an accountant. I had just started my own business and even finding the time to write a book seemed pretty much impossible. But three years later, I did find myself writing. There had always been stories in my head, but this one seemed to need to find its way onto my computer. And somehow I did find the time; first thing in the mornings, and when my husband was working late. Odd hours opened up around me and I was on my way. The phrase ‘chasing dreams’ implies a certain randomness, and for me conjures images of running around with a butterfly net. Yet hunting down your dreams sounds decidedly unromantic, although to the business strategist

Guest Blog: Morton Gray - Chasing Dreams / Facing Fears

Today's guest is the lovely Morton Gray. Morton was the first person I met when I joined the Romantic Novelists' Association. We chatted on the RNA facebook group and in a strange coincidence it turned out she was also a member of the Birmingham chapter, so when I attended my very first meeting I already had a wonderful and supportive friend. I'm so happy to welcome Morton to the blog to share her amazing and inspirational journey: I am a firm believer that if you have a dream and are willing to face your fears you can achieve it. Acquaintances probably see me as a confident individual, who has changed direction at least twice in her life. Little do they know about the lurking insecurities. Rewind to 1990 and I was facing divorce and thus solo parenthood. I had worked hard at my career and earned a good salary, thankfully had a wonderful childminder to look after my son, but as you can imagine I felt pretty low and stressed with the juggling of parenthood, house and caree