What Makes Me Novel

Last week I went to a monthly writers event held by Novel Nights in Bristol with my friend Tina. Great evening spent with lovely writers and listening to readings and hearing from three guest speakers about their different experiences with getting published and marketing their books and of course marketing themselves.

With Ordering Flynn Matthews due out in June it’s the latter that makes me feel uneasy. I’m not sure there’s really much about me that people will find interesting. Went to school, college, got a job, went back to college to train to be an OT, got a job, got married, got a dog, had two children etc. I’ve loved every minute but not sure any of it makes me marketable or remarkable!

It got me thinking hard. Surely there’s something remarkable about me? Then a couple of nights ago round the dinner table the one talent (weird though it is) was brought up… drum roll please… I look the part if I wear the gear, like I could do the job, be a professional.

I can’t swim very well. I attempted to resolve this in my twenties by going to classes. It was a small pool and the water only came up to my waist. Compared to everyone else I was a mermaid. Yes there were worse swimmers than me! And I had this navy blue swimming costume with go faster stripes and more than once people thought I was a member of the medal winning swimming team who used the main pool. In my costume I looked like I could have swam for Olympic gold. You want pictorial evidence? Sorry there isn’t a pic of me in my swimming costume, plenty of me in bikinis – nope I don’t look like a model! My talent doesn’t always work, vertically challenged sadly!

However I did do some modelling (it’s who you know!) for a Horse Riding magazine – jodhpurs, riding jacket, boots and crop, add the horse and I looked like a professional show jumper. I do have photos just not sure where they are though…shame!

Every August bank holiday we meet up with family in Wales for what we call the FlanFamClanShazzam. Approximately 14 of us in a bunk house for a weekend of activities including canoeing (count me out, can’t swim very well – see above), horse riding – did that spent rest of weekend sitting on a pillow…ouch! Last year we went paintballing – oh my that was fun, I was useless…army fatigues three sizes too big – check, very heavy gun – check, 100 paint balls – check, arms weak no muscles – check, ability to hit moving target – no check, ability to run, crawl, avoid being hit – no check. Photograph of me looking like paintballing ninja expert – check! See below:

Liz - Paintball 2

 

Not sure any of that makes me novel, remarkable or marketable but it’s all I’ve got 😉

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Extract from Murmuration

Since December 1st Bridge House Publishing have been posting on their blog interviews with the authors from the Snowflakes anthology along with extracts from each story. Yesterday was my turn. To see it click here or see below.

From Bridge House Publishing Blog:

Day 15 – Murmuration – L.G. Flannigan

What gave you the idea for your Snowflakes story?

Although it is a work of fiction its storyline is a personal one. My mum has dementia and I’m aware of how much my dad has to do for her  on a daily basis. I hope Murmuration gives a little insight into being a carer and shows some of the symptoms a person in the latter stages of dementia may experience, and how precious moments of recognition are a joy for their family.

How would you describe your normal style of writing?

You won’t find long descriptive passages in my writing. I use a conversational style with dialogue driving the plot. I tend to write my novels in the first person and the present tense. My short stories are written in the third person and the past tense.

Have you published other material?

I emailed my first short story Trojan to Bridge House Publishing’s World Stopping Events competition. It was a runner up and was published in On This Day anthology in 2012. My novel Ordering Flynn Matthews was shortlisted in Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition in 2015. I’ve had an offer from a US Indie digital first publisher to publish it but I am also looking at self publishing as an option. Either way I hope it’ll be published in 2016!

Do you have a writing routine?

I used to have a very structured writing routine but recently I’ve started a new part time job in a library and, along with my daughter, have taken up two new hobbies knitting and sewing.  However  I am writing on Monday and Thursday and every other Wednesday. The ideas keep flowing outside those times so my notebook is filling up.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

In the dining area of our living room. It means I’m not hidden away from my family even if I am absorbed at my laptop. My children have learnt that they can ask for anything while I’m writing and I’ll say yes! The table looks a mess most days and I have to confess to tidying it up for the photograph.

Writing Space

Tell something quirky about you. 

I have notebooks I don’t write in as they’re too gorgeous to use! See the Owl notebook in my writing space photograph above.

An extract from Murmuration:

Gwen retrieved the Christmas decorations from the back of the cupboard praying it would keep Fred occupied for at least half an hour before he was yanking at the front door wanting to go out. This need had been manageable a couple of weeks ago when it had been unseasonably warm but now a bitter Arctic wind blew and she was tired of being cold or maybe she was just plain tired.

As Gwen walked into the hall Fred was making a grab for his woolly hat that hung over the newel post at the bottom of the stairs. Nodding to the over flowing box she said, “Fred dear fancy helping me with the Christmas decorations?”

He rolled his eyes. It was his new thing. His way of expressing his dissatisfaction at anything he was unimpressed by. He pulled his hat on. “I want to go out. You can’t keep me here.”

Gwen kept her sigh inside. It didn’t help matters expressing her exasperation. “I know I can’t Fred. We’re going out in half an hour so help me while you’re waiting.”

Fred tugged back his jumper sleeve and stared at his watch. He circled its dial with his index finger. It broke Gwen’s heart. He’d lost the ability to tell the time over eight months ago.

“It won’t take long. I promise.” Deliberately she staggered a few steps and tilted the box as if she was about to drop it.

Tutting he said, “Let me take that. Where do you want it?”

It was at times like these, when the old Fred kicked in, that Gwen had to remind herself that there was no point saying ‘in the lounge’ as he wouldn’t know where that was. “Follow me.”

With thoughts of the world outside their front door momentarily forgotten he did as she said placing the box in front of the real Christmas tree that had been delivered yesterday.

Still wearing his hat Fred prodded a branch, “Where did this come from?”

“Bill dropped it off.”

He frowned, “Bill? Do I know him?”

“Yes. He owns the grocers in the village.”

Fred rolled his eyes and shook his head. “You’re wrong. Herb owns the grocers.”

He didn’t, not anymore, not for thirty years but Gwen knew better than to argue the point. “Of course. What was I thinking?” She forced a smile. She spent most of her time pretending to be wrong to placate him. “He chose well didn’t he?”

“Herb’s always had a good eye.” Fred leant in and sniffed the needles. “I love that smell.”

His words warmed Gwen. It was one of his favourite scents. Maybe, just maybe, this would jog his memory for a while. She knelt down and opened the box. “Tinsel first, then the baubles.”

“Fairy lights first.”

Gwen leant over the box and flicked the plug switch. “I put them on last night.”

Fred took a step back and grinned, “I like them. They’re new.”

They were the same lights they’d had for the last decade but they shone as bright as when they’d first bought them. “They are.” She handed him a long piece of tinsel.

His eyes crinkled as he stared at the gold foil touching his fingers. Gwen took a handful of tinsel and got to her feet. She proceeded to weave it between the branches. Out of the corner of her eye she saw her husband watching her hands. Copying, he put his tinsel on the tree. He surprised her by reaching for more and adding that to the branches.

Murmuration - Somerset Levels - Love Alice Photography

Click on the Snowflakes cover below if you like to continue reading Murmuration along with 23 other stories.

Snowflakes Small

Bridge House Book Launch

On Saturday, courtesy of my chauffeur (husband) I made it to Bridge House’s launch of Snowflakes and Cafe Lit anthologies not far from Leicester Square in Waxy O’Connors. Such a cool place. Should’ve worn a cloak!

Waxy O'Connor's

While my husband and son hung out in London my daughter and I had an interesting afternoon chatting with the other writers, listening to readings and finally meeting Debz, my wonderful editor! Her critique of my early novel writing was and still is invaluable. I’ve learnt so much from her.

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Me & Debz

Sometime during the afternoon her handbag was stolen right from under our noses. Amazingly she didn’t let it ruin her day. Check out her post about the day here: When Writers Meet

Murmuration

Snowflakes – an anthology by Bridge House Publishing was published at the weekend.

Snowflakes Small

Click on the cover to go to Amazon UK

My short story Murmuration is in it. It’s about a married couple where one partner has dementia. Although it is a work of fiction its storyline is a personal one.

My mum has dementia. She hasn’t known who I am for a good few years but there are times when she will look at me, smile and say, “I know you don’t I.” For a split second there’s that connection with her, with the past, with what might have been, what we’d be sharing now if she didn’t have the disease.

And then there’s my dad who despite his own health issues cares for her with patience, love and understanding. It can be exhausting however he still finds the time to be there not only for her but for others too.

Murmuration is more heart warming than hard hitting but I hope it gives a little insight into being a carer and shows some of the symptoms a person in the latter stages of dementia may experience, and how those precious moments of recognition are a joy for their family.

A murmuration is a flock of starlings. A talented friend of mine Tina Huckle at Love Alice Photography supplied the beautiful photograph for Murmuration in the book trailer. It was taken on the Somerset Levels.

Book trailer:

Ordering Flynn Matthews

“Ordering Flynn Matthews is quality writing, original, fun, zany, has great dialogue and very credible characters however struggling with how to publish it in a commercial way as it sort of straddles genres in that it’s not traditional women’s fiction but tricky to categorise it anywhere else.”

Last week’s paraphrased rejection from the publisher who had shown interest in OFM. Disappointed as I love this publisher.

Original’s good, right?

Flynn’s a drug addict and foul mouthed. He uses the c-word and I don’t mean Christmas. He’s not the irresistible male hero that a romance novel has. None of the men in it are, they make big mistakes and so does Ellie who becomes unwittingly embroiled in a series of mishaps, and naïve judgements.

It’s a pacey contemporary novel that covers some tough subjects – obsession, addiction, loss, betrayal – in an original unconventional way.

Genre? Well it’s definitely contemporary with its social networking, fangirling and celebrity obsessed media. Probably more adult fiction with the language, drug taking and sex however it’s got crossover appeal as it’s contemporary and let’s face it young adults today know as many swear words as Flynn if not more. More women’s than men’s fiction although amongst my readers the men have enjoyed it too although I doubt as a gender they’ll be the ones picking it off a bookshelf. A romance novel? Not really although it does have elements of it but relationships with family and friends are as important as romance to our heroine, Ellie. And with a thread of humour running through the novel perhaps it’s Chick Lit.

So I think that’s how I’d market it.

True Ellie style I photoshopped up an idea for a book cover using an image of Rob Pattinson who imo looks better than anyone else smoking a cigarette. I wish I could credit the photographer however I only found the image on fan pages and I don’t have Ellie’s fangirl dedication to track down the source. Maybe someone out there does… If so, let me know and I’ll add the credit.

Flynn has blonde hair. Wonder if RP would bleach his hair for a photoshoot?

Here it is:

RP

I do not own image used.

Fab Feb

February was good to me.

On Valentine’s Day Choc Lit announced its Search for a Star competition shortlist. I was delighted and grateful if not a little stunned to discover my novel Ordering Flynn Matthews had made the cut along with five others.

Cue flights of fancy of it being published with a gorgeous book cover (Choc Lit has amazing cover designs!), being made into a movie – the story really lends itself to the big screen, honest – doesn’t hurt to dream and hey in the spirit of the book and its main character Ellie I’m putting it out there in the hope of triggering the universe’s law of attraction and turning my dreams into reality!

My fellow shortlisters are lovely, accomplished and talented which doesn’t bode well for me!

Being shortlisted means I have returned to editing Failing Flynn Matthews and Working Flynn Matthews. Although Ordering Flynn Matthews can be a standalone novel there are sequels.

Thanks to Carrie, John, Lydia and Sam for reading my stories and for their valued feedback! And thanks to my editor Debz Hobbs-Wyatt too!

The good news continued as a few days later I successfully interviewed for a job with a charity! Ten hours a week which works perfectly with writing. I’m looking forward to starting early April.

It’s years since I went on a march and with my Behcet’s under control I decided to become more proactive and move on from just being an armchair supporter of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Green Party. So February saw me join the Green Party and sign up for the Time to Act march for action on climate change in London on 7th March. My children are marching too, so my daughter and I will be meeting her uni student brother there. We went banner making in Bristol on Saturday and met some wonderful dedicated activists. We’re looking forward to next weekend!

Best news of all. 😉 It’s official. Dark chocolate is a super food! Fact. (Dietitians may disagree)

Green & Black's Dark Chocolate

My weekly supply…you think I’m joking

Busy Writing

In my last post I was busy editing Blood Moon the sequel to Blood Rain – I haven’t quite finished yet as an idea for a new novel wouldn’t stop nagging at me. So four months later and after an edit from Debz Hobbs-Wyatt (more later on Debz) and a busy weekend getting it ready my contemporary adult novel Ordering Flynn Matthews is seeking representation. I emailed a synopsis and the first three chapters to a few carefully chosen agents today.

I haven’t sent Blood Rain out since my last update, not that I’ve given up on it, I still believe in the story, it’s very current considering the extreme weather we’re getting, although I’m not sure it’s happening for the same reasons as in my novel! however Ordering Flynn Matthews has taken over for the time being. Or maybe it’s Flynn Matthews who’s taken over. I’m already writing the sequel Failing Flynn Matthews.

Before I get back to Flynn I must tell you that of all the books I read last year the one that stands out most and I would recommend as a definite read is While No One Was Watching by Debz Hobbs Wyatt. 32 5* reviews on Amazon already! Wonderfully heartfelt with engaging characters, fabulous relationships and a fifty year old mystery to solve.

Oh and one more thing, a few days before Christmas we were lucky enough to go to the Warner Bros Studio Harry Potter Tour If you ever get the chance it’s well worth it! Truly magical 🙂 No idea where the owl photo comes from so can’t credit the person who made it but thank you whoever you are. It’s cuter and preferable to the one of me on a broomstick.

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