Sunday, 21 December 2014


I’m back!
After a year of blogging together as a team, the ‘Write Minds’ ladies are going their separate ways. No, we haven’t fallen out. Far from it! We have become very firm friends and, as fellow members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, will continue to meet, chat and support each other as often as ever, both in person and through our many social networking links.
In fact, sharing a blog with four other aspiring romantic novelists for a whole year has been a very useful experience, giving us the chance to set ourselves writing goals, explore shared themes, promote our own successes and interview some fantastic published writers, as well as finding our way around all the behind-the-scenes admin that managing a blog entails …but our writing careers are all taking off in new and different directions now, and it’s time to spread our wings and fly. 
So, after a long silence, I’m finally back here on my own blog - and fully intending to update it regularly with all my news - and probably quite a bit of other writers’ news too!
So, let’s start with my short stories. Fifteen sold and published in women’s magazines during 2014. Not a huge amount, mainly because the novel writing has taken up a lot of my time lately, but I still love writing short fiction and can’t see a time when that is likely to stop. I hit my milestone fiftieth story for The People’s Friend in the summer, I still appear regularly in the monthly Woman’s Weekly Fiction Specials, and I will have a story in the My Weekly Annual 2016, which seems a very long way off right now! I always look forward to seeing what the lovely illustrators have made of my characters and settings when my stories move from my own imagination into print, and am rarely disappointed.
But what about my foray into novel writing? As a member of the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme I was able to send my 100,000 word manuscript off for a full (anonymous) critique this year. Oh dear! Their reader, whoever she was, clearly hated everything (and I do mean everything) about it, which was very disheartening, but I am made of sterner stuff than to burst into tears and give up, so I asked for it to be seen by someone else, who turned out to be much more on my wavelength and offered plenty of praise and some useful suggestions as to how I could knock it into better shape. And while I was waiting for that second opinion, a published novelist friend offered to read it for me too, and she loved it! The trouble is that everyone who reads it has such different views about what works, what doesn’t and what I should change that I found the whole experience really confusing - so I sent it off to a couple of agents completely unaltered just to test the water.
One knuckle-biting near miss (from a very well-known literary agency) later, and with a lot of good things said about my writing and my book, I am now anxiously waiting for the response from a second agent who I met at a ‘Get Published Day’ event, before even thinking of sending it anywhere else. Fingers, toes and everything else are permanently crossed at the moment, and while I wait I have of course made a start on the next novel, a much more conventional ‘one man one woman happy ending’ romance which I am sure will be more to the RNA’s taste.
So, before signing off for 2014, here are my writing tips (all highly pertinent to my recent experiences) for anyone hoping to embark on a major writing project or push, or considering a change of writing direction in the year ahead:
 1.    Stick to what YOU want to write. Believe in yourself and don’t let one person’s opinion bring you down or knock you off course. I didn’t… and the next three people (all top professionals) to read my novel all had very good things to say about it.
 2.    Get yourself known on facebook and Twitter. Not every hour of every day, or you will never find time to write, but use them to make connections with other writers and with potential readers. Publishers will expect it of you, it will inevitably help promotion and sales when your book comes out, and you will enjoy it!
 3.    Join any writing organisation that you think you will get something from – even if it’s just meeting and sharing your work with fellow writers at a local writers’ group so you aren’t doing it all on your own. I love being a member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, which was a wonderfully impressive 120 years old in 2014 – lovely lunches and afternoon teas in London, workshops, a great little magazine, and a press card for free entry into all kinds of fantastic places I just might want to write about – and I am about to join the SWWJ’s Council to get involved in running things and to help guide its future. And I am staying in the RNA for at least another year too, and will be sending them my next manuscript for critique, despite my disappointment at the previous reaction. The meetings, awards ceremonies and my forthcoming first visit to the annual RNA conference are just too good to give up!
Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a successful New Year.
Viv Brown
Oh, did I forget to say I got married this year too?!
I will still be writing as Vivien Hampshire, but I am now officially Mrs Brown – without her boys!!!