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Although I loved English and poetry at school, I’d never thought of writing anything apart from teenage romantic poetry, and only for my own eyes. One kind teacher recognised my enjoyment of poetry and lent me a book of poems. Soon, I started composing an exercise book full of my own humble efforts which I decorated with drawings of roses and such like.
At the same time, I was a prolific reader of all kinds of novels including historicals by Jean Plaidy, Anya Seaton and Georgette Heyer, crime fiction by Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, classics by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, romantic suspense by Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt and Phyllis A Whitney and adventures by H Rider Haggard and John Buchan. Perhaps such a variety of reading material eventually encouraged my own different genres of writing!
Marriage, children and the realities of life intervened for many years but once my son and daughter attended school and all their own activities, I signed up for a correspondence writing course and started putting together some ideas for articles and stories. I gave up on the correspondence part eventually but the creative seed was sown.
Then we moved house when the children were reaching their teens and I discovered a writing group starting in a nearby town. By that time, my first short article was published in a woman’s rural magazine for which I received my first very small payment for writing! Joining the group was the single best thing I did for my future writing career. As well as meeting lots of creative people, many of whom are now close friends, I learned the craft of writing publishable stories, received constructive criticism and enjoyed visits by professional writers.
As my confidence grew, I tackled just about every form of writing, though I was keen to develop my short stories. The next most significant event was when our group joined the Scottish Association of Writers, an organisation that encompasses writing groups from all over Scotland and runs an annual weekend conference. That memorable year, several of us went to our first conference with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. What if we were out of our depth?
One of the main elements of the conference, even today, is the excellent list of competitions. They are adjudicated by professional writers and each entry is given a written critique, with prizes awarded at the conference. So that first year, I entered a new short story and waited with bated breath while that particular adjudicator stood up to deliver his short talk and results. Then the unbelievable happened. I won the Woman’s Short Story Competition that year! Not only that, but the judge was the editor of a well-known national women’s magazine (My Weekly) and he not only praised my story but told everyone that he was going to buy it for the magazine. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement!
Thus began my career as a published writer, although writing and getting the second story published was every bit as difficult as it is these days. I’ve always enjoyed tackling different types of writing and went on to have many stories, articles, poetry and children’s stories published. After more years of studying for a degree and postgraduate Masters in literature and history while working part-time and writing sporadically, I wanted to see if I could sustain writing a full length book, as that’s what I prefer to read.
Joining the New Writers’ Scheme of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association gave me the push I needed to complete that first novel and I’ve never looked back! I’ve not been able to stick with one genre and still enjoy trying all kinds of writing. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I rarely suffer from writer’s block, as I move to another piece when one is slow.
If I might offer a few of suggestions to aspiring writers it would be:
- Join a writing group of some kind if possible
- Experiment with different forms of writing as we often don’t know what most suits our voice until we try it
- Read everything, especially genres you might not have read before
- Never, ever give up. Circumstances and commitments can change but you are in charge of your creativity and it expands with use
I still follow my own inclination to read and write anything and everything. When I became a novelist, I began with Regency as I used to devour Georgette Heyer books and knew that era fairly well. Then I wrote a Victorian novella to expand the historical periods, as I studied European history and enjoy different eras. At the same time, I wrote two contemporary tween books, then moved into a contemporary novella series with a touch of mythological fantasy for adults.
And now? My first mainstream novel, The Highland Lass (under my full name), is due out in spring from Crooked Cat Publishing and it’s the ‘book of my heart’, set in my own area of Scotland, mainly contemporary but with short chapters from 1785. But I’m also writing a Victorian crime novel which is a whole new venture and the first 11,000 words already won second prize at the SAW conference. These days, I’m often an adjudicator at that same annual conference, as well as giving occasional talks to writing groups. I do still struggle with self-discipline at times, but this variety is what keeps writing an exciting occupation and fills my days with wonderful adventures in creativity. Follow your dream!
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Date Published: November 2013
Genre: Regency historical
Word Count: around 75,000
Blurb: Edinburgh 1816: young widow Lady Lenora Fitzallan receives an unexpected invitation that might change her life but will ultimately mean a choice between two men. Accompanied by her elderly godmother, Lady Pettigrew, Lenora sets out to face the man she never thought to see again.
At Marlings, his Scottish country estate, Laird Edward Montgomery awaits the arrival of the woman he should have married seventeen years before, but has he left it too late? Meanwhile his young niece and ward, Annabelle, begins to fall in love in between getting into scrapes. But is it with the right man?
As they all prepare for the Masquerade Ball on the Winter Solstice in the lead up to Christmas, new arrivals cause uncertainty and reveal past secrets. But who will win Lenora’s love in the end?
Annabelle risked a glance and saw that Freddy did indeed struggle to reach her. Perhaps he was not the type of dashing young man she’d long imagined. She glanced back toward the road and discovered the carriage and the solitary rider were fast approaching.
She closed her eyes for a second, quite sure she was about to disgrace herself. It was far too late to appear ladylike. Her hands now pained holding on to the wood and she wearied being stuck in one position.
“Move back out of the way, Freddy,” she called. “I shall try again to come down by myself. I’m too cold to wait and my hands are almost numb. I fear I cannot hold on much longer.”
Before the brother and sister below could reply, Annabelle twisted round and carefully shifted a foot. Surely it could not be far and she might gradually descend by moving very slowly. Freddy gave up trying and stood back to allow her to climb down. The first step was completed when she heard the sound of hooves coming closer still and knew the rider must be very near.
Not risking a further glance, Annabelle moved her other foot to the next branch. But she neglected to check it was thick or strong enough to take her weight. The branch cracked. Annabelle tried to shift her weight back up to the previous branch, but her arms were too tired and all feeling was gone from her stiff fingers.
As she finally lost her grip and knew she was about to fall from the tree, she heard someone shout, “Kit!” Next minute, Annabelle was tumbling through the air.
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Rosemary Gemmell is a published historical and contemporary novelist for adults (as Romy) and also writes for the Middle Grade age group (as Ros). Under her full name, her short stories, articles and occasional poems have been published in UK magazines, in the US, and online. She has a Post-graduate Masters in literature and history and is a member of the Society of Authors, the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Scottish Associations of Writers. She enjoys sharing information with other writers and loves to dance!
Author Links: (Website, Blog, Email, Amazon Author Page, Twitter Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, etc.)
Main Blog: http://ros-readingandwriting.blogspot.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Romy-Gemmell/e/B005WAJD92
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