I have just come home after a few days in what I call my second home – Lincolnshire. I was born in Yorkshire and have lived all my life there but keep an open mind about what lies beyond its borders having seen a great deal of what does. I came to know Lincolnshire and its people because of the Second World War. I trained as a Bomb Aimer so it was only natural that I joined a Bomber Squadron flying out of Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire got into my blood and that was thickened when two of my daughters chose to live in that county. So my association with Lincolnshire has continued from that first posting to a Lincolnshire airfield.
As I became a writer it was natural for me to use Yorkshire backgrounds to my novels written under the name of Jessica Blair. Then the time came to spread my wings further afield and so I turned to my second home for backgrounds. It was natural to use those airfields and inhabit them with imaginary people living as we had lived on the tide of war. The titles of my books that embrace this theme and have a relevance next year (the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War) are
THE RESTLESS SPIRIT (RAF, Fighter Command & Bomber Command)
WINGS OF SORROW (Navy, RAF, Land Army, American Air Force)
IN THE SILENCE OF THE SNOW (RAF, Land Army, SOE)
WHISPERS IN THE SNOW (RAF, Bomber Command) a Novella to be published as an ebook on 4th December 2014)
JUST ONE MORE DAY (RAF, Bomber Command) to be published February 2015
The cover for my new novel to be published in February 2015. The story concerns three WAAFs and the Lancaster bomber crews serving on a Lincolnshire airfield during the Second World War.
I recently gave a talk to a reading group in my village. With this picture loaded on to my iPad I was able to pass this picture round the audience for each them to see and handle it, thus using the maxim:- Authors should use all the tools of their trade to promote their work.
My publisher, Piatkus, like my outline for a new novel and will be issuing a contract shortly. Now I can get stuck in, developing the outline into a novel of 100,000 words. An exciting journey lies ahead of me. My working title is Tread Softly, Alice. That of course may change before I submit the final work by the first of February 2015. At the moment, 1900 is the year in which the novel will open and before the final words are written it will have taken me to Yorkshire, Scotland, and South Africa and maybe to other lands if the characters tell me where they want to go. Yes, my characters do talk to me! We have some very interesting conversations. Generally we agree on the direction the story of their lives should take and generally we come to an amicable conclusion. Towards the end of my first Jessica Blair novel, The Red Shawl (1993), I was going to kill my leading female character but she said to me, ‘Don’t do that and I will provide you with a second novel.’ I took her advice and sure enough the fact that she was alive led me to writing, A Distant Harbour (1994)
Had a few days break from writing to visit my grandson and his partner in Southampton. They laid on some glorious weather for me and my daughter. Apart from relaxing in their garden we visited Mottisfont, a country house with extensive grounds and gardens, and sailed to the Isle of Wight and back on the ferry. This was made most interesting by my grandson’s knowledge of the shipping and shore installations of this busy stretch of waterway. All grist for the writer’s mill.
I came back refreshed and ready to start on my next book but before I can do that I need verification that my publisher, Piatkus, likes the outline I sent before I had my break in Southampton. I’m itching to get started and use up some of that new battery power.
My Novella WHISPERS IN THE SNOW will be coming out as an ebook published by Piatkus on 4th December. It has a Christmas theme with an old Lincolnshire Second World War airfield as the background. That is a nice lead in to my next full-length Jessica Blair novel JUST ONE MORE DAY the background of which is also Lincolnshire. With the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War next year the novel is about three WAAFs and the aircrews serving on a bomber station. It is due in February
Today I have been at the May meeting of the Northern Group of RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) at Beckwithshaw near Harrogate. We enjoy a nice lunch of our choice at the Blacksmith’s Arms and then follow it with a topic or topics connected with writing. Today we had no set subject having replaced it with a Question & Answer session. It proved a good one with everyone chipping in with something of interest.
We talked about reviews and reviewing and how the scene had changed with computers and easy access to putting reviews by anyone on the internet. We applauded the newspapers , national and local, and magazines still using reviews by genuine and competent reviewers. Can we trust many of the reviews that pour on to our screens via the internet?
We talked about the pros and cons of self-publishing and the roads that can be followed in that field. We believe that many of the people seeking to self-publish do not realise what is involved beyond the writing of the novel. Most of that work is borne by the publisher who, with the knowledge of the workings of publishing, brings expert knowledge to the scene that is beyond the reach of most self-publishing would-bes.
We had an interesting round the table – What we are working on now. The variety gave insight into what people were achieving, what they were aiming at, and what progress their writing was making.
It was a very enjoyable meeting. I was particularly pleased to see Ken McCoy who had a book out today entitled ALMOST A HERO. Good for you Ken.
Here is a link that might interest you http://www.piatkusbooks.net/an-evening-of-celebration-at-the-romantic-novelists%e2%80%99-awards-ceremony/
Yes, it was a great evening for me at which I was well supported by my family and my publisher Piatkus. I thank all those who have supported me, before, during and after the Awards event. It has been a memorable time. Now it is back to writing the next novel by Jessica Blair. In the meantime, before I reveal what that novel might be, let me say that a novella, entitled WHISPERS IN THE SNOW will be out for Christmas and a full-length novel JUST ONE MORE DAY will appear next February.
Life is just about settling down again after the RNA Awards Ceremony. As I wrote last time the announcement that I had been shortlisted set the publicity ball rolling and as it grew in pace it grew in size. I survived and looked forward to the Awards Ceremony in London. I was listed in the Epic Romantic Novel Category with five other authors. The winners in each category went forward to the main award. I didn’t win but it was a great evening mingling with other writers and most of all with my two editors from Piatkus, my publisher. They had put forward my novel, THE ROAD BENEATH ME and I reached the final six of my category, seen here.