Writing, Work and Wine with … Linda Mitchelmore

LMI’m delighted to welcome another Choc Lit author into my parlour for a chat about my three favourite topics (aside from my family). Linda is a debut novelist with Choc Lit but a very successful short story writer too. Hailing from Devon, when not writing she enjoys spending time with her grandson, gardening, walking, cycling and riding pillion on her husband’s vintage motorbikes…

Q. Welcome Linda, lovely to have you here. So, can you tell us about your writing first?

A. I’m fairly well-published here in the UK and also in Sweden, Norway, Australia and New Zealand, with just over 300 short stories published now. In June 2012 my first novel, TO TURN FULL CIRCLE, was published by Choc Lit here in the UK, and it came out in Australia under the same title in July. My book is also available in large print and in audio as well as paperback and Kindle.

When I’m writing short stories I aim for 1000 words or 2000 words. My biggest short story market in the UK is Woman’s Weekly and those word lengths suit that market. My Weekly is also a good home for my work but their word length requirements tend to change every few months – but they do send me guidelines. I’ve had a couple of short serials published with My Weekly and have also had stories in most of the other women’s interest weekly magazines, with the exception of The Lady – who used to send back my mss by return of post! What’s that telling me??? Teehee.TTFC

TO TURN FULL CIRCLE is the first in a planned trilogy. I’ve already written the sequel which has the working title, NO TURNING BACK, and that is with my publisher at the moment awaiting their comments. I’ve done a rough outline of book three but will wait until I hear about book two before going too far with it.

I also have two stories in Choc Lit’s anthology – CHOC LIT LOVE MATCH which is published in conjunction with National Express.

Q. Wow, three hundred published short stories, that’s impressive – and a trilogy too! So, are you agented?

Well, when I started writing short stories I was lucky enough to be recommended to an agent, MIDLAND EXPOSURE, who specialised in placing short stories. I learned much from them and had, I think, something like 26 or so short stories published through them before they closed the business….alas. I will always be eternally grateful to Cari Crook and Lesley Gleeson for being there at the right time for me.

As for Choc Lit……they accept submissions without the need for an agent – to my great joy!

Q. I do love the fact that they are more accessible to first time novelists by having an open submission process, especially when it can be so damned hard to get an agent. So what is your most memorable writing success?

I have to say each one I have. I don’t seem to have lost the joy of a sale be it for 750 words or 75,000 words. I still get the heart flutter and do the air-punching thing. A very well-known novelist once told me that ‘we are only as good as the work we have on the shelves’….in our lifetime I would add. Think Margaret Mitchell of Gone with the Wind fame who could be considered a massive success story – and next to whom, incidentally, my book is placed in Waterstones and elsewhere…

Q. Lucky you! What about your most memorable rejection?

A. I was a member of The Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme for more years than is seemly! I think I wrote something like six or seven contemporary novels before changing genre and writing a historical which DID get published. But….all that said, most of my submissions went to second reads and onto top agents. Three of them – Judith Murdoch, Caroline Sheldon, and Laura Longrigg (of MBA) all wrote me wonderful ‘no thank you’ letters which praised my writing and told me not to give up. As you see, I took their advice.

Q. Excellent – another story of perseverance, I love those. Can you share your top three tips for writers with us?

1. My top tip is to never throw anything away! We have all, I’m sure, had that moment when we think we have written total cowpats and throw it across the room or are about to hit ‘delete’. Don’t! I am currently re-working something I wrote….oh, you don’t want to know how long ago. And I’m being very pleasantly surprised how much I like it and am finding it far better than I remembered it being.

2. This one seems obvious – exercise your writing muscles every day. I think of writing as the same as walking and breathing – if we don’t do both then we are in trouble, I think.

3. Until I write THE END on a piece of work I don’t leave it when I’m working on it at the end of a sentence. I don’t put a full stop, ever, at the end of my working day. I always leave a sentence unfinished and I find doing that makes it far, far easier to get back into it the next day.

Q. Great tips, thanks. Tell us about your work. What’s a typical day for you? Is there anything you love and/or hate about the day job/writing full-time?

A. I am what is – laughingly in this house – called retired. I think they would call me a senior in the US and Canada, but in France I would be referred to as ‘une femme d’un certain age’ – and that’s the title I prefer…

I like to be sat at the keyboard by 9 .am. Like and am are not the same though, are they? I have a husband, two adult children, and two grandchildren and I like to spend time with them all. I also have many friends – see how lucky I am! – and I think it’s important to keep in touch, meet for coffee etc, and especially with non-writing friends. So, if it is a gloriously sunny day – as it is at the time of writing – and my husband says he fancies a walk along the coast and maybe lunch out, then that’s what I’ll do. I can always write in the evenings. And if my daughter rings and asks me to look after my grandchildren for the day, why would I say no? So, mostly I don’t – unless there is a deadline, and then my husband does the Alexander- and Emily-sitting.

But I do try and restrict coffee with friends to once a week….try!

Summer might see me gardening instead of at the keyboard but I often get good short story ideas when I’m doing that, so not really off the writing hook, am I?

What I particularly love about writing – more or less full time – is that I can escape from the awfulness of stuff on the news etc., and the bad news given by friends for whatever reason. Writing creates another, often better, world for the time I am in it. I feel better able to tackle reality after a few hours inside my head – if you get my meaning.

I can’t think of a single thing I hate – writing has transformed my life.

Q.  That is absolutely lovely to hear, good for you. Lastly, tell us what your favourite wine is.

A. Ah yes, wine. The tortured writer in her garret, seeking solace in the bottle…

I have summer wine and winter wine. In summer I like a glass of chilled Prosecco in the garden, smelling the flowers, listening to the birds. In winter it would be a glass of a very good Chianti in front of the fire.

Wine for different seasons; I like a woman with a plan. Thanks for dropping in and all the best with To Turn Full Circle.

If you want to find out more about Linda you can go to her website at http://lindashortstories.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter at @LindaMitchelmore. You can also find out about Linda and her books on the Choc Lit website http://www.choc-lit.co.uk/html/linda_mitchelmore.html. You can buy her books online at http://www.lovereading.co.uk/book/7472/To-Turn-Full-Circle-by-Linda-Mitchelmore.html and http://www.amazon.co.uk for the Nook and Kindle plus most online book retailers and at airports, stations & service stations as well as all good High Street book shops. The current Choc Lit/National Express offer is at http://www.choc-lit.com/html/national_express_offer.html).

Well, that’s almost all for 2012 folks… see you next week for a short and sweet summation of the year.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Writing, Nikki x

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