Linda Mitchelmore (centre) at Torbay Bookshop signing her debut novel To Turn Full Circle
Linda was extremely supportive to me when I was trying to get my debut novel traditionally published, and has continued to encourage me through all the trials of bringing out my second novel Occupying Love.
Linda, like me, came to novel-writing later in life and is a prolific short story writer. I have asked her today to tell us about her journey to publication.
Welcome Linda! It's great to have you here for the very first time. I can't believe how long it has taken me to ask... Now, at last, it's over to you.
'To paraphrase a famous saying … ‘some are born writing, some achieve writing, and some have writing thrust upon them’. I am the latter. That said, I do have a vivid memory of being six- or seven-years-old sitting at the dining table and ‘writing a book’. My mother cut strips of leftover wallpaper lining-paper, stitched them together with wool and a carpet needle to make my blank canvas. I remember illustrating the front cover in crayon and writing my name – large – at the bottom, but not what I called said book or what it was about.
There’s another saying along the lines of … ‘it’s not what life chucks at you that matters, but how you deal with it’. Deafness got chucked at me. It was a slow deterioration to begin with – high sounds were the first to disappear – but by the time I was in my forties I had little hearing at all. Conventional hearing aids were of no use as I had zero receptors left to pick up sound, however artificially amplified. So, I disappeared into a world of reading. My children were still at home and magazines with short stories became my reading of choice from a time factor.
One Christmas my (now late) mother-in-law gave me a copy of Woman she had finished reading in which there was a short story competition. While the family were glued to The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and the Queen’s Speech I had a go. And lo and behold I made the shortlist, was given £50 for my efforts and was published. It was heady stuff. Deafness often means the sufferer retires to the sidelines but here was my name, out there, and no one had a clue whether I was deaf or not. I had another couple of acceptances and then a lot of rejections! One acceptance (and a £100 fee) came from Writing Magazine so I decided to enrol on their short story writing course. My assigned tutor recommended that I try an agency, Midland Exposure, to see if they would take me on. They did. With Midland Exposure’s guidance my sales crept up to around the twenty mark. Midland Exposure are now closed for business but they opened up doors to magazine editors for me and, to date, I have had over 300 short stories published worldwide. I was a happy little bunny again earning extra money for the family coffers, never thinking for a moment I could (or even wanted to) write a novel. But my tutor had other ideas and suggested I enrol on Writing Magazine’s novel writing course. With her guidance I began to learn the craft of novel writing, and I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme – money well spent in my opinion. After a few near misses, Choc Lit took me on and I’ve now had six titles published with them. But I am a late developer because I became the owner of a bus pass, had my first grandchild, and saw my first novel published, all in the same year!
In between the short story writing and the novel publications I was selected to be in three charity anthologies which raised money for Cancer Research
– Sexy Shorts for Christmas,
Sexy Shorts for the Beach, and Sexy Shorts for Summer. UK
It’s often been suggested I write a ‘How-to’ book. I wish I could! I’m a very organic writer and don’t plot or plan and I certainly don’t analyse how I do what I do. I start with a character who has a problem, put her (or him) in an interesting location and let her (or him) work it out for herself. If I could analyse I would probably get less rejections than I do (yes I still get them!) but, strangely, when I get another sale it is all the sweeter.
Sometimes I wish I’d started on my writing journey earlier in life. Would I have become a best-seller if I’d started being published in my thirties? Possibly, and I’d probably have been richer! But would I have been happier? It is what it is, I think, and I’ve met the people I have, when I have, because of that – and I am the richer for it in other ways.
Every writer will have a different journey. This, then, is mine.
Linda with fellow Choc Lit authors in 2015
LINDA MITCHELMORE 2016
You can find all Linda's books on Amazon.co.uk here