We welcome Sandra Mackness to the RNA blog for our first author written piece of 2017. Sandra writes as Jill Barry and had a very enviable 2016.
This time last year, while awaiting the date of my son’s marriage to his Australian fiancée, I knew I’d need to blank out a whole month in my 2016 diary. Once the daffodils began brightening parks and
gardens, I focussed on buying that mother of the groom outfit, knowing UK Spring was the perfect time to find suitable clothes for November in South East Australia.
I was spending less time on writing though I gave a couple of library talks and enjoyed publication of my first psychological suspense novel, plus a pocket novel and two Christmas-theme Linford Library Romances. I also submitted my seventh pocket novel to The People’s Friend and received a swift acceptance. My editor then approved my next idea but advised me to forget writing for a while, saying, ‘go and see your boy married.’ How wise she was.
I left home on Halloween, though not astride my broomstick as one or two of my family suggested might be fun! My travel companion and I met at Heathrow and the adventure really had begun. My writing plans at that stage consisted of a large notebook, several pens, plus my Kindle, to which I’d emailed my current wip, a contemporary romance called Love Thirty, with revisions planned.
The happy couple were blessed by sunshine on their wedding day at Dunkeld and many guests travelled from the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand, so making the occasion even more memorable and joyous. My daughter-in-law comes from a big family and one of her sisters is an airline pilot with Cathay Pacific. She and I discussed flying and possible story lines over a glass of
I kept a journal, to remind me what sights were visited and when, as well as taking photographs. But it wasn’t until I was alone for a week, house sitting for the newly-weds and exploring Melbourne while they honeymooned on the Gold Coast, that I realised I had to begin a wedding-inspired story.
Sure enough, the old magic began to work and, using my son’s whizzy computer, I let the characters drifting in and out of my mind, materialise. The word count increased without my even thinking about it and when I made my daily visits to the café down the road, I took my notebook and Kindle along so revisions of my completed novel would be ready to action on my return. You can imagine, serious research was necessary in the form of cake sampling, drinking coffee and chatting up the friendly staff!
They say Victoria, and Melbourne in particular, can experience four seasons in one day. I can vouch for this. So, weather and sense of place are important features of this latest work. Each time I sit down to write another instalment, I’m ‘back again,’ and that feeling is kept alive by frequent viewing of the beautiful wedding video. My British heroine, who takes a temporary job at a country resort specialising in wedding parties, isn’t modelled on anyone in particular. But some of her experiences will mirror my own, including an exciting day at the local races, where the fantastic fashions of the race goers and the colourful jockeys rivalled the size and sophistication of the delicious canapés.
Watching a kangaroo bouncing in the wild? Stopping for lunch at a quirky restaurant? Yes, both these provide more material for my wip. Although a blissful day at Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens, steeped in bird song and blossoms, plus visits to the State Library and other city landmarks aren’t relevant to my heroine’s journey towards her happy ever after, I can confirm the well is not only topped up but
New Year resolutions aren’t usually for me, but even though I’m not yet planning another trip abroad – give me time – I’m determined to hang on to that joyful, vibrant buzz from my fabulous adventure. Whether visiting a museum, art gallery or historic house, locally or further afield, I know I shall delight in letting my imagination loose, just as I did in awesome Australia. Meanwhile, back to the wip and my final few thousand words.
I wish you all much happiness and success with your writing and travelling this year.
Puppy Love by Jill Barry - Linford Romance Library, publication 1st January 2017
Majorcan Magic by Jill Barry - The People’s Friend - pocket novel - publication 14th January 2017
Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of 2016 with us Sandra and good luck with your writing in the coming year.
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