Wednesday, 27 June 2012



What greater excuse is there to go to a coffee shop and indulge yourself? Over a large cappuccino, latte, whatever and a slice of gooey cake, it’s the perfect opportunity to people- watch and listen. Not only can you pick up intriguing and enticing conversations from other people, you can also observe their body-language, pick up on fashion details and eating habits. Take along a keen eye and a notebook. Is the chap in the corner waiting for the leggy blonde who has just stepped into the cafĂ©? Are the rather doleful older couple about to embark on a romantic weekend? Don’t make snap-decisions. Weave a story around the characters and take it home with you to construct into an appetising scenario. Tutors often advise you to take your characters out to dinner/tea/coffee and this is, in effect, what you’re doing.

And if you can tear yourself away from the coffee shop, take a bus ride. It’s easy to stay on way past your stop because you want to hear the end of the conversation going on in the seat behind you. Happy, sad, interesting, boring, exciting, absorbing or repetitive, it can spark off something inside you which you can’t wait to make into a story.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

What To Write Next?

For me, what to write next is normally easy peasy, as Jamie Oliver might say but, this time, since finishing my saga and catching up on stuff I ignored over the 5 months or so while I wrote it, I'm in a dilemma. I thought I would go with the small town romance that was mostly plotted and thought out, re-did the title; yep loved that new one and was happy with my heroine Jenny and hero Sam and the motor bike riding Vicar, David. Then ... uncertainty. Why?
Because I dallied by researching which of my books are read the most. My biggest selling title far and away is Outback Hero, and the only conclusion I can draw is the title itself which of course hints at the unique setting. My ebook downloads of it have skyrocketed this year and while the other romances sell steadily, Hero is a standout success. It is also the first book I had published so it will always have a special place in my writer's heart.
But it became the cause of my uncertainty because my research changed my thoughts on what I planned to write next. If outback stories are popular, shouldn't I write another one of those instead of a small town or rural/country romance? I love my sunburnt country myself and have never had the slightest urge to live in the city. I'm a country girl, so I can fully understand anyone's fascination with the wide open spaces of my native land.
Then what should drop into my letterbox about that time? My latest issue of the fabulous Australian "Outback" magazine to which I subscribe and receive bi monthly. If you want to know more about it, click here. And what special article should appear in said magazine? One entitled "Desert Kingdom" about Anna Creek cattle station in outback South Australia. And what should my proposed outback series be about? One set on an outback sheep property, one set on a broadacre wheat farm and, yep, you guessed it, one set on a cattle station.
Decision made I think. Meant to be. Problem solved.
If you want to dip into a bit more authentic Australiana until my next outback book comes out, try the R.M. Williams website. R.M. Williams was a bush swagman who became a millionaire.
There's a wonderful Australian poem called "A Sunburnt Country" by Dorothea McKellar that all Australian children grow up with and you will find it here. Trust me, it's a beautiful piece and well worth a read.
Good luck to all Pocketeers whatever they decide to write next and to our readers who enjoy our heartwarming stories so much.

Ayers Rock in the Northern Territory of central Australia

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Pocketeers go to America...

Well, it took some doing, but at last I have a book on sale with an American e-publisher. Astraea Press are new and innovative.
My experience with Astraea has been wholly positive. They are endlessly patient and encouraging. This book, 'The Sanctuary' was originally published by People's Friend as a pocket novel and thereafter in large print by Ulverscroft. Neither of these publishers take e-rights so the book was available to offer elsewhere. I was delighted when Stephanie Taylor at Astraea said her reader loved it. The book had to be edited for the US market but I had a wonderful caring editor in Kim Bowman. After various versions had flown to and fro in e-mails across the Atlantic, we were finally ready to launch as a new release on their website I'm really pleased with the cover and it's great to be with such a forward looking publisher. One of their ideas for a book club was recently featured in no less than the New York Daily News.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


Writing for the market is something all Pocketeers have to do, and this has been discussed in depth recently on our blog. However, the market is constantly changing, and this has been evident in the fact that Maggie is now asking for Crime, Thrillers and Medical stories with cliff-hanger endings.

We can do that. Most of us have been writing long enough to bend with the wind and accept change. We all get rejections, but we knuckle down and get on with it. A good writer writes what people want to read, and a good editor knows what people want to read. People's Friend and My Weekly ask for slightly different stories, but a lot of us write for both publications, prepared to change our style of writing to suit the particular market.

This is something a lot of new writers seem to deliberately ignore. To write for a particular genre is not something they want to do. Their writing is unique, so how can it be categorised? Exactly - and that is why it gets rejected. Agents and Publishers like to put things in slots. Something that won't fit any slot has to be a work of genius - and most of us don't fit into that category, either.

Self-publishing is another minefield for the novice writer. It looks easy, it costs nothing, and your masterpiece is out there for everyone to read. But e-books are open to public criticism in the form of random reviews, and a cruel review can be a lot worse than a rejection slip. Go online and you become public property. It would be well for the first time writer to remember this. Nothing is ever totally free.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

I'm thrilled to tell you that my very first Amazon/Kindle book is FREE for two days. The Duke's Reform is a brand new Regency adventure. Why not download it? Fenella Miller

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What do the Queen's Jubilee and Pocket Novels have in common?

Here in the UK we have just had four days of celebrations for the Queen's Jubilee. Months ago, my sister suggested we stay overnight in London to go and see the Pageant along the Thames. As the day grew nearer I began to wonder whether it was such a good idea. There would be crowds, transport would be difficult, what would the weather be like? But these were all concerns, the stuff of everyday life and what the Pageant and the Jubilee celebrations offered was a chance to step OUT of the ordinary and to indulge in a little excitement, a soupcon of romance. In the end, there were millions of people in London, trains were packed to the gills and the weather was foul - cold and incredibly wet. But, the Jubilee delivered totally and utterly because it did give us the opportunity to step out of our routines, to see amazing things, connect with some different people and all in a positive way. It really struck me that the news was full of fun people, exciting happenings in which we could all take part whether that was by going up and waving our flags, having a party with friends and neighbours or watching on the tv. I think the ability to step out of real life for a time is also what readers and we writers get out of pocket novels. We get to 'know' new people in the characters, we get to go to interesting places we might never visit in real life and what's more we get to go there in safety. For Pocket Novel world is a safe place - we know there won't be any gruesome murders or hideous happenings! London and in fact the whole country felt safe and very friendly during the Jubilee. We connected with neighbours and strangers and despite the massive crowds, everyone got on marvellously.

We also saw some wonderful boats which took part in the Pageant. The boat at the top is Tenacious, the largest wooden boat built in England in the last 100 years. It has been designed to help disabled people go sailing and is huge, taking a crew of 40 able bodied and 20 disabled crew. The one below that though, The Matthew was the one I loved for its romantic look. It's very small, dwarfed by the other tall ships which took part in the Pageant, but it was just like I imagine a pirate boat would look. It's a replica of a caravel which sailed the seas searching for a sea route to the orient in 1497 and instead discovered north America. Seeing it floating on the Thames gave me an idea for a pocket novel which I must now go off to jot down before I forget it! How did other people spend their jubilee?