Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Room In Your Heart - interview with Wendy Clarke

Today I'm delighted to welcome Wendy Clarke to the blog. Her first collection of short stories has just been released as both an ebook and in print. I've read some of the stories and they are amazing -I can see why in just a couple of years she's gone from being a wannabe writer to being a People's Friend favourite.

Hi Wendy and welcome back to the womagwriter blog! I remember seeing your name start appearing in comments, and checking out your blog a few years ago, when you were just starting out. What made you take up writing? And why did you decide to write women’s mag fiction?

I'd like to say that I've always known I would be a writer, but it didn't happen that way. I started writing by chance three years ago when the primary school I was working in closed down. My brother had just completed an on-line writing course and thought it might give me something to do while I was deciding where to go with my life. Of course, I wasn't to know how much I was going  to enjoy my weekly writing tasks and how much I'd miss them when the course ended. My lovely tutor thought my writing suitable for submitting to magazines and I was lucky to gain my first sale quite quickly. The rest, as they say, is history.

You’ve been amazingly successful in a relatively short time. What’s your secret, and what tips can you share with other womag writers?

I'd love to be able to share my secret... if only I knew what that was! There's a lot of different advice out there as to how to break into the womag market but I think it boils down to a few simple things: By all means study the market but if you don't write from the heart, the editor will see it; keep on writing and subbing (I write a minimum of one story a week) and finally, don't be put off by rejections - we all get them.

You’re an active blogger, and I know you use Facebook and Twitter a lot as well. How important do you think it is for writers to have a presence on social media, or do you just do it for fun?

I think that depends on the type of writing you do. I started my blog, Wendy's Writing Now, in August 2012. I started it just after my first story sale, as I wanted to chart my writing progress from that day. I would have been shocked if I'd known that just over two years later I'd have sold nearly a hundred stories. The other reason for starting my blog was for social interaction - having come from a busy school environment, being at home all day writing was quite isolating. I found the blogging community friendly and welcoming - I still love it!
As for Facebook and Twitter - I was a bit of a late starter, having shied away from both for many years, but I've just started my first novel and know how important it is to have a good social networking platform. Now I embrace both - after all, if you can't beat them join them!

Your book, Room in Your Heart, was published on 27 October. How did you find the whole self-publishing process? I know some people love doing it and some are daunted by the very idea. What advice would you give to someone considering publishing their own anthology?

My best advice is - if you aren't technically minded, find someone who is! I could not have published the collection without the help of my clever husband. I would also suggest having a copy of Sally Jenkins' Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners by your side - it's a life saver. If anyone is interested in finding out how I got on with the self-publishing process, I tell all in an article in Writing Magazine which comes out in November.

There are a lot of short story anthologies available now – what makes yours stand out? Give us a teaser, something to make us want to read it immediately!

'Rachel is sitting in the corner of the restaurant by the window, staring at something I can't see. Although only dusk outside, the waiter has lit the candle and I look to see if its light catches the diamond in her engagement ring before remembering she won't be wearing one - or her wedding band...'
This is from the first story in my collection called, Read These When I've Gone, and is a particular favourite of mine. My short stories have been described by Shirley Blair, the fiction editor of The People's Friend, as having as having emotional depth - I hope that readers of the collection will agree.

I met you for the first time in person a couple of months ago at one of Della Galton’s weekend classes – the one on how to publicise your book (funny, that!) What piece of advice from that class did you find the most useful?

It was a great course wasn't it. The best piece of advice was how to work the coffee machine! Seriously though, it was probably the importance of connecting with people and making friends on social media, rather than using it as a tool for shoving your book down people's throats.

What’s next on your writing to-do list? Any plans for another book, or for some longer fiction perhaps?

I plan to publish another collection of my magazine stories next year, so look out for that. As to other writing plans, apart from continuing to write short stories for the magazines, I hope to find some time to complete the novel - although I seem to remember having said that last year!

And finally, what’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?

A quote from Ray Bradbury... 
'First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!'

Thanks Wendy! I'll look forward to your next collection.

Room In Your Heart is available from all Amazons at just £1.53 for the ebook or £4.99 for the print version. It'd make a lovely Christmas present for your female relatives! 

About Wendy

Wendy Clarke is a full time writer of women's fiction. She started writing when the primary school she taught in closed down and after completing two creative writing courses, began writing short fiction for magazines. Since then, she has sold nearly a hundred short stories and her work regularly appears in national women's magazines such as The People's Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman's Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles.

Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!

Room in Your Heart is Wendy's first collection of short stories.

Wendy on Facebook
Wendy on Twitter
Wendy's Blog

The Blurb
 She kept a special room in her heart. For a while, the door was locked and then, one day, she felt able to visit the room and realised that, instead of being a place to fear, it was full of happiness...

Room in Your Heart, is a collection of twelve romantic short stories of love and loss, previously published in The People's Friend Magazine. If you like stories with emotional depth and a satisfying ending then these stories will not fail to leave you unmoved.

A holiday in Porlock helps Julia make an important decision but brings back painful memories.

The beauty of the Lake District opens Cassie's eyes to where her real love lies.

Max wonders whether it's a good idea to meet up with his ex-wife, until she hands him a bundle of letters.

The stories in this collection allow a peak into the hearts of twelve ordinary people who share one belief... in the power of love.


Wendy's Writing said...

Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog, Kath. It was the first one I ever followed when I was first starting out and the information on it helped me out a lot in the early days.

Patsy said...

Your success in such a short time has been amazing, Wendy - and well deserved. You write great stories.

Joanna said...

Thank you for a lovely interview, Kath and Wendy. Congratulations, Wendy, on your well deserved success for your beautiful writing.x

Nicola said...

A wonderful interview, Kath. I am a great fan of Wendy's and her book is fabulous. Only one complaint....I've read it and re-read it and now I need the next one please. All the best.

Wendy's Writing said...

Thank you for your support, Patsy - that's lovely of you.

Wendy's Writing said...

Many thanks, Joanna. A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time - I've been very fortunate, I know.

Wendy's Writing said...

What a lovely thing to say, Nicola - thank you. Don't worry, I have another collection planned for next year.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

A lovely interview - it's wonderful to hear how soon you became such a favourite writer of so many, Wendy!

Wendy's Writing said...

That's kind of you to say.I've loved every minute of it, Rosemary.

Helen Laycock said...

It's a small world. I've just read your article in Writing Magazine, Wendy, then I clicked on an email link to this blog - and there you were again...

Good marketing, I suspect!

Your article struck a chord with me as I put my collections together in exactly the same way, Hubby sorting out wayward tabs and making me a template just as yours did for you. Other than that, I like to think I did it all myself.

The best of luck with it - and I love the cover!

Helen Laycock

Wendy's Writing said...

Helen - thank you! When I talk to my husband about the book I say 'I' then 'we' then 'you'! Good luck with your own book - I'm sure everyone's experience of self-publishing is different and I hope people find the article entertaining if nothing else!

sallyjenkins said...

I'm glad you found 'Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners' so useful, Wendy! Very best wishes with this collection and the next one.

Wendy's Writing said...

I certainly did, Sally - thank you.

Karen Clarke said...

Lovely interview, and I'm looking forward to reading the story collection - and your novel, one day :o)

Wendy's Writing said...

Wouldn't that be nice, Karen!