Mick’s Musings

Book Review: An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft

AnitalianislandsummerPlease join me in welcoming Sue Moorcroft back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for An Italian Island Summer.

Will one summer in Sicily change her life for ever?

After her marriage falls apart, Ursula Quinn is offered the chance to spend the summer working at a hotel on a beautiful island off the coast of Sicily, Italy. Excited by a new adventure, she sets off at once.

At Residenza dei Tringali, Ursula receives a warm welcome from everyone except Alfio, son of the Tringali family. He gave up his life in Barcelona to help his mother Agata with the ailing business, and is frustrated with Ursula’s interference – and she in turn is less than impressed with his attitude. As they spend more time together, though, they begin to see each other in a different light.

But what with Ursula’s ex-husband on her tail, family secrets surfacing and an unexpected offer that makes Alfio question his whole life, there’s plenty to distract them from one another. Can she face her past and he his future, and together make the most of their Sicilian summer?


I’ve been a fan of Sue Moorcroft’s for years now and was so pleased when this new book, ‘An Italian Island Summer’ landed in my lap.

As always, Sue doesn’t shy away from telling a romance with added grit. Ursula is coming out of a bad marriage and her family believes she’s a lot more ‘vulnerable’ than she believes she is, for reasons I’ll let you find out. In need of a change of scenery as well as of job, she plans on going off to Italy to learn about ceramic decoration.

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Book Review: A White Christmas on Winter Street by Sue Moorcroft

We are very pleased to be welcoming Sue Moorcroft back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, A White Christmas on Winter Street. 

When Sky Terran returns to the village of Middledip after losing the job she loves, she anticipates a quiet Christmas getting used to her new life. However, the annual street decoration competition is coming up and this year, the residents of Winter Street are determined to win.

As she is pulled into the preparations, Sky quickly grows to love the quirky, tight-knit community she is now part of. Including the extremely handsome Daz, who soon becomes more than just a friendly neighbour.

But when Daz’s ex turns up determined to win him back and it seems he might not be the man Sky thought he was, she remembers how much allowing people into her life – and heart – can hurt. As the snow falls, will she and Daz find a way through – and help win a Christmas victory for Winter Street?


Let me give you a definition of a pointless exercise – finding fault in a Sue Moorcroft novel.

For her Christmas story this year, we’re back in the welcoming fold of Middledip, Sue’s fictional village where quite a few of her stories are set, or touch upon. Warm, welcoming, A White Christmas on Winter Street delivers exactly what is says on the tin and instantly finds itself on my list of books to reread at that time of year from now on.

Principally the tale of Sky and Daz who don’t get off to the best of starts, so far as their relationship goes as they go head to head over the same item at an auction.

Sky’s in need of a new start and it turns out that finding herself in the middle of such a close community is exactly what she needs. Gradually, she warms to those around her as, without intending to, she discovers a warm, giving side to her personality she hadn’t been aware of.

A multi-generational tale, A White Christmas on Winter Street cracks along at just the right pace and, indeed, I found this a very hard book to put down. The characters, in this readers opinion, are beautifully written and Middledip has never been more enticing.

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Mick’s Musings: A Catch-Up

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgI shall start by saying, sorry; then sorry; then sorry again. Sorry for not having written for a long, long time. I’ll start by explaining, a little, why that’s been the case.

Just after last New Year, I fell ill, and fell hard. I’m still trying to recover and there’s no date when I can think that will be the case yet. Because of this, I’ve hardly done any writing, though I’ve been advised by my many author friends that if I can, this would be a helpful thing…I’ll see what I can do and you’ll find out the results here. I’ll really try to make that before too long.

So, what have I been doing these long months? And they have been long, believe me. I don’t think I’d have made it this far without all the kind thoughts and support that I’ve had from too many individuals to thank here. Hopefully though, you’ll know who you are, but again, you don’t know how much you’ve all meant to me.

Basically, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I mean a lot, though not doing as many reviews as perhaps I should. I’ve seen a few movies too, not anything heavy as I can’t take that right now. I’ve watched the entire series of Star Trek Enterprise and found it was much better than I remembered. So there’s a recommendation for you.

I’ve watched as friends of mine from the Romantic Novelist’s Association have gained their first contracts and releases as well, and I couldn’t be happier for them. You’ll have to forgive my memory as I can’t remember you all, but a shout out to you: Tora Williams for ‘Bound to Her Blood Enemy’. Also a forthcoming Christmas novella, ‘The Gift of Time’.

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Mick’s Musings: I’m Being Published!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgA final (finally!) blog post prior to publication!

Firstly, I owe a huge apology to Laura. I’ve been promising this new post for what would seem like to her (and is) yonks now. No excuses, though believe me, I’d like to use a few…I simply haven’t gotten around to it. To say it’s been busy would be to put things mildly, though that’s mainly been down to the day job leaving me so tired at night. That isn’t likely to change anytime soon, so I’m following the advice I’ve always been given about writing, and making the time.

So…news time. As of the time I write this (the 3rd December), my debut book will be released in less than two weeks, December 16th to be precise. I’m toying with the idea of actually being awake at midnight for a change just so I can watch it go ‘live’ on the download sites. As of yet, I can’t make my mind up if this is a dumb idea or not? I kind of expect, if I don’t stay up, to wake up to find it’s all been a dream and I’m not getting published. You wouldn’t believe the amount of my writer friends who’ve told me how stupid I’m being when I say that.

Yes, as of quite shortly, I will have accomplished a major dream and joined the ranks of the published writer, and have earned the right to call myself an ‘Author’. And I’m still waiting for it to fall down around my ears. Can’t help it, sorry. A big thank you has to go to Laura for supporting me on this site over the last few years, she’s absolutely wonderful and has always been there for me. I can only wish her as much luck with her own writing. You know where I am!

And what’s been keeping me so busy? Apart from the day job, that is. It’s all been a little bit of a rush job the last few months, getting things ready with the book. I’d been told that this may be the case by my publishers but I had no idea how much of a rush job it would turn out to be. You see, my Editor was ill for much of the last few weeks when I was supposed to get the edits through, so it was a case of hurry-up-and-wait and then ‘get-these-back-to-me-by-when. I think I got the edits in and out, and in and back and out in a space of about two weeks of mayhem. Not too much to do in the end, though a few plot inconsistencies were uncovered in the process. Nothing major, apart from revealing a couples grave at the end who’d been nice and alive all through the book. So, see, minor.

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Mick’s Musings: I’m Celebrating…

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTo those of you who were avidly following my previous blog post…are any of you still around? I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t, it’s been so long since I last wrote one. To you, I offer my humble apologies and even more so to Laura who gave me this opportunity in the first place. Sorry chuck!

So why haven’t I hardly done any posts this year? Have I been alive? Have I done anything? Has anything happened to me? In words as few as possible…YES!!!!

As you may recall from my first post and onwards, I’ve told you about what I’ve been doing so far as my quest to attain publication pertains (please note the use of complicated words!) and a few months, I managed to attain that holy grail. Well, kind of. I’m a born pessimist, so until the actual day, there’s still plenty of time for things to go pear-shaped.

Suffice to say, I’ve now signed my first contract and ‘The Season For Love’ is due to be e-published, on both sides of the Pond no less, around the beginning of December. I still can’t believe it! In fact, I could fill this whole post with exclamation marks, but in the hope that you’ll actually read this, I won’t…but I could! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

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Mick’s Musings: Remembered How To Write

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgAt last, I’ve picked up my metaphorical pen and started writing again. After a couple of months of reading some very good books, especially some nice proofs (thank you Rosie Marguessen), I decided that it was about time I picked up my writing hat again. This was helped by the results of an online Pitch Event in the USA that I attended back in February.

The results were as good as could be hoped for, a couple of agents after mixed bags of both my current books; including two who asked for the complete manuscript!

Can anyone guess the problem there? Though one is as finished as it can get, the one’s that wanted the complete m/s for wasn’t. Or rather it was but only up to the second draft. Very clever bod that I am. So, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks going through two more drafts until it’s at such a state I felt I could send it off. Fortunately, both agents in their replies state that it’s ok to say if I’m a first time author and seeing as I’m not published, I took that as an okay to say I was; so I did. What will happen from these, who can tell, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

These two weeks of hectic writing, reading, re-writing, re-reading (you get the picture) has also reminded me to send this latest off to the RNA’s NWS scheme. I didn’t last year, which is kind of a waste, but as I didn’t feel it was worth sending off a half-finished effort, I didn’t trouble the readers. However, the bug is BACK!!!! So that’s going to go off shortly, today if I get my finger out.

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Mick’s Musings: Felicitous Yuletide Greetings to you all!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgWell, here’s my final blog post of the year and it’s been a strange last couple of months. My personal writing has kind of ground to an unwilling halt for the last two months and I know the exact reason. I’ve transferred back to my old position at work and am often not getting home until nearly half seven in the evening and am simply too tired to pick up my laptop and write. I’m perfectly aware of what everyone, including myself, always tells anyone who wants to write – write at every opportunity etc… – but sometimes, that’s just not possible; especially when you don’t ‘like’ your day job that much

Which brings me onto my New Year’s Resolution; ignore the feelings above and WRITE!! Simple as that and I’ll do my best to hold myself to it. I was doing quite well with my writing for the first ten months of this year and I want to get back to how I was then. Here’s hoping for a better year at work.

So, what have I been doing if I haven’t been writing? Since I last wrote, I’ve devoted quite a lot of time to my reading specifically that of two FRC’s I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to read.

The first was the smash hit on Amazon by the wonderful Sue Moorcroft ‘The Christmas Promise.’ I’m fortunate enough to be a member of her Facebook Group #TeamSueMoorcroft and because of my participation in the promotion of her through Twitter and Facebook, I was given the opportunity to read a preview copy of this fantastic novel. In the weeks leading up to its release on Kindle, I sent out daily ‘Twitter-Teases’ about it and enjoyed myself immensely. If I’m lucky, perhaps I should now consider myself friends with Sue? I wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to assume that, but I would be honoured if this were true.

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Mick’s Musings: Time Flies When You…

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime flies when you’re having fun – and writing can be fun, though time flies in this case even if you’re not having fun. Of course, it can also behave as if you’ve got both feet stuck in quicksand.

This has actually got nothing to do with what I’m going to talk about today, it’s just something that’s been flitting around my mind for a while and I’m hoping that by laying it down on paper (so to speak) I’ll be able to get this wind-worm out of my head. Sorry if you’ve now got it.

Right, so what have I been up to since the last time I wrote?

For a start, there was the RNA Conference in Lancaster, probably the highlight of the writing year for me at the moment (at least until such a time as I get ‘that’ call) and as much fun as ever. My heartfelt, and belated, thanks to all who gave their time to present to everyone, word cannot be enough to express my thanks – quite ironic considering the purpose of the conference. Especially to Imogen Howsen for her ‘Speed Dating’ session. No, you did read correctly, though we didn’t come away with partners in that respect, but rather it was utilising the format to find Critique Buddies. I’ve come away with some terrific ladies – Lisa Hill, Elaina James, April Hardy, Sue Mackender, Samantha Bentall; Imogen has also foolishly looking at various attempts at my writing too and thanks out to Bernadette O’Dwyer as well for ‘being there’.

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Mick’s Musings: RNA Conference 2016 is coming!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgIt’s rapidly approaching one of my favourite times of the year, and if Coke can have their own tune and felt of glittery trucks as it comes to theirs, then why can’t we RNA’ers have the same? Instead of trucks, why not a line of sparkly shoes dancing across a vista of wine bars, to the accompaniment of ‘These Boots Were Made for Walking? Devil in Your Shoes? Diamonds in the Soles of Her Shoes – that’s probably the best one and the one least likely to get me murdered in my sleep at the conference.

I hasten to add that this doesn’t apply to me – I just couldn’t find a pair to match my eyes!

Now I’ve completely alienated myself for the weekend…yes, it’s that time of year again. The Annual Romantic Novelist’s Association Conference is being held in Lancaster this weekend 9/10th July. A time to catch-up with people we probably haven’t seen since last year’s. Gossip will abound, congratulations will ensue to those who’ve secured a Publishing Deal and/or an Agent and those of us still endeavouring to get the same will bite our ‘stiff upper’ lips and come away all the more determined to be amongst this group by the next year.

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Mick’s Musings: And It’s Goodnight From Him….

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgAnd it’s good night from him.

A simple line, but by gum, I wish I could have written it! So, another of the great entertainers takes their final curtain call in a year that so far, I for one wish we could do without. We’ve lost so many already this year. You’ll be missed Ronnie Corbett.

As writers, we’re always hoping to come up with that ‘killer’ line, those few words that, on their own don’t mean anything, but put them together in the right order and bam! Of course, it’s the 400th anniversary of a certain gentleman’s birth this year who’s become the go-to writer for killer lines. Yes, I am taking about the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, but don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another half-baked celebration, for a start, and please don’t tar and feather me, I’m not a huge fan. I can just about take some of his comedies, but any of his serious plays usually send me to sleep – sorry.

My point is simply that we use his killer lines in our everyday speech, most of the time without knowing it, and wouldn’t we all love to be quoted! In the good way of course. It’s only six words, ‘And it’s good night from him’, but so memorable. I think we could all quote scenes from our favourite novels, but most of us wouldn’t be able to quote a favourite line, or perhaps rather one that would stand out for longer than a few months in our minds.

Which brings me onto the update on my present WIP. I talked in my last Blog update about how hearing a radio interview had interrupted the flow of what I was writing at that time, if you recall. The new one, tentatively entitled ‘Three Little Words’ (but very likely to change. Not because I don’t like it, but because it’s already been taken a number of times), and as of the last few days, I have finished the first draft with the word count standing at 81,986 words. Deciding that I’d like to get about 10,000 words done from Monday to Friday kept me on track.

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Mick’s Musings: Strange and exciting things are a happening!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgYou may recall my telling you about my ‘current WIP’ and a certain feline that was in the process of taking over the story? That’s still ongoing, but I haven’t actually added to the word count since the middle of January – naughty Mick. But, I have an excuse and it’s a good one, but not so good in that I’ve had to put a temporary halt to this story. So, please put on your ‘understanding-type’ hats.

In the middle of January, I was driving back from a hospital appointment, the radio was on and as I hadn’t dropped dead from the tests, it was turning out to be a pretty good day. Then IT happened again. There was an interview being broadcast and two lines embedded themselves in my mind. Ah! There’s a good idea for a short story, I thought. So, quickly pulling over, I entered the lines into my phone and set off back for home.

Upon arrival, I kissed the Lady Wife hello, snaffled a hug off her and then, upon doing the husbandly checks to see if there was anything I could do, booted up the laptop, brought up a fresh page in Word, and scribbled down the two lines. They were perfect for the opening hook (well, in my humble opinion anyway) and then, I started to hammer out what I envisioned as a short story of about 2,000 words…and typed…and typed…and…you get the picture.

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Mick’s Musings: Authors Meet Up


(L-R) Georgia Hill, Mick Arnold, Linn B Halton and Tora Williams

I went to an author/blogger meet up in Birmingham recently and I’d like to start by thanking the wonderful Kim Nash for not only taking the trouble to arrange it, but also for being such a gracious host; thank you Kim.

To those of you whom I didn’t get around to meeting, I’m sorry and, if like me, you’re down to go to the next one in London, I hope to at least be able to say hello and maybe share bookish experiences with you. I’ll be the one in the corner, looking not unlike a startled rabbit (but with slightly less hair).

Swift hello’s to a few that I did manage to meet, starting with the lovely Sue Moorcroft (always great to catch up) and the other members of her Facebook Team Moorcroft whose names I can recall. Louise Styles, hi and very good to meet and talk to you; Mark West, Sue told me about a short story you wrote (think it was yourself?) about someone with a foot fetish, thanks for the nightmares; Kim Nash, thanks again and very nice to put a person to the face. Bookaholic Holly, Georgia Hill, Janice Preston, Linn B Halton and undoubtedly others whose names I can only apologise for forgetting. Just think of a goldfish with amnesia and that’s me with names.

This was my first meet up of this kind and there are already two others this year that I’ve accepted the kind invitations to go to. If you’ve never been to one of these and you find an invite drop into your Facebook account, then I can honestly say that (assuming you’re either an author or blogger, or for that matter a keen reader) you won’t be in the company of such a warm and welcoming group of people – ever!

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Mick’s Musings: Fun! Fun! Fun!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgDoesn’t time fly when you’re having fun…now I need to find the time to have that fun.

When I’m writing, after the first few hundred words, so long as it’s flowing, it is fun. Characters I’ve created/am in the process of creating, stand up and wave their little paws at me (I like cats, heck knows why half the time, but my latest WIP has a quite prominent feline who seems to be making a bid for freedom) for attention and sit down to share a metaphorical cup of tea with me. Then there’s the (mostly) welcome appearance of a new character that I hadn’t even considered when the idea for the story first came to mind, and even after I’d actually done some planning!

With this WIP, it looks very much like it’ll now be starting at chapter three. So, what does that mean for the Prologue and the first two chapters? Well, not really wanting to throw anything away, I do believe that quite a bit can be incorporated into forthcoming chapters and I also have to admit, it does start off the story a lot better. It’s straight into mini-crisis, always a good way to start.

Thank you Kate T for the suggestion.

As far as these new characters? It’s a welcome to Tippy’s Posse. Okay, so she’s currently called Poppy, but I have a few too many characters whose names begin with the letter ‘p’, but I still like ‘Poppy’ so it’s really a case of watch this space.

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Mick’s Musings: Time is an Abstract Concept

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime is an abstract concept, and I don’t even know where I was going to go with that, only that I was going to point out that when you have too much of it, you tend to waste it, and when there’s not enough, we moan that we don’t have enough. I guess what I’m trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is that I wish I could go back in time this year and start it off by writing what I’m currently writing about.

As (in my case still a ‘would-be-writer’ – I refuse to assign myself the title Author until such a time as I manage to get myself published) this year, I’m now on my third ‘Work-in-progress’ and so ran out of that precious commodity to be able to submit a completed, not even first draft, to the New Writers Scheme for the first time since I was fortunate enough to join the hallowed ranks of the Romantic Novelists Association. I’ve been metaphorically smacking myself over the head ever since the realisation that I’d ran out of time hit me as I left this year’s conference.

Slight aside – thank you to all who put together this year’s conference (if they may be reading) particularly Jan and John (hope that’s right), a now expected highlight of my year that well lived up to hopes and expectations.

So, back to my subject for this long overdue new blog entry, what caused me to make such a foobar? You know how it is when you get that light bulb moment, that idea pops into your head and you go, ‘I must write about that. There’s a story that’ll knock your socks off!’ I had that three times this year.

The first came in about January and was a pure children’s story, a bit like The Animals of Farthing Wood meets Harry Potter – damn, that’s a good elevator pitch! The trouble was, about three chapters in, it wasn’t flowing as nicely as it needs to and I decided to leave it before I got too bogged down. But I still intend returning to it, the title alone keeps coming back to me, especially when I’m skimming through my writing folders on the pc; The Four Hedgehogs of the Apocalypse shall ride again!

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Mick’s Musings: Would You Call This ‘Procrastination’?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgArguably the most important part of any book written is the first chapter, in particular, the first page. Get this wrong, not only would you lose the reader, but more likely, you wouldn’t have had the novel published in the first place.

Now, for the latest story I’m writing I’m on the third different opening/prologue/first chapter. What this says about me as a prospective writer, I don’t know, but I suspect that it’s more of a common problem than I’m making it out to be. Have I hit on the opening? I don’t know. Two of my lead characters though are suddenly opening the book whereas before it was looking like they wouldn’t be making an appearance until at least the third chapter. But it feels right!

Does it read right though? Actually, yes and even more surprising since I had to decipher the scribbled notes I made before going to bed on Friday night! My Lady Wife is always saying I should have been a doctor, the state of my hand-writing. It’s short, just shy of 1,200 words, but just because it’s short, doesn’t mean to say it isn’t right. But, this is only a first draft, so undoubtedly there will be changes as the story progresses. At least it’s nice to meet these guys sooner rather than later.

So why did I bring up the dreaded ‘P’ word? Because it’s taken me a while to start up writing again. Yes, I know the old adage that you should write at each and every opportunity, no matter how rubbish it may come out. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Looking for an Agent!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgOkay, first things first, let’s be polite. May I wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year and I hope you had a great Christmas too. So far as my Lady Wife and I are concerned, we’re still ploughing through the store of Christmas chocolate – it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it! As for writing, 2015 for me is going to begin with unashamed ‘pleas’ (right word/expression?) as I am now stepping up my search for an Agent.

So, to refresh thy memories, I’m now in my 3rd year as member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, New Writer’s Scheme (blurb just arrived to confirm in the post) and the tome I sent off to the Reader last year was deemed ready to send out to Agents, once the few amendments were made. It’s currently with 4 of these wonderful people and I did mean to send out for a few more prior to Christmas, but then I thought it wasn’t the best time at which to send it off, holidays on the way, parties etc., but now it’s time to hit the ‘Send’ button on my email and also get some ink for my printer. In the meantime, I’m going to put in the Synopsis below (resulting in a slightly longer blog post than normal.) Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Jealous?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgJealous? Nope, not the right word. Envy? Getting closer, if I’m being honest, but certainly very happy and proud are correct words to describe what I’d like to chat with you about today. If you’re a regular, or even if you’re not, on this wonderful site, then you may be aware of my good friend Bella’s column, Bella’s Scribblings-https://www.novelkicks.co.uk/bellas-scribblings-christmas-shopping/  – click the link for updates folks! But the reason for my kind of cryptic start to this column is the wonderful news that she’s got a two book contract with Harper Collins and the first, ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ is set to go on sale in February next year. I first met Bella at the Romantic Novelist’s Association Convention in Sheffield last year. Two newbies to the New Writer’s Scheme, both nervous and not sure what was going on, nor what to do, but she’s become a good friend and now, if I may say, an inspiration to those of us still hoping to get published. She’s worked very hard on this novel and without giving anything away, I would put it on your wish lists for a nice Valentine’s Day (yes, I’m fully aware that Christmas hasn’t even come along yet) present to yourself. So, where does that leave me? Well, I’ve submitted to just seven Agents/Publishing companies so far and, sniff, the first rejection came through this week. I slightly surprised myself but not cracking up completely when that email came through; though it was tempting, but I didn’t think my boss would understand a teary bloke at work. It’s actually made me more determined to approach others. I still have a couple on the list I was given by the RNA, so will have to print (yep, I did say ‘print’) out a couple and see if I can get those off shortly. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Time Flies?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime flies…

But does it? Well, yes it does, but whether that means it crawls or streaks along is open to debate. I promised the good lady who lets me post on her Blog much more regular updates when I sent in my last entry and – goes down on bended knee – I haven’t lived up to that promise. I am very, very sorry Laura and hope that you’ll forgive me. I do have a good excuse, or at least, not a made up one, that I’ll let you judge me on.

Ever since I received my report back from the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, I’d been trying to get together my Query letter to submit to various Agents and Publishers and was just getting nowhere. I’ve spoken to a lot of people and done a lot of online research on this art and can very much agree that compared to writing the book, this is a much harder task. There are books out there that give you tips on how to write these things, but for me, the hardest part was undoubtedly convincing myself that the 6th, 7th, 8th (probably more) draft of the thing was as good as it was going to get and I should get it out there.

For even getting that far, I can only give my thanks to my fellow RNA members, both published and, like myself, hopeful. You know who you are, but they include Laura and Bella from Novel Kicks, Bernadette for giving me the ass-kicking I really needed and too many others to list here.

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Mick’s Musings: Time To Let The Baby Fly The Nest

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgNope, we’re not talking a variation on the Immaculate Conception, so don’t all line up wanting to become my manager. No ‘get rich quick’ scheme here. I’m referring to the fact that after getting my report back from the book I submitted to the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, I’ve now completed the changes/followed the advice that I was given and sent it off to the first publishing house yesterday. But it felt like letting my baby fledge and I admit to needing a little bit of a push to hit that ‘send’ button in my email. A little bit of procrastination reared its head. Asking a friend for advice, replying back, replying back, replying back…you get the picture, anything but admitting that I couldn’t quite get the back to finally send it off.

So, that’s the first one on the way. I was fortunate to get what could only be described as a very positive report. Ask my friends, I never ‘blow my own trumpet’, perhaps that’s down to a little lack in self-confidence, but what really made my mind up to crack along was meeting with the lovely ladies of the RNA Birmingham chapter the other week where they were all so enthusiastic after reading the report, and convinced me that it could barely have been any better. A time-line and two different meals were the only things I needed to change, apart from advice on the punctuation. I couldn’t believe my reader took the time to go through the whole manuscript to enter where they thought I needed better punctuation! Who was that ‘masked reader’? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s wonder reader!!! Sorry, silly hat off.

To say I was choked up when I plucked up the nerve to read the report would be an understatement. I’d worked myself up so much, that I was convinced it would be a couple of lines saying – ‘Step away from the computer. Never darken Word’s doorstep again. You can’t write.’ Okay, you get the picture. See above comment re confidence. Then what it actually said, taken with the lovely ladies of Birmingham RNA reactions and I hunkered down to make said changes. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Torn Between Two Stories.

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgThere should be a song in there somewhere. Set at some time from the seventies where all the ladies (and gentlemen) had big hair, knew it and weren’t ashamed (I know as I was one). Anyway, today’s story concerns a tale of two stories. Whilst waiting for the critique from the NWS reader – did I mention how wonderful they are? – I allowed myself to be persuaded to start the Children’s story I had the idea for a couple of years ago up in the Yorkshire Dales. I remember the day well, as my lady wife and I were on holiday and she was anxious to get an early start for a trip to (another) castle/ancient town/something else she wanted to see in case it fell down. I was sat at the breakfast bar whilst she was finishing getting ready and this single line came into my head from somewhere:

The Four Hedgehogs of the Apocalypse.

What followed was about thirty minutes of frantic scribbling as what came into my head, was desperately (and slightly illegibly) jotted down in a too small notepad; all the while with my lady wife looking over my shoulder and tapping her watch in a very meaningful way. Then, it got pretty much forgotten about until I’d finished the story that went off to the RNA NWS scheme. In the meantime, as happens, around three or four other ideas came from somewhere and vied for prime-spot in the ‘next to be written’ pile.

My heart and gut actually wants to write another romance, but I’ve decided to allow myself to give this children’s one a go. So far, there are only two and a half chapters written, so much slower than I was hoping for, but I think I’ve just had a minor ‘block’. I do love Walter the Henchtoad and his evil boss Greyback the Squirrel (grey of course), but I’m not exactly enamoured with a couple of the names I’ve given my hero Hedgehogs, but I guess they’ll do to let me keep writing, I can always change them later.

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Mick’s Musings – Better Late Than Never

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgMy first post for a couple of weeks. Better late than never – hopefully that’ll mean my blog boss won’t tell me off too much.

The reason for which is simple; I’ve been desperately putting the finishing touches to getting my one page synopsis down from a page and a half. I could easily write this post which wasn’t what I had planned, but let’s see where this actually does end up. So, welcome folks, step right this way for the Magical Mystery (Post) Tour. No buses, no Walruses, but perhaps plenty of flying pigs!

Please include a one page synopsis – only 6 words, a nice small sentence. Cue pulling out of hair, opening of that bottle of wine you swore you’d keep for that special occasion, making sure the fridge (it is hot at the moment) is full of your favourite chocolate – Milky Way Stars here please (any sponsors out there?). Now, pull out all those notes you have of what’s actually happening in your story and – SWEAR as loudly as you can. Who the heck decided this was a good idea???

Now, settle back and eat chocolate and drink wine until it comes out of your ears, you fall down and decide that yes, this is a good idea. You are now ready to condense your lovingly crafted story into one little page of paper (ok, screen). Sound easy? Of course it’s not. My latest is just under a page and a half and that was difficult enough – but it’s a nice page and a half. Wish it could stay at that length, but that’s the rules and this has to be ready to go out in three days time. So, now you know how I spent this lovely weekend, but if I want to become a published author, this is a cross to bear willingly.

That’s the rant over and I feel much better. Thank you to all of you who stayed with me.

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Mick’s Musings – Feeling Sorry For Myself

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgHi everyone and welcome to the week leading up to one of the most important dates of the year. Now, just in case my lady wife reads this entry, this does not include (in no particular order); your birthday, your sister’s birthday, our wedding anniversary (I am perfectly aware it will be 20 years next year btw) , the cat-who-must-not-be-named birthday, the multiple theatre dates on the calendar and of course, December 19th, when we first met (or a day or so either side.)

So what am I on about today? Well, whilst sat in my chair, trying to dedicate enough concentration in keeping anything I eat inside. I’m not feeling too well at the moment, had to go home from work yesterday and had an interesting night which didn’t involve much in the way of sleep. Of course, that gave me plenty of time in which to do a multitude of other things. I could have read War and Peace (ok, ignore that, me being silly as usual), or I could have continued writing a short story I’ve had on the go for a while, but it’s a little hard to balance a laptop whilst constantly trotting to the littlest room to throw up.

What did I do then? Even in this digital age, most of us will still have shelves full of bound bits of paper called, books. How wonderful it is to open a crisp new (or in this case, has been sitting there unread for a good while) tome and start to lose yourself in a new story. So, this’ll be a bit of a plug I suppose, but I feel no shame as it was a lovely little story. You will likely have heard of Michael Morpurgo, but this isn’t one of his most recent stories. This is from 1996 and is called ‘The Ghost of Grania O’Malley’ and for the first time I can recall, the heroine has cerebral palsy. Now, it’s not high-brow literature, there’s no real romance involved (after all the 2 leads are both young children) but it’s a sweet little story that I just couldn’t put down. The story brings together such topics as preserving nature, human greed for gold and ghost pirates; all the usual. But you’re rooting for Jessie and Jack from page 1 and I can’t recall 212 pages whizzing by so quickly. Got a few hours and want to relax the mind? Search out this book people. I’ve been a fan of Mr Morpurgo for a while now and if you’ve never read any of his books, you could do a lot worse than to start with this one. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings – What’s That Nice Feeling?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgWell, the psychotic cat from hell deciding not to sleep on your head for one. That wouldn’t be too bad if she didn’t dig her claws in when she dreams.

Opening a fresh bar of chocolate – I may be a man, but I’m still allowed that one ladies.

But, on this particular day, it comes from having finished the edit of my book (I’ll call it a novel if it’s ever published), including adding in the bit I’d forgotten when I first finished it. You know, that bit that is one of the things you first think of when you’re planning and only realise you haven’t actually written in until you’ve finished? You should have heard the language when I realised that. But, at least it doesn’t read like it’s been shoe-horned in. If it had, it would have to come out, no matter how much I love that bit.

So, officially as Happy Bunny here – or at least until my wonderful readers (yep, I am creeping again) come back and tell me what a complete load of rubbish it is. Still, at least I like the main characters in this one – don’t get me started on my lead from my first book. I hate her!! Still like the actual story and don’t think it’s too badly written, for a first attempt, but oh the lead. Very few redeeming characteristics which, possibly, I could get away with if I was an established writer, so it could perhaps be re-visited at some point? Here’s where that time-machine would come in handy again. Continue reading

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How are things going with the edit?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgThought it was about time I brought you up to date with how my ‘BIG’ edit is going. Well, so far the first eight chapters have gone out to my ever-so kind readers, who right at the moment, are ploughing valiantly ahead through the fog and mire of my writing. Honestly, if there were some kind of award that I could give for this service, I would. At least with a couple of them I have the honour and pleasure of returning the service.

I’ve found that when I open each chapter again, it’s like settling back into conversation with old friends. It’s not exactly been months since the words were written, but it’s the same kind of feeling you get when you’re walking down a street you’ve not been down for a while and approaching from the distance is a shape that’s familiar, yet at the same time somewhat of a stranger. So, open arms and embrace time.

Reading the words aloud gets me looks from my work colleagues when I do this at lunch-times, but I think most of them know what I write by now and have given up asking me where all the blood and gore is. That may be in the next one which is in the early planning stages – hello Mills and Boon Medical! And please don’t ask me where that idea came from. Actually, I think it was a song? BBC Radio 2 has a lot to answer for as I was driving in to work a while back and there was a Tina Turner song – Private Dancer – playing and I had to scribble down another idea when I got to work before I forgot.

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rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgRight, that’s the easy part over; coming up with the title of this Blog entry. So let me tell you why this is going to be my subject. As you will know if you’ve been following me, I’ve now finished my latest book and am in the process of going through an intense edit. Well, I was discussing it with a work colleague and friend at the end of last week and I asked him, “What did you think of that bit in the last chapter?” ‘What bit was that?”

You know that sinking feeling? You got it! When I came up with the idea for this book and was fortunately able to come up with the ending too, I came up with something that was a “MUST”. It would clearly show evidence of closure for my heroine’s journey. So, opening up the file again, I started reading but the closer I got to the end the deeper the feeling became in my stomach. Sure enough, guess what didn’t make it in. Okay, this will obviously be included when I get around to this chapter, but does this mean something?

Have I subconsciously left it out because Continue reading

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rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgAs writers, we’re always on the look-out for this, this flash – or ‘Pow’ as my friend Bella puts it – that will set off that spark which will ignite a new story. We don’t know where it comes from or what, if anything, it will bring. But when it comes, there’s this desperate need to grab what it brings with both hands and scribble it down.

I’m sat here listening to The Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ album. My all-time favourite. In fact, I have 4 separate single album versions of it, a 4-disc box-set and enough outtakes to sink the Titanic. It’s music I find easy to listen to and it relaxes my mind. But does it provide the ‘Inspiration’? It physically hurts me to admit it, but no, it doesn’t.

What did this week was driving into work on Tuesday and on came Tina Turner and Private Dancer. An idea well, the seed of an idea came into my head and I desperately kept hold of it until I got into work and then I typed down what I could remember. A cup of coffee later to settle the beating heart and there’s the idea for a story, about a situation I very much doubt I would ever have come up with without that moment.

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It’s Been A Strange Week

By Mick Arnold.

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x300.jpgIn my last column I said I was taking a wee break from my book, reading young Bella’s next chapters and then going back to starting an edit on my finished masterpiece (ok, that was part of a dream I won’t inflict upon you right now). Part one – check. part two – check and very enjoyable it was too. Now, we get to part three…I’ve got a good excuse though guv. Honest!

Well, it goes something like this. In the first chapter of the book ‘that-must-not-be-named’ (couldn’t resist it, sorry) there’s a scene which kind of inspired a (very) short story that went on Amazon over Christmas. I was just sitting down, minding my own business and before I knew it, there was the first draft of what turned out to be a Christmas Love/Ghost story. After about six or seven drafts and running it by the kind friends who beta/proof-read for me, I was happy with how it ended up and I was persuaded to put it up. As it was so short and it was meant to be a tester to see if anyone reviewed it and basically told me to go forth and multiply and ‘for heaven’s sake never pick up a pen again!’, it was put under the pen-name of Micah Arnold. Continue reading

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So You Think You’ve Finished?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x300.jpgThat elusive ending… 

I was sat in front of my PC a couple of days ago thinking, so what shall I write about in this my second Blog post? What pearls of wisdom shall I share? As usual when you have these thoughts, nothing comes to mind. Not really a surprise! Then, miracle of miracles, the clouds parted and blew away the cobwebs.

For about a week, I’ve been trying to write the ending of my second book, but I just couldn’t get that last paragraph right. No matter what was put down, it never looked or sounded ‘it’. Of course, what’s down now I’m not 100% happy with and I doubt if when I finally decide that I can’t make it any better that I will be either. But, it does mean that it’s finished. Approximately 6 – 7 months of toil. Okay, I did enjoy writing this much more than my first, but perhaps that’s because I actually like my lead character this time. Don’t ask me why I didn’t like her in the first, it just ended up that way and I’d rather not dwell on it.

So, it’s finished. Is it? Of course not, the hard work has only just begun. I believe there are those talented individuals out there Continue reading

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Musings of an Aspiring (Male) Romantic Writer

Mick Arnold

Mick Arnold

We’re happy to welcome Mick Arnold to his very own column, Mick’s Musings.

I suppose you could trace my writing aspirations back to Christmas 2010 when my wife had just finished reading what I generically termed a ‘Chick-lit’ book and insisted that I must read it and kept on persuading me until I relented. Two days and not much in the way of sleep later and I’d finished. Then I read it again; and again and after another two days, I woke up with this idea for a story in my head. I recall that I was reminded that I hadn’t eaten ten hours and about thirty (probably unreadable) pages of A4 later.

Annie Sanders; ladies, you have a lot to answer for. Prior to this book, I was likely an a typical male reader. You know the stuff. Science-fiction, fantasy. I still read Terry Pratchett, so I can still claim a degree of expected male testosterone, but now my shelves show a majority of Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley and Miranda Dickinson alongside Mr Pratchett. So perhaps, in hindsight, it’s not that surprising that I write in the genre I do. Whether these Continue reading

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