This is my first published writing ever. It was bought by a magazine (still going strong) called Women's Weekly and they paid me £20. I was finally in print.
Ambition # 1 ticked.
I wrote an article about having a baby in Bahrein (she's now the lovely Mummy Blogger Hooked), was paid £40 for that and I had the money for a portable typewriter. Two articles meant it wasn't a fluke. I was a writer!
Ambition #2 ticked.
Every afternoon the BBC broadcast an iconic radio programme for small children called Listen With Mother that began "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...'
I had small children and every afternoon we sat comfortably and listened. There were songs, poems and a story and I thought - as you do - how hard can it be to write a little story like that?
It looks very simple but you have to cram a lot into a very few words. It's direct, active and low on adverbs. Very good training. I was earning an income from writing, having meetings with a publisher to discuss what I might to do next. I was being taken seriously as a writer.
Ambition #3 ticked.
Ambition # 4 well and truly ticked.
It was fun and I loved doing this but it was no way to make a living as a writer. I needed to move on. I sold a few more articles to women's magazines, including the iconic The Lady.
The next big step was winning a competition in the magazine Writing with a short ghost story, which was a huge confidence boost. But where next?
I wanted to write full length fiction. I had just embarked on a children's story (involving a magic carpet and sheikhs....) when I read an article in a British newspaper about Anne Hampson and Charlotte Lamb (both living in tax exile - Charlotte in the Isle of Man, Anne in the West Indies. Ambition #5 was to be Anne Hampson!
It was a very steep learning curve. I completed three manuscripts, got encouraging feedback from Mills and Boon and finally, with my fourth attempt - this time just three chapters and cheeky note saying that I'd like to know if they liked it enough for me to bother finishing it - I hooked the interest of an editor. She liked the writing, wasn't convinced by the plot and told me to start again.
I walked around in a daze for a week.
This was huge, my big chance and if I blew it...
Ambition #5 ticked and nailed to the wall!
I loved the original cover and I also love that Mills and Boon have recently reissued this book in digital format so that it's available again.
My next book, The Sheikh's Convenient Princess, published early next year, will be my 65th title for Mills and Boon.
So do I have any ambitions left? Well I've never made tax exile like Anne Hampson and Charlotte Lamb, but yes. There's always something bigger, something just over the horizon to be reached for. I'll keep you posted!
A Summer's Lease will be free on Amazon from 8th-12th September.