Today it’s the turn of romantic fiction writer Kate Blackadder to give us a glimpse into the sort of days that make up her life as a writer.
Kate’s Novel Stella’s Christmas Wish is a lovely story at any time – but especially so at this time of year– more about that later – along with information about Kate’s many short stories, magazine serials (for UK magazines The People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly) and boxset. But now over to Kate.
Kate Blackadder’s Writing Life in a Day
When you asked me back in June, Anne, to take part in this series I did hope that things would be more normal come November but alas our lives are still restricted by Covid-19.
So, furloughed from my part-time job and with an almost non-existent social life for seven months, have I done lots of writing? Yes and no.
When lockdown looked likely in the middle of March I started to keep a diary. Sadly, things that seemed so extraordinary back then don’t seem so now. Fights over toilet rolls. Bars closed in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day. Holidaying friends unable to fly home. One day I may mine the diary for story ideas but not now.
I found physical activity excellent distraction (no one more surprised than myself about that). Newly acquired exercise bike, Joe Wicks workouts, walking the permitted hour a day. Even, belatedly in my life, gardening. Those invasive grape hyacinths didn’t know what hit them. The glorious weather added to the unreality of the whole situation.
Indoors, I did various writingy things without actually writing. Mostly I write short stories and serials for women’s magazines – so I made a fourth collection of previously published stories and put it on Kindle. I published three magazine serials, all set in rural Scotland, as a Kindle boxset (see below).
I dusted down a couple of more literary stories and entered them for competitions. I typed up seven holiday diaries and had copies printed.
My thoughts did turn eventually to new writing but I don’t have a typical day. Sometimes the more time you have the less you do. To give myself a push I set the kitchen timer for twenty minutes and attempt to write without stopping. My inner editor has a hissy fit but I try to ignore her.
Picking up either of two embryonic novels would require concentration I didn’t have. So I wrote a short story from a young lad’s viewpoint – he was aggrieved at his mother roping him into gardening for an elderly neighbour. Inspired in part by my own newfound interest – all is grist to the writing mill. Done. Sent to The People’s Friend.
The People’s Friend has a special, larger edition every three weeks and in every second Special there’s a long cosy crime story (9500 words), new territory for me. I’d had an idea for ages but couldn’t see my way into it, eg who the viewpoint characters would be. However, once I got going I loved writing it. Gardening also featured … my green-fingered sister was enlisted to fact-check. Sent.
Another story – this time set on Hogmanay, 1963, one of the worst UK winters on record. (No gardening in this one… ) Sent to The People’s Friend.
I’ve always been fascinated by names and I thought it would be fun to write a story where the characters have the same names as those recently given to storms. Sent to The People’s Friend.
No acceptances or rejections received to date for these four – for completely understandable reasons. The People’s Friend fiction staff work from home too now. Plus, they get an increasingly enormous number of submissions. They’ve always had an open-door policy for new writers – and now are one of the few remaining markets for short stories as so many magazines have stopped publishing them or have folded altogether, including two since March who between them published 350 stories annually.
Shopping habits have changed recently, concentrating on food essentials. A subscription to your favourite magazine whatever it might be could help it survive.
Not all doom and gloom though! My fellow Capital Writers and I published a collection of Dark Stories https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08LTGH358
in time for Hallowe’en.
And I got an acceptance surprisingly quickly from Woman’s Weekly for a short story so that was a boost, and a proposal for a new PF serial, my fifth, got the go-ahead two weeks later. It’s great to have something to focus on. Each instalment is 5000 words, divided into five ‘chapters’. Because you have to wait for instalment approval you can’t really write ahead and you can’t go back and change previous instalments. I do have trajectories for each of my main characters though so I work towards those. It’s a different way of writing but I find it exhilarating.
Anne: Yes, writing a serial for a magazine certainly sounds like an exciting way of working! Thank you so much Kate for sharing what your writing life is like – and how writing shorter fiction has helped you push on through during these difficult times.
About Kate Blackadder:
Katewas born in Inverness but now lives in Edinburgh. She has had over sixty short stories and four magazine serials published, and a novel, Stella’s Christmas Wish, published by Black and White Publishing.
In 2008 she won the Muriel Spark Short Story Prize judged by Maggie O’ Farrell. Four collections of her short stories and the four serials are now on Kindle, three of them – The Family at Farrshore, The Ferryboat, and A Time to Reap – are also available in large-print library editions.
She is a member of Edinburgh Writers’ Club, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and, with three others, is part of Capital Writers. When she’s not writing or reading she likes films, baking and crying over repeats of Long Lost Family.
Find out more: http://katewritesandreads.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html
Kate’s Books and Boxset:
Stella’s Christmas Wish available from: HERE
Six days before Christmas, Stella must rush home to Scotland when her grandmother is taken to hospital. As she reconnects with her past, old flames are rekindled, and as Christmas fast approaches, Stella begins to wonder if her most heartfelt wish can come true?
Uprooted from her life in London and back in her childhood home of the Scottish borders, Stella is soon faced with relationships which have lain dormant for years. New opportunities present themselves, but will Stella dare to take them…
Family stories boxset (information below) available from: HERE
Three family stories first published as serials in The People’s Friend. Available as e-books singly, or in this three-for-the-price-of-two collection:
The Ferryboat: Judy and Tom Jeffrey move north after buying a hotel in the West Highlands of Scotland, with their daughter and her chef husband – but have they made a terrible mistake?
The Family at Farrshore: Spending the summer working on Scotland’s north coast, archaeologist Cathryn is drawn into the local community – and to Magnus who is visiting the area for reasons of his own.
A Time to Reap: It’s 1963 on a Scottish Highlands estate. Farm manager Elizabeth Duncan has the unpleasant factor to contend with, and is unsettled by the arrival of an American visitor.