Three Inspirational UK Charities: the wonderful organisations which informed my writing #support #inspiration #writing @VeteranFdn @venturetrust @macmillancancer

Sources of Inspiration

I often get asked by my readers where I get the ideas for my books from. And the answer is my novels are inspired by lots of things. It can be people, places or events that get me thinking and then imagining what if … Or it can be a completely made up something or someone that just pops into my head and I decide that that little seed is worth exploring. And before I know it I have the elements of a full length story planned out and the writing begins.

However, the inspiration process doesn’t end there. As I write and get to know my characters, other ideas come along that need exploring too. Thinking about this recently, I was quite surprised to realise that in all my books so far a main character’s life has been impacted by a common factor. It wasn’t a conscious decision to make this be the case, it just fitted with the storyline. And I’m glad it did as it did indeed prove to be inspirational.

 Three Amazing Charities

The common factor is the work of several charitable organisations and there are three in particular that helped me develop my stories.

The first one is the Veterans Foundation. The work of this organisation informed and inspired aspects of army veteran, Steven’s, story in Baby Steps namely his job and recovery from his injuries.

VETERANS FOUNDATION

https://www.veteransfoundation.org.uk/our-story/

From their website:

Who does the Veterans’ Foundation help and how?

Our journey began by sharing the stories of our Armed Forces family on social media and this quickly escalated into a large, trusted community of friends and supporters. In just a few years we’ve engaged and interacted with millions of you, celebrating our Armed Forces and bringing hope of a better life to those in need of care and assistance.

Our supporters, you, are the heartbeat of the Veterans’ Foundation and through your kind donations, fundraising events and by playing our popular Veterans’ Lottery, challenges are being faced, overcome, and lives are changing for the better.

The second one is Venture Trust. The work of this charity helped inspire and inform the project that Jack, the hero in the Skye series of novels – Displacement, Settlement and Fulfilment – set up to help others like himself whose mental health benefitted from outdoor based therapy.

VENTURE TRUST

https://www.venturetrust.org.uk/about-us/

From their website:

Established in 1982, Venture Trust delivers intensive personal development for people, at any stage in their life, struggling with issues such as involvement in the criminal justice system in Scotland, long term unemployment, recovery from addiction, homelessness or risk of homelessness, isolation, and a history of trauma or harm. 

By building trust and ensuring that people feel safe they can explore their complex experiences through personal development and therapy in their community and the Scottish outdoors.

The outdoors offers inherent challenge for individuals to reflect on beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. With time and space away from influences at home, individuals can unlock skills and learn new, more positive, ways of approaching situations.

And the third one Is Macmillan Cancer Support. This is a charity I have personal experience of and I’ll be forever grateful for the support they provided to me. But apart from that this charity was a source of information to me when I was writing my first book Change of Life and the main female character got her own cancer diagnosis.

MACMILLAN CANCER SUPPORT

https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support

From their website:

Cancer information and support

If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with cancer, we’re here to help. Find out how we support you and get information about different cancer types.

Please, if you’re interested, do visit any of the above charities’ websites to learn more. They are all UK/Scotland based – but if you’re not in the UK, perhaps there are similar ones where you live? Of course all three of the organisations I’ve mentioned are dependent on financial donations to continue their wonderful work and I support all three of them – whether that’s by making donations, following and sharing their work on social media, or by giving them a shout out here on the blog.

What about you?

And now, as always, it’s over to you. Are there any charities you support or have helped you deal with life’s challenges? Please do share in the comments below. Or, If you’re a writer, do you have ‘go to’ sources of inspiration/information for your novels – charities or otherwise?  

New Month, New Season, New Beginnings: A look forward and back #writing #reading @AngelaBritnell @portybelle

I like September. Here in the northern hemisphere it marks the start of autumn and autumn is most definitely my favourite time of year. I always enjoying going for a walk but autumn walks are the best.  I love the autumn colours of the leaves, the soft light, the cooler air. And who can resist tramping through those piles of falling leaves as if you were five years old again?

Writing News

I also find that a new month and a new season help me to focus on my writing plans as I tend to sketch out my aims and targets on a monthly and quarterly basis. It’s also a good time to reflect on what I achieved in my previous planning period(s).

Looking back

The looking back part has been particularly rewarding at this point as I achieved two things at the writing desk that I’m proud of.

Newsletter all set up

The first of those was getting my author newsletter set up – something that was a lot of hard work, a steep learning curve and something I’d wanted to do for a long time. So, isn’t this blog enough? I hear you ask. Why have a newsletter? Good questions. Responses below.

Well, firstly, no, the blog isn’t enough – much as I love it. It’s enough as far as fulfilling my aims in setting up. Those aims being to write about my recent reading and writing experiences and to share my reflections on those and occasionally other matters too. I see the blog as a sort of collection of magazine type articles and a chronicle of my life as a reader and writer.

Secondly, an author newsletter is a different thing. It is more specific and it is more tightly focussed. The audience consists of the readers of my books. The content is based on my books – the ones already published, the one I’m currently working on, and my future writing plans. Recipients of the newsletter get a free book on signing up, as well as ongoing occasional special offers, giveaways, sneak peeks into my work-in-progress. It’s a chance for me to get to know the readers of my contemporary romances and for them to get to know a bit more about me.

The newsletter is already proving to be a rewarding thing to do. It’s so good to have this direct link with my loyal audience and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

If you haven’t signed up to get my monthly letter in your inbox and you’d like to, just click HERE and yes, you will be rewarded for doing so with a free book – a collection of some of my short romantic stories.

New Book

The second thing I’m proud of achieving recently is of course the publication of my latest romance novel, Baby Steps. It was my most successful launch to date, sales have been good and the feedback I’ve received has been great. Yeah! You can read what it’s about HERE and you can buy it HERE

You can also read a guest post I did on the wonderful Portybelle’s book blog HERE about how this latest novel took me surprise and wasn’t at all what I planned to write.

Looking Forward

New book, new series, lots of planning

I’m now busy writing the next book. As it’s the first in a completely new series set in the Scottish Borders, there’s been a lot of planning to do. I’ve had to map out a fictional farm, village and town. I’ve had to think about who will be the main characters in subsequent books in the series and there’s also been a fair bit of research to do as well.

But with that all done, I can now crack on with Happiness Cottage and to tell the story of Lori and Aidan.

Reading

As usual I’ve done a lot of reading in the last month – mostly romances and mostly very good reads. So as always it was difficult to choose one as book of the month. But I did it. No surprises that it was a romance novel. It was a perfect summer read.

Summer at Seaspray Cottage by Angela Britnell

What would you do if you inherited a Cornish cottage by the sea?
If you’re Thea Armitage, sell it as soon as possible. Whilst there’s no denying that Seaspray Cottage has its charm, it just holds too many bad memories for Thea to consider keeping it – although at least spending the summer preparing it for sale gives her a distraction from troubles back home in Tennessee.
What Thea didn’t count on was her worst Cornish memory moving in right next door. Local bad boy Harry Venton played no small part in Thea’s decision never to return to Cornwall twenty years before – and now he’s her neighbour! Could things get any worse?
Except Harry isn’t the boy he was, and as Thea comes to realise that her opinion of him was built on lies and misunderstandings, perhaps things will start looking up for her summer at Seaspray Cottage …

Reflecting

In a world that can sometimes seem rather bleak thank goodness for the escape provided by books. Happy reading everyone!

Your comments are welcome below. Feel free to share your own reading and writing reflections and to share this post.

Rights of Way – in Romance and in Life #newbooknews #romanticnovels #contemporaryromance #reading #writing

Falling in love can’t be planned but it also can’t be avoided

New Book News

Only two more weeks until Baby Steps is published and don’t you love that cover! You can find out more about the book later in this post – but first I wanted to share some thoughts I’ve been having about my writing as publication day draws near.

Writing Romance

I write romance novels. So, as per the rules of this genre my novels have two main characters who meet, overcome any obstacles there might be to them falling in love, and then they enter into a happy-ever-after relationship. I accept those rules as it’s what my readers expect.

However I don’t accept some other rules dished out to me in the past by publishers and literary agents. Rules that suggest readers of romance do not want to read about anyone over thirty falling in love – especially if that anyone is a woman. Or the rule that romance readers don’t want to read about ‘difficult subjects’ such as cancer, bereavement or human rights.

Not all romances have to be rom-coms

While I enjoy reading romantic comedies, I don’t believe, that all stories with a romance at their hearts have to be light-hearted. They can be dark, they can be serious, they can make you think. I’d go so far as to say that sometimes they should make you think and they should reflect real life.

So, while I stick to the conventions when writing my contemporary love stories I also like to include some challenging issues for my characters to deal with along the way.

Women’s Rights

And one of the main things I always ensure is that my female characters are no pushovers. For one thing, they not only show that while the road to true love rarely runs smoothly, it also isn’t closed to those older than thirty. They also stand up for themselves and they value their hard won equality. They seek out and follow their own paths through life, making the decisions that are right for them.

They have the right of way when it comes to living their life – in romance and in every other way.

In Baby Steps, my latest novel, the female main character, Sophie has to deal with is an unplanned pregnancy. Fortunately she has choices. Choices fought for and achieved by previous generations of women. She exercises those choices.

In a far from happy coincidence, as I write this post, the news has broken of the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse legislation giving women the right to abortion. I find this to be a sad, distressing and backward step. And along with other backward steps that are threatened for women’s rights here in the UK, I must admit to being concerned for the future rights of my daughter’s and granddaughters’ generations.

Not Helpless

But concerned as I am, I refuse to feel subdued or defeated. I may not be a political activist, I may only be one small voice, but I will continue to uphold women’s right of way in my conversations, in my writing and in my life in general. We can all fight back in our own ways.

Meanwhile in happier news …

And breathe. The good news is my above-mentioned new novel, Baby Steps will be released later this month. So not long to wait now. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is it about?

Estranged from her mother, cheated on by her ex and grieving the loss of her brother, emotionally distraught Sophie Campbell decides she needs to focus on her career as a researcher for a TV and radio broadcaster. What she doesn’t need is a man in her life. And as for marriage and children – definitely not.

Honourably discharged from the British army following life-changing injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan, Steven Jackson is rehabilitated and embracing life to the full. Working as the manager of a support centre for military veterans brings him a great sense of pride and achievement. But he wants more. He wants to meet the love of his life, and to one day be a husband and father.

When Sophie and Steven meet through work, there’s an undeniable chemistry between the two thirty-somethings. But will Steven’s open, caring and patient ways be enough to break down Sophie’s barriers and allow a relationship to develop between them?

Set in the Scottish city of Glasgow, Baby Steps is a contemporary romance which tells a story of love against the odds.

**************

Baby Steps is a spin-off novel from Anne Stormont’s Skye Series of novels. Sophie is the daughter of Rachel one of the main characters in that series and features as a character in the supporting cast, as does Steven. However, Baby Steps can be read as a standalone.

When and where will it be available?

It will be published as an ebook and as a paperback on 18th July 2022. It will be available on Amazon or you can ask your local bookshop to order it in.

Want to Read the First Chapter of Baby Steps?

Subscribe to my newsletter – if you’ve not already done so – and as well as getting the free book of short stories that all my new subscribers get – you’ll also a sneak preview of the first chapter of Baby Steps in my next email. You can sign up here

As always, thank you for reading my post and please do feel free to leave a comment below.