I’m delighted to welcome Sheila Riley to my blog.
Arabella: We all love the creativity of writing – otherwise we wouldn’t spend hours at a keyboard pounding away in the hope someone will read and enjoy our novels. But what do you like most about our craft?
The editing and proofreading, the author/reader relationship, promotional book signings, or is there something else that has you hooked to the world of books?
Sheila: I am a voracious reader and love researching for a new book. The process of discovering new characters, plot, motive, mystery is brilliant, especially when I suddenly realise I have created an unexpected change that even I don’t see coming, like the twist at the end of The Mersey Orphan. This fragment of serendipity makes me so excited - it really does make my day. Then I go back to the beginning to plant little clues.
Editing is a downside for me plus a revelation. I don’t like rereading something I feel I’ve finished – but when I do reread it, a necessity in this job, I discover the work is nowhere near as perfect as I want it to be and can’t wait to fix it.
Due to the current covid pandemic, there have been no promotional book signings this year, but there has been an increase in the number of readers sending personal messages via social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and Messenger, which is lovely and still a surprise for me when readers get in touch to tell me how much they enjoyed one of my books and can’t wait to read the next. Their words spur me on to get on with the next book.
Arabella: Who or what inspired you to write your latest release, The Mersey Girls?
Sheila: The Mersey Girls published by Boldwood Books is the second book in the Reckoner’s Row series. We follow Evie, Connie, and the rest of the inhabitants of the dockside community, who manage to care for their families when rationing and austerity are a huge part of everyday life. But misery for one character, means love and happiness for another.
Arabella: Some authors cannot work without a business planner, others cannot write without an editing app… Are there any “essentials” you need to help your writing move forward?
Sheila: I have tried to plot my novels with writing tools, and some are fabulous, but the creative side of my brain will not be tethered. I get the names, ages, identifying features etc. written down. Maybe a few plot points. A twist here, a mystery there. Then I seem to lose interest and the creative side of my brain goes for a nap, thinking, what’s the point of slaving over 100,000 words when the story has already been sketched in so few words.
However, all is not wasted. I go back to those rough sketches maybe a year or two later and a lightbulb goes on and a whole book of what-ifs are conceived. However, I do use ProwritingAid so I can pick up on repetition, overlong sentences etc. I use this programme when I am at the editing stage.
Arabella: If the person of your dreams, (husband/wife/partner/or superstar), was to take you out for the night, where would they take you and what would you do?
Sheila: Basically, I am a snuggle-up-in-pj’s kind of girl, especially now the evening are getting longer, and growing cooler. So, my favourite man and I turn the lights down low, open the wine and listen to our favourite music, dance in our jim-jams in the living room in front of a roaring fire - and the rest is a secret…
Arabella: Do you have
any great writing, publishing, or marketing tips you’d like to share to
“want-to-be” authors starting out on their writing journey?
Sheila: Write what is in your heart. Don’t follow the latest trend, because by the time it’s published the trend will probably have passed and before you start your career, the moment has passed. Be a she-wolf not a sheep.
Join a reputable writing group, research what success they have had. That way, you know you will be seen as committed, whilst in the company of professionals. Experts in the craft of writing, like the R.N.A. Romantic Novelists Association, give loads of valuable advice and have a scheme especially for new writers who will be able to have their work critiqued by an expert.
As far as marketing goes, these days you NEED an online presence. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – which I’m still getting used to btw. When you send your ms to an agent or publisher they will look for your online activity. As writers are expected to do more promotion for their books than in past years it may help if you are an active member of the online community who can spread the word about your writing. If so, so much the better.
Arabella: Thank you so much for being a super guest on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat today, Sheila. And the tip about ‘ProwritingAid’ as an editing tool will definitely have to be explored.
Wishing you all the best when promoting your latest release - The Mersey Girls
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheila Riley
Sheila Riley has written four number one bestsellers under the pseudonym, Annie Groves. Now writing under her own name she created The Reckoner’s Row series, starting with The Mersey Orphan. The second in the series, The Mersey Girls, is set around the River Mersey and its docklands. Sheila still lives in Liverpool.
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BOOK BLURB: The Mersey Girls
When Evie Kilgaren takes over the running of the office at Skinner & Son’s haulage yard, she has no idea she is walking into a hive of blackmail, secrets and lies. As we return to the lives and loves of those living and working in the Mersey Docklands, not everything is as it seems when love and luck are rarely on the same side.
Published by Boldwood Books August 2020