Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A Guest Post by Author Samatha Priestley

I am delighted to welcome author Samantha Priestley as part of her Blog Tour for her new book A Bad Winter which is out soon. She also has a book launch at the Rutland Arms in Sheffield on Thursday 21st September at 7.30pm, so do go along and meet the lovely author and buy her fabulous book!

Over to Samantha!

I’ve been spending time over in the Peak District, close to where I live in Sheffield, all my life. I have an early memory of being there with my dad and brother one day and dad showing us where clear water runs from the hills. I have a photo of me and my granddad, me aged about 6, him leading me around great boulders of rocks on a hillside. And as a teenager, a group of us would catch the bus out there in summer and walk through streams and drink cider in the sun. I caught a bus out there on my one once when I’d finished my O levels, needing to get away and be by myself in the one place I knew I could find peace. So it’s no surprise that this place has cropped up in a book.

            A Bad Winter is my fifth book and my first ghost story, and it all started with a snippet of a local story from the Peak District. When I read about the murder of a young woman in Hill Head House in 1760 in Bradwell, which is no longer standing, and the strange events that followed, the idea for the book began. The book runs between 1760 and modern day, telling the story of what happened to Sarah Vernon and the people of the village, and what happens to Lorraine when the events of 1760 meet with her own life today. It’s about love and what it drives us to do, the power of belief, and of course, ghosts!

When I first decided to write a ghost story, I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I’d get, but my editor at Armley Press was instantly supportive and suggested that this was a natural progression for me. Thinking about it, he’s right, all of my previous books do contain ghosts, the presence of someone no longer living who haunts the characters, it was just that this was the first time I’d actually brought the ghost out and into the story.

            One of the main themes of the story is belief, which is a tricky one. Belief can make us do all kinds of things, it’s a powerful force, and people use this powerful tool to make others do things too. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the mere suggestion of a presence can cause us to act differently.

            So I’d like to throw this post open to you now. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you had a ghostly experience? Write me a comment below or ask me a question and I’ll get back to you x

A Bad Winter -

When does passion turn to love? When does responsibility mean guilt? When does a death become a murder?

In A Bad Winter these hefty questions stir up echoes through time, from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, to create an intimate and powerful tale of personal lives in freefall. With her trademark pictorial prose and beautifully phrased metaphors, novelist Samantha Priestley has created a ghostly romance set among wintry Derbyshire hills, and a shivering good read.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Looking Back to Move Forward

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions as I think they're only good for setting us up to fail. There's so much pressure to do things better or to be a better person that it's no wonder we don't succeed and abandon our good intentions a few weeks later.

Writing is also like that. We get all excited about a new idea and are completely absorbed in it for a while, only to fall out of love with it and never finish it.

The key I've found is, before I even write a word, I look back at those projects and ask myself why I abandoned them. The answer is usually that I became bored with it or simply didn't know how to advance with it, so I just gave up.

I then make myself look at the abandoned project and try and, if I think I can, I try and finish it. This process then allows me to move on to the next project without the Spectre of past, unfinished writing projects, hanging around my neck.

So, if your writing resolutions have faltered, take a step back, look if there are any previous projects that you didn't finish and are holding you back. Finishing these might be all you need to move forward.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Getting back into it

No, I'm not talking about your party attire for the coming festive season, I'm talking about getting back into blogging. I must admit that my blogs have been sporadic over the past year but for very good writing reasons. Looking back over the last 12 months or so, I've had three non-fiction books published and have been busy researching and writing another, all for the same publisher. That was also whilst I was writing and subbing short stories and articles and trying to juggle family and work life too.

Sometimes we can make it all to easy to make excuses as to why we haven't achieved the writing goals we had hoped we would. And that's the fatal word: hoped. It's up there with dream and aspire to. If we want to achieve our writing goals we have to go beyond the dreaming stage and  have specific goals in mind to start with. But it's no good stopping there. We also have to make plans as to how we are going to achieve this and set a date by which we are going to achieve them.

If we don't do this we are far less likely to achieve it. I like to have things written in black and white and stuck to the wall in front of me in my office so I can see, every day, what I want to achieve and what I need to do to achieve it. If I don;t have that, I'm soon off track.

Having said that you have to be realistic. You can't do it all. Well, you can try but you will fail and failure leads to low self-esteem and lack of motivation. I had to concentrate on my books so consequently the short stories and the blogging had to slide for a while. But that's okay - you'll have your own priorities and find that some of things you wanted to do had to be put on the back burner too. That's life!

So what I'm saying is that you need to put your heart and soul into your project but don't be worried about the other things that you have to leave to behind while you are committed to that project. You can always catch up when you've finished. Spread yourself too thin and you'll not give your writing the time, patience or concentration it deserves.

Happy writing!
Julie xx

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Pat on the back

Congratulations! Yes, this week I am starting off by patting you on the back. What's going on? You might be thinking. What have I done to deserve this praise? You might even be looking over your shoulder thinking I must be addressing someone else. I'm not. I'm definitely talking to you.

There are lots of people who say or think they are writers. They say they'd write if only they had the time. The trouble is that they don't actually do anything to achieve their writing dreams. And they are dreams - they aren't goals - goals demand action.

But you're reading this blog post. You've made an effort to click onto the blog. You've probably also written something yourself recently - even if it is a plan of action. It's a start. You're already way ahead of everyone who hasn't even picked up a pen or opened up their laptop.

For that - well done. Carry on!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Lost in time

It's easy when we are in the throes of creativity to completely lose ourselves in the moment. There could be any amount of chaos going on outside but we are blissfully unaware of it. There's nothing like being and staying in the zone where our characters are real to us and we are in the scene, going through what we are putting our characters through.

I was reading recently in one of the writing magazines that if we want to be successful writers we must make time for our writing, no matter what. We have a choice as to whether we write or not; we all have 24 hours in the day and, granted, we all have different responsibilities and commitments that eat into our writing time. If we want to be published there are certain sacrifices that have to be made in order for us to achieve that. If you aren't prepared to make the change and find and ring-fence your writing time and actually sit down and write then you aren't going to be a published writer. It's that simple.

Instead of watching TV why not start writing? There will be many more times when you catch 10 or 15 minutes to write and every little helps! It can feel strange to demand your writing time and it will take time for you and your family and friends to adjust to that - I'm writing means I'm writing and unless someone is ill, injured or the house is burning down I won't be disturbed. You have to train them and yourself and stand firm.

It's important to be able to shut the door behind you so you have a physical barrier between you and what else is going on around you. If you're in an open space, like the kitchen, it's easier for people to disturb you. If they don't get the message and you're driven to distraction then think about moving your writing space out of the home. You could go to the library or a cafe and write. Yes, there will be other people there but they will be strangers and won't want you to do something or talk to you like your family and friends will. If your not at home you can't be there for their every beck and call. Be a writer and be selfish.

Before you know it you've written the first draft of a short story or a pitch for an article and you'll wonder where the time went. You'll blink and stretch when you re-enter the real world as though awakening from a trance or deep sleep. If you had caned in and become involved in the latest drama at home would you have written as much? Probably not. If writing makes you happy and you are determined to be published you need that writing time - fight for it.