For many reasons, but mainly because I've been looking after my 3 year old granddaughter, I haven't had much time to write this year. In fact make that 18 months what with journeys to Australia and Hong Kong to visit family and friends, and longterm guests at home. It's just been one of those times when writing has had to take a back seat because people, when all is said and done, are more important. On top of all that I've had trouble with my website and, with no time to fix it, have wiped that as well.
I have had one thing going for me, however - Books We Love. Always there for all its writers, it has continued to give me an online presence as well as republishing 3 of the books I wrote in the eighties when the copyright unexpectedly reverted to me, so 2017 has not been entirely book free. Vintage romance! How did I get to be so old?
The republication of those books has been a boost to my writing morale too, especially the fantastic new covers courtesy of the wonderful Michelle ( http://www.michelleleedesigns.net), and now it's time for a comeback. January 2018 is definitely a time of new resolutions, although right at this moment the workload looks overwhelming. A book to edit before it can be republished, a half-written book, Part 2 of a series, to revisit and finish, and a website which is still only a work in progress. I'm enjoying rereading the story of Golden Girl though, the Vintage romance soon to be republished, and it has reminded me of how difficult writing used to be.
Golden Girl was my very first book. I wrote it by hand in notebooks and on sheets of paper at the kitchen counter while my children were at school, and then typed it (a top copy and 2 carbons) on a portable typewriter. I also had a part-time job. When a publisher accepted it I blew the money on a holiday for the family, our first ever abroad and my first ever flight. I've done a lot more travelling since then but nothing has quite replaced the thrill of that trip to Munich although strangely enough, given that nowadays I hang my writing identity on a have pen/will travel persona, I've never written about it. In 2018, with a study, a computer and the Internet for reference, writing a book is much less onerous. Another big plus is that publishers now accept books online. No more printing, collating and packing up copies and making sure return postage is included. In 2018 the whole process is much more manageable.
Anyway, back to Golden Girl. The story is based on an experience I had when I was a young secretary and was asked to front the launch of a range of new cosmetics. It only entailed a couple of days in London, nothing so exotic as Paris, which is featured in the book, nor did I meet such charismatic characters as Alain Matthieu and Paul Genet, the hero and anti-hero. The experience gave me the idea though and now that I am re-reading it prior to publication, it is reviving many memories. Faces and names from the past have come back to me as I wonder what happened to all those people I used to work with. I have also remembered that part of the launch included sitting on a carnival float dressed as a French courtesan, something I had completely forgotten until now! It was all very tame stuff compared with what the heroine has to put up with in Golden Girl though. And I remember it was fun. 2 days away from the office, free cosmetics, a new dress...what was not to like.
My Golden Girl heroine, Lisa Morgan, has it a lot harder and copes in ways I would never have managed myself. She also has to deal with the sexual politics of the 1960s which were very different from those of today. I got a lot wrong too. I wouldn't write a book now with so much sight-seeing detail, even though it has its uses. For anyone visiting London or Paris for the first time, following in Lisa's footsteps as she explores them offers a blueprint of where to go and what to see. Maybe I'll go back one day and revisit those places myself but if I don't make it at least I have the memories.
My other Vintage Romances were republished last year. Set in Moscow, Hollywood and, more prosaically, an English town, they set me on the path of writing about faraway places when they were first published. In those far off days I was prepared to write about places I'd never visited, using reference books and travel magazines for authenticity. Now I wouldn't dream of doing that. If I haven't been there then I don't write about it. Since those early days as a writer I've learned a lot, but re-reading and editing them has been fun and the stories still stand up, so if you decide to read them to learn about a different time that is not exactly history but is still very different from the Twenty-first Century, then enjoy.
You can see all of Sheila's books Vintage, Contemporary and Series at:
They are available at: