from the mslexia blog Cooking the books

Laura’s cooking a book (seriously), Rachel’s playing romance Top Trumps, Sarah’s crowdfunding a children’s picture book, and Rebecca’s back to rhapsodise about the smell of fresh print. To join in, visit www.mslexia.

...when I was about 17, I attempted to write a Mills & Boon novel. Why? I wasn’t exactly interested in romantic fiction, the sum total of my background reading being Bridget Jones’ Diary and five Mills & Boon romances. I wasn’t all that interested in writing either. But my auntie mentioned that Mills & Boon writers can earn up to £30,000 per book and my eyes lit up with pound signs… Rachel

...I just wanted to drop you a line as I’m the Editor of our commercial mass-market romantic fiction list here at Mills & Boon, and I’d be happy to chat about what we look for in single title romantic fiction (the kind of romantic chick lit books you’d see in your local bookshop)... Anna Baggaley, Mills & Boon

...We could only afford to pay our very talented illustrator Katie Green a small advance, but we needed her to work on the book full-time so it would be ready for Christmas. So we launched a crowd-funding campaign, and found 94 followers who invested in Katie and the book, in return for the book, gifts, and regular and utterly fascinating updates...

I cook in a tiny kitchen with a wood stove, a slow cooker and two electric hot plates. That means I need a clear workspace, because any clutter will hold me up. While I clear and arrange my tools, I think about how I want my creation to take form. I check my cupboards to see what ingredients I have, if I have enough of everything and, of course, enough time. The same goes for writing... Laura

...In book three I’m sailing down the Aegean in a xebec with my historical character Kelley, while in the contemporary strand Felix is finally starting to understand what being a revenant really means. Much as I loved my old job as a psychologist, making people up is so much fun... Rebecca

For the story, I’ve taken a title from a random title generator: The Women of Tragic Hearts. I want it to be about a restaurant owner and her recentlysurfaced old friend, who cook a meal together and how the evening changes their lives... Laura

One tweet = 140 characters including spaces. You don’t have to be on Twitter to send your week to submissions@

A WEEK OF TWEETS Monday The sun is out after two weeks of rain. Looking forward to #TheArtofHealing poetry course with #WarsanShire. Tuesday Just re-read the #Mslexia winning poem by #AngelaReadman – startling images and unusual diction. A land-sea interface.

Wednesday 9-y-o told me over breakfast that he is studying performance poetry over the next few weeks – what a great school. Thursday Woke with head full of cold. Feel stymied after last night’s progress with #SimonArmitage-inspired metaphor poem. Bare bones are there tho. Friday Put on winter coat today – awful smell from pocket, timidly put hand inside only to discover pkt of something that might once have been Oreos. Saturday When does it feel good to get a rejection? When it’s the shortlist e-mail for the #Bridport – top 100 out of 7700. Congrats all. Sunday Still can’t believe Bridport shortlist. Feel more inspired than ever. Back on track with metaphor poem.

ELISABETH SENNITT CLOUGH is a poet and mother of three young children. Her poems have been published in the UK and the US. She is working on her first collection, titled At or Below Sea Level.

therapeutic and revelatory. Whether or not it fits into narrowly prescribed ideas of what should be published is secondary. The value is in the act and process. Don’t diss yourself Camilla! What you have to say is valid and worthwhile. Rosemary Orme, Cornwall

LITTLEMS Sorry to be dumb but do I automatically get little ms if I subscribe to Mslexia? And can we have a porcupine vid every time please? Pat Borthwick, York Yes, our little ms supplement is part of your subscription and is FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY. (There will be a much-truncated version for civilians soon, just to give ’em a wee sniff of what they’re missing.) DT Please no more cute animals. I’ve eradicated them from my Facebook page using judicious pruning of

‘friends’, and have no wish to see them in emails about writing. Linda Joy, Llandysul, Wales

I’ve subscribed to Mslexia for years and found it very motivating and stimulating, but it’s easy to push it aside because the day job has to take precedence. Then this wonderful nugget of little ms with its smart format drops into my iPad as I’m sitting in the French sunshine, and I know all of a sudden that it’s time to get back to my writing. Nicola Gadsby, Cheltenham

I don’t like online reading and yet... you have prompted me to order my Diary (done), directed me to various other snippets (done and read) and reminded me that I have a haiku to finish and send. Keep sending these and I could be converted! Lyn Greenwood, Henley-on-Thames


Be our guest We commission a new blogger each month. For details, visit www.mslexia.

■ ALISON CLAYTON-SMITH has recently found the time (and confidence) to begin her novel, following a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a chronic condition resulting in exhaustion and pain. From December, Alison will blog about the challenges of writing with this condition, and about ecopsychology, the relationship between humans and the natural world. ■ HANNAH CUNDALE is addicted to social media, like many of us (see our survey results!). But how productive could we be if we didn’t use Facebook or Twitter? From January, Hannah will find out for us, by going cold turkey on social media and devoting all of the time she saves to her writing. Let’s see how far she gets. ■ JACKIE DINNIS is researching her family tree, specifically the branches relating to her paternal godparents. From February she’ll be blogging about what she discovers, how she builds up a picture of their lives, and attempts to publish her findings in ancestry magazines. She’ll also show how this kind of research can provide foundations for fiction and memoir.

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