It’s a real pleasure to be joining the blog tour today for The Dog-walking Club by Liz Hinds, available for kindle (and free via Kindle Unlimited) and paperback from Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation, and for her ongoing support.
Every dog walk brings new drama into the lives of these dogs and their people. A supermarket shelf-stacker, a stay-at-home dad, an elderly widow and a freelance photographer sound an unlikely bunch of friends but they have one thing in common: they all walk their dogs in Beauville Park at roughly the same time each morning.
And that’s enough for Angela, bored organiser without a cause, to get them together to form the Dog-walking Club.For Jock the Scottie, Benji the spaniel, Pixie the boxer, Mitzi the poodle and Bassett the … all sorts, walking each day with their friends is a dream come true. And it changes the lives of widowed Sybil who’s spent a lifetime hiding her secret sorrow, hopeless-with-women Jon who’s wandering almost unwittingly into an affair, freelance photographer Jemma who is at every wedding but her own, and Maggi who is frantically trying to save money to visit her family in Australia.
And for long-suffering Angela a nasty shock turns into a new start in disguise for her and her husband – and their love life.
I do have a small admission to make – I’d spotted (and bought!) this book well before Rachel issued her invitation. I do hope I’ll be able to find time to catch up – I really like the look of it, and of Liz’s writing. But no review today – instead, I’m delighted to welcome Liz Hinds as my guest on Being Anne…
It was all so easy. Everything I’d ever read in writing magazines or books was rubbish: it was simple to get published.
To explain I need to take you back a few years. As editor of a very small local newspaper I was sitting in a cafe waiting for my interviewee. Suddenly the door burst open and a loud American voice could be heard, ‘The kingdom of God is approaching right now!’
I glanced around the café surreptitiously wondering if there were any way I could escape unnoticed because, yes, this was the man I was waiting for.
He and the man I’m inclined to think of as his carer joined me and our interview began. Or rather Mikey told me his story: there wasn’t much input needed from me.
He told me many life and death stories from his time as an NYPD cop, mostly working nights in the Bronx and Harlem. At the end he said to me, ‘A good story, yeah?’
‘Make a good book, yeah?’
‘You want to write it?’
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Um, I mean … yeah.’
And that is how a middle-aged Welsh woman, who’d never written a book, found herself ghost-writing the autobiography of this New York cop. Who incidentally was retired and living in Florida at the time.
On his next visit to Wales a year or so later we met up and I recorded many stories of his early life and career. I still needed a lot more information but knowing how difficult it was going to be to find a publisher I thought I might as well start approaching some.
I prepared the synopsis and first three chapters and sent them off to Hodder, a large British publisher. I posted the envelope on a Thursday afternoon.
On the Friday afternoon I was cooking chips for the children’s tea when the phone rang. It was an editor from Hodder saying they were very excited and wanted to read the rest.
The advance they gave us went towards a trip to New York to meet Mikey again and see the places in his story. I did see those locations but I also spent a lot of time sitting in a hotel room with Mikey and a tape recorder while my husband went off sight-seeing. A writer’s lot.
Just one story from NYC. In Times Square there is a ticket booth that opens mid-afternoon to sell off last minute Broadway tickets. Remember that loud American voice I mentioned at the beginning? Now imagine standing in a long queue with an evangelistic preacher who decides to explain the dreams of Daniel, in great and apocalyptic detail, to you. As I said, a writer’s lot.
Hodder went on to publish A Cop for Christ and it’s still available.
Thus inspired I decided to try my hand at novel writing. Approaching my fiftieth birthday at the time I decided on a middle-aged Bridget Jones type diary novel.
Buoyed up by the ease with which my non-fiction was published I sent off the manuscript, sat back and dreamed of how it would look in a film with the now sadly deceased Alan Rickman as the hero.
I was soon brought down to earth.
Years and loads of rejections later I finally self-published This Time Next Year.
Since then I’ve also self-published The Dog-walking Club, and I have two more completed novels as well as being half way through a sequel to This Time Next Year.
And maybe I shouldn’t but I still dream of being traditionally published because to me it says that someone else had faith in my writing, it gives me credibility in my own eyes.
Thank you Liz – wishing you every success with that. And I’m thrilled to see you’re going to be at Narberth Book Fair this year – I’ll look forward to meeting you, hopefully having read your book by then…!
With thanks to Liz and Rachel, I’m delighted to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a set of reusable beeswax wraps, three metal straws with a carrying pouch and cleaner, and a face wipe, all in pretty doggy fabric (open internationally). Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions Worldwide entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
I’m a golden-retriever-loving granny, who enjoys walking by the sea or in the woods, who eats too much chocolate and gets over-excited when the Welsh team plays rugby.
Writing-wise, I am an experienced freelance writer – published in The Guardian, Christian Herald and various other magazines and newspapers – with an MA in Creative Writing (Trinity College, University of Wales). My short stories have been published in Cambrensis (the now sadly-defunct short story magazine of Wales) as well as in several anthologies including Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe (Parthian) and Catwomen from Hell (Honno). I am also the author of several non-fiction books published by Hodder & Stoughton, Scripture Union and Kevin Mayhew.
I have self-published two novels, This Time Last Year, and The Dog-walking Club.
I enjoy speaking about my writing to various gatherings and the media, and am an active blogger, facebooker and tweeter.