Friday, 30 March 2012

Special Offer

Fairlyden by Gwen Kirkwood

     Download for free from Amazon

1st and 2nd April 2012



Making Waves when writing a novel

Recently I have been reading through a novel which I wrote twenty years ago. I had it scanned by Lynn Anderson to make sure I was formatting the final copy as it appeared when published, prior to uploading to Amazon as an e-book. I am dismayed at the number of exclamation marks and hyphens I used then and I have deleted several. I find it difficult to judge my own work, but apart from the superfluous punctuation, I still like this story as well as many I have written since, and better than some which were limited by the publisher’s stipulation of word length.

When I wrote Fairlyden I had stumbled my way through four short romance novels for the Hale Rainbow Romance Series. Then Amstrad computers arrived, a great benefit to a none typist, and I yearned to write a longer novel. I had no publisher, no agent and no deadlines or guidelines, and I didn’t know any other writers. Remember there was no internet. I had not heard of the RNA and in any case they did not hold annual Conferences in various parts of the country as they do now. I began to write the kind of story I liked to read, set in 1850 but using the only background I knew much about – farming. It took a long time but it gave me a great deal of satisfaction, even though I had no idea whether anyone would ever read it. In retrospect I believe I could have ended it about three quarters of the way through but even then I wanted to continue the story of the family I had created.

Using the Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book I selected an agency at random. The person who replied said it was a good story but needed a lot of work and they did not have time to take it on. I chose another single person agency (for her Scottish name). She did not do editing but she read it and sent it to a publisher. Lady Luck was at my side. They wanted to buy it and sent me a contract for it and the three follow on novels which were still in my head. Most publishers like to know a writer has more than one book to build on. The editor then sent me three pages of questions, comments and suggestions – one of which I have found invaluable. Apparently readers do not like to be confronted with pages of closely written text so wherever I had long passages I was advised to convert it to speech or break it up in some other way, giving more white space; this looks less daunting to the reader. I also discovered speech moves the story along faster.

Many years later I attended a talk on writing. The speaker said writers should create waves in a novel to keep the reader’s interest. Reading Fairlyden now I realise I subconsciously created a tsunami, plus a storm or two. I can scarcely believe I created such nasty characters, or some of the sad scenes, but hopefully I have enough happy scenes to compensate and uplift. I am still learning something new with every book I write.

If any of you have a Kindle and feel like reading this story please remember you can download it for free on 1st and 2nd of April 2012. I shall be interested to hear if you feel it is too stormy, or if I should have ended it earlier. You can read the blurb for it on Amazon or on my personal blog at


  1. Great post, Gwen. I really enjoyed it and it makes me wonder if much of what is taught about writing - your waves example, for instance, isn't something good writers know instinctively. I'll certainly download Fairlyden as I need to stock up my Kindle before I go away.

  2. Interesting post, Gwen. I found myself wondering if I like a bit of white space as a reader - and the answer is yes (especially for my bed book.) It would be good to think, as Mary suggests, that as writers we make waves instinctively (no pun intended!)

  3. Thank you Mary and Joan for your comments. I suspect that writing is something we have to really want to do for our own satisfaction, and writing fiction needs a person with lots of imagination. I know I often have too much of that.
    Mary if you are reading on holiday you might need the tissues in places.

  4. A facinating post, Gwen. I loved reading about how your first novel came about and how it was published.

    Publishing has changed so much and so it seems has the process of writing. There is so much help to hand these days with the internet and writer groups and forums.

    I have 'The Family at Fairlyden' on my bookshelf but not 'Fairlyden' which I will download on Sunday. Thank you Gwen, and I wish you great success with your ebooks.

  5. What an interesting post, Gwen. I certainly want to read this novel!

  6. Thank you Janice and Rosemary for your comments. Yes, I think writing has changed over the years but I don't think publishing gets any easier.
    Janice "Family" is the third in the series but I hope to get them all uploaded eventually. Mistress of Fairlyden is the next one.

  7. Great post....and a beautiful cover. Congratulations

  8. Thank you Linda. It was a young Americal girl called Melyssa who did the cover.

  9. Downloaded my copy of Fairlydean, Gwen. Lookng forward to reading it - will have tissues in my pocket.

  10. Sorry, Fairlyden - didn't mean to change its title. I think I put it on Facebook as Fairlydean as well!

  11. Don't worry about that Mary. I am just glad you got it downloaded. I wait to hear what you think about the ending - and anything else when you get around to it. I often spell it wrong and nobody ever pronounces it the way I do.

  12. I am currently reading Fairlyden on my Kindle. When is it taking place? Is this the first book of the Fairlyden series?

  13. Fairlyden is the first book and it is set around the 1850s. The series moves on through different generations with Mistress of Fairlyden (now available on Amazon), then The Family at Fairlyden, and finally Fairlyden at War. I am still preparing the last two for uploading as e-books, but first I must finish the new novel I am writing. I shall be interested to hear how you find them.
    Thank you for reading our blog.

  14. Thank you. I am a volunteer who helps to maintain the database on Goodreads. You have an author page there, but no one has set up a Fairlyden series sequence on Goodreads. I will be adding Fairlyden and Mistress of Fairlyden to the database. I also wanted to have the proper order for the series, so that people on Goodreads would know the right order for reading the novels. If you would like to see your author page on Goodreads, it's at

  15. Thank you for this. I will look at the Goodreads author page. In case I cannot see where to add the information I will give the titles in order here.
    Book 1 Fairlyden
    Book 2 Mistress of Fairlyden
    Book 3 Family at Fairlyden
    Book 4 Fairlyden at War.