The BBC have given helpful guidelines to aspiring writers to help them create their own stories.
1. Set the scene: pick locations, props and characters.
2. Tell your story with dialogue, expressions and poses.
3. Click "Publish" to share your story with the world.
In a nutshell, this is the way to write books. Of course, a whole lot more goes into fleshing out a novel but this is great advice. Editors love to have your pitch wrapped up in one burning question. Here on a mini scale are some examples from Eastenders episodes;
Denise finds herself in an impossible situation - will the truth out?
The day of Ronnie and Jack’s wedding has finally arrived - will they get the day of their dreams, or will it turn into a nightmare?
Carmel throws a surprise baby shower for Denise - how will she react?
A New Year; can things get better for Phil Mitchell?
And, as most of us know the answer to each question will dig the holes ever deeper for the characters to fall into. The series would be boring otherwise, and not the roaring success it has achieved today.
I asked one question before writing my bestselling shorter story, ’Lily’s Christmas Workhouse Baby’. What would a mother be prepared to sacrifice to save her baby? And so began Eastender Lily Flynn’s journey of discovery in the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian workhouse!
I hope 2017 will be full of dramatic writing questions for you.
My first post of January and catch-up from 2016 is probably my most excited post ever! For, something very special happened towards the end of last year. Chris, my other half and indispensable techie, formatted and uploaded our first ever self-published shorter story, ‘Kate of the King’s Arms’. He made a lovely trailer to go with it and voila, it was up with Amazon, to be joined by the next story, a Victorian tale of heartbreak and happiness, ‘Lily’s Christmas Workhouse Baby’. Both began to sell in dribs and drabs, and then, suddenly they flew away.
Imagine our delight when ‘Lily’ came in the top 100, then 45, then 25 (as I write). The wonderful thing is, for me as a writer, is that I’ve been able to draw confidence from producing something that hasn’t gone through the traditional process - and it hasn’t flopped! For Chris, it means that he can use his artist’s skills in a very different but productive way.
So I wanted to write this for everyone who has supported us in this venture. To tell you that without you all, the Rivers enterprise would never have clicked as it has. With all your endearing messages, the shared intimacies and confidences that we have built up over the years, I wouldn’t be writing now. Thank you all and I hope we can continue to give you the entertainment and enjoyment you so richly deserve. With much love and wishes of health, happiness and prosperity to all the Rivers readers for 2017. XX
iBOOKS and AMAZON have A WARTIME CHRISTMAS AT £3.99
I know you’ll all be busy shopping, cooking and/or wrapping pressies. But if you want a good Christmasy read to treat yourself with, you’ll find a few laughs and spills along the way, with brave Eastender Kay Lewis and her family. My other title, TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS is priced at £1.99p for the month. This is a book written for the Centenary and set in 1914, in the turmoil of the Great War and one of my favourite love stories.
Another chance here, to wish you all a wonderful Christmas with the people you love, celebrating the end of the year together, with seasonal Christmas joys and blessings, and the New Year just around the corner.
Thank you again for being such awesome supporters of the books - what would I do without you?
Love, thoughts and special Christmas hugs, from Carol. XX
Would you always stand by your friends come what may? This was the question I asked as I began to write Together for Christmas, a special book as it was written in honour of the Centenary, set in London’s East End at the beginning of World War 1.
It's success is down to you, loyal readers. THANK YOU. As I've told you before, my Gran was in service to an aristocratic family and Together for Christmas was the inspiration for this special story.
Here’s the gist of Together for Christmas:
1914 and Britain has just declared war on Germany. The whole country is in uproar. Flora, Hilda and Will, who grew up together in St Boniface orphanage sit in the sunshine in Hyde Park on a rare day off, discussing the impending war. Brave Will means to go off to fight, scatterbrain Hilda hopes to better her current lot in life as a maid at the charitable institute, Hailing House, but dedicated nurse Flora is content with her job as assistant to the Isle of Dogs' kindly Doctor Tapper. Taking a vow, they pledge to always be there for each other, come what may. But can they keep that vow in the face of the irrevocable world-changes to come? And who will recover from the losses and heartache? Can three close friends hope to survive the change in circumstances this seizmic catastrophe will bring?
Billed as; "A compelling tale of ordinary East Enders caught up in extraordinary times, from the Sunday Timesbestselling author Carol Rivers"
One of the many Amazon 5* reviews; "This is so well written that you could almost believe you were there....it was more than just a wartime romance story. It detailed the hardship of its era...I will read this again just to make sure I have taken it all in...loved this book!"
I’ll be here again soon with more exciting news. I can’t say exactly what at the moment. I’m waiting for Santa to post me the exact details in time for the 12 days of Christmas! So look out for my next email ...
Much love for now, Carol X
The ribbon to Dad’s World War 2 DSC is torn, the metal dulled. Surrounding it are other smaller tributes to his naval days, during service as a rating on a British light cruiser, HMS Sheffield. When I’m writing, I think of Dad’s eloquence and gentleness, and his modest but powerful descriptions of his life at sea. For Dad’s naval tour began in Pwllheli, Wales, 1940, at a training centre for naval recruits, propelling him forward to the terrifying Scapa Flow to Murmansk convoys of the Arctic Circle. HMS Sheffield was one of the light cruisers escorting our merchant vessels across the U-boat infested seas.
He was then posted to New York, travelling on the Queen Mary packed like sardines with thousands of other troops. His orders were to command a small flotilla of Landing Craft back to the war-torn Mediterranean. He brought his men safely home to the Allied advance on Sicily and the dangerous operations which took many brave lives. His words were, “we hung by our eyelids” as they waited, little corks of crafts, bouncing on choppy seas, the men inside these metal boxes prepared to give their lives for King and country.
In COCKNEY ORPHAN, my book reflecting Dad’s journey, the 1940’s hero is Vic Champion waiting for his call-up papers. Vic’s naval service mirrors Dad’s, and his sweetheart Connie, discovers a baby boy in some ruins during the Blitz. This little fellow, called Lucky, orphaned and yet still alive, becomes a son to Vic and Connie. It was a beautiful story to write.
And so I shall pause this Remembrance Day to think of - amongst all those other brave men - a truly special father who stands with me as I set these stories on paper. I think of him as that brave young naval rating, who loved the island about which I write; the East End docks where he first worked and his life in the navy that was so very dear to his heart.
Love Carol x
As a girl, I cut my teeth on adventure books, like Alistair Maclean’s Ice Station Zebra and HMS Ulysses and I was mad keen on Rider Haggard, my fav being King Solomon’s Mines. Now all that love of adventure and daring-do, trickles out in my stories. I’m writing another World War 2 saga for October 2017 - and loving it.
The backdrop for my lead character, young widow and store owner Molly Swift, is 1940’s war-torn London. The high velocity Blitz bombing over the East End has been non-stop for three months. Molly has already lost her husband to the British Expeditionary Force’s disastrous Dunkirk campaign. Sadder still, her little daughter Emily has perished in the pre-war flu outbreak. Enough sadness to make anyone’s heart break!
During the Blitz, Molly leans on her dad for emotional support but when a bomb drops outside the store, they both escape death by the skin of their teeth. You’d think Molly would be at the end of her tether, having lost her family, nearly her dad, and almost her livelihood. But then something happens to turn her world around. Into this cocktail of conflict comes a chance to seize love - and live again. Her conundrum is, can she help two youngsters who have lost their mother in an air raid? Their dad is in the merchant navy, notorious for its tragic losses to enemy u-boats. Chances are, Mark and Evie will never see their dad again. Is Molly courageous enough to take on the responsibility of two little orphans?
In Molly’s place, would you consider waiting each week for a letter, a telegram, or an abrupt “lost without trace”? And then, when the notification finally arrives, have to deliver the blow to your innocent charges?
Molly’s already lost so much, so wouldn’t it be easier to give up the kids for evacuation and let someone else shoulder the problem? After all, she’s just a stranger to them really.
So far, the story has me on the edge of my seat. When you are writing this kind of drama, all sorts of emotions come in - if you let them. That’s what makes the story powerful, because you wholeheartedly partake.
And I hope Molly’s story will be just as exciting for you too when it’s published next year. I’ll keep you posted with more news about Molly but for now, I’m sending cosy thoughts on this very seasonal autumn day. Until next time, much love Carol. xx
News first of the winners of the competition. Congratulations to Susan Staples from Yorkshire and Mary James from Kent. I’ll be sending the books on to you directly. Launch day was so exciting! I joined with everyone - it felt like the whole world, and took me right out of my normal writing day - a real reality check for just how much the sagas have resonated with people and their family lives. Thank you everyone for a fantastic paperback publishing day! Now, for those who are new to the books, a little bit more about them.
My stories are set in London's East End and tell of the tough lives they lived in the first half of the twentieth century. The breathtaking storylines of the TV soap “EastEnders” have us all spellbound. Well, it isn’t so different for ‘my’ islanders (Isle of Dogs where Walford is set) who had to contend not only with the topics we see covered in the popular soap - poverty, unemployment, family drama, crime, drugs and alcohol abuse - but two World Wars as well.
In both wars, many islanders volunteered for the BEF, the infamous British Expeditionary Force, believing the conflicts would be over in a matter of days or months. Tragically, a high percentage of them lost their lives in both major conflicts. The Blitz of 1940/41 flattened docklands. Whoever would believe that where the gleaming tower on Canary Wharf now stands amidst the luxury dwellings, was once a dockland community pummelled into the ground by high explosive bombs. So the books reflect the losses, the loves, the enduring spirits and the stories of Eastender bravery and courage that I hope will keep you riveted to the page as much as the TV screen!
Once again, thank you so much for being there on this special week, enjoying the celebrations with me.
Lots of love as always, Carol x
Good morning everyone! It’s very early, hardly light, but I’m so excited as it’s paperback publication day. On my desk are two signed copies of ‘A Promise Between Friends’ ready for the publishing day competition. If you would like to win one of these copies, there are just three questions to answer about my books! If you know the answers and would like to receive one of these copies - message me today on Facebook or Twitter.
Question one. What’s the name of my fictional market on the Isle of Dogs? (The market appears in every one of my books, a central feature for my characters to enjoy.)
Question two. What is the name of the street that Lizzie Flowers was born in?
Question three. In my book ‘Together for Christmas’ what is the name of the park where my three central characters Flora, Hilda and Will meet up in 1914?
The first two correct responses will be the winners. So, don’t forget, if you know the answers to the three questions above, message me on Twitter or Facebook to win one of these signed copies and I’ll post the names of the winners at the end of the day.
Best of luck guys, Carol xx
Out of the four decades that followed the Great War, the 1940’s were the most austere, but romance was at its most dangerously seductive as the 1950’s fashions edged their way into the female wardrobe. For over a decade women had drawn stocking seams on the backs of their legs and made underwear from barrage balloon materials. Now, at the start of the 50’s, there was no holding back.
I’ve long wanted to write about the new freedoms and luxuries, the fabulous music and broadened culture of the 1950’s. And so Ruby walked onto the stage; self-confident, assured, spirited, tasteful, ambitious and yet hopelessly naive. She brought a certain honesty to A Promise Between Friends - and sense of humour. She made me laugh and she made me cry. I hope she does the same for you.
Published in paperback on October 20, you can pre-order at Amazon with a price guarantee. Or if you’re a Kindle or ebook reader, then A Promise Between Friends is already on Amazon’s shelves. Whatever kind of reading you like, I think you’ll find Ruby a stimulating companion. I can assure you of one thing - she’ll step into your world and won’t dream of leaving until the very last page.
Lots of love as always,
The most accurate way to find out facts is by Googling; from baby clothes to best selling novels! I love the Google Oracle, just a few key words away from helping me. Christmas is just a breath away so I’ve started my Christmas shopping, with no extra effort at all. You can compare prices, have your goods delivered, scoff your muffin and watch the latest movie all at the same time. Decadent? Delicious? Stress-free? You bet!
Am I a Google Girl? Absolutely. No more lugging groceries from the shops. Ordering online is fast, money saving and enjoyable, once you get the hang. In the same way, my October book ‘A Promise Between Friends’ can be pre-ordered now on Amazon, an innovative way to keep within the budget and fill the Christmas stockings. If you’re with Prime there’s no delivery charge either. Or you can visit my website and even download my free short story in a matter of seconds from www.carolrivers.com
I might sound as if I’m biased, but most of my time is spent writing to deadline to get the books that you want written - up to the shelves - along with the fabulous, eye-catching artwork created by Simon & Schuster, so the books are easy to identify whether you shop online or in the stores.
Google just makes life so much easier! So if you’re online shopping I hope you’ll drop by my Amazon page, easily accessed by Google!! And check out the Christmas stocking-fillers that might appeal to your family. Or if you’re planning to enjoy a few days of retail therapy in the shops, look out for the cover of ‘A Promise between Friends’ and another gritty East End tale from yours truly.
Love and thoughts as always,
Google Girl Carol! xx
A writer is often asked which of their novels they liked writing best. Since my stories are set between the Great War and World War 2 right up until the 1960’s, I usually respond in ‘decades’. Each heroine has her own gritty and often perilous story to tell. I think of writing as theatre and watch the curtain part to reveal each new stage, set accordingly from 1900 to 1960. My heroine enters! Like 1930’s Lizzie Flowers, dressed in her wedding day costume, about to marry the love of her life, ex-barrow boy, Danny. Or sixteen-year-old doctor’s assistant Flora Shine, meeting up with friends in Hyde Park at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914.
This years’s book, A PROMISE BETWEEN FRIENDS, is already out in Kindle with the paperback publication to follow in October. Both the East End of London and Soho are featured. The curtain parts on the 1950’s and pretty, ambitious, 19-year-old Ruby Payne and her childhood friend, Kath Rigler. The best pals are eager to enjoy their post-war independence; moving away from home to a flat in the East End of London is a chance to break free for them both. A voyage of discovery is in store and as the mood changes, the lights dim and secrets are uncovered.
I hope you’ll join me in the audience, where I’ll be sitting in the stalls with my popcorn and ice cream and we can enjoy the adventure of another world, another lifetime together.
With love and thoughts as always, Carol R xx