I must confess something here! I was not familiar with Ursula Bloom’s books until recently when a friend pressed a copy of Wonder Cruise into my hand. I was immediately hooked – not just by the writing (which drew me straight in) or the inviting cover. But by Ursula’s own life which seems, in many ways, to reflect my own.
Ursula, I learned, had several pen names. So have I. I’m currently writing under Grace Macdonald and Sophie King. Why? I was advised some years ago that you need a different pen-name for a different kind of genre. My romantic fiction is under my Sophie King name. They are funny heartwarming contemporary tales about busy family life, involving frantic young mums, empty nesters and rebellious grannies. But I also write historical time slips under the name Grace Macdonald. In my new book, The Ruby Ring, a young woman falls madly in love with a man who has two daughters. Despite their hostility, she marries them and moves to the coast with her new husband to be near them. There she discovers that, nearly 100 years ago, one of her relatives was imprisoned for murder. She is determined to clear her ancestor’s name. The plot is partly set in today’s day and age but also in Victorian times. My heroine, like Ursula’s, has all kinds of challenges ahead.
Maybe Ursula found, as I did, that when you write under another name you feel like a different person. This can be a good tip for readers who are not yet published. Try your hand at another kind of book (such as crime or romance or historical or children’s) and pick an entirely new name! It could be the breakthrough you’ve been looking for.
I also found that, like me, Ursula had been married more than once. She would have understood what it was like to have coped on her own in between marriages. This is the kind of emotion that you, as a reader may have experienced yourself and which does not change over the years. My second husband was a bachelor when I married him and likes to be king of the kitchen! So imagine my amusement when I found out that Ursula’s second husband also enjoyed the cooking! I wonder if they had the same amicable disagreements over how to wash up …
I like to think that Ursula’s second husband gave her as much space to write as my man does. Like her, I am a prolific writer. Over the years I have had some 16 novels published. However, I don’t manage the 10,000 words a day that Ursula is famed for. My average is 3000 every morning – the beginning of the day is usually my ‘best writing time’ . I love entering that zone in your head where the story takes over. In fact, at times it can be very difficult to get up from my desk and get on with ordinary life! Another tip for writers who are yet to get published, is to try writing at different times of the day or evening. You’ll be surprised at how it can give you new ideas.
I’m so glad I have discovered Ursula. Not only do I love her writing and her characters but I am also drawn to the woman behind the stories. I’d like to think that this timeless novelist is looking down now and enjoying the wonderful legacy which her books have left behind – a legacy of readers who still love her. And also new admirers, like me, who are now ardent fans.