Della Galton – New Novella Series The Reading Group

reading-group-bookends-2The Reading Group focuses on five women who meet monthly to drink wine, have nibbles, gossip and – oh yes – discuss the classics.

In December they are reading A Christmas Carol and Grace’s life seems to be taking a curious parallel to Dickens’ classic story! Spooky!

In January they are reading Jane Austen’s Emma – and this time it’s Anne Marie who’s the focus of the story. Like Emma, Anne Marie fancies giving Cupid a run for his money. But matchmaking isn’t really her forte!

In February they are reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Oh and Kate has a handsome builder in renovating her kitchen. Hold on to your hats, ladies.

In March, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is the book of the month. Jojo has a new man in her life. She is starting to worry that there may be certain parallels between her life and Daphne du Maurier’s heroine. Age gap romance and ancestral homes spring to mind.

December, which is a short story, is free for your kindle. You can download it HERE.

If you’d rather read the December story on paper it’s also in the January edition of the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, which is out now.dellagaltonsmall

Each novella in the Reading Group series is 99p. Less than the price of a mince pie and guaranteed not to make you fat. I wish I hadn’t written mince pie. Now I’m going to have to eat one.

I asked Della a couple of questions regarding the writing of a series:

Q: Did you know the characters’ endings when you started?

A: No, although I did know some elements of the plot because of the nature of the project.

Q: And how were you able to plan for that across a set of six books eg if a character’s story ends in book six were you able to sow the seeds of that ending way back in book one?

A: I’m not er hem – a planner. I don’t plan. I just head off in a direction. In this series it was no different. I sowed some seeds and then I had to resolve them. This got harder as the series progressed.

Interestingly though, I find that the limitations set by working like this are helpful to me. Because very often I have to come up with creative endings that I would never have been able to plot out in advance. My brain just doesn’t work like this. There does have to be a story arc but I also rely heavily on themes. One of the main themes in this series is Friendship. Family is there also, and so is Love.

Five Research Tips from this Season’s Speakers

  1. Go Outside – Kate Mosse told us that settings and places that fascinate her are key to her writing success. Taxidermists-Daughter-mmp-217x327Whatever the weather, she stands in her setting, lets her imagination run riot and listens to the voices of those who have passed through the place before her. OK; so you may not be able to stand in exactly the right place, especially if you’re writing Sci Fi, but you get the idea – woodland in the rain, sandy beach in the wind, any stately home, castle or gallery may do and even a car park in hot sunshine. ‘See the vista through their eyes.’ Chris Cleave told us of his characters. As James Marrison suggests; a good walk is soothing when the writing gets tough.
  2. Take the Kids? – Della Galton admitted that much of her writing is driven by emotion. Children are good at provoking an emotional response in us. Yes, cinemas still have Saturday morning clubs – feel free to get emotional; the kids do. Children also have the ability to overlook the macabre in the most natural way, take weirdness in their stride and come up with the original character names. Children are valuable tickets to ‘hands on’ research and ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses that, for some reason museums don’t hand to adults.
  3. Have a nice day! – High Fantasy Author James Barclay gave us a master class in world building and battle creation in which ‘Be Realistic’ was his advice, ‘A peasant is most unlikely to defeat an experienced fighter’. ElvesBeyondtheMistsofKaturaIndividual guides dotted around historic sites or animal park keepers are only too keen to depart with their knowledge. Don’t be shy about asking them either they spend most of their time with people who don’t need to know and then you come along wanting nothing more than to hear their stories. You may not come away with a file full of research, but you’ll most likely pick up a snippet and definitely a feeling.
  4. Volunteer – ‘Put yourself in your reader’s shoes.’ said Jude Evans of Little Tiger Press. ‘Know your market.’ The Library’s annual Summer Reading Challenge plunges children’s writers right in the middle of their target market. Volunteers are needed to man the Reading Challenge desk where you will need to quiz the readers. If you don’t come away with a clear idea of the literary needs of your chosen age range then you haven’t been listening to your market.
  5. Rain stops play? – ‘You’re only really listening to the conversation when you’re not in it’ said Chris Cleave. Clare Morrall told us that dialogue is often underestimated as an aspect of bringing characters to life. WhentheFloodsCame‘Absorb the voices around you and let a hint of the waffle remain for believability’, she advises. So, buy a coffee and nurse it till its cold whilst you listen in on the conversations around you. ‘Carry out your market research.’ said Della Galton. Sit in a waiting room and read the magazines.

Della Galton speaks to Hampshire Writers’ Society

HWS November Meeting Report by Lisa Nightingale


Special Guest: Mayoress – Angela Clear

Councillor Angela Clear, Mayor of Winchester and District, also known locally as ‘Miss Marple’ with her basket and beady eyes has two literary heroes – Agatha Christie and Jane Austin. A romantic detective – there’s a refreshing change.

Her self-administered reward at the end of a busy run is a little time away following in the footsteps of the great Poirot on Burgh Island, just off the coast of Devon where Agatha Christie wrote many of her novels.

Chris Mann
Chris Mann

While at home curled up on the settee on a winter’s evening, she thrives on the heartache of the heroine caught up on the ‘social perception of Jane Austin’s time’ listening to their head and not their heart. For her they are the perfect mix of romance and historical statements before being quite willingly whisked away to Pemberley.

Being Mayor is a busy role with up to four engagements a day, but she loves it and says that perhaps one day will come to Barbara Large for instruction and put pen to paper.

The audience was treated to a performance by Chris Mann, prominent South African poet, playwright and song-writer who demonstated the creative effect of combining songs with guitar accompaniment. Chris Mann is Professor Emeritus of Poetry, Rhodes University in Grahamston and is currently visiting the University of Winchester.

Della Galton – short story writer and novelist

‘Never forget! We are in the entertainment industry.’ Della Galton told us and she doesn’t believe in Writer’s Block either.

Della draws much of her story-writing inspiration from songs or poems. It is emotion that drives her fingers. Writing Groups are invaluable and Della began attending one back in 1987. 1500 short stories later, she still goes to it.

Della Galton and BarbaraSince she started writing, the magazine short story market has shrunk. Now there are only 7 magazines that can be submitted to, with some on-line.  Successes feel great but they can be sporadic. As can the income.

1000 word stories are the biggest payers. Your readers must care about your characters. Give them a problem that is not of their own making. Make them solve it in an unusual way, but get the reader to care about them – from the first line.

Cosy crime is a big seller.

And men – do not switch off – men can write stories for the likes of Woman’s Weekly. The editors are looking for diversity, the writer’s own voice and they buy on the strength of the story not that of the writer.

Ask yourself, if you are moved by your story. Then the reader will be moved as well. And try to make the editor laugh. Della admits that this is not always easy in 1000 words. But, don’t be predictable. Or preachy. Although a twist in the tale is still a winner.

Your story needs to provide escapism for the reader.  It must also be believable – draw from your own experiences.

Persistance and patience pay off. Poor Della once had thirteen rejections in the same day! So she cried and carried on. What’s your motivation?

Don’t write what is trending! If a tsunami has recently ravished the coastline then don’t submit stories about it – the editor will receive thousands the same. And here she left us a tip – write a list of your ideas. Then cross out the top ten – everybody thinks the same way.

Della could not stress enough how important it is for a writer to carry out their market research. Magazine submission guidelines will state their taboo subjects, word count can be very strict and check the genres that they prefer to print. Your information must be current.

Della confessed to being a NaNoRebel – she uses the National Novel Writing Month as a challenge to write a collection of short stories. And she highly recommends it. In the race to keep writing, your inner editor is subdued.

For more information about Della Galton visit her website and blog.