Monday, 5 June 2017

The busy life of a writer...

The last few weeks have brought plenty of excitement…  
Firstly, the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Awards. What a lovely evening that was! In front of a room full of romantic novelists, enjoying wine and nibbles, my fellow nominees and I had our photos taken, our books praised, and then, having waited in line like a group of naughty schoolgirls outside the Head’s office, we all received a certificate and cheque as we were loudly cheered and made to feel very special. No, I didn’t win, but huge congratulations to Kate Field, who did. And it was great to meet so many writers, and to see my editors there enjoying the moment too.
Joan Hessayon Award contenders with me 4th at the back
And then, a week later, after an early meal with friends in Shaftesbury Avenue, it was on to Romance in The Court, a very warm, relaxed and enjoyable evening at (and outside) Goldsboro Books near Leicester Square, mixing with authors, editors and readers. Another event involving free wine (what a shame I don’t drink the stuff!), with the added bonus of being able to buy newly published books and have them signed there and then by their authors. I couldn’t resist coming home with the new Jean Fullerton novel, which even she was surprised to see on the shelves so far ahead of its official publication day!
Next stop: The SWWJ’s Summer Gathering. After the annual general meeting, at which I hope to be re-elected to the Council, we will all be enjoying afternoon tea and an interesting speech from the ALCS, that wonderful organisation that hands out money to grateful writers without any of us really understanding exactly where it comes from! Maybe after this event we will know a little more.
And so it’s now back to the proper work of a novelist: writing and promoting, in roughly equal measure. With How To Win Back Your Husband’s five minutes of fame at the awards evening now behind me, it’s all systems go for Lily Alone, due to be e-published in just eleven days’ time. I have been busy designing some eye-catching ads and promoting the book on facebook and twitter, and it is already available to reviewers and book bloggers, so I am hoping to see some early reviews for it very soon. I also had an unexpected email from The People’s Friend magazine who are planning to feature the book, and me, in their October ‘Special’ issue alongside a specially commissioned short story. As My Weekly are already planning something similar, I will be getting lots of much-needed coverage just as the paperback edition hits the shops.
By the time of my next post, Lily will be out there in the world and being read by thousands… I hope!


Friday, 5 May 2017

Spring has sprung!

Spring is here at last, and May seems to be all about celebrations!
First of all, the publication of my friend Elaine Everest’s new novel The Butlins Girls, and the wonderful ‘launch day’ afternoon tea party I attended with other writer friends on Thursday 4th, at The Twig and Spoon restaurant, a hidden gem, tucked away behind the Woodlands Garden Centre, in Ash, Kent. A great time was had by all, with food, chat, a bubbly prosecco toast, bunting and gifts for all. I wish Elaine every success with this book, which I am confident will do just as well as her previous bestseller, The Woolworths Girls.  
Here are two lovely pictures showing some of the fantastic goodies on offer...


... and Elaine Everest (right) celebrating with friends and fellow RNA and SWWJ members, Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts.
Next week, SWWJ members should be receiving the Spring issue of The Woman Writer magazine, and tucked inside it a lovely souvenir supplement celebrating all the competition winners and runners up from the Society’s 2016 and early 2017 competitions. I have really enjoyed overseeing the administration of these competitions, especially notifying the winners of their success and then meeting them at the awards ceremony and hearing them read their entries a few weeks ago. We have lots more competitions coming up over the coming year, and I can’t wait to do it all again!


Next up will be the Romantic Novelists Association’s annual Joan Hessayon Awards, where all those aspiring novelists (including me!) who took the journey through the RNA’s New Writers Scheme and made it to publication over the last year or so are going to be celebrated, with one of us receiving the coveted award, along with the generous cheque and all the kudos that goes with it. The ceremony is in London on 18th May, when we will all be in our best dresses and new shoes, and having our photos taken for the RNA’s Romance Matters magazine. Here's my baby... sorry, I mean book.

May the best woman (yes, we are all female) win! 

Enjoy the sunny weather - if it ever arrives!


Monday, 20 March 2017


Well, my split personality is now complete!

While I continue to write romantic comedies and magazine short stories as Vivien Hampshire, the brand new ‘other me’ is now writing too… and as Vivien Brown my books will tackle more serious themes and in a much more tense and gripping way.
First of all, an update on ‘How To Win Back Your Husband’ by Vivien Hampshire. My first rom-com novel was published as an ebook in January and I held a great online launch party on Facebook. Friends, readers and complete strangers dropped by and joined in the fun, helping me to celebrate and taking part in some light-hearted games and competitions. I had pens specially made, with the book’s cover printed along the side, and these made lovely prizes, as well as promotional tools. The book sold well in the first few days, but sales are dropping off now, so while it’s still only 99pence, a few more buyers, and reviews, would be very much appreciated. You can view it, and buy it, from Amazon by clicking right  here.

On the short story front, my output has dropped quite considerably while I have been concentrating on novels, but ‘The Sky Blanket’ was published in The Peoples Friend Special in January. This one was inspired by a fantastic knitting project that my friend Sally told me about last summer while we were both enjoying our Writers Holiday in Fishguard, Wales. You simply knit one or two rows every day, matching your wool to the colour of the sky. Result: a unique striped blanket in all manner of blues, whites, greys, pinks, etc. No two ever the same!
My story ‘Star’, giving a young girl’s view of the loss of her dad and her mum’s remarriage appeared in Woman’s Weekly on 10th January, and I then sold them a twist-ending story about an old lady enjoying the tennis at Wimbledon, fully expecting them not to use it until June, but no… it appeared in the March issue of their Fiction Special. They have since bought another of my stories, all about the importance and meaning of names, but I am still waiting to find out when it will be published.
A fun story about all the superstitions tied up with weddings was my first sale to My Weekly in a long while, and that one will appear in the magazine on 20th May.

In other news... On 15th March I put on my 'competitions co-ordinator' hat and attended the SWWJ Spring tea, where all the Society's prize winners received their trophies and cheques from the fantastic judges. Here's me with Sylvia Kent who took all the lovely photos on the day. Find out more on the SWWJ facebook page or take a look at their website here.

So, moving on to the biggest news of all…
I am now very proud to announce that ‘Lily Alone’ by Vivien Brown will be published, first as an ebook on 15th June, and then as a paperback on 5th October. You can read all about it and pre-order a copy by clicking here.

I am absolutely thrilled with the wonderful cover that Harper Collins have commissioned for this book. To me, it captures perfectly all the poignancy and heartbreak of a tiny child who finds herself left alone with only her teddy for company. If that cover doesn’t draw readers in I don’t know what will!

Re-connecting with the fiction editor at My Weekly has turned out to be a very timely and rewarding experience as she has booked me to write a short story for the magazine to tie in with the publication of the paperback in October. It will be my first ever short story written as Vivien Brown, and in that one I intend to use a couple of the characters from the book and reveal a little of their past as a taster of the main event. I’m not sure what will happen in that story yet, but I can’t wait to find out!




Sunday, 15 January 2017



It’s been a long old journey from first short story sale twenty years ago to first commercially published novel, but I’ve finally done it!

How to Win Back Your Husband hits the Amazon kindle store on Wednesday, and I will be celebrating with a little online launch party on my Vivien Hampshire Author facebook page for most of the day. Updates on its progress through the rankings, reviews and reader comments, some virtual cake and bubbles, and a few prizes along the way.

And, as soon as the fun dies down, I will be head-down working on the edits for my next book, due out in the Summer under my ‘other’ name of Vivien Brown. Details of the title and a sneak peek at the cover coming soon!


Sunday, 9 October 2016

In which I win an award!

Tonight I had a very nice surprise. I WON the community writing competition at the Hillingdon Literary Festival! And Benjamin Zephaniah, no less, was one of the judges.
Paul and I were invited along to a celebratory reception and prize-giving ceremony in the Antonin Artaud Building at Brunel University this evening, the final event of a packed weekend programme which included masterclass workshops, author interviews and all manner of other bookish talks and panel discussions, as well as outdoor food and market stalls, which included the intriguingly named Poetry Takeaway! Sadly, by the time we arrived, a lot of the outdoor activity was coming to a close but we made ourselves comfy in the lobby area, met the Festival producer Seb Jenner and were given a free drink as we waited to be seated in the auditorium. 

I had been asked, along with five others, to come along and read my entry to a room full of festival-goers and dignitaries (the mayor was there!) – a poem I dedicated to the wonderful nurses who work for the NHS and don’t always get the recognition they so richly deserve. This had to mean that one of us six was soon to be proclaimed the overall winner, but nobody was giving away any secrets at this stage! Having listened to the others read some thought-provoking (and generally long!) stories and poems, most of which seemed to touch in some way on political, refugee or humanitarian themes, my turn finally came. My poem was by far the shortest of the readings but got a fantastic audience reaction, and I was then - quite unexpectedly - announced as the winner!!
Here’s me receiving my prize (a goodie bag of books and a very generous cheque) from local Councillor Markham, an active champion and supporter of arts and culture in Hillingdon.


The competition (titled ‘Writing Local, Thinking Global’) attracted over a hundred entries from people living and/or working in the borough, which included quite a few Brunel students, with entries covering a wide range of genres and themes. Because it was a competition for local residents I entered under my ‘real’ married name of Vivien Brown, rather than as Vivien Hampshire, author, but several of the other entrants were already writers of some kind too, belonging to local writers' groups, as I do, or having taken a creative writing course.

Thirty five of the entries had been chosen to be published in a lovely paperback anthology, copies of which were given away free to festival attendees and should also be available in local libraries etc for a short time. Naturally, I managed to get hold of a few copies to share with family and friends! Here’s a sneak preview of how it looks. I shall be reading it from cover to cover over the next few days!

My goodie bag
The anthology

No sooner was I back home than the Festival organisers had announced me as the winner on twitter. Social media works so quickly these days!

My poem ‘Lovesick’ may have been much more light-hearted than the other entries being performed, yet it raised a few laughs and seemed to mean something to so many of those who heard it – and that to me is just as gratifying as winning the prize. People came up to talk to me at the end, to say how much they enjoyed it and to ask about my own NHS connections (well, I do have a daughter who happens to fit the bill, being a hardworking paediatric nurse at UCLH!) Two midwives even asked if they could use the poem at the local hospital in some kind of pro-nursing publicity.

Of course, I still own the copyright to the poem - but it’s out there now in the public domain, printed in an anthology, and as a competition winner I won’t be able to enter it elsewhere, so here it is. Read it, quote it, stick it on your hospital wall, if you like. Just please credit me as its author and don’t try to pass it off as your own!

Thank you
9 October 2016



By Vivien Brown

I think I'm in love with the nurse in dark blue,

with her glasses, her stockings and sensible shoes.

From my own little cubicle in the end bay,

and with not much to do, I could watch her all day.


Consoling, cajoling, controlling the ward,

so no patient gets hungry or angry or bored,

she swishes the curtains and smoothes out the sheets,

always charming, alarming, determined, discreet.


Infections, injections and incinerations,

pus-covered plasters and last week's carnations.

Dealing and healing, doing what she does best,

while bouncing an upside-down watch from her chest.


Dishing and dosing out dinners and pills,

marking up specimens, mopping up spills.

She passes the bedpans and empties the wee,

then pinches a chocolate to have with her tea.


Taking sprains and strains and all manner of pains

in her stride, her pride in her calling remains.

Yes, my thoughts may be private, but I have to confess

that I’m so glad I opted to go NHS.




Wednesday, 28 September 2016


I've been pretty quiet on the blog lately. That's because I have been working hard on my new novel, details of which are out TODAY!!

'How To Win Back Your Husband' is being published by Harlequin HQ and will be available in January but it's already up on Amazon to pre-order. Here's the link:

Monday, 2 May 2016

When I said my stories can be quite moving...

Having finally moved house, unpacked and set up my writing room, I am glad to say I’m back in the land of regular writing again. It’s taken a while to get back into the swing, and I am certainly not producing as many words as I should, but I’m getting there.

Moving is a time-consuming and stressful experience. From ‘What if it all falls through?’ to ‘Will the cats settle ok?’ to ‘Which room does this box go in?’ to ‘Where did I put the torch?’ it’s great to know it’s all behind us now and things can start getting back to normal.

But one of the oddest things is realising just how much the subject of moving house seems to have crept, quite subconsciously, into my stories in recent months, even when they are supposed to be about something else – bereavement, childhood, friendship, romance. So, when I tell you my stories can sometimes be quite moving, moving house wasn’t exactly what I meant - although it looks like that’s what you’re going to get!

First there was ‘Pictures of Yesterday’, written just as we were putting our own place on the market back in November, and which appeared in The People’s Friend on 26 March. Janet is staying at her gran’s house for the weekend, getting it ready for sale after the old lady’s death. Of course, she is curious to know who will buy it and what changes they will make, although she knows she doesn’t want to witness any of it, preferring to remember things just as they always were. Enter a young and dishy estate agent (mine didn’t quite fit the bill, but this is fiction!) who has come to photograph the rooms. He loves the original features of the old house almost as much as she does and, because this story is more about moving on and accepting change than it is about the sadness of moving out… cue romance!

The next issue of Woman’s Weekly, dated 10 May, will include another of my stories, ‘Fitting’, this time about a woman remembering a childhood friend as she clears out clothes and photos before handing over the keys to her mother’s home to the estate agent. Not so much about the moving process itself this time - but all that packing up, sorting things for keeping/throwing away/charity shops, and coming across keepsakes you haven’t seen for years (and the memories they evoke) certainly rings true.

Coming very soon, in the next People’s Friend Special, number 123, will be another story of mine, at the moment called ‘The Right Move’, but the editor may well change the title before it’s published, as she often does. This one is about a married but childless couple searching for a more suitable home now they are living with two very large dogs. All my own worries about whether to start looking for a new house before or after your own home is sold, and whether you could lose your new ‘dream’ home because nobody wants to buy the old one, come rushing to the surface here, but luckily all ends well, just as it did for us – and our pets!

And, lastly, a story called ‘A Chessboard Garden’ that I wrote right in the middle of the unpacking process and submitted just three weeks after moving in. Once the boxes have been dealt with, and a screwdriver and bit of paint have been put to good use inside, there is often a tangled mess of neglected garden and unmown grass waiting for attention, and some new neighbours to get to know too. The two come together in this story, a particular favourite of mine, which hasn’t even been accepted (yet!)… but I do have high hopes for it!

Last night I re-read and re-wrote an old but as-yet-unpublished story, ready to send it off to a magazine. Although largely a romance, it does involve re-marriage, a teenaged daughter and a house not quite large enough to accommodate them all, so when I tell you its title is ‘Room For Three’ you might just get an idea what theme has managed to creep in, yet again!!