The Jottings of a Writer


I sometimes find it hard to to think about myself as a writer, or an author. But I suppose I am. I will never forget the day I picked up my first published book. I felt I had arrived!

I started taking writing seriously after attending a Creative Writing Course, and having made lots of friends, we decided to start up the Haslemere Writing Circle. After a few years, this group unfortunately folded, but we still meet up every now and again to discuss what we have not done,  done, or are doing.

For a time, I was on the Committee of The Grayshott (Hampshire) Writing Festival which was great fun and I met several well-known writers and poets, who also gave me the inspiration to write. I might add, that my daughter runs a copy-editing business and my eldest son, has so far published three books. I love writing down my thoughts and those of my characters. As a writer you can take your characters anywhere you fancy: even to the moon if necessary. My least favourite aspect of  writing, as most writers will agree, is editing, editing…and still more editing. It has to be one of the most boring but extremely necessary aspects of the writing process. I love reading, and I’m drawn towards books containing strong characters,  unique story lines that are well written and described and those which have a proper and a satisfying ending. I would be pleased to say that I have a regular routine for writing, but I don’t. My writing routine is erratic to say the least, but as I write, my inspiration does not come from music, but from the view of the beautiful Surrey Hills I can see through my window, and the sound of the birds.  I am a great lover of music especially opera, but not when I am writing. I would be closing my eyes and nothing would ever get done, or finished.

A PASSING STORM was my first published book. Having enjoyed writing short stories, I felt that I should move on to writing a full-length novel. My original thoughts had centered on THE EMPTY-NEST SYNDROME and how women coped with their lives once their off-spring had left the nest, and the novel blossomed from that point. I finished it in 2006 and sent it off to various mainstream Publishers under the romance genre and although some editors said they enjoyed it, it was not taken up by any of them. During this time self-publishing was trying to gain a foothold and I sent it to a company in Canada to be published POD. Everything seemed to go well and I sold several copies. However, once the company was taken over by a larger company, everything seemed to go wrong: over-priced books were not selling well and any royalties before the take-over were not paid. In the meantime, I had decided to publish my second book (PAPER DREAMS) through Matador, a self-publishing imprint of Troubadour of Leicester. So, in 2012, I decided to terminate my contract with the original publisher, and re-publish it through Matador.

PAPER DREAMS is my second published book. I’ve always been fascinated by books, old and new and I hit on the idea of sending a librarian to catalogue a vast number of books in an ancient crumbling mansion. The main character, Katie, discovers an old love-letter hidden in an old book in the creepy attic. I then thought about how the discovery of such a letter, could impact upon other people’s lives. Thus PAPER DREAMS was born. This story, like A PASSING STORM, is basically a romance, but it does contain some quite dark, scary moments!

My latest book is ‘WHEN THE ICE MELTS. Before agreeing to switch off the machine keeping her husband Tom alive following an air accident, Solicitor, Sarah Wenham’s conscience convinced her that there was no alternative. Since then, it has condemned her: THOU SHALT NOT KILL is one of the deadly sins! Sarah is grief stricken, and builds a wall of ice around her emotions. Although this story is a romance, it is full of suspense. Sarah spends a short time on a beautiful Greek island in the sun. Whilst there she meets honey-tongued Theodorus Antonopoulos and unwittingly insults him. He now has revenge in his heart. Once she is back in England, Sarah is stalked, and then kidnapped. John Bradley, who really loves her, is searching for her. But…time is running out for Sarah! How, when and why the ice finally melts, is the nub of this suspenseful, yet heart-warming story! I am actively seeking a traditional publisher for this story.

My latest writing project involves the fictional, yet very English, village of LITTLE PIDDLEWICK! Such goings-on…  The idea for this book came from one of my writing friends, John Holt, after he had read my short story of “EVIDENCE FOR BURNING”. Thank you, John.

I attended a Water-Colour Painting Class which really inspired me. It has been a purely personal achievement as I have never sold any of my paintings, but I do hang them on the wall at home and have given them away to friends and family. I painted the cover of my book A PASSING STORM and I’m really proud of it.

As a member of a local amateur dramatic society, I performed in many plays and pantomimes over the years and I was asked to produce one: a full-length comedy (A BEDROOM FARCE, BY Alan Ayckbourne). I found this to be a stimulating and wonderful experience, a little nerve-wracking in performance, but well worth the effort. A Bedroom Farce is quite a challenge as it involves three bedrooms on stage at the same time.  But it worked brilliantly. By this time, I had written three one-act plays. Directing and producing them, was also quite an experience, but I had to think of them as being someone else’s work at the time, because the temptation to change things was always there in the back of my mind. Unfortunately, during those cash-strapped times, the society had to close due to lack of actors and back-stage crew.

I always loved singing and was often asked to sing in concerts at school. I started singing properly in pantomime and then moved on to musicals and operas. During this time I was encouraged to take singing lessons. My singing teacher often used to say to me that she didn’t believe that anyone was ‘tone-deaf’ and that everyone could sing if they breathed properly.  As a trained soprano, I played quite a few small roles in an amateur Opera Group, but my first principal role was as one of The Queens in Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta ‘The Gondoliers’. I am still singing, but being a writer, I don’t have so much time, but together with a handful of friends and with my lovely husband at the piano, we entertain groups of people at various functions.

All the things I’ve achieved in my life so far, have not in my opinion been huge, but to me they have been really important and significant. There is a definite dichotomy in my make-up, in that I can stand up and sing solo in front of 1,200 people in a theatre, and yet, although I’ve flown many times in the past, including flying to Australia on my own to visit my sister, I now find it difficult to climb into a plane: even the thought of it terrifies me.

I have loved all the things that I’ve done, which include bringing up our three lovely children, and enjoying their gorgeous children. We have received unreserved love from four beautiful golden retrievers over the years. Out last dog, Bailey, died eighteen months ago. We have a large garden, and I often imagine that I can see him bounding off into the woods…

Now, I must get back to dreaming about LITTLE PIDDLEWICK…!

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About phylburton

I live in south-west Surrey in England. I am an author of three published books, and I have another book of short stories due for publication in March 2018. I love singing, water-colour painting, walking, Cornwall and of course writing and reading good books. All three of my books - A PASSING STORM, PAPER DREAMS and WHEN THE ICE MELTS, were published by Matador (Troubador Publishing) Ltd. WHEN THE ICE MELTS was published in August 2016. My next book - THE POWER OF LOVE - is due to be published by Bridge House Publishing in March 2018. For more details about me and my writing, please go to my website:
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3 Responses to The Jottings of a Writer

  1. Jane Risdon says:

    I loved reading this Phyllis. Such an interesting read. I am just nosey and I love to find out about other writers. So glad you are back and writing and that I shall see something from you again soon. Good luck, happy Easter. Don’t disappear again…I missed you 🙂

    • phylburton says:

      Hi Jane, I thought I had replied to this…so sorry if I didn’t. Thank you. Life seems to get increasingly busy. Three children, (with seven grand-children): being away one week in four: gardening: and the most important thing of all, my writing. I am actively trying to find a mainstream publisher this time. I try to keep up with the social media sites, and apologies for my absences. But now that everything is growing in the garden, I find myself drawn to it. I was so glad to hear the cuckoo this week. I know they are becoming rare, but their call is the harbinger of Summer. I hope we all have a good one.

      • Jane Risdon says:

        Hello Phyllis, I am not sure if I have replied or not…what a pair we are. Why don’t you try my publisher, Accent Press Ltd. They seem to be very good, have lot of authors you might know and they are active in all formats and in stores. They have been Independent Publisher of the Year as well and have lots of pro-active ideas. Just thinking they might be your kind of company. Hoping all the family keeps well and you too. Good to catch up again, don’t leave it too long again. Jane 🙂

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