Here’s a FREE short story for you!

You know I love to spring surprises on you… Well, here’s an exclusive short story as a Thursday treat with my love!

I wrote this story last year based on a character who was in the original first draft of Take A Look At Me Now. Originally, Nell went to her local coffee shop to mull over the news about losing her job instead of just walking around the car park as she does in the finished novel. I cut manager Tony and his branch of the Ben’s Beans coffee shop franchise out in the end because it slowed the pace, but I still wanted to tell his story.

A Nice Place to Sit is the result…

A Nice Place to Sit by Miranda Dickinson

It’s about the need to feel part of somewhere and something, even when life seems to suggest that there’s no longer a place for us. It’s about finding positives and meaning in bad situations. And it’s a story of hope.

I hope you enjoy it!

Click HERE to read and download the story for free…

 

Brilliant Bookshops – Chicken and Frog, Brentwood

As a writer, I am addicted to bookshops. They are magical places – and I believe we need to celebrate and support them. In my new novel, I’ll Take New York, Bea James owns a bookshop in Brooklyn, fuelled by her lifelong love of books. So I decided to invite wonderful, real-life bookshops to tell their stories in my new Brilliant Bookshops feature!

First to step into the Brilliant Bookshops spotlight is the gorgeous CHICKEN AND FROG BOOKSHOP in Brentwood, Essex…
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Tell me about your shop!

We are the only independent bookshop in Brentwood, Essex. The shop is a family-run business with Jim and Natasha Radford as the owners. Our eldest, Alice, helps out after school and on the weekends sometimes, as does Natasha’s dad.

We stock children’s books (up to YA), but are happy to order in other titles for anyone. Chicken and Frog has been open for almost 18 months (October 2012). As well as children’s books, we are also a tuition centre, running classes every week-night after school and some holiday classes, too.

What services/events/promotions do you offer customers?

We are passionate about being a place for our community. There are weekly Rhythm & Rhyme sessions and story times, all of which are free. There’s a box of Duplo and a colouring table, too.
legocollage
Authors and illustrators have been very kind and offered to spend time with us for events. So far, we have been visited by: Lucy Coats, Martin Brown, Nick and Annette Butterworth, Christopher William Hill, David O’Connell, Karen McCombie, Mo O’Hara, John Dougherty, Laura Dockrill, Steve Lenton, J.D.Irwin, Michelle Robinson, Caryl Hart, Tamsyn Murray, Sara Grant… and we have events booked in with Andy Robb, Jim Smith, Dan Freedman and Eva Katzler. All of these events have been free, as we want reading to be accessible to everyone.

We work very closely with local schools and the theatre to promote reading within the community. Natasha runs CPD for teachers, as well as our tuition centre (English, Maths, 11+, ESL for adults), where we employ two qualified teachers plus Natasha to deliver lessons. The lessons are as affordable as possible (£15 per session) with four students per group.

We were awarded a community fund last year, in order to provide a free tuition programme to families who cannot afford fees. This service has continued, although the funding has not!
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We were awarded Barrington Stoke’s Bookseller of the Month in December – we love their books for dyslexic and reluctant readers.

Our loyalty card rewards our regulars with a 20% discount once they have spent £50 on books. A 10% discount plus free delivery is standard for all schools and individual teachers, too.

School holidays are filled with lots of events, including Lego challenges, writing workshops, cooking… guitar lessons, art club, handwriting club…we do a lot! As great as it would be to just have a quirky little bookshop, that’s not viable. We can’t compete with Amazon or Sainsbury’s etc on price, but we do hand sell books, offering advice and time to read on the sofa.

What inspired you to open a bookshop?

This may sound cheesy, but we have wanted to own a children’s bookshop since we met at 16. Jim was made redundant and couldn’t find a job. He didn’t get any redundancy money, but we took it as a sign to go for it. Our lovely children were very involved in the decision because it meant a big lifestyle change for them. They love it and so do we. Celebrating and promoting books is what we love.

ChickenandFrogwindow
What do you love most about your business?

That’s a tricky one! Inspiring a reluctant reader to pick up a book or listen to someone else read is wonderful. We also encourage children to write, with our annual writing competition and creative writing club.

What more can you tell us about your bookshop?

The future is looking bright. Book sales have more than doubled since we opened, we have been asked to work with local primary schools to promote literacy (utilising their pupil premium allowance), authors continue to support us and our customers are amazing. We feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the community. It’s very hard work, but it’s worth every moment.

Other stuff we’re proud of: we are a FairTrade business, we collect in second-hand books to redistribute to children’s homes/surgeries/hospitals etc, we sponsor one of the Brents (local theatre awards), we donate books and book tokens to various charities throughout the year and we donate surplus WBD books to local schools.

Thanks so much to Natasha from Chicken and Frog Bookshop for a great interview! The shop looks incredible – if you’re near Brentwood, pop in and say hello!

Visit Chicken and Frog Bookshop at: 7 Security House, Ongar Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM15 9AT, tel: 01277 230068. Check out their website: www.chickenandfrog.com, follow them @chickenandfrog on Twitter and at chickenandfrog on Facebook. You can also find them on Hive. Don’t forget to mention you’ve seen Chicken and Frog on my blog!

Do you have a favourite bookshop you’d like to nominate for this feature? Are you a  bookseller who would like to take part? Email me at: mirandawurdy@gmail.com!

Welcome to the world, Florence Wren!

On Wednesday 19th March 2014 at 2.49am, the most incredible thing happened to me…

I became a Mum.

Photo ©Miranda Dickinson 2014

Photo ©Miranda Dickinson 2014

Bob and I have been so excited since discovering we were expecting our first child in the summer last year. We deliberately didn’t ask at our baby scans about whether we were having a boy or a girl – to us, it didn’t matter. As a result, during the whole labour experience I was just so excited to meet our baby and that carried both of us through. To hold her in our arms at last was the single most profound moment of our lives. A beautiful, timeless happening that changed both of us for ever.

I never thought I would be a Mum. Married in my early twenties into what became a very difficult and emotionally abusive existence for nearly eight years, I was divorced by the start of my thirties and assumed that it was unlikely I would meet anyone else and, therefore, hugely unlikely that I would ever have kids. When I met Bob in my mid-thirties, I was blessed beyond measure to find a man who showed me what real love looked like. But while we talked about having kids one day, neither of us were sure we could conceive naturally. So last July we had the biggest surprise ever when we learned that we were expecting!

I’m blown away by the heart-stopping, all-encompassing love I feel for Florence Wren. I have never experienced anything like it. The only way I can describe it is that every day I feel my heart has to stretch a bit more to fit all the new love in for Flo. At the same time, I’ve fallen deeper in love with Bob, seeing how he loves his little girl and me. I could never have anticipated this or the enormous impact it is having on how I view the world.

I’ve always believed in the power of possibility – a theme that I return to in my books time after time – but now I’m determined to pursue it for our little girl. I want her to see that life is full of possibilities, that dreams are worth pursuing, that life is as beautiful as you make it, every day. That no problem is insurmountable, no situation irredeemable, no heartbreak irreparable. That hope is the flame that can burn no matter what happens.

We have so many dreams for Flo, but the ones that will matter – and the ones that  Bob and I will fight for the hardest – will be the dreams she dreams for herself. And to see her accomplish what she most wants in life will be the greatest privilege for us. This is the start of the most exciting adventure in our lives – and I   can’t wait to see where it takes us!

Miranda Writes 20 – THE BIG TITLE REVEAL!

Drumroll please… I am SO excited to finally be able to share with you the title for Book 6 at last!

The book is actually all written and edited as I’m just over a week and a half away from welcoming Bump into the world and I can’t wait for you to read it. To celebrate the title reveal, I’ve made a little trailer vlog that gives you some sneaky details of what Book 6 is about. Hope you enjoy it – and let me know what you think! xx

Feel the Love – a FREE exclusive short story for you!

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovelies!

Whether you love it or loathe it, I’ve deemed today my #FeeltheLove Day of Sparkliness, aiming to give everyone a reason to smile…

So, here’s an exclusive short story, written especially for you. Click on the image below to read and download it.

Enjoy! xx

First Steps in Selfishness cover

Come to my first Writers’ Inspiration Day!

I’m so excited to announce that I will be running my very first day conference for writers – The Write Foxy! Writers’ Inspiration Day!

And the best bit is, you are invited!

Write Foxy!

I’ve heard so much about writers at all stages of their writing careers struggling lately and the thing that’s struck me is how many of us are battling to keep sight of why we dreamed of writing stories in the first place. Following on from my 2014 writing resolution to Write Foxy – i.e. write what I love and reconnect with the sense of fun that is so often lost in the sheer hard work of writing books – I am putting together a day for writers to meet, share ideas, be inspired, write and, most of all, remember why we love writing!

The Write Foxy! Writers’ Inspiration Day takes place at the very lovely De Vere Village Urban Resort Dudley on Saturday 1st February, from 9am – 4pm. Refreshments will be available throughout the day and a full buffet lunch will also be included. The day will consist of a mixture of inspirational speakers, networking opportunities and the Write Foxy! Writers’ Room where you can hang out with other writers and work on your own projects. The day will be fun, inspirational and a great opportunity for you to invest in yourself as a writer. The event costs £95 per person and includes all of the above, plus session notes and a goody bag. Places are very limited, so book now to avoid disappointment!

BOOK YOUR TICKETS – CLICK HERE!

>>> F.A.Q’s >>>

Don’t Just Write: Write Foxy!

A day for writers to come together, share ideas, be inspired and, most of all, reconnect with a love of writing. Part conference, part writers’ retreat, the Write Foxy! Day will encourage you to make the most of your writing, learn from the experience of bestselling authors whilst also providing space for you to work on your own projects. Refreshments will be available all day and a full buffet lunch is included.

Who is the Write Foxy! Day for?

Everyone who writes! Whether you are just starting out, are working towards becoming a published or self-published author or are already published, this day offers something for you.

Will the Write Foxy! Day teach me how to write a novel?

No, but it will inspire you to make the most of your writing, whatever stage you are at. It’s an inspiration day that will leave you fired up, armed with new tips and raring to pursue your writing goals.

What does Write Foxy! mean?!

Write Foxy! is all about writing what you’re passionate about, keeping fun at the centre of your writing and loving what you do. So many writers at all stages of their writing careers struggle with doubts, fatigue, a sense of hopelessness and a lack of motivation: this day is designed to reconnect you to the reason you started writing. If you believe in and love what you write, readers will too!

BOOK YOUR TICKETS – CLICK HERE!

2014 is the year to… WRITE FOXY!

Well, we’re at the beginning of another new year and all around me people are making resolutions. Personally, I love setting goals for the year ahead and I’m always surprised at the end of the year by how much I’ve achieved or how much my priorities have changed. For 2014, I have made only one resolution – to WRITE FOXY!

Write Foxy!

Lots of things are about to change in my life this year. Bob and I are going to welcome a new baby into our lives in March (ten weeks and counting – eek!), I have some major decisions to make about my writing career and there are certain things I’m working on that may or may not happen during 2014. It feels like a year of possibility – and, as anyone who reads my books knows, I love the allure of possibility…

After the challenges I faced with my writing last year – and the crisis of confidence that almost made me quit – I have decided to spend this year pursuing one thing: foxiness! By this I mean I want to write stories that thrill me; that I bounce out of bed in the morning to write; that make me happy. I want to be known as a writer who adores what she is doing. A writer who takes risks. A writer who appreciates the importance of fun in everything she does. Even if I’m the only person to read it, I want my words to exude foxiness: to be sassy and brave and unafraid.

I’ve learned the hard way that achieving a writing dream is just the beginning: the key to continuing to live the dream is to never lose sight of why you started dreaming about it in the first place. If you don’t love what you write – and constantly reconnect with that first love – you simply won’t survive.

I’m excited to see where my foxy writing resolution will take me and what stories will emerge from it, during this year and beyond. There could be zombies. Or thrills. Or quirky tales that make me smile. There will definitely be new characters who want to welcome you into whole new worlds. It could be crazy and some of it might lead nowhere at all – but it will definitely be one heck of an adventure!

So, there it is: in 2014 I’m starting as I mean to go on. No matter what else happens, I’m going to WRITE FOXY!