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I received an ‘Honourable Mention’ in the 75th Annual Writers Digest Writing Competition for two of my novels, Shadow Hunter and The Knowing.
The editor of Writers Digest said: “This year’s contest attracted close to 19,000 entries. Your success in the face of such formidable competition speaks highly of your writing talent, and should be a source of great pride as you continue in your writing career. I congratulate you on your achievement and wish you the best of luck in your future writing.”
I was also nominated as WRITER of the MONTH in January 2007 on literaryagentshowcase.com.
Bob Thompson from The Literary Agent Showcase said: “We would like to congratulate you on becoming WRITER of the MONTH for January 2007 on literaryagentshowcase.com. All of us here at the Showcase were quite taken with your concept and writing style.”
Raindance International Film Festival judged my script, The Knowing, as “commercial ... entertaining ... will attract a lot of interest.”
I have been featured on Sky News, Radio 2 and numerous BBC radio stations. I was also featured in The Independent on Sunday, Financial Times, The Guardian, Red Magazine, Berkshire Life, Country Life, Start Your Own Business, People Today, People Management, OnRec, Management Today, Country Living, Pay Monthly and Financial Mail, along with numerous regional and local publications across the country.
I have also been on the morning TV breakfast shows a couple of times to discuss various topics.
I am often asked to comment on BBC Radio and I give talks at seminars across the UK. My husband and I were also featured on both BBC and ITV for the Mumford and Sons ticket scam in Portsmouth. Although it was a huge let down not to see Mumford at Portsmouth due to the the ticket scam, it all turned out FAB because my hubby proposed to me when we finally got to see Mumford at the O2 in London!
My hubby and I were also featured on the BBC Show, Escape to the Continent which showed our quest to live in Spain (so I can write full time!).
Escape To The Continent
Ken and Paula Sheridan who appeared on the BBC show Escape to the Continent are now living in the mountains north of Malaga where they run Secret World Writing Retreat.
Although they don’t see this as self-isolation, many viewing their story would think so. Ken and Paula have a home in Newbury, Berkshire, but choose to live in their beautiful Andalusian valley most of their time with occasional visits back to the UK to see their three sons.
They were about to book one of those UK trips and tie in a visit to the London Book Fair when the virus started taking hold the week before the book fair was cancelled. They decided to stay home and not travel and now are thankful of their decision.
The couple appeared on the BBC show Escape to the Continent in 2014. At the time, they were considering having a B&B writing retreat. Little did they know that their new home would inspire the historical setting for Paula’s award-winning debut novel.
The couple viewed almost a hundred properties in Andalusia and the agents started tiring of showing them houses as they thought the couple’s expectations were too high.
They wanted a rural, country home with peace and tranquillity, stunning views, no electricity pylons disturbing their view home (which is not uncommon in most country properties in Spain) and still have a village close by. Despite scepticism that they’d ever find this ‘paradise wish list’, Ken and Paula did find their home nestled in the foothills of Sierra del Torcal. The magnificent mountain looms over their back garden and inspired Paula to use the mountain in her historical mystery series, The Torcal Trilogy.
When they set foot on the property, a character popped into Paula’s head, and she saw this fictional person in the valley. While they waited for the property to become their home, Paula wrote The Grotto’s Secret, in her pen name, Paula Wynne. Now, she wishes that the healing herb in the book was true and could heal the people affected by this pandemic.
Ken and Paula show how working from home and self-isolation doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. They normally would spend most of their time at home and still have a day out in Malaga, shopping or eating out. Ken plays tennis in Calahonda most Fridays mornings where Paula writes on her laptop with Dexter, their Springer Spaniel at her feet. This has had to change.
Although they miss their days out, they decided to stay home and out of public places before the Spanish government declared the state of emergency.
Paula said, “We don’t see our lives as self-isolation. We love the peace and tranquillity and our life is normally full of family visits, trips abroad and days out.”
Ken said: “Of course we miss those days out and it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t see our sons in Newbury and London, but until this virus stops its rampage, we’re happy to self-isolate in our idyllic home. We’re working hard and looking forward to the day when life will be normal again.”
Paula added: “Now, because there is a one-person-per-car rule, Ken does the food shopping on his own and I worry about him being out there. He is protected with gloves and a mask and washing thoroughly when he gets home, but it’s still a worry.”
The couple run four online businesses. One is a home business network, a second is for jobs working from home, both of which were set up more than ten years ago. A third is a book giveaways site and most recently a writing and book award.
Why jump from home businesses to a book award? Paula’s debut novel, The Grotto’s Secret, won The Peoples’ Book Prize awarded to Paula by the jackal himself, Sir Frederick Forsyth, and afterwards she started looking for more book awards to enter.
Paula found that most awards would only allow publishers to enter. None, that Paula could find, offer writers the chance to get their work discovered by literary agents. So Paula set about creating her own awards that helped unpublished writers and published authors get their work in front of experts from the literary world, including a film scout from LA.
Paula and Ken have been affected by Coronavirus, but in a different way to most humans. Last year they lost two cats from the virus strain that kills a lot of kittens and adult cats who are infected.
One three-month-old kitten, Freddie, survived after the couple spent their summer in and out of animal hospitals and having to hand-feed him, plus syringe water into him to stop him dying from dehydration and even having the kitten sleep with them when he was ill and fighting the virus on death’s doorstep.
If that wasn’t traumatic enough, two of their cats died from the virus and another from a mysterious death that looked like poisoning either from a snake bite or herbicide – common dangers in the Spanish countryside. Another cat simply disappeared. All within a month.
The couple were assured by the vets at the various animal hospitals where Freddie was admitted that the virus was not contagious to humans and only cats could be affected, so they had all their cats vaccinated.
Freddie, who was named after Freddie Mercury, because he ‘wanted to break free’ from the cage he was kept in before the couple rescued him, has a heart-warming and positive end to his story. He is now a healthy and lively cat and leader of the mischief-pack and chief rabbit catcher, although, thankfully, Paula has managed to save the rabbits from Freddie. You can read Freddie's Story here.
At least self-isolation is giving some writers a little extra time for writing. If any writer wants to visit Paula and Ken's inaugural awards, they can browse the Page Turner Awards at https://pageturnerawards.com.