The PHS Aspiring Authors Group is on Fire!

Senior Editor, Christy Kate McKenzie, is here to catch you up on all of the exciting happenings over in our PHS Aspiring Authors group this month...

Welcome to the hottest month at PHS yet! July has been a scorcher so far, especially in the UK where we really aren’t cut out for temperatures in the 80's (stop laughing all of you in the US and Australia). But aside from the weather, things in the PHS Aspiring Authors Group have also been heating up.

Membership has been growing rapidly in our Facebook Group and on our Forum and I’d like to say a warm welcome to all of the members who joined during the month of June. Remember, both the Facebook Group and the Forum exist to support your writing journey, so let us know if there are any particular topics you’d like to see covered.

In addition to new members, we have added two new Assistant Editors to the PHS AA TeamManda Jane Ward and Chris Buono, both of whom you can learn more about further down this page!

Michelle Styles is still hard at work delivering her excellent workshop in our Forum, titled Consent is

Sexy: Utilising the Ascending Scale of Intimacy in a #MeToo World.

There’s still time to jump in if you haven’t already. So, don’t worry about being late to the party. You can start the workshop at any time. Check out the ongoing Trish Wylie Common Writing Mistakes (And How To Fix Them) workshop while you are there. And watch out for a 12 Point Guide workshop from Kate Walker at the end of the month!

Have you started your entry for our first PHS Writing Contest?

We are looking for a hot (safe for work, but really close to that edge) short story or excerpt from a longer piece which embodies the ultimate summer romance. Give us your hottest heroes, your steamiest stories, and your sexiest summer fantasies. If you can leave us breathless and blushing in 3,000 words, you might just be crowned the winner and get to see your story published in an upcoming Pink Heart Society edition!

What's more, the winner will get a critique and line edit on the first three chapters of their current WIP from our managing editor, Trish Wylie, whose gems of wisdom in the ongoing Common Romance Writing Mistakes (And How To Fix Them) workshop has been received so well by the Aspiring Authors on our Forum.

So, if you haven’t started your sexy summer short, get to it! The deadline for entries is 27th July and you can find our rules and FAQ's here.

Meet Manda Ward

British born and raised, I am currently living in Bedfordshire. I am first and foremost a stay at home mother and carer who is battling Severe Anxiety Disorder, Depression and Agoraphobia. With a husband and 3 children; my 16 year old son has ADHD/ASD/Dyspraxia and other behavioural issues, life is challenging to say the least. To add to all this insanity, a warning. I have a rather warped sense of humour. Three marriages, two divorces, seven children and three grandchildren by the age of 46 will do that to anyone!

I am an author of quirky romance novels/novellas with the emphasis on the over-forty hero and heroine, and am with two publishers, Books To Go Now and Hot Ink Press. A niche market I’m afraid I’ve heard often referred to as ‘seasoned romance’ or even worse ‘granny-lit’. As far as I’m concerned, falling in love has no age limit and as we grow older, so the heroes and heroines we read should too. I am also a proud member of the RNA.

My journey to publication has had its hiccups along the way and am now quite content writing novellas to hone my craft.

I’ve been exceptionally fortunate that my publisher finds my work unique and entertaining and are supportive during the times I’m unable to write.

Keeping up my writing with a mental illness is difficult at the moment, especially when the medication prescribed has yet to ‘kick-in’. So for anyone struggling with mental/health issues, I empathise with you.

As for my hobbies and interests. I am a fountain of useless knowledge on the Royal Family and their European counterparts. History buff, particularly regarding the origins of the Wars of the Roses and the Queen Anne periods. I crochet granny squares (badly), read Amish novels (quite refreshing actually) and watch Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Once Upon A Time, Gilmore Girls, Charmed. Huge nerd/geek regarding the Marvel/DC/Star Wars universes and Sir Terry Pratchett (Discworld).

If any of you want to find out more about my writing, check out my website or keep in touch by emailing me at

Meet Chris Buono

“In the World Series Tom Seaver hit a homerun. Then the score was….” That’s all I remember of that “starter sentence,” and of its follow, so many years later. Still, that was probably the first story that I had ever written, in a semi-constructive way. I think I was about eight years old. My parents had always encouraged me to keep an activity notebook, of sorts. A “Tom Seaver” story was definitely worthy for it.

If I had to guess as to why “that sentence, theme, individual,” about what/whom I had been writing, though, I would say it was because, when I was a young kid, “Tom Terrific” (Tom Seaver) was all the rage. He was a baseball pitching god for the New York Mets—my family’s team. And that’s where I’m from—not far from New York City.

Needless to say, “that” “Tom Terrific” story had never been published—in the conventional sense. However, it had been a bestseller, in my mind, I’m sure. Not that, at such a young age, I had my sights set on becoming a published author one day. Quite the contrary. I was a kid, always playing and running around. “Writing a novel” was, perhaps, the furthest thing from my mind.However, the fact that I had actually written a “Tom Terrific” story—no matter how short it might have been—said something to me: I had penned a tale from start to finish. No doubt “that” left some kind of a “writing” impression on me. Had it not, it stands to reason that I wouldn’t be at this “writing point” in my life today.

Still, such “creative writing” and “creativity” has always been a part of my life. Case in point: When I was young, and whenever I had gotten sick and needed to stay home from school, my father would always leave me with a “newspaper task,” before he went to work. If, I had been well enough to undertake it, as I rested in bed, he would tell me to “make a newspaper for him,” so that we could look it over together, when he got home.

That had been such a great task. Creative. Fun. And dad was going to review it with me later that day. Wow! Maybe I could even “sell” it to mom, for the bargain-basement price of “free”! That would be only after dad and I had agreed all was “good to go,” with that “okayed” newspaper, of course.

That’s been, basically, the story of my writing life—creative from the get go, thanks to mom and dad.However, perhaps there had been a method to my father’s “newspaper” madness, so to speak. After all, I would be home with my mother, and, no doubt, drive her crazy. That was, if, I had nothing to do—especially if I had been getting well, and suffering more from a case of “houseitis,” rather than the cold that had kept me home.

Still, I was a good kid. If I hadn’t had a “newspaper” to keep me “writing busy,” I had television—the magic box! I had always enjoyed TV shows. In my youth, I thought: “How can those ‘people’ be inside and play out in there for me?” The fact that they could was fascinating.

For that reason, I would say that it had been my love of watching TV that had, initially, prodded my further “writing” career. Or, rather, that it had helped to plant the seeds for it, and my desire to become a published author.

Later in life, I had added writing plays to my agenda—both drama and farce. I recall reading Death of a Salesman, and was hooked on writing a play. I had even had a reading of one of my dramatic plays in a New York City theatre. The late, great Ruth Warrick—of both the movie Citizen Kane and the TV soap opera All My Children, had even read one of my plays. I had met Ruth at a reading of The Big Brass Ring and had asked her to read my play. She had given me both her phone number and address that day, and, we had met on more than one occasion, as time went on. Still, she hadn’t seen the role in my play as being “right” for her. However, Ruth later was one of my columnists in Writer’s Guidelines &News, a quarterly writing magazine that I had taken over and published for a short time.

Still, along my “writing highway,” I had also tried stand-up comedy. Nothing ever became of that for me. Nevertheless, it had been a helpful experience that enabled me to further “see/sense” that writing might be something for me. Such a stand-up experience, combined with my love of television—sitcoms in particular—and, movies, for that matter, had prodded me to try my hand at both sitcom and screenwriting. Again, nothing became of that for me. However, I had tried to become a part of the “Warner Bros. Comedy Writers Workshop.” Even though I hadn’t made it in as a member, one of my evaluated Seinfeld sitcom scripts had received an overall #3 rating (i.e., “good/competent”). “That rating” did encourage me, and further helped to convince me to pursue writing.

Penning short stories had, at some point, slipped into my life, too—romance tales, in particular. I can also remember reading Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything, somewhere along the line, as well as a Silhouette (now Harlequin) Romance novel. I’m pretty sure that the Silhouette title had been one of Katherine Garbera’s, and I thought: “I can write this, too!” And, when I had read Stephen King’s Carrie, I became determined to write horror.

After one of my romance short stories had placed in a Writers’ Journal magazine contest, I later became a contributing editor for that bi-monthly periodical. I had also been asked to pen its “Effective Screenwriting” column. All of which I had done for a few years. For WJ, I had also brought to life Writers’ Journal Books—a book division for the magazine—and saw to fruition its first guidebook on writing and the writing life.

So, here I am, almost full circle, so to speak—where becoming a published romance novelist is concerned. The seed of that idea had all been planted, indirectly, in my youth, nurtured as I grew alongside “writing different things,” and is sprouting now, as me being a part of PHS. Looking back, I wouldn’t have had my “writing life” come about any other way.

To find out more about Chris and his writing, you can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Wattpad.

The leader of our Aspiring Authors team, Christy Kate McKenzie, is an aspiring author, fairy tale fanatic, peanut butter connoisseur, and wannabe mermaid. For more information about Christy and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

#ChristyKateMcKenzie #Writing #aspiringauthors #Facebook #FacebookGroup #TrishWylie #workshops #support #contests #amwriting #Romance #Books #Authors #Writers #motivation #inspiration #advice #writingtips #SummerLovinCompetition #ShortStory #AvrilTremayne #MichelleStyles #AmandaWard #ChrisBuono #KateWalker

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