Tag Archives: The Voyagers

All change!

Photo: Alison Morton

I’ve been on a very long journey and this coming Thursday I’ll arrive.

No, it’s not one of my usual train or plane journeys to far-flung places, although in many ways this is not a bad way to describe my recent steps through the hallowed doors into a traditional publisher’s world, namely The News Building (opposite the Shard) where HarperCollins resides.

Although I’ve already had five books published – one of them a memoir which was traditionally published – I wanted my novels to be snapped up by one of the top five. Coming close so many times was dispiriting when I had proof that so many readers loved Books 1 and 2 of The Voyagers trilogy. But Lady Luck was with me one day at an RNA Conference when an author I’d never met before introduced me to the senior commissioning editor of HarperCollins. I asked her if I could give her my elevator pitch on the third of The Voyagers trilogy, Kitty’s Story. She grinned and nodded, and after I’d spouted the couple of sentences  (unrehearsed) she said she would like to see the full ms.

A long time passed. She obviously didn’t like it. Then one evening as I was closing my computer her email popped up. It was a long letter. Yes, she loved Kitty’s Story; it had all the right attributes for a war-time saga, blah, blah, blah. Where’s the BUT? I kept thinking as I frantically skimmed the rest. And there it was. BUT you’ve self-published the first two so we wouldn’t be able to take it on. Massive gut-wrenching disappointment. Then my eyes glued to the next paragraph. There was another BUT. But would you like to write a special war-time series for us? A no-brainer, if ever there was one.

Fast forward one year later and An Orphan in the Snow by Molly Green – a new name to suit the new series – will be published on Thursday 30th November. I’ve written two non-fictions under my own name, Denise Barnes, and The Voyagers trilogy under Fenella Forster, and now this new series set in a Dr Barnardo’s orphanage in Liverpool during the Second World War under Molly Green. Hopefully, I’ll soon start to get to know exactly who Molly Green is!

I do hope my journey will inspire dedicated writers out there who haven’t yet been discovered. Do keep your eyes peeled for that elusive opportunity, but until then, just keep writing the very best book you can. And if you believe (like me) that one day it will happen – then it will!

Out 30 November 2017!

Haunted by the death of her sister, June Lavender takes a job at a Dr Barnardo’s orphanage. June couldn’t save Clara from their father’s violence, but perhaps she can help children whose lives have been torn apart by war.

When June bumps into Flight Lieutenant Murray Andrews on the bombed streets of Liverpool, the attraction is instant. But how can they think of love when war is tearing the world apart?

As winter closes in, and the war rages on, can June find the strength and courage to make a better life for herself and the children?


‘Kitty’s Story’ is published!

Kitty’s Story, Book 3 of The Voyagers trilogy, is finally published! What a labour of love it’s been. If I’d known it was going to take 12 years to write this trilogy I would never have started it. (I did write two or three books in between and ran a business part of that time!)

Book 1, Annie’s Story, and Book 2, Juliet’s Story, began life as one book called The Voyagers. I’d enjoyed writing Annie’s chapters from 1913 spanning to 1930, and weaving in Juliet, the granddaughter, in modern times. But as a saga with two protagonists the book became too long at 150,000 words and no editor or agent would touch it even though I’d got close to being traditionally published. ‘You’ve jammed two books together,’ they advised. ‘Split them into two separate but linked stories.’

By this time I was writing Kitty’s Story, thinking it would be the sequel. I couldn’t make such a radical change. It would be a mammoth task to separate the two. Almost in tears I rang my trusty critique writing partner, Alison Morton (Roma Nova series).

‘Take their advice,’ was her immediate reply. ‘Get the damned thing split and Kitty becomes the third of The Voyagers trilogy.’ She never minces her words.

But as soon as she said the magic word ‘trilogy’ it cheered me up and I began to tackle the big separation. It was more complicated than I’d thought, plus the fact I’d thought the two women’s stories were evenly balanced. Taking them apart I had Juliet at 100,000 words – the right length – but Annie was a novella at 50,000 words. Reading Annie separately I realised she was worthy of her own fuller story. It turned out to be 120,000 words but I was so glad I’d done it. And then I had to finish Kitty.

Writing Kitty’s Story turned out to be a cathartic exercise. Something very sad had happened in my own life decades before, and I never knew why the relationship (of course!) had gone so terribly wrong. I poured a lot of my deeply-buried emotion into the novel and as a writer had the power to create a happy ending. Being in Kitty’s head (I wrote it in the first person) somehow allowed me to lay my personal story to rest and I wonder if other writers have ever felt the same.

On a more positive note Kitty does something I’m sure I would have jumped at had I been a teenager in the Second World War – she is determined to sing to the troops like her idol, Vera Lynn. Joining ENSA in 1941 she travels to Cairo and fulfils her dream. Only things don’t turn out quite as she expects – in fact, just like real life!

Kitty’s Story is available through all good bookshops and from (amongst other retailers) from Available now from  Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo  iBooks  B&N Nook

‘Juliet’ tells her ‘Story’ at the West Kent launch

OverviewJuliet’s Story, Book 2 of The Voyagers trilogy, has been well and truly launched!

I’ve got into the habit of having two launches each time one of my books is published. One takes place at my club in Mayfair, the University Women’s Club, and the other more locally in the Tunbridge Wells area. Previously, I’ve arranged it in Waterstones but sadly, they are holding fewer book events these days. It’s such a shame as I love to attend book launches as well as give them.

Between Juliet and AnnieI attended a rather grand book launch at Tonbridge School last year – the author was David Lough, being interviewed on his latest biography: No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money.

I was most impressed with the beautiful building, the smiling staff, the delicious canapés and the exceptional champagne. Churchill himself would definitely have approved! So I decided to hold my event there.

CheersIt was a perfect choice, and because it was a slightly different area, I had friends and acquaintances coming from Sevenoaks and Hildenborough as well as Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. Looking around at the 30 or so faces, half of them had never attended one of my launches. This is A Good Thing! At least eight folk bought Annie’s Story, Book 1 of the trilogy together with Juliet’s Story so they could catch up. I had put Annie’s banner up as well as Juliet’s, hoping this might happen.

Marcus Warren proved to be a great photographer who managed to flatter me in most photographs, except one where he made me look 90 (I’m sure I don’t know how he did this – it must have taken all his ingenuity and photographic skill) instead of the bright young woman I really am! DELETE!

Signing booksWe all had a jolly time and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening and my talk. I must say, I loved the evening. Always think that’s a good sign if the host does.

Roll on the next launch. Sadly, not until 2017 when Kitty’s Story, Book 3 of the trilogy will be out. Do hope to see you!




Juliet’s Story is  available now from your local bookshop and from Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo

April Fool, book or $50 gift card winner?

APRIL-FOOLS-POSTER IToday and only until 4 April, you could win a signed paperback copy of Annie’s Story, the first book in The Voyagers trilogy. You can also  enter a grand draw for a $50 Amazon gift card. IndieBRAG, who award the prestigious B.R.A.G. Medallion to the top 10% of indie published fiction, are celebrating this special day of day of spring fun.

You have two chances to win. Firstly, to win a copy of my book, read the following journal extract from Annie’s Story and leave a comment saying whether you think it’s genuine or not. If you’re correct, you’ll go into the draw for my book. If not, then it’s April Fool! Good luck!

Secondly, a chance to win a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card! Be sure to visit the IndieBRAG April Fools event page to enter. The winner will be announced on 5 April on the indieBRAG website.
Please note:
–         You must be 18 years or older to participate in the prize & giveaway.
–         Giveaway is open internationally.
–         Winner has 48 hours to claim prize and giveaway or a new winner is chosen.

On to the giveaway draw for Annie’s Story – true or false?
24th April 1921
How can Ferguson do this to me? If I’d had any suspicion about his wandering eye I never would have married him, let alone agreed to go all that way to Australia with him. He promised me we would better ourselves from a life in service. We still ended up in service although I admit I was happy at the beginning. But it was my great mistake when I invited Ruby my sister to visit us. She made eyes at Ferguson right away and he was too weak to refuse her. A grand betrayal, if ever there was one because she had his baby. She said she’d always loved him and it was her chance of happiness. As if that wasn’t cruel enough, now it’s Ethel my youngest sister who I always thought was so innocent, so loving, so loyal. But she’s turned out even worse. She says she’s also having his child and is sailing to America with him next month.
My heart which I thought had already broken is now smashed to pieces. Even my children are not bringing me any joy. I just sit and cry all day. There’s no one who I can talk to, only my journal.
I have only just been able to comfort Ruby because she knows how I feel now that it’s happened to her. Ferguson has left two sisters looking after his three children and plans to go off to America with the third sister. You, Ethel. He even had the cheek to say to me, ‘Third time lucky, Annie.’
Ethel, how could you do this to me?

I’ll be back on 4 April to let you know who’s guessed correctly and who wins a FREE signed paperback of Annie’s Story! See you then!

‘Juliet’s Story’ launched!

Denise bannerOne of the great pleasures of writing a book and getting it published is that you have a perfect excuse for a party!

So for Juliet’s Story, Book 2 of The Voyagers trilogy, I decided to once again hold the launch in the University Women’s Club in Mayfair, where I’ve been a member for almost 30 years.

Although publication day is TODAY, I had the London launch Saturday afternoon, just two days ago, which happened to be my mother’s birthday. If only she could have been there – she would have been so proud! (You know how mothers are.)

Celebrating with friends

With Sue Stephenson, Liz Harris, publisher Helen Hart and Gail Alwyn

The Diamonds

With Tessa Shapcott, Terri Fleming, Sue Mackender – The Diamonds



But I was surrounded and supported by family and friends, and ten other writers, which was fabulous. We had a high tea: sandwiches, scones, carrot cake, tea, coffee and, of course, lots of fizz.






The audience






After everyone had made a beeline for the groaning tables and had a good chat with one another, I gave a talk, primarily on the research I undertook for the novel.

One of the more unusual things was being aboard a freighter for a few days. My heroine, Juliet, goes on a voyage to Australia by cargo ship so I felt I had to go through a similar experience in order to breathe in the atmosphere of what it’s really like. My ship was a German one bound for Hong Kong but after calling at Hamburg, I disembarked in Zeebrugge (Bruges). I didn’t want to spend over six weeks at sea as at the time I was running a business, and unlike Juliet had no one to take it over for such a long period.

Denise in full flowThe voyage was a real adventure and telling details, together with some of the incidents which happened to me, have crept into the novel – which is what research is all about.

I sold a ton of books at the launch which won’t go anywhere near to paying for the afternoon, but that’s not the point. It’s a wonderful way of getting your first readers who you hope will spread the word – and write a review!


Denise and Alison

With critique partner Alison Morton




But mainly all their laughter, congratulations and love give you a huge boost to set you on your way.

I feel a bit flat now so I need to get the show on the road for Book 3. Another launch looming, methinks.




UWC team

The cake and champagne team











Juliet’s Story is now out!
Available now from your local bookshop and from Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo