I was dismayed to read in October's issue of Writing Magazine that Jean Saunders passed away in August.
Jean was a prolific writer, both of short stories and novels and wrote under several names including Rowena Summers, Rachel Moore, Jean Innes, Sally Blake and Jodi Nicol.
She was also a regular contributor to Writing Magazine as well as teaching creative writing courses.
Her advice through the magazine has been invaluable to me over the years and in 2005 I was fortunate to attend one of her weekend courses at the Writers' News House Party in Harrogate.
The weekend itself was blissful. At the time I had a very young family and to be able to indulge in a whole weekend of writing was a dream come true (still would be in fact). I met so many lovely people including Deric Longden, a favourite author, who was guest speaker on the Saturday evening.
But the highlight was Jean herself. I found her to be a wonderful, warm person who gave me so much insight into the world of writing for women's magazines. She was a natural born teacher and inspired everyone of us in the room that weekend.
When reading a piece of my writing out to the class I remember her asking, "Have you been published?" and when I admitted that I hadn't her answer was "Well, you should be."
Since then, whenever I have been in doubt about my ability, and there have been many times, those four words have inspired me to keep going.
So thank you Jean, wherever you are, you have been an inspiration to my writing life, and you will be sadly missed.