Friday, 16 April 2021
I'm writing the sixth draft of the third instalment of the Beginner's Guide series, and things are - finally - going well in a way that the previous drafts never did.
My Beginner's Guide books have three points-of-view: in A Beginner's Guide To Salad we had Ruth, Billy and Jared's POV, and in A Beginner's Guide To Saying I Do we had Ruth, Trina and Erin's POVs. I knew I was going to go with Ruth's POV again for Book 3 (how could I not?) but the other two presented a problem.
Over the five previous drafts, I wrote the book with the POVs of:
But it didn't feel right, and sometimes it even felt forced, like I was shoehorning characters into storylines to fit the theme. I didn't want to give up on the book, but it wasn't working. The book had been put aside for a long time, but I gave it another shot, and this time I seem to have hit on the right combination of POV with the right storylines and I'm now over halfway through Draft Six.
And which combo of POV did I go with?
I'll be honest, I was surprised by the Richard POV, but I'm loving writing his sections, mainly because we get to see more of his dad, Kelvin. If you've read the Beginner's Guide books, you'll know Kelvin isn't the most pleasant of men (he's horrible, in fact) but that makes him a lot of fun to write. I may have taken it too far though, because I found myself writing another scene with him wearing just his underpants. Sorry, I don't know what's wrong with me.
Friday, 9 April 2021
There was always supposed to be a third instalment in the Beginner's Guide series; I'd even written the first draft of the book by the time A Beginner's Guide To Saying I Do was published. But I wasn't happy with the draft. I wasn't happy with the next one, or the one after that. And by the time I'd pushed Draft Five aside, I was thoroughly fed up. I knew Ruth's story wasn't finished yet, but I couldn't seem to get it right.
There were other books published during this time. Four of them, in fact. But I kept thinking about Ruth and the next stage of her life. And when I started working on the paperback of the first book, A Beginner's Guide To Salad, a few months ago, it reignited the need to explore Ruth's story.
There was something in those five drafts, so I started to pick through them, taking out the bits I was happy with, and even the bits I wasn't quite sure about but could tinker with. And I started to re-plot the book. There's always three POV in the full-length Beginner's Guide books, and I'd tried several combinations over the five drafts. But this time, during the re-plotting, I shifted the theme a little bit and something clicked. The three POV I'd been looking for were there. I'd already tried one of them before, but their story had felt forced, shoe-horned in to fit the theme. But now it was perfect!
The book has been re-plotted and I'm about halfway through Draft Six. And I'm loving being back in Ruth's world. I've known Ruth since 2013 so it really is like being reunited with an old friend. Draft Six won't be the final draft, but it will be the draft that I move forward with and work on until the book is ready to be published.
Friday, 26 March 2021
I'm very excited to share the news that A Beginner's Guide To Salad is now available as a paperback!
A Beginner's Guide To Salad was my first published novel, back in 2014 but it's only ever been available as an ebook - until now. I'm so pleased that Ruth's story is now more widely available with its new format.
If you're a newsletter subscriber, make sure you check your inboxes for my latest newsletter because there's a chance to win a signed copy of the book.
As with all my books, you can find 'Book Extras' here on the blog, with quizzes, playlists, fun facts and more. Click here to see the Book Extras for A Beginner's Guide To Salad.
Ruth loves nothing more than curling up in front of the telly with a family-sized bar of chocolate. She doesn’t do diets and she certainly doesn’t do exercise. But all that changes when she’s invited to her school reunion.
Bullied at school for being overweight, Ruth’s first reaction is to rip the invitation into a million pieces. But then Ruth hatches a plan. She’ll lose the weight and arrive at the reunion looking gorgeous and glamorous, leaving her old classmates in awe. Especially her former crush, Zack O’Connell.
With the help of her friends and a new, unbelievably hot colleague, Ruth begins her transformation. With six months until the reunion, losing weight will be a piece of cake, right?
Friday, 19 March 2021
I spend an awful lot of time on Instagram. It's full of books, dogs and cats, and baking, so why wouldn't I? It's my favourite social media platform as it's far less political and cesspit-like than some of the others and filled with lovely, joyful things instead.
I like to post pics of books, mugs of tea, writing updates and my Jack Russell, Luna, and hopefully soon there will be some flowers and bugs from my garden. So if this is the kind of thing that interests you too, you can find me here
Friday, 12 March 2021
It seems like only two minutes ago that I was blogging about starting the second draft of Book 12, but it was actually two weeks ago and it's now finished.
I was quite apprehensive about the second draft; in my head, the first draft was a messy jumble of words, written during the first lockdown while home-schooling, and I thought it needed a LOT of work. But it wasn't nearly as crappy as I thought it was going to be and although I've had to delete stuff, rewrite and add scenes, and move bits around, it's been a pleasure to work on.
I've loved being back in Clifton-on-Sea, back in Cleo's world (and not just because there isn't a hint of Covid or social distancing there) and I'm going to miss her. So much so, I'm starting to wonder if there may be further tales from Cleo Parker...
Friday, 5 March 2021
I have to have music on in the background while I'm writing, because a silent room feels... odd. I can't have the TV on (unless someone else is watching it in the same room, in which case I'll have my headphones on) because I find it distracting, but lyrics in songs - even songs I'd usually sing along to - don't pose a problem at all.
For me, music can help set the mood: upbeat for a fun scene, ballads for more moving ones, or festive favourites for Christmassy scenes. And music was extra important for me while writing Book 12, because I knew there'd be a big gap between drafts and that I'd be writing a whole new book for Nanowrimo between them.
While writing the first draft, I set up a playlist on Spotify with a lot of 70s music (because this features in the book) as well as songs that I felt motivating (fast beat = fast typing?) and I listened to it, from the beginning, during every writing session so that now, when I hear The Buzzcocks' 'Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)' I can't help thinking about Cleo. The plan was to have a set of music that immediately brought me back into Cleo's world so that it would be easier to go back there when the time came to start the second draft.
But did it work?
I finished the first draft of Book 12 at the beginning of August 2020 and didn't return to it until late February 2021, meaning there was a gap of over six months, and I do think having that same playlist, that I listened to for every writing session over the four months it took to write the first draft, helped to set the mood again. I set the playlist going and I was back in Clifton-on-Sea, back in Cleo's world, ready to get going on her story.