Wednesday, 24 February 2027

A Beginner's Guide To Salad is now out as a paperback and ebook.

You can buy signed copies of a selection of my paperbacks here

A Beginner's Guide To Salad Paperback & Ebook

Below, you can find my blog posts, or you can read my free short stories, catch up with my news or find out more about my books.

While you're here, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to receive book news and exclusive content and enter my giveaways. Plus, you'll receive a FREE ebook short when you sign up!

Friday, 11 June 2021

Another Guide To Ruth: An Edit Checklist


Another Guide To Ruth

The third instalment of the Beginner's Guide series has been a bit of a slog, with multiple drafts until I was finally happy with the story and the structure. But it's definitely picked up momentum now!

It only seems like five minutes ago that I was in possession of a draft I was happy with, but now the book has been sent off to my editor - and it's back again. I've been working on the edits and I ended up with a list of actions and words that were repeated a LOT that I needed to work on.

Check for: 'a bit', 'peered', 'pushed down' (on shoulders), shrug/shrugged, scooped, march/marched, reassuring smile

When I write a first draft (or a sixth in this case), I usually get the words down as quickly as I can without going back to edit, so words and phrases being repeated isn't odd. It's at this point - especially when they're flagged up by an editor - that I can take more time to find a better way of conveying action or using more varied vocabulary. The thesaurus on Word is a godsend, and I also use The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi.

I find the guide really helpful. There are lists of actions and emotions for all sorts of scenarios, so characters can do more than shrug!

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

So what's next for the Beginner's Guide book?

I'm hoping to finish the edits soon so it can be proofread, and I'll be revealing the title and cover in my next newsletter. So make sure you're subscribed if you want to be the first to see them.

Friday, 4 June 2021

World Building: 3 Ways To Transfer Vivid Worlds From Imagination To Page

World Building

When we're writing, we focus a lot on the plot and the characters, making them as rich and interesting as we can. But we also need to think about the world in which these characters live, to make their worlds more than words on a page.

Every writer will have their own way of transferring the vivid worlds in their imagination to the page, and I thought I'd share three ways which work for me.

1. Sights, Smells & Sounds

Before you start writing a scene, stop and think about the setting. What can your characters see? What can they smell or even feel? If they're in a department store, for example, maybe it's hot, with the cloying smell of perfume that sticks in the back of your throat. There's chatter around, maybe music playing, a rainbow of nail polishes on the shelf. Close your eyes and image yourself in the setting. Jot down a few details that you can weave into the story.

The Urban Setting & Rural Setting Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

I use the Urban Setting and Rural Setting Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi to help. They list lots of sights, sounds, smells for popular settings.

2. Pinterest

I always find it useful to set up a Pinterest board (or ten) when I start writing a book, to help visualise the world I'm creating. The boards can help set a mood, help to build up characters, and it's always helpful to describe a place or object that you can see in front of you.

Think about the world in which these characters live, to make their worlds more than words on a page

When I was starting to plan my thirteenth book, I wasn't sure who my main character was, so I was playing around on Pinterest when I found a picture of a woman wearing a pretty quirky mishmash of colours, and I thought yes! This is what Zoey would wear. But what kind of person wears a royal blue jumper with a pumpkin-orange skirt and a green coat with oversized buttons? Thinking about the outfit and who would wear it really helped me to shape who Zoey became and the world she lived in.

3. Maps & Layouts

I always find it helpful to sketch out a little map of the area I'm setting a book in, especially as I use the same areas for different books. It helps me to get a sense of the place, and I also know what I named the pubs and where I put them in previous books!

My maps aren't anything fancy - sometimes they're pen outlines scribbled down on the back of my character sheets or, if I'm feeling particularly techy, I copy them out into Paint. Which isn't techy at all, and nor are they artistic, but nobody else is going to see them so it doesn't matter.

I've also sketched out the basic layout of characters' houses if I've thought it would help. Again, they're nothing artistic, just a reminder of where the bathroom is, whether it has open plan living etc.

So those are my three tips for world building. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments below this post.

Monday, 24 May 2021

Planning Book 15

 Writing Book 15

I know Books 12-14 haven't been published yet, but I'm now planning Book 15. This is quite a few book projects to be juggling, but Book 14 - Beginner's Guide Book 3 - is away to be edited and I'll be writing Book 15 as part of Nanowrimo2021 so want to use this little window to plot.

Book 15 is a follow-up of Book 12. I finished the book and was really sad to be leaving the characters behind, but I realised there was potential for more. I'm so happy to be back in Cleo's world, and back in Clifton-on-Sea (which is also the setting of The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea and The Single Mums' Picnic Club).

Planning Book 15

I've already updated the character sheets I created before writing the first book in the series, and I've created a few more for some new characters I'm going to meet. Getting to know my characters before I start to write is important to me, even if it's just a few lines that I'll add to as the book progresses. I'll definitely know my characters more by the end of the first draft, but I like to know a bit about them at the beginning.

The Five-Point Pitch
The Five-Point Pitch

I've also started to update my Pinterest boards for the book, where I've been pinning articles and images to help with characterisation and the storyline, so now it's time to move onto the next stage of my planning: the five point pitch (I wrote a blog post about the five point pitch method I use here). I'll then expand the short pitch into a bullet point plot and finally create a three-act structure for the novel.

Friday, 14 May 2021

Read My Books For FREE with Kindle Unlimited

Jennifer Joyce books on Kindle Unlimited

If you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read six of my books for free at the moment:

Everything Changes But You by Jennifer Joyce

Be careful what you wish for...

Ally Richmond is dreading turning thirty and bidding farewell to her youth. And when her husband says he wants to start a family, she begins to panic.

Is this all that life has to offer from now on? Popping out babies and growing old gracefully? She wants a life crammed with glamour and spontaneous adventure, not one full of dirty nappies and night feeds.

When Ally makes a silly birthday wish for a new, exciting life, her wish is granted.

But when Ally is presented with the freedom and opportunities she craves, she soon realises this new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that there really is no place like home. But can she find her way back - or is she stuck in this new reality forever?

A Beginner's Guide To Salad by Jennifer Joyce

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?

Read Now

A Beginner's Guide To Saying I Do by Jennifer Joyce

Three women. Three weddings. But who will say I do – and who will say I don’t?

Ruth can’t quite believe she’s managed to snag The One but when he proposes, she can finally accept that she’s found her happily ever after. But when Ruth finds herself booking her dream church for just six weeks away, she starts to panic. You can’t plan a whole wedding at such short notice. Can you?

Trina has only just walked down the aisle, but she’s already starting to question whether they can make their marriage work. Will they survive the honeymoon period, or have they just made a very big – and very expensive – mistake?

Erin has somehow found herself agreeing to be a bridesmaid for the tackiest wedding known to man. With drunk hens, ridiculous outfits and a terrifying wedding planner, just what has Erin signed up for?

The Wedding Date by Jennifer Joyce

Will you…date me?

Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…

So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!

Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?

The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea by Jennifer Joyce

One summer can change everything…

Mae has no time for men in her life! Local vet Alfie might be totally gorgeous but she’s far too busy looking after her young daughter and running her little bed & breakfast by the sea.

Willow is in the middle of building her dream home with her husband, Ethan, when disaster strikes. And with every month that passes she secretly worries that her happy ever after will never come true…

Melody only intended to stay in the bustling seaside town for a few days. But when she meets Hugo – the charming man in the ice cream van – she decides to stay a little longer.

It seems the little bed & breakfast is full of surprises!

The 12 Christmases of You & Me by Jennifer Joyce

What if you could go back in time and fix the biggest mistake of your life?

Two years ago, Maisie’s best friend walked out of her life and she hasn’t heard from him since. When she wakes up in 1994, she naturally assumes she’s dreaming. But when she finds herself in the past again the next night and her actions in the dream alter her present-day life, she begins to wonder if she’s somehow hopping back in time. And if she is time-travelling, can she save her friendship with Jonas?

When Maisie is forced to relive Christmases of the past, will she face up to her mistakes, or make them all over again?

The 12 Christmases of You & Me is a magical tale of friendship, first loves, and learning to live in the present.

Read Now

If you read any of the books, I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, I'd love it if you could leave a review as every one really does help. Not only do reviews help other readers find books they'll enjoy, it also make writers very, very happy :)

Friday, 7 May 2021

Writing Tips: Daily Word Counts & Total Tallies

Writing Tips: Daily Word Counts & Total Tallies

It feels great when you have a brilliant idea for a book and the words are flying onto the page.
But what happens when the motivation slips?

This always seems to happen at some point in any book I'm writing. No matter how enthusiastic I am in the beginning, no matter how much I love the story and the characters, I always seem to hit a brick wall. I not-so-affectionately refer to this as The Slump, and I've blogged about the horrible ickiness of wanting to write but not being able to over the years and offered some tips that I've found that worked to get me on the right track again, such as 15-minute bursts.

Another trick I use to keep me motivated is to jot down my daily word counts and the total word count after each writing session. Writing a whole book can feel daunting (I've published 11 books and I still find that blank page at the beginning terrifying, and I wonder how on earth I'm going to write 80,000+ words). Jotting the word counts down helps me to see that, no matter how badly I think I'm doing, even during The Slump, I am moving forward, bit by bit.


I make a note of my daily word count and total tallies in my week to view diary, next to my daily to-do lists, so I can see how much my book is growing by the end of each week. But you could make a checklist, or write your numbers on post-it notes (because who doesn't like a post-it note?) You could make a note on your phone or share it on social media... whatever works for you.

I use this method when I'm writing a first draft and then tweak it when it comes to editing by jotting down completed chapters each day and then the total number of chapters instead of the word count. And there's nothing more motivating than seeing that '1 completed chapter' edging its way up to '40 completed chapters' and then up to 'The End'.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Another Guide To Ruth: A Happy Draft

 Another Guide To Ruth

I've been attempting to write the third instalment in the Beginner's Guide series for a long time. I'd written five whole drafts previously, but I was never happy with them and I'd stopped working on the book while I concentrated on writing other books. And then, a few weeks ago, I was inspired to give it another go.

A Beginner's Guide, Book 3

I'd been working on the paperback of the first in the series, A Beginner's Guide To Salad, and revisiting the characters made me want to get that third book right and continue with Ruth's story. So I started thinking about her and her friends and trying to work out why I wasn't happy with all those drafts and I realised it was because it felt forced. I was shoehorning stories in to fit the theme, changing the POV when it didn't and shoehorning those characters in to fit it instead. And it just wasn't working. But what if I changed the theme? Tweaked it a bit?

I went back to the very beginning and replotted the book with the new theme in mind. And it worked! It no longer felt forced. It felt natural, as though this is where the characters were supposed to be. And so I started Draft Six.

I've loved catching up with Ruth and her friends and finding out where they are now and what they're up to, and I'm so pleased with the draft I've just finished. Draft Six is The One. It isn't publishable - far from it - but it is the draft I'll be working on from now on. I won't be ditching it and starting again. This is it and I can't describe how relieved I am to finally have a draft I'm happy with after all this time.

I'll be diving straight back in to edit the book next week as I don't want to lose the momentum I've built up. I don't want to lose it and end up blogging about Draft Nineteen a few more years down the line...