Friday, 25 September 2020
My latest newsletter will be going out soon, and I'll be asking my subscribers if they want to put their name in the (virtual) hat, where one will be picked at random to be used in the book I'm currently planning. So, if you'd like the chance to see your name in print, make sure you've signed up!
I've used newsletter subscribers names in my books before (for The Accidental Life Swap and soon-to-be released The 12 Christmases of You & Me) and I'm looking forward to doing it again. I have nameless male and female characters, so anyone can put their name forward.
It's quick, easy and free to subscribe and I only send out newsletter 4-5 times a year, so your inbox won't be bombarded. And, when I do send out a newsletter, there's always a subscriber-exclusive giveaway. Plus, when you subscribe, you'll be able to get my romantic comedy ebook, Six Dates for FREE.
You can find out more info and/or subscribe by clicking here
Friday, 18 September 2020
As I said last week in my 5 Point Pitch post, I'm a MASSIVE plotter. And that 5 Point Pitch is only the very beginning of my plotting. It forms the base of what is to come next:
- a synopsis
- a bullet-point plot
- a detailed three-act structure
Last week, I used an example of the short pitch I created for The 12 Christmases of You & Me:
Once I have this, I expand the pitch into a synopsis:
How does she travel back in time?
What happens when she finds herself in the past?
How does her time-travelling affect her present?
I expand on the history repeating itself and explain how she embraces living in the present, ending up with around a page of plot.
And then the real work begins.
With my synopsis, I start to divide the plot up into bullet points, expanding the bare bones into what will later become chapters and scenes. This is usually a sentence or two (or maybe a few more) of what is happening to move the plot along and filling in the gaps (using The 12 Christmases of You & Me as an example again, I will have mentioned Maisie's time-travel, but I won't have detailed each one). It'll be fleshed out during the first draft, so there's still plenty of room for creativity, and there will always be changes that will be made throughout that first draft. This bullet-point plot and the three-act structure that will follow (because yes, there's more planning to be done. I know lots of people don't plan at all, but this is how I roll and it works for me) isn't set in stone.
Once I have my bullet-point plan, I can start to divide it up into a three-act structure. I use Alexandra Sokoloff's Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors as a guide, but the main parts I'm looking for are the opening scene, the inciting incident, the midpoint, and the final battle.
Some people use a whiteboard or squillions of post-it notes to plot their structures, but I simply use an excel document, with tabs for each act. (I would love to do the post-it note thing, but I have limited space and I'm not sure a wall full of post-its would work in my living room.)
With the main plot points copied and pasted into my excel document, I can then transfer the rest of the bullet points into their relevant places, giving me an overall view of what each act - and the entire book - will look like. I'll expand even further at this point (I told you I'm a massive plotter) and then, finally, I'm ready to start writing...
Friday, 11 September 2020
I'm a MASSIVE plotter. I have huge admiration for Pantsers and the way they can jump into a new book and see where it takes them, but I don't have it in me to do that myself. I need to know what my book is, where it starts, where it ends and all the bits in the middle. And so I plot, plot, plot until I'm ready to start the first chapter.
Plotting can be pretty daunting. Where do you start? How do you transfer the messy jumble of ideas and characters from your head into a coherent plan? As a writer, I'm always learning new techniques and adapting the way I work, particularly when it comes to planning a book. One technique I've found incredibly useful is creating a short pitch.
The pitch starts with five points:
I'm going to use my upcoming book, The 12 Christmases of You & Me as an example to fill in the boxes:
I then use this information to write a short pitch:
The 12 Christmases of You & Me is a romantic comedy about single mum Maisie who finds herself travelling back in time to the Christmases of her teens and early twenties. She hasn't spoken to her best friend, Jonas in two years, and she decides to use the opportunity to fix the mistakes she made and save their friendship. But when history keeps repeating itself, Maisie has to learn to stop looking back and embrace living in the present.
This short pitch is incredibly useful because it will form the base of the rest of my plans, from the synopsis to the three-act structure that I'll work from when writing the book. Click here to see the next stage of my planning process.
Friday, 4 September 2020
And just like that, they're back to school.
After five months of home-schooling, of baking lime loaves (and lemon and orange ones), of community-style games of Scrabble in the kitchen, of planting dahlias and watching them grow on the windowsill in repurposed Pot Noodle pots, and watching bees enjoying our flowers in the garden, of cream teas and chocolate chip pancakes, of rock painting, of building bug hotels and making bird feeders from plastic bottles, of social-distanced leavers' gathering in primary school playgrounds, my girls are back at school and college.
In some ways, lockdown has gone on forever (I can just about remember back when Isobel came home on that final Thursday of primary school, although we didn't know that would be her last day. We thought she'd be home for a few weeks of home-schooling and then be back after Easter. Bless us) but it also, weirdly, seems to have passed by in the blink of an eye. And I'm usually itching for the kids to go back to school after six long weeks of summer holidays (ha ha ha) but this year it's harder to let go and I would quite happily remain cocooned in our house for a bit longer (although I'd pass on the home-schooling, thank you very much).
I'm always anxious when it comes to back-to-school time, but it's even more nerve-wracking this time around; not only is Isobel going back to school, she's starting a whole new one, with teachers she's never met before because with no school, there was no transition period between primary and secondary school to ease them in. Plus, there's the added worry of everything Covid-related - masks, the inability to social distance in a school, the threat of a second wave. Can we go back to rock-painting and growing dahlias, please? Just for a teeny bit longer?
No, I know that can't happen, and Isobel was looking forward to starting her new school (while fully aware the novelty will soon wear off). I've got to put my big girl's pants on and get on with things, aka dive into planning my next book, which I'll be writing a (hopefully) big chunk of during this year's Nano. I'll also be making sure everything is ready for the publication of The Twelve Christmases of You & Me next month which, like starting a new school, is exciting and scary in equal measures.
Friday, 28 August 2020
Did you read The Babysitters Club when you were younger? I loved them, along with the Sweet Valley Twins and High series (there wasn't much else in the teen section of our local library, so it's lucky I enjoyed them). As well as the copies I borrowed from the library, I also owned a few, which I kept hold of and passed onto my oldest daughter, who then passed them onto her younger sister. My daughters both loved the series too, so when we heard that Netflix had made its own adaptation, we had to watch it.
Adaptations don't always live up to the books, but I thought the series was great and it definitely delivered the hit of nostalgia I was hoping for, plus I liked the tweaks they'd made to characters and story lines to bring it up to date. My only teeny, tiny niggle was the horror of seeing Alicia Silverstone playing one of the mums *insert screamy-face emoji*
To me, Alicia Silverstone is Cher from Clueless, who is fifteen (sixteen by the final scene, but whatever), not a mum. And especially not a mum to a teenager. It doesn't matter that I'm a mum to a teenager now as well - it was still a slap in the face and a reminder that I'm no longer the kid reading about Kristy and the gang during the long summer holidays.
Seriously though, Netflix has produced a brilliant series that I hope will have another generation picking up the books and devouring them.
Have you watched the series? What did you think?
Friday, 14 August 2020
I haven't done one of these for a while, so I thought we could have a little catch catch up. Let us know what you're up to in the comments below :)
I'm between writing projects at the moment as I've just finished the first draft of Book 12 and I'm having a little writing break. In September, I'm going to start planning Book 13, which is a festive book that I'll be writing a big chunk of for Nanowrimo. I wrote 50,000 words of The 12 Christmases of You & Me during Nano 2019 (my first ever attempt at Nano) and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in again!
While I'm on my writing break, I'm going to be working on my family tree, which I've been building up on and off over the past few years. I love history, so delving back into the records and piecing together my family tree is a lot of fun!
I'm currently reading On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher. It's been on my Kindle for a long time but this year I told myself I was going to stop neglecting the many, many ebooks I've one-clicked and abandoned. I'm doing well with my pledge as I think it's about a 50/50 split between ebooks and paperbacks.
I know lockdown hasn't been easy, but it has presented me with the opportunity to watch things I missed the first time round. With shows being broadcast again to fill slots and box sets being added in the catch up section, I've managed to find some real gems. My favourites are:
Last Tango In Halifax
The A Word
Car Share and
I also binged my way through seasons 1 and 2 of Dark on Netflix in preparation for the third and final season (and then binged that too!)
Books, books news and writing, stuff from my garden and Luna.