Tuesday, 20 October 2020
Happy Publication Day to me!
Today, my eleventh book has been released, and I'm so pleased I get to share Maisie's story. It was a lot of fun writing the book, filling it to the brim with all things festive while enjoying a bit of 90s and early 2000s nostalgia. I've wanted to write a time-travel rom com for a long time so it's a very exciting time!
If you're a newsletter subscriber, you should receive an email today where you can enter my giveaway of a signed copy of the book, and over the next few weeks I'll be sharing lots of 'book extras' here on the blog, including 12 Fun Facts about the book, the very festive playlist, and we'll be stepping back in time with Maisie.
If you read the book, I hope you love it as much as I do. I'd be ever so grateful if you left a review on Amazon as every one of them helps, even if it's just a sentence or two.
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.
Friday, 9 October 2020
It's that time of year again, when the leaves are starting to fall from the trees, everybody's grumbling that it's too soon for the Christmas stuff to be out in the shops and writers are gearing up for another go at Nanowrimo.
I'm planning to write a big chunk of my next book during November (50,000 words if possible) and here are 5 ways I'm getting ready to jump into Nano:
1. Registering My Intent
I've set up my writing goal on the Nanowrimo website, so it's all there on the screen: my intention to write 50,000 words of Book 13 during November.
Now I'm ready to watch the tracker climb from zero words to - fingers crossed! - 50,000.
Some people plot, some people don't. I'm definitely a plotter - and a massive one at that. So it makes sense to plot out my book before I even attempt Nano.
You might want to jot out a few ideas, or a beginning, middle and end, but I'm going full-on three-act structure, because I've found over the years that I need this level of planning before I start a book. Do as little or as much that works for you - every writer works in different ways.
3. Getting To Know My Characters
We'll never know our characters at the beginning of the first draft as much as we do at the end of it, but it's handy to have some idea of who these people are in your mind before you start.
I'm using the character questionnaire from the Nano Prep 101 on the website to develop my characters. Hopefully I'll know my characters a bit more by the time 1st November comes along.
4. Pinteresting Stuff
Another way of developing my characters is to use Pinterest to give me a visual representation of who my characters are: what do they look like, what's their fashion style, what are their hobbies and interests? I've created individual boards for each of my characters and I've been pinning images as I fill in the questionnaire.
Pinterest is also good for world-building, so you can get an idea of what the town or workplace or home of your characters looks and feels like. It doesn't have to be a million pins - when I was planning my novel The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea, I had just 35 pins in my board, but it gave a flavour of the kind of seaside town I wanted my characters to inhabit and gave an insight into their characters.
5. Setting A Word Count Schedule
50,000 words is a lot, and it's a pretty daunting task to complete in just one month (if this doesn't seem daunting to you, good for you. I'm not jealous. At all), but breaking it down into smaller chunks can help.
I've set myself a daily goal of 2,000 words for six days a week, which means I can have a little break if I need to, but I've also got a bit of wriggle room if I need to catch up at any point. 2,000 words a day seems more manageable than 50,000 words in a month, even though it adds up to the same amount of words!
Are you taking part in Nano this year? How are you getting yourself prepared?
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.