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.
What about you? Do you listen to music while you write? And if you do, what kind of music helps you?
Friday, 26 February 2021
It's been almost seven months since I last blogged about writing Book 12 - and just as long since I worked on it.
After finishing the first draft at the beginning of August 2020, I filed the manuscript away to have a little break, working on my 2020 Nanowrimo project (for now, known as Book 13) which took me up to Christmas. At the beginning of the new year, I set out my writing goals for 2021:
As you can see, although working on the second draft of Book 12 should come first, it isn't at the top of the list, and this is because I was a bit apprehensive about diving in again. I remember the book was quite messy (global pandemics and home-schooling don't mix well with trying to write a book, it turns out) and I knew there would be quite a lot of work to do. So I wimped out and took on the easier task of continuing to work on Book 13 first. I'd finished that first draft before Christmas and I knew I was happy with the structure of the book so it wouldn't need as much work as Book 12.
But with the second draft of Book 13 now complete, it was definitely time to tackle the second draft of Book 12.
I started working on Book 13 on Monday, easing myself in by re-doing the character profiles I'd printed out before the first draft. There were loads of scribbled notes on the sheets, so adding those and reprinting made a tidier set of notes to work from, but it also gave me the chance to get reacquainted with a bunch of characters I hadn't 'seen' since last summer.
I'd also set up a Word document of notes for the next draft when I finished the book back in August (because even then I knew it would need a LOT of work) and I added more thoughts that I'd had about the story and the characters during the past seven months, because although I'd been working on another book, Cleo's story was still there, in the back of my mind.
With my spruced-up character sheets and my notes printed out, it was time to actually do it. To actually dive into the draft I'd been wary of tackling for so long. And do you know what? I've loved it. I've loved getting to know Cleo all over again and all those months away from the book have given me the detachment I need to delete all the unnecessary details and info-dumps. Whole paragraphs have gone because I can see now that they're not needed.
Most of the heavy work - the shifting and rewriting - will be coming up very soon, so although I know I've been eased into this draft so far, I'm not nearly as apprehensive as I was and I'm looking forward to really getting stuck into Cleo's story and making it the best it can possibly be.
Friday, 19 February 2021
My last catch-up post was before Christmas, so I thought we'd have a quick one now. Let us know what you've been getting up to in the comments below.
At the beginning of the year, I set out my five main writing goals for the year, and I've already crossed off the first on my list.
With the second draft of Book 13 complete, I'm having a little editing break and working on the paperback of A Beginner's Guide To Salad, which I'm hoping will be ready for release within the next month or so.
I started off the year by re-reading Jane Green's Jemima J. It's an old favourite and I wanted a comforting read to begin another crappy Covid year.
I've also read The Escape by C L Taylor, Watching You by Lisa Jewell, and The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, and I'm currently reading Mike Gayle's Half a World Away.
I loved watching The Masked Singer and trying to guess who everyone was, so I'm gutted that's finished. It was just such a joyful show and I miss it.
I'm also devastated that I've worked my way through all six seasons of Schitts Creek. I was really late to watch it, but I'm so glad I did and I'll be watching it all over again very soon, I'm sure. In the meantime I'll be watching the rest of Dancing On Ice and inhaling all the crime dramas ITV can throw at us. The teen and I have recently binged our way through series one and two of The Bay (I'd already seen the first series but was more than happy to have a refresher re-watch) and Unforgotten (again, I'd already watched the first three series, but we caught up/refreshed on Netflix before watching the new series).
On a less gritty note, Isobel and I have been watching Sister Sister on Netflix, which is a massive nostalgia hit for me and I'm pleased to report that Isobel is enjoying it too.
Books, writing, daffodils (spring is coming!) and pupcakes for Luna.
You can find me on Instagram here
I took part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch and registered 2 magpies, 1 woodpigeon, 1 pied wagtail and 1 grey wagtail (which was better than last year's offering of 3 wood pigeons).
I also went on a bus for the third time since March last year (it was an essential journey as my daughter had a medical appointment) and we celebrated the teen's 18th birthday (yes, I know. 18. How did that happen?)
So that's about it from me, but what about you? Let us know what you've been up to in the comments :)
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
My latest newsletter will be going out this Friday and as we're approaching Valentine's Day, I thought I'd write a new short story for my subscribers. Lost & Found is a quick, fun read and I hope you enjoy it.
As well as the free short story, I'll be sharing a little bit of book news, plus you can enter my subscriber-exclusive giveaway of a signed copy of The Accidental Life Swap.
If you're not a newsletter subscriber yet but don't want to miss out, it isn't too late! You can sign up here - it's quick and easy, and you'll receive my free ebook quick read, Six Dates, which is only available to subscribers.
Friday, 5 February 2021
Earlier this month, I set out my five main writing goals for the year - and I've managed to cross off the first item on my list: Draft Two of Book 13
I was happy with the structure of the book after the first draft, so I've spent the past few weeks polishing the manuscript - cutting unnecessary bits, adding necessary bits, tidying clunky sentences, making sure there's a nice flow and ensuring I hadn't accidentally changed somebody's name part-way through.
Once I was happy with the draft, I went back to the beginning and read through the whole book again, using Word's Read Aloud function, which helped me to pick up on a lot of little errors that I'd missed during previous drafts and read-throughs. You wouldn't believe the amount of 'the', 'a' and 'of's that were missing, or the uses of 'him' instead of 'his', and don't get me started me on the amount of repeated words (how did I miss those???)
So, I'm happy with the story and the structure, and the manuscript is as clean as I can make it. Which means it's time for the book to meet another set of eyes. And that is the scariest bit of all.
Friday, 29 January 2021
Have you subscribed to my newsletter yet? It's the best way to keep up to date with my book news as it's delivered straight to your inbox.
You'll receive newsletters from me 4-5 times a year, with book news, extra content, giveaways and more. Plus, subscribers will also receive my free exclusive ebook, Six Dates.
Speed dating has never been so sweet!
Natalie has been cajoled into attending a speed dating event with a difference - the difference being a delicious baked treat to enjoy with each date. But will her possible matches prove to be just as sweet?
If you've read The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, the setting of Six Dates may be familiar, as well as the delicious cakes and biscuits Natalie is treated to during her dates (warning: reading the book may cause severe cravings for cakes). If you fancy having a go at baking the treats yourself, there are recipes included in the book, and if you do bake any of them, I'd love to see the results - you can tag me on Twitter or Instagram, or share your pics on my Facebook page.