Friday, 20 December 2019

My Bookish Year

2019 is coming to a close, so I've been thinking about all the lovely bookish things that have happened over the past year.


2019 started with my first ever Agatha Christie novel. I'd never watched an episode of Poirot on the TV either, so when I saw there was going to be an adaptation of The ABC Murders on TV over Christmas 2018, I decided to pick the book up and read it before watching - and I enjoyed both!




I've read some fantastic books this year. Five of my favourites* are:




Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary &

*The books are listed in the order I read them because choosing five was difficult enough





At the beginning of the year, I was working on my tenth book (now known as The Accidental Life Swap). The ebook was released in September, followed by the paperback and audio in October.





Although The Accidental Life Swap is my tenth book, it was only my second book to be released as a paperback and my first with an audio version, so it was VERY EXCITING.

You can read the diary I kept while writing the book here or see the 'Book Extras' here




I'm now working on Book 11, which will hopefully be published towards the end of 2020.




50,000 words of the first draft was written during November as I took part in Nanowrimo for the first time (you can see my posts about it here) and I joined a local writing group, which really helped to motivate me.

Now I'm looking forward to seeing what 2020 will bring!

Monday, 2 December 2019

Nano 2019 - How Did I Get On?


November has passed in a bit of a blur of bashing out words at home and write-ins at the library as I attempted Nanowrimo for the first time. I didn't think I'd be able to manage 50k in a month; I aimed for around 20k per month for my last book as I needed to slow down a bit for my own sanity, but even before that, when I wrote as quickly as possible, I managed around 40k max a month. 

But I did it! I reached 50,000 words on Friday 29 November - so I had a day to spare. I don't think I'd have managed to make the 50,000 words if I'd have been going it alone. I usually write during the day - mostly mornings - and only open my laptop at the weekend if I'm nearing a deadline. But with so many words to get down, I had to commit to writing every day (which I mostly did. I had a tooth extracted and when I got home from the dentist, I got into my pyjamas and felt sorry for myself for the rest of the day in front of the telly instead of writing, which I think is totally reasonable). I even made myself sit with my laptop for extra writing sessions in the evenings, which I only usually do when those pesky deadlines are within reach. I know me - I'm a lazy sod - so I know I'd have slumped in front of the telly if it hadn't been for the writing group at the library and our collective Nano attempt.


Joining the writing group has been brilliant for me, as it's not only made me push myself, I've also met some other local writers. After our final writing session on Saturday, we went out for a meal to celebrate surviving Nano, which was a lot of fun and a great way to unwind after such a hectic month!

Thanks to Nano, I'm now in the final stages of Book 11 and I'm hoping to have a first draft finished by Christmas.


Did you take part in Nano this year? How did you get on?

Friday, 29 November 2019

Five Fun Ways I Name Book Characters

Sometimes, naming book characters can be tough and I'll sit staring at my laptop while I try to conjure the perfect name. But there are ways to make naming fictional friends easier - and sometimes fun. Here are five ways I name my book characters:


Baby Names


I have a baby names book that I've had for over twenty years, way before I had babies to name. I bought it for the sole purpose of writing and, at 50p, I've had my money's worth over the years!



I also like to use baby names websites, such as nameberry.com, or Google the popular names for the year when my character would have been born.


Film & TV Inspiration


I like to take inspiration from the films I love (most of the character names in The Mince Pie Mix-Up were inspired by The Santa Clause) or the TV programs I've been watching at the time (the names of sisters Trina and Tori in A Beginner's Guide To Saying I Do were 'borrowed' from Victorious, which my daughter watched A LOT during the time of writing).

TV and film credits are also a useful way to find interesting names, so keep your eyes peeled!





A Little Help From A (Facebook) Friend


I asked for help naming most of the animal characters in The Accidental Life Swap over on my Facebook page - and it was a lot of fun. There were loads of suggestions for each animal, which I put in a bowl and picked one at random for each animal that was in need of a name.


You can find more info on naming the animals here



Newsletter Subscribers


One of the characters in The Accidental Life Swap was named after one of my newsletter subscribers, and I've done the same with the book I'm currently writing (so far known as Book 11). This is definitely something I'll be doing in the future, so if you'd like the chance to have a character named after YOU, make sure you've subscribed to my newsletter! (You can sign up for free here)




Follow a Theme


One of my favourite ways to name a character happened in The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts, where I gave each of the tea shop's employees (and the owner) a cake-based name:

Maddie - short for Madeleine(s)
Mags - short for Magdalena(s) &
Victoria (sponge)




So those are five fun ways I name book characters. Feel feel to share your own character naming tips in the comments below :)

Friday, 15 November 2019

Nano 2019: The Halfway Point


I'm giving Nanowrimo a go for the first time this year, and the past two weeks have flown by! I usually aim for 1,000 words per day, Monday to Friday, which doesn't add up to 50,000 words so I've had to push myself this month. 

I've written something every day - even if it was only 499 words, which happened on Wednesday. It wasn't a lot of words, but it was all I could manage and I'm not going to beat myself up over it. 499 words is better than nothing!

Some days, I've even grabbed my laptop in the evenings instead of slumping in front of the TV, and I've been to the write-ins with a writing group at the library, which equals more wordage. So far this month, I've managed to write over 23,000 words, so pushing myself with Nano is definitely making me more productive. It isn't quite the halfway mark of the 50k but I'm sure if I push myself a bit more over the next couple of weeks, I'll meet my target!

Are you taking part in Nano? Let us know how you're getting on in the comments below :)

Friday, 8 November 2019

The Accidental Life Swap: A Book In Pictures


There are lots of different stages to writing a book, from the initial spark of an idea, to reaching milestones of 10,000 words, 20, 50, The End, and then the hard work of edits begin before the euphoria (and a pinch of fear) of publication. I thought I'd share some images of the different stages of writing The Accidental Life Swap!



The book started off with the aid of this little gem. Writing Love by Alexandra Sokoloff explains how to use the three act structure screenwriters use, with a focus on romance/romantic comedies (it has a new cover now, but this is the cover it had when I purchased it).



It's always nice to celebrate milestones, and that first 10,000 is a belter!



All my books are fueled by tea.



Most of the animals (and there are quite a few!) were named by readers on my Facebook page.

You can see more info here





More milestones to celebrate!




And then reaching those beautiful words: The End.
Except it isn't really The End. There's still SO MUCH work to do!



Starting with the first round of edits.



I had some more help for the editing stage:


These books help me to build on the draft I already have so I can add more depth to the story and make it shine.



Ebook Publication Day!



I ran a giveaway for my newsletter subscribers to celebrate publication day. The prize was a gorgeous little house pendant, which I think fits perfectly with the book.



Paperbacks!!!







Sometimes one moment can change your life forever…


Rebecca Riley has always been a bit of a pushover. When her glamorous boss, Vanessa, asks her to jump, she doesn’t just ask how high… she asks if her boss would like her to grab a coffee on the way back down!

So whilst overseeing the renovation of Vanessa’s beautiful countryside home, the last thing Rebecca ever expected was to be mistaken for her boss – or that she would even consider going along with it! Far away from the bustling city and her boss’s demanding ways, could she pretend to be Vanessa and swap lives, just for a little while?


Friday, 1 November 2019

Nano 2019


Are you taking part in Nano this year? I've always wanted to attempt it and this time I'm giving it a go. I'll be working on Book 11, so hopefully by the end of the month I'll have a massive chunk of the first draft down.

I won't be taking on the challenge alone because as well as the online nano community, I've also joined a local writing group who are taking part. We're meeting for our first Nano session tomorrow to get some words down and encourage each other.

I've already done a lot of the prep by planning out the book, so now all I have to do is write 50,000 words. Easy, right? *gulps*

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Happy Paperback Publication Day To Me!



I know it's Halloween and we're supposed to be all about the pumpkins, but I'd like to squeeze in a little blog post about The Accidental Life Swap, which is out in paperback today. Although I've had ten books published, this is only my second paperback, so it's a very special moment to be able to hold my book in my hands. If you're a newsletter subscriber, there's a chance to win a signed copy, so check your inboxes!

If you've already read the ebook or would like to know more, you can see my 'Book Extras' here, or you can read the diary I kept while writing the book here.








Sometimes one moment can change your life forever…


Rebecca Riley has always been a bit of a pushover. When her glamorous boss, Vanessa, asks her to jump, she doesn’t just ask how high… she asks if her boss would like her to grab a coffee on the way back down!
So whilst overseeing the renovation of Vanessa’s beautiful countryside home, the last thing Rebecca ever expected was to be mistaken for her boss – or that she would even consider going along with it! Far away from the bustling city and her boss’s demanding ways, could she pretend to be Vanessa and swap lives, just for a little while?



Friday, 25 October 2019

Get My Ebook Quick Read For FREE



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?




Six Dates is a fun, quick read following the five speed dates Natalie experiences, plus a second date with one of her potential love matches, and is exclusively available to my newsletter subscribers.

Subscribing is quick, easy and FREE and once you've signed up you'll be able to download the book onto the reading device of your choice - your e-reader, phone or computer. 




My newsletters are the best way to keep up to date with my writing as it goes straight to your inbox. Plus, you'll receive extra content and short stories and have the chance to enter subscriber-exclusive giveaways.

For more information and to subscribe, click here



Friday, 18 October 2019

If You're Plotting A Book, It's Totally Okay To...



... drift off into the world where your characters exist so you can develop and build on ideas. It makes washing up much more fun.


... listen to conversations on the bus and make mental notes of funny anecdotes or juicy gossip. It isn't being nosy. It's research.


... take more notice of the credits than you did the film or TV show as you need the perfect name for one of your characters.


... watch ALL THE FILMS. It's research; pace, plot, twists, characterisation, etc


... eat chocolate for breakfast. It aids creativity. Probably.


... spend hours compiling playlists of inspirational music on Spotify. You've got to set the mood, right?


... 'cast' the characters for the future Hollywood movie based on the book you haven't even attempted to write yet.


... eat cake for lunch. It boosts concentration. I'm pretty sure I heard that somewhere.


... forget the details. So you're planning to make your MC a mountain guide in Snowdonia but you've never step foot on a mountain. Or been within sniffing distance of Snowdonia. You can google that later!


... know more about your characters than your own family. You've nailed down their character traits, mapped out their family trees, delved into their backstories so far you know what their mum was eating when she went into labour. But you forgot it was your aunty Sue's birthday last week.

Friday, 11 October 2019

The Accidental Life Swap: The Playlist


I always put together a playlist for my books, whether it's songs that have inspired the story (or kept me motivated while writing it) or music that I feel fits the theme of the book. With The Accidental Life Swap, I added songs that were either mentioned in the book, or songs that I imagined Rebecca choosing to play on the pub's jukebox.

You can listen to the playlist here on the blog, or click here to open in Spotify.












Sometimes one moment can change your life forever…


Rebecca Riley has always been a bit of a pushover. When her glamorous boss, Vanessa, asks her to jump, she doesn’t just ask how high… she asks if her boss would like her to grab a coffee on the way back down!
So whilst overseeing the renovation of Vanessa’s beautiful countryside home, the last thing Rebecca ever expected was to be mistaken for her boss – or that she would even consider going along with it! Far away from the bustling city and her boss’s demanding ways, could she pretend to be Vanessa and swap lives, just for a little while?


Friday, 4 October 2019

The Accidental Life Swap: My Dream Cast


When writing a book, it's always nice to daydream about who would be the perfect cast if your book was ever adapted for TV (or film, if you're dreaming really big), and I thought I'd share my dream cast for The Accidental Life Swap with you.













If you would like to learn more about the characters, click here to read my quick introduction.






Sometimes one moment can change your life forever…


Rebecca Riley has always been a bit of a pushover. When her glamorous boss, Vanessa, asks her to jump, she doesn’t just ask how high… she asks if her boss would like her to grab a coffee on the way back down!

So whilst overseeing the renovation of Vanessa’s beautiful countryside home, the last thing Rebecca ever expected was to be mistaken for her boss – or that she would even consider going along with it! Far away from the bustling city and her boss’s demanding ways, could she pretend to be Vanessa and swap lives, just for a little while?


Friday, 27 September 2019

A False Identity: My Favourite Five In Film


Have you ever pretended to be someone else? In The Accidental Life Swap, timid Rebecca finds herself pretending to be her boss, Vanessa, channelling her self-confidence and ability to always get what she wants. There are many films where the main characters invent a new identity and I thought I’d share a few of my favourites with you.




Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, She’s The Man centres around Viola, who disguises herself as her twin brother, Sebastian so she can join a boys’ football team when the girls’ football team is cut at her school. There are complications when Viola starts to fall for teammate Duke, who is in love with another girl and thinks Viola is a dude. Lots of fun!



When lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she’s put in witness protection – in a convent. While staying there, Deloris will have to pretend to be a fellow nun, which is a challenge for opinionated, fun-loving Deloris.



Daniel Hillard goes to desperate measures to spend more time with his children when his wife files for divorce, disguising himself as a Scottish woman called Mrs Doubtfire when his ex-wife advertisers for a housekeeper. All is going well for Daniel when he’s given the job, until he finds himself in some sticky situations and having to switch between his true self and Mrs Doubtfire.



Akeem, the prince of Zamunda, is set to marry on his 21st birthday. The marriage has been arranged by his parents, but Akeem wants to marry for love. Postponing the wedding, Akeem travels to Queens, New York, under the guise of a poor student and finds work in a family-run fast food restaurant. Can Akeem find love, or will he have to return to Zamunda to marry a virtual stranger?



In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the main characters Freddy and Lawrence use their false identities in order to con money from wealthy women, though they have different styles of doing this. When Lawrence and Freddy have a bet to settle their rivalry, they choose an heiress as their target, with the winner being the first to con $50,000 from the unsuspecting woman.



So, those are my top 5 new identity films. Do you have a favourite of your own?






Sometimes one moment can change your life forever…


Rebecca Riley has always been a bit of a pushover. When her glamorous boss, Vanessa, asks her to jump, she doesn’t just ask how high… she asks if her boss would like her to grab a coffee on the way back down!
So whilst overseeing the renovation of Vanessa’s beautiful countryside home, the last thing Rebecca ever expected was to be mistaken for her boss – or that she would even consider going along with it! Far away from the bustling city and her boss’s demanding ways, could she pretend to be Vanessa and swap lives, just for a little while?