Monday, 20 May 2019

Writing To Music


I don't do silence while I'm writing. It's too weird. I like background noise (as long as that background noise isn't a couple of kids arguing about who's taking up more than their fair share of the sofa. Yes, I am talking about my kids) but it can't be a TV program as I'll end up tuning in and my writing will be forgotten. So, music, for me, is the perfect solution.

I like the music to set the scene, so if I'm writing something festive, a bit of Noddy Holder shouting at the top of his lungs that it's Christmas is spot on (plus, I'll use any excuse to listen to Crimbo music). But most of my books aren't set at Christmas so I need something to suit my non-festive rom coms. I'll usually head for 80s or 90s pop compilations but I've recently set up a romantic comedy playlist of my own, made up of the playlists of some of my favourite rom com films.


So far, the playlist consists of playlists from:

 13 Going 30
You've Got Mail
Picture Perfect
Clueless
Groundhog Day
Notting Hill &
Bridget Jones' Diary

It's a work-in-progress, so I'll be adding more playlists (usually after I've watched them, because why not? Who doesn't love a good rom com?) but it's the perfect compilation to listen to while I'm writing. It's full of upbeat and quirky tunes as well as more melodic songs oozing romance and love.


You can listen to my playlist below via Spotify, or you can save it to your own account to listen to it whenever you're in a romantic comedy mood!

Monday, 15 April 2019

Writing Book Ten: Part Twelve - Deadline Day

I'm keeping a diary of the writing process of Book 10, from the first words to publication.



Today is deadline day.

And I've just sent the completed draft of The Accidental Life Swap to my editor! Excuse me while I:

  1. Punch the air in celebration
  2. Weep with relief and
  3. Collapse in a heap




Even though I've loved writing the book over the past few months and there's still a ton of work to, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I did it! I wrote another book, from beginning to end. And it doesn't matter that the finished book may look nothing like this draft, because I've passed a massive hurdle and no matter how much editing is required, I have something solid to work with.

Now I really am going to collapse in a heap. I'll be back with more updates when I have them, but for now I'm going to have a little rest and enjoy the last week of the Easter holidays :)





Tuesday, 2 April 2019

A Quick Catch Up


I haven't done one of these for a while - the last one was in July! Here goes...




I'm working on my tenth book at the moment, which will be out in ebook on 1st October and paperback in December. I'm on the final furlong of the first draft, so I should be reaching The End pretty soon.



I've been keeping a diary of the writing process of this book, which you can see here




I'm currently reading The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell. I fell in love with Lisa Jewell's rom coms back in the early 2000s (Thirty Nothing is one of my favourite books) but I also enjoy the darker stories too. There are a few I need to catch up on!


I've read some brilliant books recently. A few of my faves are

One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk
Our House by Louise Candlish
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinsborough &
Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh



There's been some great stuff on the TV over the past few months. I was doing cartwheels (in my head - I haven't performed a cartwheel in quite some time) when Vera returned as it's one of my favourite TV shows. 

My very favourite returned yesterday - if you haven't watched Line of Duty yet, then you really must! I re-watched the past four series in preparation of series 5 and this time my daughter, Rianne watched them with me and she loves them too. My Mother's Day gift is series 5 on DVD, though I have to wait for it to be released (it has been pre-ordered!)

I love a good quiz/game show, so I've been a bit spoiled lately as Only Connect returned, Blockbusters has been revived and Jeopardy has been put on Netflix :)





Books, writing, holidays and my new crocheting hobby. Plus Luna, of course :)


So that's what I've been up to lately. Let us know what you've been getting up to, and/or pass on your own books and TV recommendations in the comments below!

Friday, 22 March 2019

Writing Book Ten: Part Eleven - We Have a Title!

I'm keeping a diary of the writing process of Book 10, from the first words to publication.



Do you remember this snippet from my last entry?


Obviously, I made a big mistake. You should never say that something is going well unless a spanner gets thrown into the works, because guess what? A spanner is going to get chucked in there at some point, probably within days or even hours of the statement. That's just the way life works, I'm afraid, and touching wood makes no difference whatsoever.

So, I had a bit of a spanner in the works last week. It was nothing major - just some pesky germs that had me feeling extremely sorry for myself as I lay on the sofa, binge-watching After Life on Netflix and clearing some space on the Sky box - but it meant I didn't write for a few days. Luckily, I was slightly ahead of my word count schedule so I haven't fallen behind. In fact, I managed to reach a mega milestone this week - the 80k mark!



I'm so pleased to have reached this point as it means I'm getting so close to having a finished draft. I still have a good chunk to write, but I'm getting there. And there's more good news as Book 10 finally has a title! From now on, Book 10 will be known as...

The Accidental Life Swap.

What do you think?








Monday, 4 March 2019

Writing Book Ten: Part Ten - Limited Time

I'm keeping a diary of the writing process of Book 10, from the first words to publication.



It's been a bit tricky finding the time to write over the past couple of weeks. We had half-term, which obviously poses a challenge, but I was determined to keep up with my usual writing goal of 5k per week as I didn't want to fall behind. I've found writing this book to be the pleasure writing used to be before deadlines kicked in and made some of the books a blur of panicked rushing, and this is mostly down to being able to take the pressure off with a lower word count aim for each week. So I didn't want to shatter this more relaxed state of writing by having to play catch up.



Luckily, I was able to - just about - meet my goal and keep myself on track (I had 39 words to spare!) so it made going into what I knew would be another tricky week less stressful. My home life created a bit of a spanner in the works last week, with four medical appointments booked in for the same week. None of them were for me but I needed to be there, so it meant my writing took a bit of a backseat (as it should, I may add).



Again, I scraped by, reaching my goal and keeping myself on track. I'm now at the 70,000 words mark, so The End is almost within reach. My deadline is 15th April, which is six weeks away, and the book will fall between 80-90,000 words, so unless a great big spanner gets chucked into the works (touch wood it doesn't) then I should be able to meet the deadline without the major panic I sometimes feel!







Friday, 15 February 2019

Writing Book Ten: Part Nine - Powering Ahead

I'm keeping a diary of the writing process of Book 10, from the first words to publication.



Earlier in the week, I reached the 50,000 words point, which was amazing and left me feeling pretty good about how the book is going. Not only that, it seems to have motivated me even more than usual as I clocked up over 3,000 words on Wednesday alone - which is over half of my aim for the whole week! By Thursday, I'd reached my word count goal for NEXT WEEK, which is good for two reasons:

  1. I'm 5,000 words closer to The End than I expected to be at this point
  2. It's half-term next week

It's always more difficult to write during the school holidays, for obvious reasons. And even if I wait until my youngest is in bed, there just aren't the same amount of hours to fit the writing into as there are under normal circumstances. So being ahead takes the pressure off. I'm still going to aim for my usual 5k, but now it isn't a huge problem if I don't quite meet it!


I'm still asking for help naming some of the animals that will feature in Book 10. This week, we've named the kittens and there will be a couple more chances to take part over the next couple of weeks. Head over to my Facebook page if you want to join in - whoever's suggestion is used will have their name put in the book's acknowledgements!

You can see which names have been chosen so far by clicking here







Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Read My New Valentine's Day Short Story For FREE


I love writing short stories to share with my readers, and I've been working on one for Valentine's Day, which will be going out in my next newsletter.

If you haven't subscribed yet, you can sign up by clicking here - it's quick, easy and free! My newsletters go out 4/5 times a year and there is a subscriber-exclusive giveaway with each one, as well as book news and recommendations, seasonal short stories and extra content for my books. Plus, when you subscribe, you'll receive a free ebook short straight away!

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Monday, 11 February 2019

Writing Book Ten: Part Eight - Reaching a Major Milestone

I'm keeping a diary of the writing process of Book 10, from the first words to publication.



There are a few milestones I like to take note of while writing a book so I can have a mini (internal) celebration - for example the first 10k, 20k, the halfway point - and there are Major Milestones, like The End (which requires an actual celebration. Usually something edible and a big rest). And today I reached what I consider to be another Major Milestone: 50k!



50,000 words is A LOT of words. It represents hours and hours of work (both writing them down and imagining them while you're washing up or wandering around Asda). It seems like an impossible goal when you're at the very beginning or you've been hit with The Slump, when writing a handful of words is an unreachable task. So reaching this point is well worth giving yourself a pat on the back for. I've written a MASSIVE chunk of the book and I'm definitely past the halfway point. Reaching the 50k point comes with a huge sense of relief. I'm getting there. Every day I've sat with my laptop, I've been inching closer and closer to The End and having 50,000 words chalked up is evidence of that.



So, I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself right now, especially as I haven't been hit with The Slump yet, which I usually have by now and it makes getting the words down extremely difficult and sucks all the joy from writing. I really do think that having a solid plan in place and a lower weekly word goal has helped to take the pressure off, so I'm enjoying seeing where Rebecca's story is going each day.






Thursday, 31 January 2019

Writing Book Ten: Part Seven - Building On The Basics

I'm keeping a diary of the writing process of Book 10, from the first words to publication.



Before I started writing Book 10, I bought a book to help me with plotting and structuring novels (you can see my post about it here), which has been a huge help. I love that I have the whole plot in front of me, so if I get stuck, I can refer back to it and know where I need to go to keep the story moving. Some people don't like working this way and prefer to see where the book and characters take them, keeping that first draft fresh and exciting, which I understand even if I can't work that way (I've tried, but I'm definitely a plotter). 



But the great thing about working to a plot is there is still room for your characters to lead the way, even if they are on a certain track (and those tracks are never set in stone anyway and can be moved around or chucked out altogether). Lots of things have been happening that weren't plotted as I've been writing this week. Yes, they're following the main framework, but the characters are definitely taking on a life of their own and nudging things along in their own way. The next section of my plan is pretty vague, but I like that I've got to know the characters by now so I can fill in those gaps much easier than I could in the plotting stages.

One of the unexpected scenes this week involved three newborn kittens (I know, adorable, right?) so I've been watching YouTube videos as 'research', which was clearly VERY TAXING. I haven't named the kittens yet (other than Kitten1, Kitten2 and Kitten3 in the manuscript) as I'll be asking for help to do this on my Facebook page soon.



This week on Facebook, we've named Claude the sheep and there will be a new animal to name tomorrow. If you'd like to take part, pop over to my Facebook page and see the pinned post (from Friday). Whoever's suggestion is used will have their name put into the acknowledgements when the book is published!



You can see a list of all the names that have been chosen so far by clicking here






Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Naming The Animals in Book 10


There are quite a few animals that feature in my latest book, and I thought it would be fun if I handed over the naming of them to my readers. I did this on my Facebook page and we named thirteen animals.

It was a lot of fun reading the suggestions and seeing so many people getting involved. Each animal name suggestion was put into a bowl, with one (or three, in the case of the chickens!) picked at random. Whoever the suggestion belonged to will have their name put into the acknowledgements when the book is published!



Here are the names - and who suggested them:


Donkey

Daisy, suggested by Sharon Smith


Chickens

Chow Mein, suggested by Gemma Tierney

Bianca, suggested by Gisele Le Corre

Patty, suggested by Maggie Rollison


Sheep

Claude, suggested by Anne Maria Seymour


Hedgehogs

Pumpkin, suggested by Rae Kenny-Rife

Sophie, suggested by Jo Jackson


Kittens

Tommy, Timmy & Tammy, suggested by Melissa Elizabeth


Rabbits

Rupert, suggested by Stephanie-Jayne Matthews

Honey, suggested by Patricia Scott


Pig

Violet, suggested by Maggie Ewing



Friday, 25 January 2019

Writing Book Ten: Part Six - Heading Towards The Halfway Point

I'm keeping a diary of the writing process of Book 10, from the first words to publication.



It was my birthday at the beginning of the week, so I gave myself a day off from writing, which was lovely. I finished reading Clare Mackintosh's Let Me Lie (which I LOVED) and caught up on some TV shows. I'm aiming to write 5k per week and should have been at the 30k mark by the end of last week, but I was already over that goal by almost two thousand words so I didn't have to worry about falling behind schedule.


My goal for this week was to get to 35,000 words in the book and even though I gave myself a day off, I still managed to reach it - plus a bit more. My current word count stands at 38,103, which means I'm almost up to the halfway point. I always aim for 80,000 words for a finished first draft, although I usually end up somewhere between the mid-80s to the mid-90 thousand words.



Book 10 has quite a few animals, which I've been asking for name suggestions for on my Facebook page. This week has been the turn of three chickens, who are now named Chow Mein, Bianca and Patty and now I'm asking for suggestions for a sheep. Whoever has their suggestion chosen at random from the bowl will have their name put into the acknowledgements when the book is published. Head over to my Facebook page if you'd like to take part!



As well as writing Book 10, I've also been working on a new short story for Valentine's Day, which will be going out in my newsletter. If you haven't subscribed to my newsletter yet and would like to receive the short story for FREE, you can subscribe here






Tuesday, 22 January 2019

A Whole Lotta Library Love


On Friday, I received my first PLR (Public Lending Rights) statement, which tells you how many times your books were taken out of the library during the qualifying period, and I was (very) pleasantly surprised to find out The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea was taken out just over 4,000 times! As well as the super-fuzzy and warm feeling you get knowing people are picking your book off the shelf and choosing to take it home with them, the author gets around 6p each time their book is checked out, which doesn't sound like much but it'll be a nice little bonus when it arrives.


As a bookworm from a young age, I've always loved libraries. When I was little, I'd borrow Topsy and Tim books, and as a teenager I devoured the library's collection of Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club books. The library was only a short walk away, so I could pop over in the school summer holidays, pick out three books and return a couple of days later to swap them for more. One of my nerdiest anecdotes is being stung by a wasp while waiting outside the library for it to open!


My writing journey started in our local library, when I was around ten. There was a children's author giving a talk at our local library, so one of the teachers at my school took his class and mine to listen to it. I'd always scribbled down bits of stories for as long as I could remember, but as I sat there, fascinated by the author who I can't even remember the name of as he spoke about his writing and how he got his ideas and noted them down in a notebook, I realised for the first time that I too could write actual books when I was older. From then on, it became my dream to be a published author. So thank you to the author who gave that talk (and I'm sorry I don't remember your name - I really wish I did) and to Mr Perrin (who not only took us to that author talk but also introduced us to The Animals of Farthing Wood, my favourite childhood book, and really brought the many stories he read to us to life. Best. Teacher. Ever) and a humongous thank you to all the libraries out there, who provide thousands of worlds for people to discover.


Friday, 18 January 2019

Writing Book Ten: Part Five - Help To Name The Chickens!

I'm keeping a diary of the writing process of Book 10, from the first words to publication.



I'm definitely back into the swing of things after the Christmas break and am managing to meet my 5k/week goal. This week I reached a pivotal point in the book, the part where Rebecca really commits to meeting the challenge she's been set after a big setback and I'm looking forward to seeing how she copes after her wobble!

The End still seems so far away at this point, but I'm still at the stage where writing is fun. Usually, by the 20-30k point I'm starting to grow less fond of the book and getting the words down becomes more and more of a struggle (over the years I've learned this is completely normal so it doesn't send me into a panic anymore!) but I think setting myself a smaller goal to reach each week is helping.


Last week on my Facebook page, I asked for help naming one of the donkeys in the book. I received over 50 suggestions, which all went into a bowl (no hat available) and one was picked at random. So, our little donkey is called Daisy. Now she has a name, I can replace the '*Donkey2*' markers I've left in the manuscript!



I'm going to be asking for help naming the animal characters over the next few weeks, so head over to my Facebook page if you'd like to take part. If the name you suggested is picked, your name will be put into the acknowledgements when the book is published.

This time, I'm asking for help naming some chickens!