Wednesday, 15 September 2021

The Accidental First Draft

The Accidental First Draft

Do you remember the list of writing goals I made for 2021? Nowhere on that list did it say write the first draft of a whole new, non-Nanowrimo book. Yet I finished one yesterday.


I was in the middle of planning Book 14 (which, because I sneaked the third instalment of the Beginner's Guide series in, is now Book 15*) when Tessa's story started niggling at me. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I like to plan my books a lot. I'm an uber-plotter. The book I'm going to start writing for Nanowrimo, for example, has already been planned out, chapter by chapter, so that I'm ready to go on 1st November. I didn't have a plan for Tessa's story. I had a first line, that kept repeating itself over and over in my head, so even though I was busy planning Book 15, I wrote it down. And I added a bit more. And then a bit more.


By the time I'd finished planning Book 15, I had one and a half chapters of Tessa's story, written in tiny instalments. I still didn't have a plan for this book, but I decided to carry on, to see where Tessa took me.


The End


She took me to almost 90,000 words. I somehow wrote a whole book, with a beginning, middle and an end, without a plan, without really meaning to. It's a rough first draft, but there's a story there. There are characters I've got to know over the summer, who I've grown to love, and it's a bit strange not to be discovering what happens next in Tessa's life this morning. But I know she's happy, and that brings me a lot of joy.


I'll be putting Tessa's story aside for now: I have a list of goals for 2021 that I'm still working on. But she'll be going on my list of goals for 2022 and I'm looking forward to returning to her world.



*To make matters even more confusing, Book 15, which I'll be working on during Nano, has been usurped by Tessa's story, so is now
Book 16?

Monday, 6 September 2021

Back To School

Back To School


And just like that, they're back to school.



Isobel is in her uniform and she's just set off to start Year 8. She finished Year 7 at home, self-isolating after a positive case in her class bubble. It was the second time during July that she'd had to self-isolate and work online from home; she went back to school for a day and a half after the first time before the text came through to say she was being sent home.


The rules have changed during the summer holidays, so contacts of those who test positive shouldn't be sent home. In theory, this should mean less disruption to school (and, let's be honest, less time off for people in work) but as a parent, this doesn't make me feel any better because it isn't any safer. In fact, it's less safe. She's taken her mask to school, but we have no idea whether mask-wearing is ongoing, and who knows about the ventilation in the classrooms or the CO2 detectors that were promised? But we have to send them into school (if you look back to the 2020 home schooling posts, you will see I am no home educator).


Sea Life Centre magnet with turtles


Can we please re-do the summer holidays? It was a much more relaxed time as we sat in the garden when the weather allowed, watching the bees enjoying our flowers. We visited family and went to the Sea Life Centre (which, due to Covid restricting how many people were allowed in at one time, was lovely and calm, even in the middle of the school holidays). We went on walks with Luna, and we celebrated A Levels results. The teen and I were finally double-vaxxed (and even that was less stressful than this back-to-school stuff). And I somehow managed to write almost 80k of a new book I hadn't even planned.


Writing in the garden


It would be lovely to keep us cocooned in a perpetual summer holiday, but it's never going to happen. And I know we'll soon be back into the school day routine, learning how to navigate the updated Covid regulations. And before we know it, it'll be the summer holidays all over again.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Read My Short Stories for FREE

 Free short stories by Jennifer Joyce


If you're in the mood for a bite-sized romantic comedy, there are lots on offer on my short stories page, from Valentine's Day stories to festive tales.


There are four categories for you to choose from:



Valentine's Day Short Stories


Halloween Short Stories


Christmas Short Stories


General Short Stories


Click on a category and enjoy!



If you'd like more free short stories, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter.

You'll receive a free ebook quick read when you sign up, plus I write new short stories and send them out in my newsletters.

You can find out more info and sign up for free here



Free ebook: Six Dates by Jennifer Joyce

Friday, 13 August 2021

Genre-Swap Short Story: Oh, Crumbs

 



My local writing group recently set a challenge, where we'd take a character from our books, plonk them into another genre and write a 500 word short story. So I took Ruth, my rom com heroine from the Beginner's Guide series (I was working on A Beginner's Guide To Family Life at the time) and popped her into a Downton Abbey-style historical setting. Ruth doesn't react too well to authority so it was a lot of fun to write and see how she'd handle being a maid in a manor house.




Oh, Crumbs


Oh, crumbs. Literally. I had little morsels scattered down my apron and Lady Shuttleworth was standing in the doorway of the library, her voice so crisp and icy it made the temperature in the room plummet.

    ‘What on earth are you doing in here?’
    I didn’t dare turn around. Not while my apron was littered with the evidence of the pilfered biscuit. It had seemed like a fun idea as I’d swiped the still-warm biscuit from the kitchen, relishing the little yelp of shock when Quinn spied the misdeed. Her hand covered her mouth, her eyes widening as I slipped the biscuit into my pocket. The new scullery maid was jumpy and fragile, as though a stern look could shatter her into a million pieces. She hadn’t yet learned to push the boundaries at Woodgate Manor, that these little acts of defiance were thrilling and gave a jolt of pleasure that counteracted – briefly – the drudgery of scrubbing pans and emptying chamber pots.
    But only as long as you didn’t get caught.
    ‘Well?’
    I still didn’t dare turn around, but I could hear the tap of Lady Shuttleworth’s foot. I’d attempted to brush the crumbs away, with tiny, covert movements, but the room was dark, even with the door wide open, and I wasn’t convinced I’d managed to rid myself of the damning evidence.
    ‘I was looking for a bible, m’Lady.’ Leaning over to peer at the bookshelves, I furtively swiped at my apron. ‘But I cannot find one anywhere in the house.’
    My tone was innocent, but my words were shaming. Lady Shuttleworth stepped back, allowing more light to flood into the library. I had a quick peep down at my apron. I couldn’t see any crumbs, but the eagle-eyed lady of the house would pounce at the tiniest fragment.
    ‘Now isn’t the time. Lady Harper will be arriving soon for tea.’
    I almost snorted with derision but managed to catch myself in time. Lady Harper. The girl may have a husband now, but she’d always be Lindsay Shuttleworth to me. The girl whose hair I’d brushed every morning and helped to dress. The girl who’d hidden the little red marks at her throat with high necklines and scarves after a night at the funfair with her ‘respectable’ friends. The girl who’d begged me not to mention them. And I hadn’t said a word to anyone, not even to the other maids, even though the words were burning inside my mouth. Not that Lindsay – Lady Harper – was grateful. For any of it. The secrets I’d kept. The hair-brushing and the dressing. The chamber pots. Which is why nabbing one of those buttery, melt-in-the-mouth biscuits from the plate would be worth it, whatever the consequences.
    I turned, marching with my head held high from the library. Lady Shuttleworth watched me, eyes narrowed to mean little slits as I passed, but she didn’t utter a word. If there was a stray crumb, she hadn’t spotted it. I’d got away with it. Again.



If you'd like to read the Beginner's Guide series, you can find them on Amazon UK and Amazon US or you can buy signed copies here


Friday, 6 August 2021

A Beginner's Guide To Family Life Playlist

A Beginner's Guide To Family Life Playlist

I always like to create a playlist to accompany my books, and it made sense to build a family-themed selection of songs for A Beginner's Guide To Family Life.



You can listen to the playlist here on the blog, or you can open it in Spotify here


Enjoy!







Find out more about the book:

A Beginner's Guide To Family Life

You can choose your friends, but you're pretty much stuck with your family.

Ruth has everything she never dared to hope for: a husband who adores her, a beautiful home, and a job she can just about tolerate. And now she's having a baby. But having zero experience with babies and a pregnancy that isn't quite as blooming as the magazines claim it should be, how will she cope with this stage of her life?

Quinn loves her family, but she sometimes wishes there weren't quite so many of them living under the same roof. But is she ready to fly the nest and build a whole new one with her boyfriend?

Richard's life is pretty great, until a visitor arrives on his doorstep and turns his whole world upside down.

Three friends.
Three families.
A whole lot of drama.



Friday, 30 July 2021

10 Family-Based TV Shows

10 Family-Based TV Shows

In my latest book, A Beginner's Guide To Family Life, each of the three main characters' family is very different. Last week, I shared ten family-based films that displayed a variety of family set-ups, and today I'm sharing ten family-based TV shows, from thought-provoking dramas to snort-out-loud comedies, both old and new.



Motherland


Motherland


An hilarious show about the lives of a group of school gate mums (and a dad) as they juggle parenthood, jobs and school commitments. You'll laugh. You'll cringe. You'll laugh some more.




Modern Family


Modern Family

There are lots of different family set-ups in this mockumentary sitcom, all revolving around Jay Pritchett and his children, Claire and Mitchell. It's ridiculously funny (and sometimes plain old ridiculous).




Last Tango in Halifax


Last Tango in Halifax

Two families are joined together when old childhood sweethearts, Alan and Celia meet up after decades apart and rekindle their relationship. Both are widowed with a daughter, who couldn't be more different from the other, and they clash from the very first meeting. But can they put aside their differences for the sake of their parents' happiness?




Gavin & Stacey


Gavin & Stacey

Two families - one from Barry Island and the other from Essex - are brought together when Gavin and Stacey meet over the phone at work and decide to meet up in real life. I've seen them a million times, and I'll probably watch them a million more.




Only Fools and Horses


Only Fools and Horses

A British sitcom classic following the mishaps of brothers Del Boy and Rodney Trotter. With unforgettable episodes with the chandeliers, Batman and Robin, and the bar scene.




The Royle Family


The Royle Family

Who'd have thought that watching a family sit on their arses watching telly could be so entertaining? It took me by surprise back in the late 90s. It was hilarious. And it still is, all these years later, even though I've seen the episodes over and over again.




The A Word


The A Word

I was really late to The A Word - I only started watching on catch up during Lockdown 1. But as soon as I did, I was hooked and binged them all. It's a fantastic series (once you get over the fact that Christopher Eccleston is playing a grandad) about a family coming to terms with their son's autism diagnosis. And the soundtrack is amazing.




Cutting It


Cutting It

There's some wacky family dynamics going on in this one, with secret children, back-stabbing left, right and centre, and a fierce loyalty despite it all.




The Fresh Prince



Another classic (God, I feel old typing that) about fifteen-year-old Will, who's sent to live with his aunt and uncle to keep him out of trouble.




Schitts Creek


Schitts Creek

The Rose family are filthy rich. They're also vain and self-absorbed. But when they lose their fortune, they're forced to move into a motel in Schitts Creek, where they find themselves part of a community. It's such a fun, heartwarming series, and I swear you'll never hear Tina Turner's 'The Best' in the same way again.




So that's my list of 10 family-based TV shows. If you'd like to read my book about the dynamics of family life, you can find out more details below:



A Beginner's Guide To Family Life

You can choose your friends, but you're pretty much stuck with your family.

Ruth has everything she never dared to hope for: a husband who adores her, a beautiful home, and a job she can just about tolerate. And now she's having a baby. But having zero experience with babies and a pregnancy that isn't quite as blooming as the magazines claim it should be, how will she cope with this stage of her life?

Quinn loves her family, but she sometimes wishes there weren't quite so many of them living under the same roof. But is she ready to fly the nest and build a whole new one with her boyfriend?

Richard's life is pretty great, until a visitor arrives on his doorstep and turns his whole world upside down.

Three friends.
Three families.
A whole lot of drama.


Monday, 26 July 2021

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

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



... use that witty comeback you thought up while in the shower, three hours after the spat. Why waste it? Stick it in your book.


Shower




... spend more time with the characters in your head than your actual family.


Characters in head




... borrow traits from people in real life. Maybe don't base whole characters on them though. They might notice if you're a bit too specific.


List of traits




... snack on crisps, chocolate, sweets and baked goods. Those words aren't going to fuel themselves.


Snacks




... create maps and playlists and Pinterest mood boards. Maybe even doodle what the cover might look like. Just don't forget to do some actual writing at some point.


Map




... spend hours finding the perfect outfit your character is going to wear. And then describe it as 'a floaty dress'.


Dress




... daydream about your characters even when you're not sat at your laptop. It's a good way to untangle plot problems.


Daydream




... 'Cast' your characters for when they adapt it into a film. You've got to think BIG.


Cinema tickets




... vow to never ever write another sodding word again. Because you will. Writing can be tricky. It can be frustrating. It can be bloody hard work. But we love it.


Heart

Friday, 23 July 2021

10 Family-Based Films

10 Family-Based Films

In my latest book, A Beginner's Guide To Family Life, each of the three main characters' family is very different, and these ten family-based films display a variety of family set-ups. Sometimes close family units, often dysfunctional in their own ways, all of them fun to watch.



Father of the Bride


Father of the Bride


When Annie announces her engagement, her father starts to unravel as he deals not only with the cost of paying for the Big Day, but the fact he's got to come to terms with the fact she isn't his little girl any more.

Bonus: Father of the Bride Part II, which is just as hilarious as the first




Look Who's Talking


Look Who's Talking


When single mum Mollie returns home from the hospital with her newborn baby, the taxi driver who took her to the hospital arrives with the handbag she left in his car. A friendship forms as they help each other out with babysitting and family issues.

Bonus: so good they made a second film, Look Who's Talking Too




Honey, I Shrunk the Kids


Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

When a scientist invents a device to shrink objects, his children - plus the kids from next door - find themselves accidentally zapped and shrunken to microscopic proportions. Swept up into the bin and dumped on the other side of the now giant garden, can they find their way back home and back to their father and the machine to make themselves normal-sized again?

[I'm pretending the sequels never happened with this one. It's better that way]




Coco


Coco

Miguel dreams of becoming a musician, but his family has banned music because of something that happened in the past. Can Miguel unlock the family secret and follow his dreams?

Warning: you will probably sob at this film, but it's worth it




The Addams Family


The Addams Family

The Addams family aren't your average family. Celebrations are planned when long-lost Uncle Fester returns home, but his oddly normal behaviour arouses suspicion. Is he the real Uncle Fester or a fake?




Problem Child


Problem Child

Ben and Flo Healy have no idea what they're letting themselves into (because the nuns keep schtum) when they adopt seven-year-old Junior, but it isn't long before their lives are turned upside down.




Mrs Doubtfire


Mrs Doubtfire

When dad of three Daniel loses contact with his kids after his divorce, he goes to extreme lengths to continue seeing them by disguising himself as a Scottish nanny, Mrs Doubtfire. Hired by his ex-wife to take care of the children, he spends more time with them than ever, but how long can he keep up the charade until he's rumbled?




The Incredibles


The Incredibles

All families have their issues - even the ones with superpowers. And it takes a whole family of superheroes working together to save the day.





Jack and Sarah


Jack and Sarah

Single dad Jack is struggling to juggle work and caring for his baby daughter, Sarah. When he meets waitress Amy, he hires her as Sarah's nanny. But will she make his life easier or complicate it further?




Matilda


Matilda

Matilda is either ignored by her family or yelled at by them. But when she starts school and discovers she has magical powers, she finds a way to get even.




So that's my list of 10 family-based films. If you'd like to read my book about the dynamics of family life, you can find out more details below:



A Beginner's Guide To Family Life

You can choose your friends, but you're pretty much stuck with your family.

Ruth has everything she never dared to hope for: a husband who adores her, a beautiful home, and a job she can just about tolerate. And now she's having a baby. But having zero experience with babies and a pregnancy that isn't quite as blooming as the magazines claim it should be, how will she cope with this stage of her life?

Quinn loves her family, but she sometimes wishes there weren't quite so many of them living under the same roof. But is she ready to fly the nest and build a whole new one with her boyfriend?

Richard's life is pretty great, until a visitor arrives on his doorstep and turns his whole world upside down.

Three friends.
Three families.
A whole lot of drama.



Friday, 16 July 2021

A Beginner's Guide To Family Life: Five Fun Facts

 

A Beginner's Guide To Family Life by Jennifer Joyce


1

I worked on the book for a LONG time, and it took six drafts before I was happy with the POVs and storylines



2

The DIY project Ruth’s dad is working on started in the previous book, A Beginner’s Guide To Saying I Do



3

Familiar Setting:

Like the other books in the series, A Beginner’s Guide To Family Life is set in Woodgate, the same as Everything Changes But You, The Wedding Date, The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts and The 12 Christmases of You & Me



4

Familiar Characters: 

Ally and Gavin from Everything Changes But You make an appearance



5

Earlier drafts had POVs from Jared, Nell, Rosie and Theo





Find out more about the book:
A Beginner's Guide To Family Life by Jennifer Joyce


You can choose your friends, but you're pretty much stuck with your family.

Ruth has everything she never dared to hope for: a husband who adores her, a beautiful home, and a job she can just about tolerate. And now she's having a baby. But having zero experience with babies and a pregnancy that isn't quite as blooming as the magazines claim it should be, how will she cope with this stage of her life?

Quinn loves her family, but she sometimes wishes there weren't quite so many of them living under the same roof. But is she ready to fly the nest and build a whole new one with her boyfriend?

Richard's life is pretty great, until a visitor arrives on his doorstep and turns his whole world upside down.

Three friends.
Three families.
A whole lot of drama.