Thursday 23 December 2021

My 5 Writing Goals for 2021 - How Did I Get On?

My 5 Writing Goals for 2021 - How Did I Get On?

At the beginning of 2021, I set myself a few writing goals for the year.

We're now approaching the end of 2021, so how did I get on?

1. Draft Two of Book 13

I wrote the first draft of Book 13 during Nanowrimo 2020 and I absolutely loved working on it again at the beginning of the year. It's a festive story and I'm hoping to share it by Christmas 2022.

2. Draft two of Book 12

The first draft of Cleo's story was written during Lockdown 1 and I worked on it again during early 2021. It was such a fun book to write and I loved returning to Clifton-on-Sea and getting to know Cleo.

3. Publish A Beginner's Guide To Salad paperback

A Beginner's Guide To Salad was my first full-length novel, which I self-published back in 2014 in ebook only. So after figuring out how to create paperbacks for Everything Changes But You and The 12 Christmases of You & Me, I really wanted to do the same for Ruth and her friends.

And since I was publishing the paperback for A Beginner's Guide To Salad, I figured I may as well do the same for Book 2 in the series. So I gave myself a bonus goal of publishing the paperback for A Beginner's Guide To Saying I Do.

I'd always planned to write a third book in the Beginner's Guide series but I'd never got it quite right and kept putting it aside. But working on the paperbacks of the first two books relit the Ruth-shaped fire and I started mulling over what was wrong with all those drafts and how I could tell the story in the right way. I was in between projects by this point as it was still early on in the summer and I wasn't due to start my next book until Nano... so I wrote a whole new draft, which finally became the third book in the series, A Beginner's Guide To Family Life (which I published as both an ebook and paperback).

The Beginner's Guide series

4. Plan Book 14

Book 14 was supposed to written as part of Nanowrimo 2021. But A Beginner's Guide To Family Life became Book 14. And then I accidentally wrote a whole new book over the summer, which is Book 15. So the Book 14 I had in mind while compiling my goals is actually Book 16, which I plotted out prior to Nano.

5. Take part in NanoWriMo 2021

I didn't know whether my local Nano group would be able to meet up in person this year, but I was looking forward to taking part whether it was in-person or online (it turned out to be online again this year). I love the community spirit of Nano and it was the Zoom meetings I was looking forward to more than anything, so I wasn't disappointed when I didn't reach the 50k goal this time.

2021 has been a bit of a weird year for me personally with some big changes (and that's without even thinking about the impact of covid) so I'm majorly impressed with everything I've achieved this year: I finished two books, wrote two more, and compiled a short story collection (The Perfect Winter Weekend). I'm not sure I'll get quite as much done in 2022 and my goals will reflect this, but I am looking forward to returning to the accidental novel I wrote during the summer to work on the next draft.

Tuesday 7 December 2021

A Quick Catch Up


Have you put your tree up yet?

It's December, so of course I have to ask. We put our tree up at the weekend and it looks lovely and festive when it's all lit up and gives me the warm and fuzzy feels. December feels much more relaxed than November did - I was taking part in Nanowrimo, there were appointments for my youngest, and there just didn't seem like there were enough hours in the day. It does help that I've finished my Christmas shopping and I've only got a bit of wrapping left to do!

Here's what else I've been up to over the past few months:

What are you working on?

I'm currently working on Book 16, which I started as part on Nano. I didn't reach the 50k (not even close!) but I've made a start and I'm happy with that.

Book 16

What are you reading?

Confession: my reading has been terrible lately (not the books, I hasten to add, just having the time to sit down with them).

I kicked off my festive reading with Ann Cleeves' latest Vera book, The Darkest Evening, which I really enjoyed. I'm hoping they adapt it for the TV series so I can look clever by working it all out.

The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves

I'm currently reading Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger and although I'm reading so slowly at the moment, I'm really loving it when I do manage to sit down with it.

Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger

What are you watching?

I've been enjoying this year's Strictly (John and Johannes are my faves) and catching up on crime dramas and panel shows that have filled up my Sky box. I need to make room for all the festive stuff that will be coming very soon!

What have you been Instagramming?

Jennifer Joyce | Instagram grid

Writing, special birthdays, Luna, and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

You can find me on Instagram here

So that's what I've been up to over the past few months. Do let us know what you've been up to in the comments below - and don't forget to let us know about the tree!

Thursday 2 December 2021

Read My Festive Romantic Comedies For Free


Free Festive Short Stories by Jennifer Joyce

Christmas is a busy time of year. There's always something that needs to be done: shopping, wrapping, decking the halls. But if you have a few minutes to spare, why not treat yourself to a free festive short story?

I have six Christmassy stories to choose from, which you can read by clicking the covers below.
(And if you're in the mood for something non-festive, there are more short stories to read here)

If you enjoy the short stories and want more, I have a collection of uplifting stories available on Amazon for just 99p/99c - or free with Kindle Unlimited.

The Perfect Winter Weekend: A Collection of Uplifting Short Stories | Jennifer Joyce

And if you want more short stories, why not sign up for my newsletter, where I send out free short stories straight to your inbox? Subscribing is quick and easy, plus you'll receive my free ebook quick read, Six Dates, which is only available to subscribers.

More info and sign up here

Free Festive Short Stories:

Thursday 18 November 2021

Nanowrimo 2021: Over Halfway

 NaNaWriMo 2021

We've passed the halfway point of Nanowrimo 2021 - how are you getting on?

In my last Nano post, I admitted that I was behind on my word count for the month and I'm afraid to say I'm still playing catch-up. But I'm still writing, still adding to my word count, and that's the important bit in my opinion.

I found myself struggling this week, even when I did have the time to sit and work on my book. I've blogged before about writing in 15-minute bursts and decided to put this into practice to see if it would help. I tweeted about it, to make myself accounantble, and off I went.

I set my timer and managed to write just over 400 words in the 15 minutes. So I figured if I did 4 more 15-minute bursts, I should be able to reach 2,000 words. It seems ridiculous - 5x15mins=2,000 words? Nah. It can't work. But it did! And so I've been writing in 15-minute bursts for the rest of the this week. I don't always have time for 5 lots, but I'm much more productive in the time I do have. I'm no longer staring at the screen or wandering off to Twitter or Instagram.

Book 16: 20,000 words

My goal for today was to reach 20,000 words and with my 15-minute bursts, I managed to leap over the milestone. This book is getting there, one word at a time.

Average Daily Word Count: 1,156

Total Word Count: 20,816


Thursday 11 November 2021

Magical Romantic Comedies

Magical Romantic Comedies

I love a rom com with a magical twist, whether it's a birthday wish come true or a bit of time-travel, and I thought I'd share some of my favourites with you (plus I've cheekily added my own to the list).

The 12 Christmases of You & Me | Jennifer Joyce

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.

All About Us | Tom Ellen

Two choices. One destiny. A love story you’ll never forget…

December 2005. On a cold winter’s night, nineteen-year-old Ben is having the time of his life at university. He’s about to fall in love for the very first time…but will it be with new girl Daphne, or his best mate Alice?

December 2020. Life hasn’t quite turned out how Ben had planned and he’s stuck in a rut. He can’t help but think back to that fateful night fifteen years earlier, and wonder what might have been…

He never imagines he will get to find out – but when Ben is gifted with a second chance to make the biggest decision of his life, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird | Josie Silver

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They've been together for almost a decade, and are just about to get married. But then, on Lydia's 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a tragic accident.

Then something unbelievable happens. Lydia gets another chance at her old life with Freddie.

But what if there's someone in her new life who wants her to stay?

The Mince Pie Mix-Up | Jennifer Joyce

‘I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you.’

’Tis the season to be jolly but for Calvin and Judy the usual festive bickering has already begun! Judy’s convinced that her husband has it easy – no glittery wrapping paper, no playground gossip and absolutely no Christmas baking.

Calvin wishes he could trade in his obnoxious boss and dull nine-to-five job to spend more time kicking back with his kids – how hard can Judy’s life really be?

But after a magical mince pie mix-up, one thing’s for certain – by Christmas Day, life for Judy and Calvin will never be the same again. Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener after all…

The Angel at No. 33 | Polly Williams

Am I dead? I don't feel dead...' Sophie cannot leave the people she loves. Her husband, Ollie - a man who once watered a houseplant for a year before realising it was plastic - is lost without her. Their son Freddie is so little. And her friend Jenny? There's something she desperately needs to know before it's too late. Some love stories never end.

If You Could See Me Now | Keris Stainton

Izzy Harris should have it all – but her boyfriend has been ignoring her for months, she’s been overlooked for a promotion, and the owner of her local coffee shop pervs on her every time she has a craving for a salted caramel muffin.

Then an unexpected turn of events gives her the boost she needed.

Suddenly Izzy has the confidence to do all the things she’s never dared: dump her oblivious boyfriend, turn the tables on catcallers, and put herself forward for a big pitch at work. Having to work closely with gorgeous colleague Alex is just an added perk…

But then her best friend has her heart broken, the pitch is way more complicated than expected, and Alex is keeping secrets. Does Izzy have what it takes to help her friend, save her career and get the guy?

Everything Changes But You | Jennifer Joyce

Be careful what you wish for...

Ally Richmond is dreading turning thirty and bidding farewell to her youth. And when her husband says he wants to start a family, she begins to panic.

Is this all that life has to offer from now on? Popping out babies and growing old gracefully? She wants a life crammed with glamour and spontaneous adventure, not one full of dirty nappies and night feeds.

When Ally makes a silly birthday wish for a new, exciting life, her wish is granted.

But when Ally is presented with the freedom and opportunities she craves, she soon realises this new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that there really is no place like home. But can she find her way back - or is she stuck in this new reality forever?

Twenties Girl | Sophie Kinsella

A hilarious story of love, dancing, fashion and a very unlikely friendship.

If you suddenly had a friend that only you could see or hear, what would you do?

You could worry that your stressful life has tipped you over the edge and you have lost the plot, big time . . . you could hide under your duvet, hoping that they would go away . . .


You could have some fun . . .

You could make a fool of yourself many times over . . .

You could save your business . . .

You could dance with a gorgeous man who just can't resist you . . .

You could solve the mystery of the dragonfly necklace . . .

And you could just discover the best friend you ever had.

Do you like your rom com with a dash of magic? If you do, feel free to share your favourites in the comments below :)

Wednesday 10 November 2021

A Nanowrimo 2021 Update


It's been just over a week since the start of this year's Nanowrimo - how are you getting on?

I'm going to be honest: I'm behind on my word count already. But life sometimes gets in the way and I am plodding along, adding bits and pieces to my word count when I can. And I've reached the 10,000 words mark, which needs celebrating.

Book 16: 10,000 words

I've taken part in two online write-ins over Zoom with my local Nano writing group, which has definitely helped to increase my word count. I've got another one tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to it. I love the community spirit of Nano and it's great to catch up with everyone and see how they're getting on with their projects.

Average Daily Word Count: 1,206

Total Word Count: 10, 855

Thursday 4 November 2021

If You're Taking Part In Nanowrimo, It's Totally Okay To...


If You're Taking Part In Nanowrimo, It's Totally Okay To...

... momentarily forget about real life. Who is this 'mum' you speak of? And what is this 'lunch' you keep requesting?

Lunch | Sandwich

... get super-competitive. With yourself. 'Last year I exceeded my Nano goal by 3,000 words - this year I'm going to exceed it by six thousand, even if means I don't sleep for a month'.

No sleep

... raid the Christmas treats early as word snackage. Something has to get you through 50,000 words, and that something is a tub of Quality Street.


... fill the Sky Q box with recordings of all the shows that will have to make way for writing. Better get deleting some stuff to make room.


... celebrate the milestones. Shout about that first 500 words on Twitter. Stick a screenshot of the 10,000 words mark on Instagram. Post a part-triumphant, part-frazzled selfie on Facebook when you limp past 40,000 words. And definitely tell everyone loud and clear if you reach 50,000 words. 


... not reach 50,000 words. Because that is a LOT of words to write in one month - and that's without factoring in real life. Celebrate however many words you achieve, because it'll be more words than you had on the page at the beginning of the month. Your words are enough, however many you write in November.

Your Words Are Enough

... be kind to yourself, and those around you. Maybe feed your kids once in a while. And perhaps it's best not to eat all the Christmas treats (or replace them if you do). And you should definitely sleep, no matter how competitive you're feeling.


More Like This:

Monday 1 November 2021

Ready, Set, Nano!

Nanowrimo Writer 2021

It's the 1st November, which means only one thing: it's time to Nano.

This is the third time I'm going to attempt Nanowrimo and although I feel like I'm prepared with my chapter plans and my Pinterest boards and my character questionnaires, I know it's going to be a challenge. But I'm trying to not put too much pressure on myself, because I want to enjoy the next month. It's going to be intense, but writing and creating stories should be fun.

What is Nanowrimo? | National Novel Writing Month (AKA Nanowrimo - or simply Nano) is an event that takes place every November, where participants attempt to write 50,000 words over 30 days.

My plan is to write 2,000 words for six days of the week to reach the 50,000 words, but life sometimes throws obstacles in our way so I'm not going to fret if I don't reach any of my milestones (though I will absolutely give myself a massive pat on the back for every one I do reach).

For the past couple of years, Nanowrimo has meant trying to reach that 50k goal, but for me, this year is going to be about making a start on Book 16 and enjoying being part of the Nano writing community. I loved all the Zoom sessions I had with my local group last year, and I took that away with me more than the word count.

So, I hope to reach the 50k during November, but I'm not heaping the pressure on myself. And with that in mind, I'm going to dive in to Nano2021. Let's do this!

Friday 29 October 2021

Read My Free Halloween Short Stories


Free Halloween Short Stories

Did you know that you can read a selection of my short stories here on the blog for free?

And as Halloween is approaching, I thought I'd flag up the five Halloween stories (of the cute, rom-com-style variety rather than the scare-yourself-silly kind) there are for you to enjoy!

Click on the covers below to read.

If you enjoy my short stories and want more. why not subscribe to my newsletter, where I send short stories straight to your inbox? Subscribing is quick, easy and free, plus you'll receive my free ebook quick read, Six Dates, that's only available to subscribers.

More info and sign up here

Pumpkin Pie at The Green Teapot

The Bridesmaid of Frankenstein

The Ghost of Halloween Past

The Staircase (Flash Fiction)

Trick or Treat