Friday, 9 April 2021

Another Guide To Ruth

Another Guide To Ruth

There was always supposed to be a third instalment in the Beginner's Guide series; I'd even written the first draft of the book by the time A Beginner's Guide To Saying I Do was published. But I wasn't happy with the draft. I wasn't happy with the next one, or the one after that. And by the time I'd pushed Draft Five aside, I was thoroughly fed up. I knew Ruth's story wasn't finished yet, but I couldn't seem to get it right.

There were other books published during this time. Four of them, in fact. But I kept thinking about Ruth and the next stage of her life. And when I started working on the paperback of the first book, A Beginner's Guide To Salad, a few months ago, it reignited the need to explore Ruth's story.

A Beginner's Guide To Salad paperbacks

There was something in those five drafts, so I started to pick through them, taking out the bits I was happy with, and even the bits I wasn't quite sure about but could tinker with. And I started to re-plot the book. There's always three POV in the full-length Beginner's Guide books, and I'd tried several combinations over the five drafts. But this time, during the re-plotting, I shifted the theme a little bit and something clicked. The three POV I'd been looking for were there. I'd already tried one of them before, but their story had felt forced, shoe-horned in to fit the theme. But now it was perfect!

A Beginner's Guide Book 3

The book has been re-plotted and I'm about halfway through Draft Six. And I'm loving being back in Ruth's world. I've known Ruth since 2013 so it really is like being reunited with an old friend. Draft Six won't be the final draft, but it will be the draft that I move forward with and work on until the book is ready to be published.

Friday, 26 March 2021

Book News: A Beginner's Guide To Salad Paperback


A Beginner's Guide To Salad Paperback

I'm very excited to share the news that A Beginner's Guide To Salad is now available as a paperback!

A Beginner's Guide To Salad was my first published novel, back in 2014 but it's only ever been available as an ebook - until now. I'm so pleased that Ruth's story is now more widely available with its new format.

If you're a newsletter subscriber, make sure you check your inboxes for my latest newsletter because there's a chance to win a signed copy of the book.

As with all my books, you can find 'Book Extras' here on the blog, with quizzes, playlists, fun facts and more. Click here to see the Book Extras for A Beginner's Guide To Salad.

Ruth loves nothing more than curling up in front of the telly with a family-sized bar of chocolate. She doesn’t do diets and she certainly doesn’t do exercise. But all that changes when she’s invited to her school reunion.

Bullied at school for being overweight, Ruth’s first reaction is to rip the invitation into a million pieces. But then Ruth hatches a plan. She’ll lose the weight and arrive at the reunion looking gorgeous and glamorous, leaving her old classmates in awe. Especially her former crush, Zack O’Connell.

With the help of her friends and a new, unbelievably hot colleague, Ruth begins her transformation. With six months until the reunion, losing weight will be a piece of cake, right?

Friday, 19 March 2021

Are We Friends on Instagram?


Instagram Grid

I spend an awful lot of time on Instagram. It's full of books, dogs and cats, and baking, so why wouldn't I? It's my favourite social media platform as it's far less political and cesspit-like than some of the others and filled with lovely, joyful things instead.

I like to post pics of books, mugs of tea, writing updates and my Jack Russell, Luna, and hopefully soon there will be some flowers and bugs from my garden. So if this is the kind of thing that interests you too, you can find me here

Instagram Grid

Find me on Instagram

Friday, 12 March 2021

Writing Book 12: Draft Two - The End

 Writing Book 12

It seems like only two minutes ago that I was blogging about starting the second draft of Book 12, but it was actually two weeks ago and it's now finished.

Draft 2 - The End

I was quite apprehensive about the second draft; in my head, the first draft was a messy jumble of words, written during the first lockdown while home-schooling, and I thought it needed a LOT of work. But it wasn't nearly as crappy as I thought it was going to be and although I've had to delete stuff, rewrite and add scenes, and move bits around, it's been a pleasure to work on.

Mug of tea in front of laptop

I've loved being back in Clifton-on-Sea, back in Cleo's world (and not just because there isn't a hint of Covid or social distancing there) and I'm going to miss her. So much so, I'm starting to wonder if there may be further tales from Cleo Parker...

Friday, 5 March 2021

Writing To Music


Writing to Music

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.

Music Notes

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

Writing Book 12: Starting Draft Two

Writing Book 12: Starting Draft 2

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:

2021 Writing Goals: 1) Draft 2 of Book 13  2) Draft 2 of Book 12  3) Publish the paperback of A Beginner's Guide To Salad  4) Plan Book 14  5) Take part in Nanowrimo 2021Plan

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.

Mickey Mouse mug in front of laptop

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

A Quick Catch Up

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.

What are you working on?

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.

My writing goals for 2021

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.

What are you reading?

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.

Jemima J (Jane Green), The Escape (C L Taylor), Watching You (Lisa Jewell) & The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman)

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.

Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

What are you watching?

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.

What have you been Instagramming?

Instagram Grid

Books, writing, daffodils (spring is coming!) and pupcakes for Luna.

You can find me on Instagram here

Anything else?

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

Read My Free Short Story To Get You In The Mood For Valentine's Day

Free Valentine's Day Short Story: Lost & Found by Jennifer Joyce

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.

Jennifer Joyce's Newsletter: Free ebook (Six Dates), Short Story (Lost & Found) and giveaway (The Accidental Life Swap)

Friday, 5 February 2021

Writing Book 13: The End (Again)

 Writing Book 13

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

My Writing Goals for 2021: 1) 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.

Floral mug in front of laptop

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

Subscribe To My Newsletter & Receive My Romantic Comedy Ebook for FREE

Six Dates: Speed dating has never been so sweet!

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?

Sign me Up!

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.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Do You Re-Read Books?

Do You Re-Read Books?

There are some films I'll watch over and over again - 13 Going 30, You've Got Mail, Bridget Jones' Diary and Picture Perfect to name a few - and I'm the same when it comes to books. 

If I've loved a book so much it's like losing a friend (or a whole bunch) when the last page is turned, why not pick it up again and rediscover the story and the characters all over again? I find re-reading books comforting. I already know the characters and I know what the outcome is going to be, so I can really settle in and simply enjoy the journey. I have a handful of books I've enjoyed time and time again and never tire of re-treading the journey with the characters:

Kiss Him Goodbye (Victoria Routledge)

One-Hit Wonder and Thirty-Nothing (Lisa Jewell)

Babyville and Bookends (Jane Green)

Kiss Him Goodbye (Victoria Routledge), One-Hit Wonder and Thirty Nothing (Lisa Jewell), Babyville and Bookends (Jane Green)

These books have been with me for a long time as I first read them during the early 2000s. They're a bit battered after so many re-reads but I love them as much now as the first time I opened them and they have pride of place on the top shelf of my bookcase.

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson

Sometimes a book has a follow-up and, just like I'm rewatching the first series of ITV's The Bay at the moment as a refresher for series 2, I'll sometimes need a re-read of the original, especially if it's been a while between books. This is the case with Dorothy Koomson's All My Lies Are True, which is a follow-up of The Ice Cream Girls. I read (and loved) The Ice Cream Girls around 2012, so I'm definitely going to need a refresher re-read before I dive into the next book!

The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann

And then there are the classics you've been reading since childhood. In my case, it's The Animals of Farthing Wood, which I've been re-reading since 1993. My copy is so battered and fragile after being read and carried around in backpacks and handbags over the years that I've bought myself a new copy. I still love my original, but it's having a rest on my shelf so it won't fall to pieces during its next outing.

What about you? Are there any books you read again and again?

Friday, 15 January 2021

Writing Book 13: Draft Two


I finished the first draft of Book 13 mid-December and I then put it to one side so I could have a writing break over Christmas. I loved getting to know the main character, Zoey and her friends, so I was more than ready to jump back into the book in January. The kids were supposed to be back at school/college by then, but obviously all that changed and we're back in lockdown with home-learning.

Home-learning feels very different for me this time; Isobel's now in high school and her classes are all online, whereas last time, when she was in primary school, she had 2-3 'live' lessons per week and the rest of her work was a list of tasks that I had to organise into a timetable and help with as well as filling in any gaps with worksheets/tasks I found online. It felt a lot more hands-on first time around than it does now, and it was definitely a lot more stressful.

Grey mug in front of laptop

That doesn't mean it's a breeze now - there are still four of us working/learning from a small house (with three of us doing so in the living room) so we're all having to adapt to extra noise, pausing our work when help is needed etc. It's definitely more difficult to concentrate, but a couple of weeks in and we seem to be getting on with everything okay. Luckily, I'm happy with the structure of Book 13, which lessens the task of editing. 

Because I'm happy with the structure, this draft is more of a tidy up and polish rather than having to shift scenes about and rewrite, and I'm about two-thirds through the manuscript. The next stage will be to use Word's read aloud function to make sure I'm happy with the flow of the story and to find any little niggles I've missed during this draft.

Friday, 8 January 2021

My 5 Writing Goals for 2021



After a little break over Christmas, it's time to dive back into my writing, and I've got quite a few projects planned to keep me busy during 2021.

When I made these plans, I didn't know we'd be back to home-schooling, otherwise I may have been a bit kinder to myself. But I'm going to try to stick with my plan, even if I don't manage to get everything done that I'd hoped to. If I complete one of my goals I'll be a happy bunny.

So what have I got planned?

2021 writing goals

1. Draft Two of Book 13

I wrote the first draft of Book 13 during last year's NanoWriMo and although I still have Book 12's first draft put aside, I decided to continue with this book first. It's a festive book, so it's a bit weird still being in the Christmas zone now all the decorations have been put away, but I don't mind spending a bit more time in Santa's grotto...

2. Draft two of Book 12

I wrote the first draft of Cleo's story back during Lockdown 1 before putting it aside so I could work on my new Nano project. Book 12 needs quite a bit of work, which is probably why I'm putting it off a bit longer and working on Book 13!

3. Publish A Beginner's Guide To Salad paperback

A Beginner's Guide To Salad was my first self-published full-length novel and I think she deserves to have a paperback after all this time. I published the paperbacks of Everything Changes But You and The 12 Christmases of You & Me last year, so I'm confident I can do it again.

4. Plan Book 14

This will be the book I'll be working on during NanoWriMo. I have a couple of ideas jumping around in my brain at the moment, so I'm not sure which one I'll go with yet.

5. Take part in NanoWriMo 2021

I've really enjoyed taking part in the last two NanoWriMos, and having the Zoom chats with my local Nano group last year was definitely welcome after months of barely seeing anybody other than the people I live with. And, as I work from home, those other people were usually fellow shoppers in Asda with their masks on, so there was no socialising involved at all.

So I'm looking forward to taking part again this year. I don't know if our group will be able to meet up in person at the library by then, but I do know we'll make it work and meeting online will be just as valuable if that's what we have to do.

So those are my main writing goals for 2021. I have smaller goals, such as writing a short story (or two) for my newsletter subscribers, and maybe squeezing in a bit of work on A Beginner's Guide Book 3, but the 5 listed are my main focus for the year. 

(And I'm already exhausted just looking at the list.)