Friday 29 January 2021

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Six Dates: Speed dating has never been so sweet!

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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?

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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.)