In Oct 2017 I opened my WordPress account, chose a theme and guessed my way around my new site, promising myself I would one day work out how to set up the menus properly. Then I started the serious business of writing. Except I had no idea what to write. I debated about whether I wanted a space in which to experiment with poetry, perhaps some romance fiction or even pyschological thriller pieces. The trouble is, I love reading them all.
I see that now I have over 500 posts; a mish mash of fiction, book reviews and idle meanderings through my nine brain cells. I never did find out how to set up the menus properly and even now find my site’s theme much harder to navigate and less pleasing on the eye than some of the other writers’ territory I enjoy visiting. (That’s one New Year’s resolution pinned to the post then!)
Moving forward into 2020, I would like to refine my site into perhaps four sections: Home, Book Reviews, My Fiction, Writing Life. These sound more concise and should cover everything I do here.
So where am I after two years of blogging?
I have engaged with some incredible writers and people all over the world. (That’s a huge positive.)
Building a potential audience for my fiction is going to involve rather more than a daily photo or paragraph of waffle. Readers enjoy posts which highlight the reality and journey of a writer’s life. At the start of 2019, when I needed to knuckle down to finishing Book 1 – which resulted in me being unable to maintain a daily posting routine on WordPress – I learned a lot about time-management. Hence, I can see that my early posts, in 2017/2018 were not thought out at all; just random musings. However, I do believe they’ve helped to develop me as a writer, each and every one of them. (I thought that was going to be a negative, but actually it’s another positive.)
I have one romantic suspense novel out on submission to agents, and a second novel wearing first-draft clothing, having been created during NaNoWriMo last month. It took me over eighteen months to type the first draft of Book 1, so I’ve learned a lot about the approach to writing.
I once tried to the do The Body Coach’s 90-day workout plan, remember that? Well, I fell off the bandwagon around day 41. I now attempt yoga. Occasionally.
Last week I tried to make my first ever Christmas cake, ignoring the gut feeling that it’s not yet ‘my turn’ to do so as that role appears to have always been carried out by the most senior female in the family. Well, at this rate, I’ll be over 60 before I’ve had an opportunity, so I said ‘Sod it!’. I did burn the cake, and found myself picking currants from the top – they looked like blackened blueberries and popped with delightful puffs of charcoal over the draining board. (I think I saved the majority of the fruit cake though, and if you promise to keep this kitchen fail a secret, no-one will ever know bar you and I, okay?).
So, whether it’s creating a book, following a fitness regime or becoming a domestic goddess, everything takes time to practice. But practice does make a damned sight better!
I hope you enjoy being here xxx
(As my computer is refusing to allow me to ‘edit’ my original ‘ABOUT’ post, I am sliding this in today with it linked to the category as I thought an update was most definitely overdue!)
I shall attempt to type a suitable first sentence, having been absent from blogging since late September.
That wasn’t it, but for now, I’ll simply let thoughts travel down my bare arms and out through my fingertips – much like I did last month as I attempted the National Novel Writing Month. In 2018 I used the NaNo month to add words to the manuscript which I shall refer to in this post as Book 1 (Secrets Under A Tuscan Sun), but was unable to officially partake in the fun of unlocking badges along the way. In 2017 I laid the foundations of Book 1 during NaNo and achieved 17,000. It took a further eighteen months to create that first draft, while I pondered over what the weather may have been doing during Chapter seven, or what colour car a character was driving in Chapter sixteen.
I am delighted to inform you that during these past few months, it was been instilled in me that the first draft can be a very basic me-telling-me-the-story manuscript and hence last month I achieved the 50,000 word goal and now have the bare bones of a first draft for book 2.
I couldn’t be happier!
The reason for my success was, I believe, the correct alignment of each of a handful of criteria:
I was physically well and suffered no colds or migraines (an awful affliction).
I had planned this novel during October, based on the 15 beats suggested by Jessica Brody in her adaptation of Blake Synder’s screenplay bible, Save The Cat Writes A Novel. (While this worked very well for me, and highly recommend buying a copy, I’m aware there are a whole host of How-To books on the market.)
My husband, children and immediate family and friends were all aware I was attempting this challenge, and kindly left me alone to do so (eliminating guilt previously felt when sat at a keyboard during the day).
My sole trader business was put ‘on hold’ for the month, and I’m fortunate that November is a light month for work in any event, so it couldn’t have fallen better for me (going semi ‘public’ with a goal meant I had even more drive to achieve it).
This was me pouring over the chapters in this clever little number back in June, in Cornwall. I was then plotting a novel about an inter-generational friendship and what can happen when two characters who have been otherwise outcast, befriend each other, even when eighty years in age separate them. That novel is not the one I wrote for NaNo because I was advised I should probably consider writing a second romance-based story in case an agent comes back, interested in Book 1 and asks ‘What else do you have?’. (This possibility is one which still drives me, yet since my submissions during the last week of September, all I’ve received is two rejections.)
Save The Cat ensured I had no ‘soggy middle’ and each day I typed another scene as I saw it playing out. I knew where I was heading and kept in mind Stephen King’s tip that his first drafts are like unearthing the bones for what will one day be a whole skeleton. So I created scenes, including dialogue, so I could engage with my characters. I had no worries at all about adding bracketed instructions to myself for following up in subsequent edits, such as: (check egg boxes were available in 1911 New York) !!
I’ve given myself a fortnight ‘off’ from MADE OF STEEL since I finished the 50K, on purpose to let the story percolate before attempting first edit. And at least this time, I have a plan for those edits, having done the Curtis Brown Creative ‘Edit & Submit Your Novel’ six-week course. I shall go back through all the notes I printed and stuck into a ring binder and work my way through each section, ensuring it adds to the plot and drives the story forward. I shall also be creating more padding to each scene, hoping to bring the two main characters to life with further dialogue and expressive behaviours. Looking forward to getting stuck in to some deeper prose with carefully thought out metaphors or similes, all of which should help take this 50K towards the required length of a novel; somewhere between 75 and 90 for a commercial womens fiction paperback.
Having called it womens’ fiction, I would hope that some men would enjoy the story too, as it’s based on real events. Shall I have a brief go at pitching it to you now? (Sounds dangerous to me, without any planning)
Following a fire in 1911 Manhattan, factory worker Emma is recovering from physical scars but cannot escape the guilt that she was the only survivor. Her parents send her to Southern Ireland, away from the growing Suffragette movement in the city, worried she is too fragile, vulnerable and angry to become part of it. In Queenstown, Emma discovers how her grandparents lived, and how they escaped the famine sixty years earlier. She befriends Thomas, the owner of a hotel in the harbour; a quiet man who prefers life when his famous and overbearing wife is touring Europe on the stage. Their friendship threatens to turn into something greater, but morals and faith prevail. In the spring of 1912, Emma knows she needs to return to New York and a life without Thomas in it.
It’s a novel about love, about progress. A little politics here and there (which, spookily, mirror events this year) and some Royal mentions too.
(Queen – Courtesy of the wall art in John Lewis, Oxford Street, yesterday)
Where the hell was I when this Netflix series first aired?? It’s been my binge-viewing all autumn and I’m all caught up. Incredible storylines, and heart-breaking relationship issues throughout the monarchy over the decades. Riveting script and stunning performances. Whether you’re a royalist or a complete anti-monarchist, this series is worthy of your time from a drama point of view!
I mentioned bare arms because I’m sat here wrapped in a duvet, sitting at the desk at the bottom of the stairs, my only light a green glass desk lamp with brass base and small pull chain, which has always fascinated me. I couldn’t sleep and kept turning over to find a few seconds of calm before the insomniac vibes won over. Numerous times I’d move towards Man of the Woods and spoon against his back, my thighs following his and felt snuggly, but sleep refused to arrive. Then I’d turn the other way and hug the pillow, waiting again to drift. But alas, a cup of tea and a bowl of coco-pops won. That was 90 minutes ago.
I checked my WordPress statistics and learnt something rather interesting. In 2019, my total word count across blog posts has been a mere 18,518 compared to 2018 which totalled 132,641. The significance of this is not lost on me. While I’ve missed the interaction with you guys (and even now, I’m wondering if the algorithms will mean all my old regulars won’t even see this post until I start reading yours again) I have evidently been concentrating my creative words into novels.
I’ve lots more to chat about, but for now, I’ll leave you in peace and drag my duvet train back upstairs to see if the sleep Gods may grant me a couple of hours. I’ll schedule this to publish at 8am and look forward to touching base with some of you later.
Eat an autumn apple from the farm while I assure you that #nanowrimo is going ok 😃
Pausing for family stuff and an amazing centenary rememberance weekend 🌺
I’m thinking WIP wordcount might get across the 50,000 mark which, considering it stood at 24,000 in mid August. My final aim for the WIP is around the 70,000 mark. I’m averaging 1,400 a day for NaNoWriMo at present, so I could, in theory, complete a first draft by the end of the month 😱😱😱😱
NaNoWriMo is not
for everyone, every year.
Here is one writer who made
a judgement and took the
pressure off ..
I WANT the pressure on my
shoulders this year and I know
she’ll understand that feeling
within me right now 🌸
Every year I try to pursue Nanowrimo and every year I fail. I fail because of life. I fail because I have so many things I want to do. I fail because I can’t seem to sit myself down and write 1,500 words in one sitting. One year, I swear I will pursue and complete this challenge, but now is not the time.
I have a lot of things going on in my personal life. I have a lot of obligations I have to fill. I also, have this urge to watch some movies. Plus, I’ve had the feeling of wanting to binge all of Shane Dawson’s You-tuber documentaries. I’m also working a lot trying to make some extra money for Christmas. I simply don’t have the time.
This does not mean I won’t be writing at all. I’m currently writing a new book idea that has required no outlining…
This sounds so like me 🤗💫
I’m quiet coz I’m typing for NaNo!
(PS.. my wordcount to date is
10,000 this month…
Which added to my WIP brings
the total to 42,000 😱🥂
This first draft thing
could actually happen!!!!
Some of you might already know (from one of my recent Hashtag posts) that I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this time around.
What is it? It is an annual event during which writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in the month of November.
In 30 days.
I have never heard of this until last year. I was only about 5 months into blogging when suddenly my Reader became covered with NaNoWriMo posts. Everyone was writing a novel. Back then it was too late for me to start, so I figured I would attempt it the following year.
My plan was to spend the entire year on coming up with an idea, drafting, planning, etc. By the time November rolled around, I would be prepared and ready to write my first book, which would turn into a bestseller. Of course.
We’d been toying with the idea for weeks. No words had passed between us but I knew her games. She relied on me still adoring her perfume and the way she twisted her hair up into a clip, displaying her neck where perfume would now be mingling with the scent of her warm skin.
She drove my senses through the roof, always had, and she new it. We’ve been divorced seven months yet my body betrays my common sense. She wanted to see me and I said no, but as she stared at me it was impossible to deny her.
Sophisticated and confident, a far cry from the young girl who asked me for a euro ten years ago to use the public phone outside the Carpi Cathedral. My world turned upside down that day and a year later we were married.
Today I left the office at five and found her outside my front door, swirls of smoke from her Modiano rising through the night air, a fickle barrier between the electricity radiating between our unspoken words.
I took the coat from her shoulders and my heart stopped at the sight of her legs. No-one had legs like her.
She said yes to a babycham and we sat by the fire listening to a new vinyl .. the American jazz she had flown to New York to see. With him.
We talked a little and her shoe which evoked sexual tensions within me slid slowly between my own ankles. My peripheral vision threw my mind intoxicating snippets while I overrode the desires to maintain eye contact.
She purred that she had missed me, my touch, my body near her own. I noticed her hand pull her own thigh apart and the ash which fell to the carpet was the least of my problems as exploits of my dreams became, once more, a reality.
Photo credit – Jack Vettriano print
Oooh, it’s been ages since we had some fun with a JV isn’t it?!! Yum yum yum. Hope you enjoyed that ☺️😈 .. now it’s back to my #nanowrimo piece 👌🏼