Thursday, 21 December 2017

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

What does Christmas mean to you?

Religious considerations aside, my favourite part of Christmas is that pause between Christmas and New Year. For me, it’s time to take my foot off the pedal and enjoy some time without the usual pressures that everyday life seems to bring. Cold frosty walks, cosy evenings in with the family and a book and some time to write. The only thing better than pursuing my dreams of writing is knowing that I have been blessed with a family who understand and support my writing journey.

So warmest wishes from me to you and I hope that this festive period gives you a chance to do whatever makes you happy.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Writing, fitness and stationery

Writing, in my experience, is much like fitness. If it’s not used, the risk is that inspiration dries up and words feel clunky but worst of all, confidence goes.
Previously, I’ve tried to write something every day. It helps keep me in the story even if it’s only 100 words, but after yet another rejection, my confidence dropped to an all-time low and the crows of doubt began circling far too close for comfort.
I was in trouble. Like running through stitch, I told myself to press on, sitting at my laptop believing inspiration would come.
It didn’t. I was trying too hard and forcing it.
I gave myself time off. I gave myself permission to write rubbish which is harder than it sounds. My inner editor was chomping at the bit to have something to do. Time off, too, wasn’t easy. I even flirted with quitting. Turns out I couldn’t. The characters in my head wouldn’t shut up and their story was desperate to come out.

I have a particular predilection for stationery and so reverted to pen and paper. Something clicked. There’s nothing quite so organic as feeling the words appear. I began writing anywhere and the drip, drip feed to my story breathed new life into my writing and I’m getting back into my stride. Finally I can give voice to the characters in my head. The fact I'm indulging my stationery habit is a pleasant offshoot!

I love this quote from Anne Lamott because with every book I've written, the process has been different. So why should this one buck the trend?

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

When the Joy Goes

Writing without recognition or at least some kind of validation is hard. It’s difficult to stay motivated, to keep spending those hours in front of the laptop and to keep pouring out those emotions.

Having received conflicting feedback from several sources to the same draft novel, the lure to walk away has been strong. I'm frequently guilty of overthinking my stories and doubting my writing ability. 

Questions arise, most often when I’m lying in bed about to drop off to sleep. How long should I keep going? How long should I keep trying? Should I keep going?

Several times I’ve considered simply packing up and concentrating on my family and the farm. Then the summer holidays arrived and this summer was particularly poignant as it marked the end of my daughter’s primary education.

So I did the unthinkable and gave myself permission to take some time off.

Not writing for a few days usually makes me a bit twitchy and to consciously decide to put the pen down and not turn on the laptop for several weeks was scary. Would I be able to write again? Would I want to? And if I did, would I have lost the ability I’d cultivated? A bit like taking time off from exercise, I suppose, and losing fitness.

But then school rolls around and new term begins and as turns out, a rest can be good. Back to school, back to work.

The crows of doubt may currently be perched on top of my laptop cawing at the number of times I’m using the delete button, but I’m still here and I’m still writing. I’m still being courageous. 

Does the joy of writing ever desert you and if so, what do you find helps?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Romantic Novelists' Association Conference 2017

The RNA Conference is one of the highlights of my writing year. It’s the chance to catch up with writing friends, go to lectures and learn from multi-published authors and go to those all-important one-to-one’s. This year, the conference took place in the beautiful Harper Adams University.

As always, delegates are offered a wide choice of lectures and talks and although I’d have loved to have gone to them all, here’s a quick roundup of a few of the ones I did go to.

RITA winner and USA today bestselling author Sarah Morgan and Nicola Cornick gave a lecture on social media and how it can work for writers.

Alison May and Bella Osborne gave a very entertaining talk on the pros and cons of differing writing styles. It turns out that I am very much in Team Bella, being a plotter rather than a pantser.

Now you may have gathered from previous posts that IT is not my strong point so it was with a certain degree of uncertainty that I went to Laura James’s talk on IT in writing. I needn’t have worried as Laura took us through step-by-step the benefits of a number of apps and programs but in particular Facebook. My first-ever attempt at a Facebook live video can be seen on my Facebook Page with the lovely Janice Preston.

My Eureka moment however came from Fiona Harper’s talk on building characters where she very generously shared her wealth of knowledge.

But as always it was the chance to catch up with writing friends and meet online friends in person that added sparkle to the whole conference. 
From left to right at the gala dinner:
Louise FullerRachael Thomas and Gina Hollands

Me with writing friend Melissa Morgan

My writing mentor and guru Kate Walker and friends Marie and Sallyann
Jenni Fletcher was as lovely in real life as she is on line and I was so pleased I got to meet her in person.
Virginia Heath was charming and warmhearted with wise words of encouragement.

Generous Lara Temple who is one of the historical authors in the The Unlaced Bookclub on Facebook.


And yet there was still time for a quick explore.You can take the girl out of farming but you can’t take the farming out of the girl!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Persistence is a writer's true friend

Writing. Sometimes, it’s like stumbling around in the dark. Every now and then a light comes on so I can see where I am and where I’m going and then it goes off again. And never more so when life is full of changes and this last month seems to have dealt out more than its fair share.

It’s times like these when real life intrudes that persistence is the writer’s true friend because the writing road is never straight and flat. It’s up and down with bends and bumps and obscured by the fog and the dark.

And then there are the temptations that draw me from my writing. The internet, the housework, never am I more inspired to vacuum than when the writing is going badly!

When the going gets tough and the words don’t come, I’m easily distracted. So I have been retreating to my local library to escape both the temptation that is the internet and the ever increasing number of things that seem to be dominating my time. For some reason, I’m able to hold out from logging on at the library. It’s worked a treat and with the RNA Conference at Harper Adams University coming up in July, I need to get the work done. So here’s to libraries. What better place to be inspired to write than in a place surrounded by books?

Saturday, 8 April 2017

A Week of Writing Differently

It’s amazing how a word or two can spark an idea or a change. Ask anyone and in particular a writer and the thoughts and inspiration that flow from the right word at the right time can be amazing. That right word or phrase can come from anywhere – an overheard conversation, a line or two in a book or paper, even the TV. For me, two weeks ago, I saw something on Twitter. It wasn’t a huge piece of writing advice or “how-to” but a quick snapshot of a writer working with her laptop from her car.

The idea swam around my head for a while as many seem to do before I gripped the nettle and had a go. But rather than being stung, I was surprised.

Monday saw me writing by the Menai Straits complete with hot chocolate. The view was amazing but the glare on the screen wasn’t great. Undeterred I was determined to try again the next day.

On Tuesday, I found a spot in the shade on the farm overlooking the rhubarb. It was a bigger success.

Wednesday saw me at my local library where despite a large group of children and parents singing nursery rhymes, I achieved a decent word count.

Thursday was a snatched moment meeting up with my friend and fellow writer Melissa Morgan in Llanrwst. No view but very productive!

To round off the week, on Friday I was in Menai Bridge.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be one of those writers who retreats to their favourite cafe with a large drink although the idea is eminently tempting. But what I have learned over my week of writing differently is that change can be good and that getting away from my desk (and my internet connection) can be far more productive                                                                           than I had imagined.

So I have to thank Laurie Benson for her post on Twitter. A few words sparked some good ideas and got me writing.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

The Generosity of Writers

We hear about the kindness of strangers but what about the generosity of writers?

I’d read An Unsuitable Duchess by Laurie Benson which is book one in a three book series about the lives and loves of three titled men in Regency London. All three books are stand alone. I loved An Unsuitable Duchess and eventually worked up to approaching The Unlaced Book Club on Facebook. Soon after I joined, they held a giveaway and I was lucky. I won an Amazon gift card courtesy of Laurie and a copy of her e-book An Uncommon Duke which is the second book in the series. To say I was chuffed to bits was an understatement. Unfortunately, no doubt due to my lack of digital know how, I couldn’t open the e-book.

Not content to leave me with just the voucher, she very generously sent me a pack of goodies including a signed copy of An Uncommon Duke all the way from the US. It arrived today and I’m on page 97 and hooked.

Thank you so much Laurie. It was so very kind and generous and I can’t wait for more of your books.

Her third book - An Unexpected Countess - is out in June and I've pre-ordered my copy.

Monday, 13 February 2017

It’s been a long time since my last post. Despite knowing that doubt is the biggest hurdle to creativity, my writing’s been plagued by self-doubt for months. From questioning whether the idea is good enough, the conflict sufficient to carry through the book and my writing style enough to interest the reader, there seems to be a recurrent theme of whether my writing is ‘enough’. But every now and then something happens to make me sit up and think.

Part procrastination, part research, I have buried myself in a variety of books and found if nothing else absolute confirmation of the kind of book I want to write.

My love affair with happy ever afters began with Mills and Boon many years ago with a book called the The Duke's Secret Wife by Kate Walker. Ever since then I have been hooked on the drama between alpha men and the women who can match them, the intensity of falling in love despite knowing it might not be the wisest of moves from a self-preservation point of view and the happy ever after.

There are some books that stay with me, some books that I read in a day but do they stay for the right reasons? There are books that promise a love story but that then take the most emotive step of killing off either the hero or heroine and stealing from me my happy ever after. I can’t help but feel cheated.

Since I always read in bed just before I turn out the light, I want something to send me to sleep hopeful. Like a good long chat with a close friend, good books have the power to put the world to rights. Life is hard enough.

When I first started writing, I was asked why I write romance. My answer was and still is to experience that heady feeling of falling in love again and for the simple joy of it. That doesn’t of course mean it’s easy! It has however confirmed where my aspirations as a writer lie. Writing has the power to give so many emotions and as a writer, I want the main one to be uplifting, to create a smile and to know that I have written something that people will turn to when they want to pick me up or a few moments of simple escapism.

All I have to do now is get on and write it! That means throwing off a crippling fear of failure, silencing the crows of doubt, gagging my inner editor and ignoring that ever present suspicion that what I write is absolute rubbish. No small feat. But as I keep hearing, the only certain step to failure is to give up.