A Tale of Two WIPs

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It may come across to everyone reading that my blog that I’m a bit clueless from time to time and that I don’t really know what I’m doing. The truth is that I am and I don’t always. When I wrote my first book I didn’t have competing ideas I had one idea that I really liked and that I worked through several versions of till I produced the final draft. I don’t know if any of you have red Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (I know it’s not for everyone) in it she talks about ideas as though they are a living entity and if you don’t use them they go hang out with someone else. Whilst I don’t agree with her theories 100% what I took from her book is that ideas are more available when you are open to them. So what I did then, I think is when I wrote my first book I opened the flood gates to ideas and a few of them felt like they had potential.

You’ll know that my second book was born out of a series of frustrating attempts and several abandonments before I really gave it my all and I will never be sorry that that idea one out and became the second book I wrote. I am proud of it and how hard I worked to make it come to life. But I did give up on it more times than I care to remember and now I find myself in a similar position for book three. I’m almost starting to wonder if having two competing ideas has become part of my process.

I had recently decided to take a break from writing Wasps Nest in favour of Jack in the Box then driving home from work a few days ago I felt the next few pieces of the puzzle slip into place, maybe this happened because I’d taken the pressure off of myself by saying I was going to shelve it for a while or maybe my brain likes to take the mick out of me, who knows.

But I was enjoying writing Jack in a Box and started to wonder if I could have my cake and eat it - could I write two books at once? There are plenty of people who wouldn’t consider this a viable option because they like to emerge themselves in one project at a time and I totally understand that, if you’d asked me before this point I would have said I was one of those.

I would say the thing that puts me off writing two books at one the most is time, I feel fairly confident that I could move between projects although I may not think so when the plots progress but I work full time and I already cram querying, blogging and writing. The sensible part of my brain says ‘pick one and get on with it’, the other part says ‘what the hell, give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen?’

At this point I really don’t know what direction I’ll go but i’ll keep you updated either way. I’d love to hear about your WIPs and why you chose them, why not leave me a comment.

Time to get Back on Track - Good & Guilty Querying Update

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So I began querying Good & Guilty in October 2018 and you’ll have read in previous blogs that I decided to take a much more slow and steady approach to querying this time. When I queried my first book The Long Lie I did the bulk submission thing. I had a standard letter that more or less was sent to my list of agents. I had researched which agents represented my genre but not done much research into the agent themselves. You’ll also know that I didn’t representation for The Long Lie. Now I’m not saying that was 100% down the way I queried but I certainly don’t think it helped.

With Good & Guilty I wanted to a better job and have spent a lot more time looking for the right agent for me and my writing. I have been much happier with this approach generally. But driving home from work the other day I was thinking about my new WIP Jack in A Box and Good & Guilty and I realised I’ve moved from a slow and steady to almost a stop.

There’s lots of things that factor into that; writing a letter specifically for each agent is much more time consuming and hard work, researching agents thoroughly is hard work and time consuming…you’ll be noticing a pattern here!

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I’m a write whenever I can writer. I have a full time day job which has me out of the house for 45-50 hours a week plus life so I’m always shoehorning my writing in. Having recently started Jack in A Box I’ve been giving all my time to that and whilst that makes sense in one way, it’s madness in another.

The goal is to be a traditionally published author so I need to show up for the other side of the coin as well. So this week, probably Friday, I’m going to dedicate at least one hour of my writing time to querying and set myself of querying to two agents per week until I have submitted to all the agents I would love to work with.

I’d love to hear about how your querying journey is going feel free to leave me a comment.

Jack in A Box - A new WIP

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I said in my last WIP update that I was working on something new and I wanted to share a little bit about it with you all. This isn’t actually a new new idea, I had it probably a year or so ago but I was still working on Good & Guilty at the time so I did what I always do and popped the skeleton of the idea down in my notebook and got on with the WIP in hand. When I was deciding what to work on after Good & Guilty it was always a toss up between The Wasps Nest and Jack in A Box.

Whilst The Wasps Nest is on hold it made sense to work on Jack in A Box and besides the main character Rowan had been pushing her way into my thoughts as I drove home from work every day since Christmas. Ironically I probably have less of an idea where this plot will take me but the character voices are stronger in my mind.

Jack in a Box is designed to be the first in a series which is exciting as Good & Guilty and The Wasps Nest are standalone. The idea of writing a series is both appealing and frightening at the same time. I think you get a real opportunity to delve into a character when you have a series but in a standalone there’s more of a sense of urgency that can carry you along.

Good & Guilty made me push myself and I think my writing was better because of that. I want to keep pushing myself with Jack in a Box and with The Wasps Nest. The two main characters are really different Rowan is a feisty woman with a big attitude where as Harmony has been fighting her own quiet battle most of her life she’s only just beginning to understand herself and Rowan already knows herself and what she’s capable of.

I have great love for both characters and fully intend to write both books, maybe even at the same time - who knows. Right now my focus is on Jack in a Box and I look forward to keeping you updated on how I get on sculpting a plot for Rowan.

Wasps Nest Update

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I mentioned at the end of the year that I was working on a new WIP The Wasps Nest and I had every intention of bringing that project to life this year. The trouble is that I had been working various versions of it since around September and which ever way I looked at it it wasn’t working.

When I read back my previous updates I know that I was filled with optimism and spirit that I would get this book written. I’d already been struggling with it and every time I came to get some more written I was just feeling more lost.

I know what the hook is and it’s still a story I want to write but at the moment I don’t feel like I’m able to do it justice. Now I don’t know if I feel like this because my last book slammed the hook in your face in the first sentence and I’m trying to recreate that or if I just haven’t figured it out enough in my head.

The Wasps Nest is told from multiple POVs and this isn’t something I’ve tried before and I’m happy to admit that this scares me just a little, sometimes it’s hard enough to get inside the head of one character let alone the the three I intend to use. I have limited time available to me to write every week and I guess I’m concerned that it will make it really challenging to build momentum.

There’s a good chance I am overthinking this in to a problem that’s not there but for now I have to do what’s right for me and my writing. I’m not fully stopping working on The Wasps Nest but I’m going to hit pause for a while whilst I work on a different WIP and come back to this whenever the inclination takes me and see what happens.

It’s possible that this is just my pattern I had several failed attempts to get going with Good & Guilty and by the time I finished it I loved it and the MC.

Honestly writing is hard and this is just another bump in the road

Tweet Pitch

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Last week I had the excitement of meeting some of my Twitter writing in friends in real life and we had a blast, which I’ll talk about more in another post or you can read about on Twitter. This is where I found out about #XpoNorth.

#XpoNorth was an opportunity for writers in Scotland to pitch their work in a tweet, a year 280 characters and then agents, publishers etc could have a read and contact anyone they were interested in. I wouldn’t have known about it, some how it hadn’t been something I’d come across, if it weren’t for Marion Todd.

I found out about on Wednesday afternoon, mentioned it to my husband on Wednesday evening and wrote the tweet on Thursday morning before work. I’m aware I’m in danger of sounding like a Craig David song, but you get the idea, there wasn’t a lot of time.

I was lucky on Thursday. Normally I have a 30 mile commute and I leave the house at 7.20am to be at work for 8.30am but on Thursday I was going to a course which was only 3 miles away and a 5 minute commute. Even though I got extra time in my bed I still found myself with extra time to kill before I left for my day. I put it to good use writing my tweet.

Boiling 80,000 words down to 280 characters is tough, it needs to be punchy and eye catching and give enough information to hook an agent or publisher and make them want more.

I’m a complete novice at this and was in the it’s worth a punt mindset. Never having done one of these I didn’t initially realise that you could tweet multiple times and use different tweets. Unfortunately by the time I discovered this I was at work making it nearly impossible to focus on Twitter.

The event ran from 9am to 9pm and I decided to post my tweet nearish to mid day.

I was busy checking the hashtag and there were lots of great concepts, so I knew there was stiff competition but isn’t there always? We’re just not usually so blatantly aware.

I’m delighted to say that my tweet did get the attention of an agent who asked me to query to her, which I did the next day (this morning). Its exciting and I’m really interested in her feedback. I’ll let you know who it goes.

Good & Guilty Querying Update

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I have been querying this book since about October last year but taking a very slow and steady approach. In November an agent who I really like and admire asked to read the full manuscript. Getting that email was an amazing moment. I think I felt just pure joy that someone was enjoying my work and wanted to read the rest. This was my first request for full MS, my previous book didn’t get any requests.

I decided that I didn’t want to get my hopes up and that no matter what I would take it as a win that I’d got further than I ever had before. Of course that’s hard to do when you start to imagine all of the great things that could happen if you were to get that offer of representation.

Patience is not one of my more honed skills but I controlled my urge to spend every waking moment thinking about it. I did some research and discovered that it’s not unusual for it to take three months to get a response to a full MS request.

The last week the email came and it was a no, I was disappointed, sad and had a moment where I’d have liked to have cried. When you scrape away all of those initial emotions and look at the feedback there were definitely things to be proud of. A literary agent said that I write really well and that interactions between my characters were good. They had some areas they didn’t like and didn’t feel that they could passionate enough about this project. It was a lovely response, encouraging me to believe that this ambition I have isn’t a ridiculous pipe dream. Someone who knows what they’re talking about and who I respect said I write really well.

I’m still pondering all of the feedback and thinking about feedback from Betas, deciding if there are things I want to change. It would be madness not to consider if I could improve my manuscript.

Yes I was rejected and that sucked but I also gained a lot. You’ve got have the rain to get the rainbow, it’s onwards and upwards from here and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

The Old & The New

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As the New Year is only hours away now it seems like a really good time to give an update as to where I am with my WIPs.

Good & Guilty is still out to query and I continue with my slow an steady approach making sure that I’m contacting agents that I’ve researched thoroughly and feel that I’d like to work with.

In the meantime I have started a new WIP tentatively named The Wasps Nest. I have had a rocky start to this WIP. I wrote the first 25000 words and realised that it wasn’t going how I wanted it to and was beginning to turn into a police procedural, which wasn’t the intention.

It’s really hard to accept that you might need to scrap so much hard work and time but the truth was I did, if I hadn’t I would have lost the primary voice and she’d have become a secondary character in her own story. I also moved from third person POV to first. The story is told from three separate POV and this is a first for me and I’m finding it really challenging.

A couple of years ago I would have probably opted for an easier option, I might even have let it become a police procedural, thinking that was just the way the story was meant to go. Writing Good & Guilty taught me that sometimes you have to raise your game to meet the needs of the book. I have a really clear vision for how I want to tell this story, Harmony, the MC has been with me as a character for a long time. I tried writing her story in 2012 but it didn’t work out then and in some ways I’m glad because I don’t think I had the ability to do her justice six years ago.

I always find the first third/half of any new project the hardest, it’s where I have most of my doubts and lack of self belief. I think that’s because you’re just coming off the high of having finished a project. I feel like with Good & Guilty it was in my blood, almost by the end but I have to keep reminding myself it definitely wasn’t that way to begin with. Getting a feel for writing new characters always takes a while that’s what I think really changes in the second half of a WIP it’s not that it’s got any easier it’s more that you’ve become more comfortable with the characters voices. The same reason that I find that my books need more editing in the first 40000 words than later on.

I look forward to sharing the progress of The Wasps Nest with you as we go through 2019 and continue to believe that Good & Guilty will find its place in the world next year too.

Querying Good & Guilty

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I started querying my second book in mid September, I’ve been taking a more relaxed approach to it. I have probably six to ten agents that from my research come into the category of agents I’d love to work with and I am approaching them first. That doesn’t mean I think the other twenty or so agents on my list wouldn’t be good to work with, I simply don’t know as much about them. The first of my submissions will reach it’s rejection deadline this Saturday. There will be a moment of sadness when that day passes, which it will I suspect, without any good news. But it’s ok. I’ll be okay.

Every writer is rejected, it’s an integral part of the profession, we get rejected by agents, publishers and readers and it’s always okay because we find our people. Those who get what you’re about and want to be part of that. Writing isn’t about appealing to everyone, it’s about finding your people and embracing and nurturing those relationships.

I hope I’ll find a connection with an agent that works for us both but I’m not as scared as I was the first time, I don’t feel like my whole self worth is riding on this and I don’t believe that being rejected means the world is telling me to stop or that I have no talent.

I’m really proud of this book. I’m really proud of how hard I worked to make this story work. I had terrific feedback from my betas. I’m putting the best version of me out there is what I’m saying. I’ll keep you updated with how it all goes and I hope you’re having every success on your own journey.

Jumping the Gun

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My first rounds of beta feedback have started to filter in and for the most part it's been incredibly positive. I am using some of the same beta readers I used for my first book because I had a good relationship with them so it made sense. Chatting through their specific and general feedback they've told me that this book is so much better than my first book. This is not a back handed compliment because the beta feedback from my first book was over all positive, it's just a genuine observation.

Now I shouldn't be surprised, the more you do something you should get better at it so the second should be better than the first. Also this book was so much harder to write which in turn meant I had to work a lot harder to complete it.

It got me thinking though about whether or not my first book was actually the best it could be before I queried it. I went back and had a read and there are parts that I still love and I still think my dialogue is really strong. But the opening is slow and I'd completely delete the second chapter now because I can see it doesn't really add anything. I still like the characters and the overall premise of the book but I think I could have done a better job.

What am I saying? That I should never have queried that book? Well, no, actually that's not it at all, what I'm saying is that I queried too soon. after my editing and the beta feedback I should have stuck it in a drawer for a little while, gone away and done other stuff and come back to it, been more prepared to tear it apart and rebuild it. I have been much more brutal with the editing of my current book, wiped out entire scenes because they weren't good enough and spent hours reworking sections to make it more cohesive.

In the end it might make no difference, this new book might get as many rejections as the first. But I'm another year into my journey and I think I'm a little bit wiser. So what ever the outcome I know I’m putting forward a much better product than last time. I have taken more time to polish it and will continue working on it till I am sure it is the best version it can be. This time when I query I'll be more confident in what I'm trying to sell.

More than all of that though it is comforting to know that my skills have improved, that pushing myself to write this story, that at times felt like it was going to break me and that I wanted to hit delete and pretend I never had the idea in the first place, was worth it. That, that nagging sound at the back of my mind where this story sat never leaving me alone, making me write it was right.

Finishing my first book was a huge achievement and I am so proud of myself for doing it and maybe it never needed to be anything more than fertiliser for the stories that followed. Did I jump the gun in going out to query with it? Yes, definitely. Am I sorry I did it? Absolutely not, because I have learnt so much from the process.




You can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will (Stephen King)

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Last weekend I had one of the most successful sessions I've had in a long time. I edited 40 pages and added 1200 words (which was a good thing because I'm naturally an under writer). It took me about 6 hours and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole time. It doesn't always go like that. In fact it hardly ever goes like that so I like to shout about it when it does but even when I have much tougher days it still feels so good and completely worth it.

As I travel further through my writing journey the burning desire to be doing this full time increases. Recently I've been thinking a lot about ways I can change up my life and bring being a full time writer into reality. I'm not naive, I know that some things are luck based as much as hard work but if you put in the hardworking you're more likely to have the luck.

I've mentioned this in a previous blog that writing really helps me when everything else in my life is tough. I have physical happy places I visit but writing is a happy place for my mind and it is a necessary part of me. And life is a bit tough just now; my work has been ridiculously busy since April, my hours are about to change which will mean I will no longer get Wednesday afternoons off which is when I have the house to myself to write. I'm having to find new times to carve out for myself. On top of all of this I've recently found out I have Lyme disease, which sucks. The antibiotics are doing horrible things to my insides and as an added bonus I have the side affect of anxiety. 

All of the above alone would be enough fuel for the “change my life fire” but there's other things on top of that too and I genuinely have never felt more motivated to take control of my life and start steering it in another direction. 

When you're 42, married with a mortgage and bills to pay this is not the overnight process it is when you are young and carefree. It's going to take careful planning and a lot of hard work. I don't 100% know what it's all going to look like in the end but I know it's time to be brave.

So in addition to gutting my house and purging my unnecessary possessions, you know those things you've kept in your attic for 20 years, I'm going to be moving my writing and creative journey forwards. You might see some changes to my blog - it might become a website for example. I am so grateful to those people who take the time to read and I hope that any changes I make will help people enjoy what I do more.

No Army can Withstand the Strength of an Idea Whose Time has Come (Victor Hugo)

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I’m busy editing my current WIP and getting it all ship shape for starting the querying process. I’ve been completely enjoying the editing process this time around. It hasn't been so overwhelming which is great. Environmental factors have reduced the amount of time I've had available and I’ve found myself running a bit behind schedule but I'm ok with that. I want to make sure that my WIP is in the best condition possible before I look for representation.

When I'm editing or almost as soon as I've finished a project's first draft I do find that my mind almost becomes flooded with new ideas. It's not that I specifically shut them out when I'm in the throws of creating a first draft. But I don't give them a lot of air time, I might give them a few moments consideration and then I'll jot them down to think about later. What happens when I've completed a first draft is they start bubbling back up to the surface and want some play time almost like my mind is trying to pitch new options to me.

At the end of my last book and this time around two pretty good ideas have formulated. If you follow my blog you'll have read that I had a really on off relationship with the WIP I’ve just finished and really considered shelving it for the second in series to my first book. But it refused to be shelved, it kept nagging at me so I decided to work really hard on bringing it to life. It was a good decision.

My two pending ideas are the first in a series or a stand alone. In between editing I took some notes and created a rough outline on both ideas and I've decided to go with the stand alone. A decision I'm pretty sure I will doubt the sanity of as soon as I start to write. I know that this idea is the more complicated story line and will require me to work a bit harder again.  I am sure that at some point I'll be blogging or tweeting about the challenges it's causing me.

The exciting thing for me is that the ideas keep on coming and I feel I'm in a good place creatively. I’ve so many directions I could take myself. And the ideas I have put to one side for now aren't forgotten, they're just waiting for me to decide the time is right.

My friends have asked me if I'm worried that I’ll ever run out of new ideas and I always laugh and say no. Truthfully I am more afraid that I'll run out of time to write all the stories I have in me.

Editing - Good & Guilty

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I’m currently really enjoying the editing process of my current WIP.  I remember when I was editing my first book I really expected to hate that part of the process but found myself really taking pleasure in it. A lot of that was down to the fact that I realised early on that the editing process was so important and I saw what it could do for my work.  Also on first read through I realised how many mistakes I’d made.

Second time round I was super excited from the get go of the editing process.  When I wrote this book I started with a basic premise but other than that I didn't really know where the story was going and this was what made writing it a real labour of love. I've spoken about it before in past blogs but this book was nearly discarded so many times but the story just wouldn't leave my mind.  It needed to be written.

I was about half way through when the ending came to me and it was probably one of the most significant breakthroughs I've ever had in writing.  From that moment I found I was able to get high word count days out and this was genuinely a first.

All this makes the editing process even more important to me because I need to make sure there is continuity throughout and make sure that everything fits together.  I've always been a pantser so there was definitely elements of this in my first book but I knew what was going to happen at the end and this meant there was more connectivity.

I’m already really proud of my current WIP for nothing less than it exists and frankly I wasn't sure it was going to.  It has challenged my plotting ability and has raised my writing skills to another level. I could have given up and written something less taxing but I believed in myself and the story and for this reason I’m going to fully invest in my editing process.  I want this work to shine and I am prepared for the polishing that will take.

Maybe I'm the only one who feels like this but editing is special, it's the quiet time I get with my manuscript before I embark on beta reading and letting it take its first tentative steps into the world.

Expectation is the Root of all Heartache

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We all experience disappointment in our daily lives and those of us pursuing a career in writing have to expect that we will have rejections and accept that this is simply part of the process. Whilst it's not enjoyable it is inevitable and for these we are at least in part prepared.

A couple of months ago I decided that I would use an editing service to help me improve a book I was working on and help me increase my chances of securing representation.  I had had some rejections and really wanted to know whether I was flogging a dead horse and needed to move on or if in fact there were steps I could take to improve my manuscript which would help open some doors.

This was a big deal for me. I have some trust issues when it comes to this sort of thing. I'm not of course saying that my work is so amazing that I am terrified that someone will steal it, although I think if everyone was honest they would say they do think about things like that.  But in reality my concerns were about value for money and whether you really get honest helpful opinions if you are paying for a service.

I had been researching people for a while and then with what seemed like divine timing someone I already knew about and had a lot of respect and admiration for came on to the market place offering the exact thing I was looking for. It seemed like a sign, finally all the things that had concerned me fell by the way side.

I made initial contact and got the lie of the land, the service was a perfect match for what I wanted and we were on the same page so I made the decision to go ahead. The turn around time was fairly fast and fitted perfectly with my work schedule at the time and I really thought that this was ideal.  

I had no qualms about making the payment of £150 ($203 us) through PayPal and because I was already familiar with this person I made my first mistake. I paid her as though she was someone I knew not buying a service. And I did this because I know that PayPal would have charged her if I had paid the other way. But I trusted this person so I had no doubt that this would not be a problem.

I was told to expect my feedback in two weeks time and of course I was excited and nervous to see what she had to say and I had the date marked in my calendar. That day came and went and I was a bit disappointed but completely understood that sometimes life can be a pig and get in the way so I waited and when the deadline was about 4 days overdue I sent an email politely asking when I could expect it. I got a reply saying manuscript was read and enjoyed and the report would be with me the following Friday.

I was a bit frustrated as that was going to make it almost 2 weeks late but it still fitted around my planned schedule so I made my peace with that.

That was 2 months ago and I still don’t have the report. In that time I have been patient and I want to emphasise this, I have been extremely professional and polite. I have never been rude or publicly shamed this person. I have sent emails at reasonably spaced times, I have communicated privately via social media and I have been promised my feedback over and over again never to have received it.  

After a certain point I decided to accept that for what ever reason this person wasn't able to provide the service any longer. I tried not to judge, I understand that there could be a number of things that render a person unable to follow through on commitments. I asked for my money back, this was met with silence and despite making several attempts to achieve this I have been unsuccessful.

In conclusion I’m left with a myriad of emotions.  I’m angry because I paid for a service and I haven't received it.  I’m confused because I simply don't understand the lack of communication.  I’m frustrated because I have really tried to get this issue sorted out to no avail.  I’m £150 poorer, money that was not an inconsiderate sum to me. But mostly I’m extremely disappointed and let down because I feel I have lost a lot,  I’ve lost the chance to get the feedback I wanted and probably needed, I’ve lost respect for someone I previously admired and looked up to and that is perhaps the saddest thing.

The lessons I have learnt here have been painful and expensive.  I’ve deliberately not included the name of the service or the person because that's not important and I pride myself by behaving in a professional manner.  

I’m sure there are people out there who offer reliable, excellent services. I would encourage myself and anyone else wanting to engage this kind of help to take caution. Use someone who has reviews and always pay in a way that gives you the most protection.



Notes on a Plane

This last week has involved some travel for me and on the plus side it has been for pleasure and not business.  On Saturday I spent about five and a half hours on the most noisy, rowdy plane journey of my life. If nothing else it was an anthropological study into why excessive alcohol shouldn't be consumed before 12 noon immediately before putting 200 or so people in a confined space. Just to be clear it wasn't me who was consuming the alcohol but it seemed like everyone else around me had.  

I was prepared for this flight, I had podcasts, audio books and my kindle.  And I'm not against anyone having a nice time or enjoyment but I'm an introvert and a considerate person so I tend to roll all that into how I choose to behave. The seat belt on warning light had no affect on most of the passengers and the cabin crew seemed to have lost complete control of the situation.  

The whole thing hadn't started well when the bus taking us from the terminal to the plane was rammed full and the doors didn't open for a lifetime.  I'm claustrophobic and was on the verge of a panic attack before I was even on the plane and was so happy my husband was there to keep me calm.

What does any of this have to do with writing I hear you saying.  Well if you haven't already guessed I found this whole experience uncomfortable.  It was very difficult to relax, what I did was start to think about my WIP.  I recently had a break through in what has been a particularly tough write for me and on the plane I decided to whip out my note book and pen and focus on ironing out a few of the plot points my recent breakthrough had raised.  I took the time to tie a few things together to under pin some of the sub plots that I had put in earlier but as a pantser wasn't really sure how they were going to come together.

I’m sure you are thinking if the plane was too noisy to read, or listen to anything how did I manage to concentrate on my WIP.  But that's the thing, writing takes me into a whole other world.  The focus I was able to put into my creating was enough to block out what was going on around me.  Also I have to say that it is the most forward planning of a WIP I have ever done.  I know where I am going with this WIP and I am really excited to start bringing together the second half of this book. 




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Making a Break Through

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My current WIP has been part labour of equal parts love and torture, I’ve considered giving up more times than I ever imagined I would. I have been pushed and challenged, but you know what I'm so glad I've kept going.

I'm not a detailed planner as many of you will know from previous blogs.  And whilst I still stand by my methodology I can see why so many writers like a detailed plan, plenty of them would tell me if I had had one I won't have had half the struggles I've had. They'd be right, but that approach would have brought me different struggles and challenges and wouldn't have suited my creative process. I would've probably deviated from the plan anyway because I never was very good at doing what I was told even when it's me that's doing the telling.

On the flip side I get to enjoy the thrill and satisfaction of the breakthrough. Ordinarily when I write I am fairly set on one or two things.  I know my main character, I know the crime I know who did it and I know how it was going to end.  Breakthroughs normally come in how the plot moulds around these things.

In my current WIP though I've known a lot less.  I knew my main characters and my setting, I knew the intricate details of the sub plots that support the main plot.  I knew the main crime but I had a couple of options for who committed the crime and because of that the ending was up in the air.  That was all fine in the beginning but as I got towards the middle the lack of knowing became more and more problematic. 

During my writing session last week I took a break from putting words on the page, made myself a nice cup of tea and cogitated the ending of my WIP which resulted in some excellent notes being scribbled onto three scraps of paper which I have now fashioned into a flow chart .  This breakthrough was tremendously satisfying and I rewarded myself with a Freddo (small frog shaped chocolate bar for anyone not from the UK).

Now I feel prepared for the second half of my story.,I feel confident and enthusiastic and that's what a good breakthrough can do for you.  Never underestimate the power of a good cup of tea and the determination to write the right words.



What No One Tells You...

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…about writing a second book.

This time last year I’d finished my first novel, I was busy editing it, thinking about beta readers and querying.  I was conscious though that I wanted to keep writing after all that's part of the process that I love. I’d written a book already and logic told me therefore I could write a second one...

...but the thing is writing a book is like having one ball all you need to do is throw that one ball in the air and catch it - simple.  Especially when you have limited time because you're trying to do that in amongst all the spinning of plates you're doing with the your day job and the rest of your life.

What I was faced with was the realisation that I still needed to be throwing the first ball, that was in the editing phase, I needed to keep that one going. All this would be fine until you realise that once you finish a book your ball multiplies - it becomes two maybe even three balls; editing and rewrites, beta feedback, synopsis and cover letters.

After a couple of false starts I realised I really couldn't start a new book yet I was working pretty hard on my juggling act as it was and I wasn't ready for more balls. So I waited until my first book went back to being one ball, the one where I submitted to agents and waited.  

With a deep breath and the belief that I could handle juggling two balls I started writing my second book. This is when I discovered the second thing I didn't know and wasn't expecting about writing your second book and that is it's harder than the first.

You would think that you've gained all these skills writing your first book, you were pretty proud of yourself, you started from nothing and created a whole book.  That's the trouble you see when I wrote my first book I had no expectations of myself, I just knew I wanted to do it and I loved writing.  Writing my second book came with all sorts of internal expectations, a pressure that I hadn't put on myself the first time around.

All the while my confidence taking the knocks of rejection.  I haven't finished my second book yet but I'm 35000 words in and after a difficult time recently enjoying it.  I thought I’d been organised and focused writing my first book but the second time round has required a new layer of skills.  

This book has taken me longer to write but only I think because I have been in such a disorganised state.  I imagine when this book is written and I embark on my next project I'll experience a similar reshuffle of organisation and I hope that I'll be better prepared for it.



Author Confessions - Good & Guilty

Today I thought I would give you some insights into my current WIP in order that you might know more and that I might remember why I started writing it.

1. My main character, Gwen, is a serial killer who genuinely believes her actions provide the justice that society and the law were unable to dish out.

2. Gwen tries not to make friends as it affects her ability to be detached, she likes her world ordered and isolates herself from others to protect herself.

3. Gwen comes across very matter of fact, but there are moments when you see that she feels really deeply the pain of others.

4.  She has very strict boundaries, she is not for hire and no one makes the final decision on who lives and who dies but her.

5. Gwen has been a loner all her life, bullied and misunderstood by her family.

6. Gwen has a little sister that she’s very close to and it’s her relationship with her and anyone else she’s ever bonded with that show a different side to her personality

7. At school she was well behaved, had excellent grades but was quiet to the point that on parents evening teachers had no recollection of her being in their classes.

8.  Every death begins with an investigation and this time she may have got herself in real danger.  I'm hoping that one of the other characters will surprise me and come to her aid before it's too late. 

That's an insight into Gwen my main character from current WIP.  I enjoyed writing this and it's helped reignite the spark in me to tell her story. 

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WIP in Deep Freeze

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Happy New Year One and All :)

Welcome to 2018 I thought this would be an ideal time to let you know how my WIP is going. I’ll be really honest December was more like a work in stagnation.

I’m sure that I wasn't alone in finding myself with an unusually high amount of social and personal commitments on the run up to Christmas. In addition my husband and I were trying to get our decorating finished before Christmas Day. All in all by the time I went to bed on Christmas Eve at 3.45am I was exhausted.

I took the decision to take the rest of the month off and recharge which is what I absolutely needed.  And in doing so it helped get the creative juices flowing again.

Now it's 2018 and I'm back to my day job and my writing restarts in earnest. During my break I had a fantastic idea for a new book/series and I am really excited to write it. In fact I seriously considered giving up on my current WIP and doing this instead. Because, well it’s hard.

This has always been a challenging project even from its very inception. There’s been lots of times I’ve felt like giving up or putting it on the back burner. And recently I was wondering why I’ve persevered, the only answer I keep coming back to is that I feel the pull of the story and that might sound weird or a bit airy fairy but it’s all I’ve got.

I’m hoping that by the time I type The End I can look back and think I’m glad I kept going, it was worth it.  Maybe I won’t have to wait that long.  Maybe by the next WIP update blog I’ll have positive news.

Until then this is very much to be continued...

In the Right Direction

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A couple of months ago I wrote a blog about my new WIP.  It had been an idea that I had a bit of a stop start approach with but it had started coming together when I last wrote about it.  I thought now is as good a time as any to give you all an update. 

This work has been a real challenge for me. I am writing from a first person POV and I know that for lots of people this is their go to but for me this has been a point of view that I have really struggled with in the past. The book I'm currently querying started life as first person POV and was an absolute pile of garbage until I changed it. Maybe past experiences are affecting my approach to this aspect more than the challenge of the work itself.

Despite the difficulties this WIP has thrown at me I now feel like it is coming together and building into a solid foundation. It's a stretching write for me which in honesty I'm not sure I would have even considered attempting a couple of years ago.

Because this isn't an easy style for me one of the things I have been doing recently to help myself is reading a lot of books written in this style to help me get some hints and tips in how to naturally incorporate description and build other three dimensional characters.  I find that doing this kind of supporting reading can help you see your manuscript clearer and help you to identify where mistakes have been made or where opportunities to add depth have been missed.

I look forward to each time I sit down at my computer and get the opportunity to write more.  I’m now at that stage where I know the characters and they’re starting to take real shape for me. I always know when I’ve got into a grove with a WIP when I start imagining and creating scenes whilst I’m driving home from work. This is the time I use to work them through in my mind to think about what this adds to the overall story and how my MC will react and what impact it will have on her future actions.

I guess in short what I’m saying is that I’m really starting to enjoy writing this. It started out as a story that was nagging me to be written without me necessarily connecting with it fully. Now after 20,000 words I'm on solid ground and I’m looking forward to discovering all that this first draft has to offer.

I'm Late...

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In Novemberish of 2015 I had an idea and that idea grew and allowed me for the first time in a long time to believe I could have a life other than the one I had. Don't get me wrong I was already in an extremely lucky position. I have a wonderful husband that is truly supportive and an amazing daughter who I am incredibly proud of, I have a job and a nice house.

It was one of many occasions in 2015 when I asked my self the question ‘what’s in this for me?’ I was doing a job that had more downsides than up. It took me away from home more than I had intended, it had made me miss my husband’s birthday for the first time ever and the goal posts were ever changing. Every time I asked myself the question the answer just wasn’t satisfactory.

What that job did give me was the kick up the arse I had been needing for some time. It made me question what I really wanted. It made me think about what it would take to get what I really wanted and it made me believe that if I worked really hard I could have it.  

Long term plans scare me there are so many things that can change over a five year period that setting plans for that length of time seemed unrealistic so this was the first time I had used one in earnest. I still work for the same employer albeit doing a job that works much better with my work life balance. I don't hate that job but I want a life where I love what I do and I am not getting any younger, I decided this was my opportunity to grab what I wanted by the balls and make this plan. 

Five year plan sounds quite dry and unappealing so I call this my escape plan. I'm almost a year and a half into this and while the first nine months went according to plan the other have been lagging behind. In part this is due to some very naïve expectations on how long the editing and beta reading process would take and how much rework I would do to polish the edges after the beta process. I hadn't considered how challenging the synopsis would be to write. Also I had unrealistic expectations that I would be able to write my second book whilst editing at the same pace as the first. 

Whilst I was prepared for and expected the wait to hear back from agents I started that process months later than I intended. I considered extending the length of the plan but this was not really something I wanted to do. The first year and a half was the timeline that I had built the most structure for from the beginning, what I'll do next will be to look at the structure of the next eighteen months and see how I can make up lost time and reshuffle the plan.

Yes I am behind schedule but that's ok because the learning that I have gained and what I have achieved so far makes up for it. And even though I am running late it doesn't mean I can't cross the finish line when I planned. The most important thing is that I keep running.