What I learnt this week: 12th October 2017

Getting my chat fix

When I left my ‘proper’ job to pursue this crazy dream of writing romance, the one thing I was concerned about (okay, there was also the little matter of a lack of regular income) was whether I’d feel lonely, working from my little home office all day. Only my family coming in at various points during the evening for company. Oh, and the random callers wanting to sell me  PPI.

You see, I love a good chat. But now, instead of a gossip around the coffee machine, I put the washing on. Instead of the chat at the start of a meeting, I fold the washing up and put it away. Instead of a conversation over lunch, I sit at my desk and have virtual conversations on social media.

Now before you start to feel sorry for me (what do you mean you weren’t?), let me stress that missing out on a good face to face chat is a price I’m very happy to pay for the joy of being able to do something I love. You see, the bit that happens in between the chatting, the actual work, doesn’t feel like work at all now. Except when I’m proof reading a manuscript I’ve read a gazillion times already, or when I’m struggling with a story line like I am now. But if it was too easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing. Apparently.

Still, now and again it’s good for this writer to get out and…well, have a chat. So that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m meeting up with a group of friends from my first antenatal class. Considering my little baby is now at university, you can see this is a special group of people. We used to meet up and discuss nappies and breast feeding and lack of sleep. Now we discuss student loans and teenage hormones. Oh and lack of sleep, thanks to our hormones. Where did those twenty years go? I think it was the kids who grew older, because in our minds we look and feel exactly the same. Only wiser (or so we tell the kids).

Bon appétit!

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What I learnt this week: 6th October 2017

Screwing my head on…

I’ve had to do a fair bit of juggling over the last two weeks. Now when I was young, this was easy. Somehow I managed to cope with a job, school runs, after school pick ups at various complicated times and the usual day-to-day stuff that comes with running a house full of males, all without dropping a ball. I’ve dropped two balls this week. Luckily the only cost has been to my pride, my time…and my bank balance.

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What have I been juggling?

In my (rather shaky) defence, my job is no longer ‘a job’ but a variety of jobs. I’ve had medical writing to do, with tight deadlines. Then the edits came in for A Little Christmas Faith. And the proof readers comments for A Second Christmas Wish. Flowing through it all – no actually, in this case flowing is absolutely the wrong word. Stagnating through it all is the book I’m desperately trying to knock into shape so I can send it off to my publisher. It’s a bit different from my usual – more on the suspense side of the spectrum, featuring a body guard and a scientist. I love the idea. I’m just terribly unsure whether the whole plot is realistic enough.

So with my head part way in my book, part on when I need to pick my son up, and part on my writing deadlines, I dropped the first ball.

I filled my diesel car up with petrol.

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Aghhhhhhh. Thankfully I realised half way through and didn’t drive the car, so saved myself the cost of a new engine and a whole tank of unleaded. I did have to pay for half a tank of petrol I didn’t want, wait an hour for the AA, wait a further half an hour while they drained it, and pay them £200 for the privilege. I also had to explain to a lot of motorists why there was no point them waiting behind my car at the pump…

The second ball I dropped was around a week later. My son needed to have a blood test (worry not, it’s just a baseline test, not anything serious :-)). It necessitated an early start so he could still get to school in time for his first lesson. Being a kind mum I brought him his breakfast, cajoled and encouraged him into the shower, then into the car. We were turning into the hospital car park when I realised…it was meant to be a fasting blood test. Agghhhhhh again.

So it’s time to screw my head on. Thankfully the book edits are done, and the next medical writing work is not for another week. Time to focus on this devil of a book that’s causing me so much angst. And if I can’t kick it into shape soon, the damn book is going to be the next thing I drop. I have plenty of other ideas clamouring through my brain.

Just hope they keep quiet while I’m filling up the car.

 

What I learnt this week: 28th September 2017

A Little Christmas Faith: My second round of edits have left the building!

Okay, technically they’re still on my computer, but I was going for dramatic effect. The question I can see you’re itching to ask, is what on earth am I doing when I tell my family ‘I’ve been editing today.’

Well, there’s a high chance I’ve been sorting the washing out, making the tea, arranging a car to be serviced/repaired (yes, it’s been happening a lot recently). Making myself the odd cup of tea.

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But that’s not what you’re interested in, is it? (and yes, you are interested in my editing. Just grit your teeth and read on).

First, a reminder of A Little Christmas Faith.

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It’s the story of Faith (see what we did there?!) the owner of a new boutique hotel in the Lake District, and her first guest, Adam Hunter. Faith, you might remember, is excited to be opening her hotel a few weeks before Christmas. Adam, on the other hand, has come to the hotel to escape Christmas…

Here are some examples of changes I had to make during the first round of editing:

  • Slow the romance down a bit. Not too much mind you, as Adam is only booked into Faith’s new hotel for 10 days. But this is fiction, so that’s plenty of time for ‘things’ to happen. Or not. (come on, I’m not going to give away too much here. I’m trying to pique your interest so you’ll buy the book).
  • Add a bit more background to Faith’s romantic past.
  • Provide a few flashbacks to help you, dear reader, understand why Adam has checked into The Old Mill Hotel to escape Christmas.
  • Stop Adam’s best friend and business partner, doing a disappearing act in the middle of the book. Oh and the same goes for Nip and Tuck (you’ll have to read the book to find out who they are!).

And here are some from the second round:

  • Address the issue of Faith having her rooms in the upstairs of the hotel, yet she has a backdoor into a garden (oops…!)
  • Modernise some of my language. In my head I might have become Faith, my twenty seven year old heroine, but alas in reality, I’m old and dated. As are some of the words I use…
  • Make sure some of my secondary characters don’t change their names half way through the book (oops again).
  • When Faith is wearing a dress, don’t let Adam later undo the buttons of her blouse (oops yet again).
  • Provide a realistic reason why one of my characters is in a certain place, at a certain time. And not just because it’s convenient for my storyline.
  • Generally tighten my writing up and make it ‘better’ (which sadly also involves making a lot of changes, reading them, then reverting back to the original because ‘better’ is very hard to judge).

One more round to go, when I hope to pick up all those pesky mistakes that I know are lurking in there somewhere, but they’re very hard to see when you’ve read the manuscript as many times as I have.

Worse, I know if my editor and I don’t find them, you will!

 

What I learnt this week: 21st September 2017

It’s starting to look a teeny weeny bit like Christmas…?!

I know, I know, it’s so annoying when people bang on about Christmas when it’s only September. Heavens, we’re only just putting the flip flops away and turning the heating on again. The thing is though, if you have a paperback book coming out, and a new ebook, and they both have a Christmas theme…well, you kind of want to bang on about Christmas in September.

Sorry.

If I promise to just let you know about them both now, and then keep quiet for a few weeks about the subject, will you forgive me? Thank you.

A Second Christmas Wish is going to be available in paperback on 28th November. I’ll just pop a photo of the cover up now, very quickly, to remind you which book I mean:

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There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? And now I’m on a roll, my new Christmas ebook, A Little Christmas Faith, is going to be out on the 24th October. I’ll tell you more about it nearer the time, but it is available for pre-order for anyone who’s itching to get into the Christmas spirit!

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There, all done. But just to link back to last week’s post, when I talked about my summer holiday in Canada, here’s a photo of a couple of mementoes we brought back with us.

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You see, even on my summer holiday, I was anticipating Christmas, and decorating that tree. It’s become a habit of mine to bring back a Christmas decoration from our travels abroad. My family will say an annoying habit (another one?), as the last thing they want to shop for on holiday are Christmas decorations. Actually, the last thing my male dominated family want to do is shop, full stop. Still, reminiscing when I get the decorations out is one of the lovely things about getting ready for Christmas, so as the Freeman males invariably find something else to do when I ask for help, waiting while I browse through the Christmas shops is the least they can do. And trust me, the least is what they tend to aim for…! (it’s okay, none of them read my blog).

 

 

What I learnt…this month

Phew, so much has happened since I last ‘saw’ you.

At the beginning of the month, you may remember I celebrated the paperback publication of Before You, and the ebook publication of Too Damn Nice (yes, yes, that was just an excuse to remind you I’ve got these books out…).

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Well, after the excitement of all that, I needed a holiday. As luck would have it (or in this case extensive and exhaustive planning) I had one booked, so I headed off to Canada with my family. A destination I can thoroughly recommend. If the Canadians are having a dry summer though, avoid July and August if you don’t want to run the risk of having the fabulous scenery ruined by the smoke from forest fires. Thankfully it didn’t affect every day, it just depended on the way the wind was blowing. Never have we spent so much time researching wind patterns while on holiday.

Here’s an example of how much of a difference the smoke can make. The first photo is taken at the start of the day, on the road from Kamloops to Jasper national park in the Rockies. The second photo is taken several hours later, arriving in Jasper national park.

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And here we have the same scene, but on different days. The first is a view of the amazing Athabasca glacier from a hike. The second is the same glacier, viewed from across the road, two days later.

Athabasca glacier clear dayGlacier in smoke

What a difference a few days – or if you’re travelling, a few hours, can make!

But on those days when the wind sent the smoke away from us, wow. Just wow. The scenery was so stunning it even made a photographer out of me.

LakeTop of Sulphur rimLake Louise

And it wasn’t just the scenery that excelled. The wildlife was pretty amazing, too.

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Thankfully we only saw one of these guys behind a fence, in a sanctuary…

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So there you have it. My excuse for not posting for a while is I’ve been on holiday. Unfortunately, having chosen a holiday in a country renowned for its mountains, the only actual rest I had was at the top of one! (in case you’re wondering, the man isn’t a stranger I picked up. It’s my husband…).

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NEXT WEEK – more book news!

 

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What I learnt this week: 3rd August 2017

I like to be greedy…

This week I’m having not one, but two publication celebrations.

Too Damn Nice

Yes, I can finally share the cover for my latest eBook, Too Damn Nice. A bit different from my other covers, but I hope you like it. Especially the pink! It’s available now from all ebook platforms, including Amazon.

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Banner from Choc Lit

And remember all that angst I had developing the blurb? No? Okay, I do realise you probably have a few other more important items circulating through your mind than my books, so I refer you to this post. Anyway, here is the blurb, which will hopefully entice you to buy, especially as it’s currently at the release price of 99p.

Do nice guys stand a chance? 
Lizzie Donavue went from being the sister of his best friend to the girl Nick Templeton most wants to kiss. On her birthday, he finally summons up the courage to make his move. But it looks like Nick’s missed his chance when he discovers that Lizzie has been offered a modelling contract, which will take her away to the glamorous fashion scenes of New York and Los Angeles.

Nick is forced to watch from the sidelines as the gawky teenager he knew is transformed into Elizabeth Donavue: top model and ultimate English rose pin-up, forever caught in a whirlwind of celebrity parties with the next up-and-coming Hollywood bad boy by her side.

But then Lizzie’s star-studded life comes crashing down around her, and a guy like Nick could be just what she needs. Will she take a chance on him? Or is he just too damn nice?

Before You

Aiden Foster, my Formula One racing driver inspired by….yes, yes, I realise you know that by now. But how can I not show a photo?? It is my blog, so I must be allowed some control over who goes in it…

Jenson at Silverstone

I digress. I wanted to tell you that Before You, featuring the gorgeous Aiden Foster, is now available as a paperback to order from all good bookshops. If you pop by a WHSmiths travel shop, you might even see it on the shelf.

So it’s double celebration time. Cheers. And cheers again.

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What I learnt this week: 20th July 2017

Little brown boxes…

There used to be a time when a parcel in the post was met with a squeal of excitement. It would be a birthday present, perhaps. Or that special item you’d ordered from a shop that wasn’t on the high street, and had been waiting weeks for.

Then came the arrival of Amazon Prime.

Now, the little brown boxes arrive with alarming frequency (I blame my husband – I swear he’s addicted to ordering things on-line). Sometimes as often as once a day. Do I squeal with excitement? No I flipping don’t. I’m more likely to curse, because when I open the door to find a little brown Amazon box sitting on the doorstep – the delivery guy has already scarpered – I’ve climbed down two flights of stairs and halted the flow of my latest literary masterpiece. Umm, so that’s why I’m not on those bestselling charts. It’s the arrival of too many damn Amazon boxes.

But what about what’s in the boxes, I hear you ask. Surely the contents must be interesting? Here’s what was in the last 3 Amazon boxes I answered the door to:

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Exactly.

But then yesterday a miracle happened. The doorbell rang (as usual). I sighed (as usual), stopped what I was writing (as usual) and scurried down the stairs (because you never know, it might not be an Amazon delivery. It could be a proper visitor). Yet again there was a box left on the doorstep. But this time, it was addressed to me. And this time, I did squeal, because this is what I found when I opened it.

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It’s my fourth paperback, but seeing it for the first time, touching it, smelling it (come on, the smell of a new book – they should bottle it). It all feels as exciting as the first.

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And finally, because no post that features Before You should end without a mention of the inspiration behind it, I leave you with me and JB, sharing a special moment in my study…

Me and BY close up study

 

 

 

What I learnt this week: 6th July 2017

It’s harder to write less than more

Several weeks ago I sent in my comments on the final proof stage of my latest ebook, Too Damn Nice. It’s around 80,000 words; shorter than some of my books (Before You was 96,000) but longer than others (A Second Christmas Wish was 65,000).

So the words are done. As I mentioned last week, the cover is nearly there, and I hope to share it with you in the next week or so.

That means the only part of the book left to be worked on ready for publication on 1st August is the ‘blurb.’ I always thought that was a made up word, or the name of a rock band, but the dictionary definition is:

A short description of a book, film, or other product written for promotional purposes

The key word here being short.

For example, here’s how the blurb for Before You will look when it comes out in paperback (1st August – you see, there’s a common theme here. I’m hoping repetition of message will work).

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The idea of the blurb is to attract you, dear reader, into buying the book. It needs to reflect the sense, the atmosphere of the book without going into pages of detail about it. Sounds easy? It should be, because let’s face it, between writing it and editing it, I’ve spent over half a year on this book. If anyone knows how to sell my beloved masterpiece to the reader, it must surely be me, huh?

Wrong! In my experience, it’s a damn sight harder to write 150 words that convey the essence of the book, than it is to write the 80,000 words of the book. I think it’s because I know the book too well (either that or I’m useless, a sentiment I can’t possibly ascribe to). When people read the back of the book, funnily enough they don’t want to read a three page synopsis of the book – and trust me, condensing 80,000 words into 3,000 words is hard enough. They also don’t give a toss about all the little details  e.g. is the Beverley Wiltshire a good place for a sex blackmail video to be made (umm, I’ve gone with yes?). When is London Fashion Week? Sadly, because I’ve painstakingly pondered over these, that’s what’s on the forefront of my mind when I think of the book.

No, potential readers only want the bare bones. Enough to give a flavour of who (it’s about) what (is the main conflict) and where (it all happens). Written in a persuasive enough manner, and without giving away anything important, that they’ll immediately click the buy box. Or take it to the till if you’re doing things the old fashioned way, though you won’t be able to do that for Too Damn Nice as it’s coming out first as an ebook. You will be able to take Before You to the till. After 1st August…!

Thankfully I’m not in this blurb quagmire alone. My publisher is working on it, too. Between us, we’ll get there. And hopefully what we come up with entice you enough to give it a try. If not, there’s always that mention of what happened in the Beverley Wiltshire.

 

What I learnt this week: Thursday 29th June

A new book – the same old excitement

There is definitely something very special about seeing your name on a book cover for the very first time. Just like a first love is hard to forget, so is a first book cover. Mine was this one:

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But the anticipation of the next cover, the thrill of seeing your name on a new design, with a new title – that’s very special, too. Last week I was sent some cover options for my next book, Too Damn Nice (out 1st August). And still my heart jumped into my throat when I saw the images. You see it’s only when I see my name on that cover, that I start to believe this is really going to happen. I’m going to have another book out. I know I’ve spent months editing it, but that’s all on a word document so it never looks like a book. Until the moment I see the cover.

So what can I tell you about it? Well…the final one hasn’t been chosen yet, but I’m excited to have a new look. It’s illustrative this time – very different to any of the covers I’ve had before. Oh and I think the title might be in pink, which is a real plus for this girl. It means I can design some pretty pink social media banners to go with it. I can see it now…

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Maybe even this fella.

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Okay, it is only my name in pink, so I might be getting a little carried away here. Especially as I’m not sure my creative talents are up to blending flamingoes with…no, no, I’m not going to say. But the majority of the book is set in the English countryside. Not a zoo.

So, watch this space. I hope to post the cover for Too Damn Nice on this blog over the next two weeks.

I think it’s fair to say I’m tickled pink to have a new book out soon (no groaning, please. You know I’ve made worse jokes than that).

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What I learnt this week: title reveal

What’s in a title?

I have four books coming out between August and November (boy are you going to be sick of me banging on about them ). Two new ebooks and the paperback publications of Before You and A Second Christmas Wish. All of them have different titles to the ones I submitted. You could ask what does that say about my title creation skills, but I’m going to ignore you. Instead, how about, what were the titles I submitted and why were they changed? Well, funny you asked…

Before You

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This started off as Over the Line, as I was trying to match the title to the racing theme of the story. Stupid idea. The main theme of the story is love – my target audience those who enjoy romance. My hero just happens to be a racing car driver. So the title was changed to one that fitted with the romance, not the sport.

Before Aiden met Mel, racing was his life. He was obsessed with the need to prove he was as good as his father. Before Mel met Aiden, she was was burying the feminine side of her. She didn’t want to open up to being hurt again.

A Second Christmas Wish

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This started off as A Second Wish – yes, a title I didn’t get far wrong. My publisher added the word Christmas because, funnily enough, that is a key word for a book you’re targeting for the Christmas market…

Too Damn Nice

This is the story of supermodel Lizzie Donavue and quiet, reserved accountant Nick Templeton. I mentioned on a previous blog (13th April) that when I wrote it many years ago (before I was published) it was originally called Coming Home. I changed it to Too Nice after I had it professionally critiqued because one of the criticisms was that the hero, Nick Templeton, was too nice. Ha, I thought, I’ll show them. I’ve since thoroughly re-worked it (okay, okay, all the criticisms were justified) and Choc Lit will be publishing it on 1st August. They felt Too Nice was a bit wishy washy – hence the addition of Damn. I love it. Definitely appeals to my writing style.

A Little Christmas Faith

My Christmas book has a proper title! Provisionally I’d called it The Christmas Hotel but Choc Lit have taken a look at it and, noting the name of the heroine of the story, have changed it to A Little Christmas Faith (yes, they’re far cleverer than me). You see Faith is the owner of a new boutique hotel in the Lake District. After months of building delays she’s excited to be opening it two weeks before Christmas. What a way to celebrate the season. Her first guest is Adam Hunter. He’s come to the hotel to escape Christmas…

So there you have it. Thinking up two or three words to sit on the cover of a book – not as easy as it sounds. Even if you’ve written the 90,000 words inside it.