Things Which Book Lovers Can Relate to #MondayBlogs #Booklovers 📚❤️

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I am on a book reading high at the moment. Some great books have come my way and I thought would do a book related post in celebration.

Here are some things book lovers can relate to:

  1. When someone asks you to pick out your favourite book from your entire book collection and they are still waiting for you to answer an hour later.
  2. At a social gathering someone wants you to tell them about the book you are reading. Little do they know you are LOVING the book you’re reading. An hour later, you’re still talking about this book and they have wandered off to talk to someone else.
  3. The pain of struggling with a book for 300 pages and then being rewarded with a terrible ending.
  4. When someone questions whether you can read a book in a day…
  5. People who borrow your books and return them dog eared and tea stained.
  6. Trying to remember a time in your life when you didn’t have a reading pile / list.
  7. Coming out of a bookshop empty handed and announcing to loved ones you must be sick.
  8. When someone tells you the ending of a book you’ve been wanting to read for ages.
  9. Reading a good part of your book in the bath and your glasses keep steaming up.
  10. When someone you know reads the same book as you and questions how anyone could find the fictional love interest attractive. You haven’t been able to stop thinking about that sexy love interest and have had several sleepless nights re-reading the book’s spicy chapters.
  11. Loved ones who sneak their books onto your bookshelves without conforming to your colour coding or design and think you will never notice.
  12. The stress of not being able to find a book mark.
  13. Starting a book with expectations of it changing your life.
  14. Being haunted by the thought, ‘I didn’t bring my book / kindle with me.’
  15. When someone says – ‘it’s just a book..’
  16. When you see one of your best ever reads on a shelf in a book shop and you give it a knowing smile.
  17. Reading your way through grief.
  18. The good plot twists aren’t the ones that are wild left turns out of nowhere, they’re the ones that make all the other little things that didn’t quite add up before suddenly click.
  19. Wondering how those characters from that fab book you read last year are doing now
  20. When you try to explain..’I have been crying for the last I don’t know how many chapters…’

Things to Expect When Writing Your First Draft #MondayBlogs #writers

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Hello, thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

If you are getting ready to write a first draft please check out my list of things to expect along the way:

  1. The food inside your fridge will become very appetising the second you start to write. Be prepared to spend a large amount of your writing time with your head stuck in your fridge.
  2. Don’t expect your characters to keep their names you gave them in the planning stage. You will either come to detest them by 20k words or you will forget what they were supposed to be called and refer to them as something totally different by the end.
  3. Plot holes are to be expected. Let them appear. In subsequent drafts you will fix them. There is nothing more satisfying than finding a fix for a gaping plot hole.
  4. The songs you keep listening to whilst writing your first draft will always make you recall that particular story in the future. Depending on how your writing process goes you might not want to listen to all your favourite hits whilst you write your first draft. Let me tell you there are good songs I can no longer listen to now because they remind me of a painful first draft.
  5. You will end up expecting your first draft to be perfectly formed and sound like a best selling novel by the end. Remember your first draft’s only purpose is to give birth to your story. Births are beautiful but also are messy and chaotic.
  6. You will expect your first draft writing process to be similar to the last book you wrote. It won’t be and that’s just how things are with this wonderful craft we call writing. I have had first drafts which have gushed out of me, I have had first drafts which have coughed and spluttered their way onto the page and I have had first drafts which have been like disobedient children and have run away back into my head laughing at me.
  7. There will be unplanned breaks from your first draft along the way. The words will dry up and you will find yourself cleaning the house for a 4th time in a day just to avoid writing.
  8. Your future writing self will thank you for persisting with your first draft. They will be cheering you on and giving you a side eye when they watch you happily scribble ‘huge plot hole for my future self to correct’ in chapter two.
  9. Thirty to fifty thousand words will feel like you are lost in a wilderness with no tent, no food, water or firewood. Here are some lifesavers; a character name change can brighten things up and trick you into thinking you are writing something else. Be generous with the phrase, ‘bla bla bla’ and sometimes let go of the novel plan and see what happens. Creativity hates being fenced in on the first draft.
  10. You might use a lot of naughty language whilst you are writing your first draft. Plan ahead and set up a ‘curse draft swear jar.’ Every time you swear at your first draft make a payment into your curse draft swear jar. Use the money at the end to treat yourself. Writing a first draft and getting to the end is an achievement.

Have fun!

Help! I Think I Am Becoming a Plotter #AmWriting

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Hello, welcome to my blog.

I used to swear I would never become a plotter. I was so loyal to my pantser roots. Over the years I have written loads of blog posts about how I am a proud and committed pantser.

As a pantser, instead of writing down notes before I start writing I use my first draft as my planning process. Everything comes together in what can only be described as a chaotic first draft. For years the excitement and thrill of not knowing what happens next has warmed my insides. New characters popped up like moles from mole hills and my plots took bizarre twists and turns. Usually in line with my fluctuating hormones. My character’s eye colour would also change every third sentence.

I have written by the seat of my pants and I have had a blast.

However, I have started to groan at the thought of chaos in the first draft. I also don’t like the idea of my second draft being the one where all the pain comes. As a pantser the heavy lifting starts.

All the first draft chaos has started to make me feel exhausted. *Whispers, ‘what has happened to me?’*

I am craving order and detail with my writing. I want to know what happens next and I want to know why and how. I am sick of planting seeds in my garden (my story) and watching them grow into a wild and unruly forest eighty thousand words later.

So, I have a new novel idea and I have found myself writing a DETAILED NOVEL PLAN. The worst part is that I have found myself ENJOYING putting the plan together. My former pantser self is currently screaming, ‘nooooooooooo!’ in my head. Omg I never thought I would utter these words. For noting, I have not been influenced by anyone on becoming a plotter, no one is forcing me and I have not read a book about plotting. This feels natural and organic.

Also, I have been working on the plan for a week now and keep going back to add more things. I have also written notes on my characters. *Whispers – who are you?*

No more internal panic for me. Its a nice feeling to know that all first draft chaos has been banished. My second draft of this novel will be amazing and all the heavy lifting will have been done.

I am sorry to all my fellow thrill seeking pantsers out there. I will still try and support you all but I can’t deny these strong feelings for a detailed excel spreadsheet titled, ‘plan’ any longer.

Has anyone else made the leap from pantser to plotter?

Things to consider when querying your novel #amwriting

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Hi there, thanks for popping onto my blog.

You will be glad to know a few weeks ago I swan dived into the querying pool with my latest romcom. At the bottom of this blog post is an image of me in the querying pool, chilling and thinking about querying. For noting I am the cool one with the shades.

In my experience querying a draft novel with agents can be a reflective time for the writer.

It’s a process which will make a writer question everything- their creative purpose, their own writing, their writing dreams, their writing life since primary school and ALL the astrologers who predicted that something BIG and WONDERFUL was on its way for their star sign.

If you ever feel like doing six months of intense soul searching – write a novel and query it!

Here are some things to consider when swimming in the querying pool:

  1. Diving into the querying pool is an achievement in itself. You have finally finished that beloved novel of yours after months / years of wrestling with it whilst the world descended into yet more chaos. You should be PROUD of yourself no matter what happens to your novel.
  2. Rejections are like insect stings. Some will hurt for a couple of hours and some will take longer. If only Amazon sold Rejection Insect Repellent which we could all order and spray ourselves like mad after hitting send on our queries. Sigh!
  3. There ARE magical moments in the querying pool. It only takes one agent to cast their literary net and scoop you up. Never give up hope.
  4. Always clap and cheer when fellow swimmers in the query pool get scooped up. You never know what writers have been through or the struggles they have faced. They will one day clap for you ❤️
  5. Querying is a process which the best authors have all gone through. Some will have experienced first time success and some will have kept going no matter what. There are some great motivational author stories out there.
  6. Brace yourself – I have a new way of looking at rejected novels. Are you ready? Your novel might get rejected by all the agents you approach. After the tears have dried up and you feel like facing the world again, don’t build a bonfire using your rejected novel. Instead think about WHY your novel came into your life. Every story has a life purpose and that purpose MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN to clinch an agent or a book deal – GASP! Let me explain.
    • I wrote a novel which allowed me to process my dad’s passing. It came into my life to help me process my grief. It didn’t get bought at submission because that was not it’s purpose. That was not the reason that novel came into my life. After I finished writing that novel I could go for a weeks without crying about dad.
    • The novel I have just submitted came into my life after a painful period of not enjoying my writing and losing my confidence. This novel was so enjoyable to write and it also forced me to break free from some of the things which were not working in my life last year. If this novel doesn’t do well in the querying pool I will know that was not its purpose. It came into my life to cheer me up and show me how much I still loved writing.
    • I wrote a novel a few years ago which I self published because I was having a wonderful midlife rebellion. I did a ton of things that year which took me out of my comfort zone. I got a new job after 10 years doing the same thing, I went on holiday with some friends, I cut my hair, I bought my own car, I sorted out my mental health and I put my writing out into the world. 2019 was one hell of a year for me. Again that novel was rejected in the querying pool but its purpose wasn’t about me getting taken on by an agent. That novel came into my life to shake everything up.
    • If your novel gets rejected – think about why that story came into your life. It could be that rejection by agents and publishers makes you self publish that novel. Your belief in the story takes hold of you and propels you into self publishing and you become very successful. That novel came to you for that purpose – to make you take another path.
    • We always think stories come into our lives because they are going to get us book deals. Sadly, stories come into your life for other reasons. A friend of mine started writing her first novel before her marriage ended. She believes the process of writing helped her to find herself again. Sometimes we are quick to dismiss rejected novels and we let ourselves spiral into negativity. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take a step back and reflect on why that story came into our life. Was it teaching us something or was it allowing something else to happen. Was it a catalyst for other things?
  7. Querying a novel forces you to play the long game. It’s a good skill to learn in this age of instant gratification.
  8. It’s not the end of the world if you stagger out of the querying pool with your rejected novel. Look around as there are many of us all queuing behind you to get out of the pool. It’s part of the process and guess what? It makes you a stronger writer.
  9. You will forget about the pain and the rejection stings.
  10. Change your astrologer 🤣

If you are in the querying pool at the moment – give me a wave or swim with me for a lap? Before you ask – no you can’t have a go on my inflatable ring!

Learning to Live Alongside Your Imperfect Draft Novel #amwriting

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Hello, welcome back.

Today I am going to talk about something which I am starting to get my head around.

Note: I’ve not nailed this yet but I am trying. 🤣

So, I am talking about – the ability to coexist with your imperfect draft novel and be at peace with all its flaws. You can go about your daily life and not be plagued or tortured by your draft novel sat there with it’s saggy middle, flat ending and cast of chaotic characters. You can even smile naturally at your imperfect draft novel. There’s no gritting of teeth or sleepless nights. You don’t delete it, quit writing it or quit writing altogether because of it. You accept it needs work and you learn to live with it. For me this is a next level writer mindset.

We get obsessed with trying to make everything about our stories perfect. I am guilty of this. We grit our teeth a lot and make change after change but our draft novel never matches that ‘perfect’ vision in our heads. It’s like someone is dangling a carrot in front of us.

Is there a perfect novel out there? Yes, I have read great books but it’s hard to label them as perfect. Also my idea of perfect might be different to yours.

The trouble with chasing perfection with writing and I am GUILITY of this is that it is super easy to fall into the – ‘this story will never be perfect so I might as well not bother,’ mindset. This results in half finished draft novels and long term writer disappointment. Trust me on this – ha ha! I have been down this road.

I have recently experienced a new kind of writer peace and calmness. It comes from accepting a draft novel has faults and telling myself over time I will work on them. *Gasp* I swear it’s peaceful.

You tell yourself its never going to be perfect but it will be crafted to the best of your abilities. Living with a draft novel which needs work is ok. You have to say this on repeat 🤣

I am learning to say, ‘yes, I am working on a draft novel and it has issues..but I am ok with that. *deep breath and force out a smile*

Here are my top tips for learning to live alongside your imperfect novel:

  1. Bring your flawed novel in from the cold. It wants to be loved and not hated.
  2. Remember stories don’t have to be perfect to be powerful or captivating.
  3. Try sitting next to your draft novel and think light fluffy happy thoughts about it…🤣
  4. Try to get to the end of each revision cycle and then take a break from it.
  5. Keep saying to yourself, ‘there’s no such thing as a perfect novel.’

Good luck out there.

Things to Consider When Writing a Second Chance Romance #amwriting #MondayBlogs

Second chance romance is one of my favourite romance tropes to read. It’s also the trope I once thought would be relatively easy to write. *Sigh* I was delusional when I first started writing.

A good second chance romance relies on character growth and that’s something which needs to be mastered. You also have to create a tangled past relationship which ended and you have to not only untangle it over the course of the book but you also have to show what’s changed since then.

Here’s a list of the things I always consider when writing a second chance romance novel:

How did they initially connect? Were they childhood sweethearts? Maybe they met at work? The secret here is readers need to see and feel how good that connection was between these two beautiful characters.

This breathtaking romance has to be unforgettable for both readers and the characters.

Why did they split up? What made them walk away from each other? Were they too young? Was it a case of bad timing or did one hurt the other? What broke them?

Readers need to understand what made these characters go blubber into a box of Kleenex, wedge chocolate into their mouth and go for long solitary walks in the rain.

What personal growth have they experienced? What has life taught them in the years they were apart? What did other relationships teach them?

Have they thought about why they have never connected with anyone on the same romantic level as they did with each other?

What made them want to give their relationship another chance? Why can’t they disentangle from each other’s lives? What has made them come together again? Why salvage a broken relationship?

The reader must understand and agree with these decisions. There must also be that old connection and the chemistry.

What stuff have they overcome? Have they resolved the old conflict? Readers need to see how these two characters might have had different priorities that caused their breakup. But now that those priorities have changed, so, maybe there is still a chance for them to work it out. It could also be a case of these two characters making mistakes and generally causing an emotional mess.

The reader needs to believe these two have changed for the better.

I hope you have found that useful ❤️

In other news last week:

I am over the moon and can’t wait to work with Bloodhound Books. This is a dream come true for me.

Hate Your Writing? A Few Things To Remember… #MondayBlogs #AmWriting

Hello, thanks for dropping by my little corner of the World Wide Web.

One of the things I love about being a writer is how quickly my views on my own work can change over the course of a day. I can be loving what I am writing before lunch and a few hours later I will hate the sight of it. I can wake up thinking my WIP is a pile of literary wrongs and go to bed later that evening hugging my laptop.

I have been thinking about why our feelings about our writing change so frequently and why sometimes we rant and rave about hating what we have created.

How can we hate something we spend so much of our time working on?

Here are some things for you to ponder:

  1. There are always two stories being written – one on paper / the laptop screen and one in our head. The one we read on paper / the laptop screen never matches to the story in our head. The story in our head is to blame. We need to accept whatever we write will never match the story in our head.
  2. Hating our work could be a sign our old friend, fear, has joined us. Fear makes us overthink our work, create false scenarios of reader reactions to our work and feel like the best thing to do would be to crawl away. Fear encourages us to hate our work.
  3. Take a note of when you start hating your work. Always check to see whether your writing mood sours after reading another author’s polished book which will have gone through hundreds of revisions.
  4. Pushing through the hatred can be very rewarding. Fact.
  5. Sometimes ‘hating your work’ is your writer brain over reacting about an issue. Think of your writer brain as someone who is dramatic. When there is a problem they throw up their arms and announce the world is ending. Your writer brain spots an issue and rather than pointing it out to you it hits the alarm bells and gets you to throw a hissy fit which results in you yelling, ‘I hate my draft novel.’ There is an issue with what you have written. It could be small and easily fixable or it might require some work. Take some time away and go back when you are ready to sort out the issue.
  6. Read my last post on learning to live with an imperfect draft.
  7. We all signed up for bouts of hating our work when we decided to become writers. It goes with the territory.

Have fun out there!

Writing Summer Romcoms in the Winter #amwritingromance #mondayblogs

I am about to enter my summer beach romcom writing era. A fabulous new story is tugging on my winter coat tails. It came to me while I was delving into the frozen fish section of my local supermarket and precauriously balancing on the edge of a giant freezer. I was forced to drop my bargain priced fish fingers and tap the idea into my phone. As a result I never did buy those fish fingers. This idea better be good!

You know I like to keep up with modern trends, well I am a new fan of the term – era. Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus all seem to be entering new music eras so I thought it would be good to have the same in the book genre writing world. I am offically leaving my travel based contemporary romcom era and entering my summer beach romcom era. Please let me know what sort of writing era you are in or what you are about to enter?

It’s time for me to cuddle up under a thick blanket (UK heating cost crisis), sip a steaming cup of tea, with fingerless gloved hands, reach for my laptop, dust away the icicles and write away the January blues by creating a fictional summer Romcom.

Here are some things I love about summer romances:

Grumpy heroes and bubbly heroines who are like walking rays of sunshine.

The level of passion rising with the temperature.

Moonlit walks along beaches.

Fruit picking.

Romantic picnics

Writing hot and sexy beach romcoms in winter can result in several emotional highs and lows:

1. Writing about finding romance on a sun drenched, idyllic beach can feel like you are on your own mini break. The bonus here is that you don’t have to dig out your bikini, bathe in fake tan and run the risk of turning salmon pink.

2. Writing about warm summer evenings, sipping delicious cocktails by the sea, paddling in azure blue water and dancing the night away under the stars (without thermal underwear, many layers and a big coat) is very pleasurable. It can certainly make you forget the size of your heating bill, your teenager’s inability to wear a warm coat in all weathers and your cat’s low mood.

3. You also don’t have to go abroad for your summer romcom either. There are some gorgeous beaches around the U.K. complete with idyllic coastal villages, beach facing guest houses, cute boats bobbing in a harbour and seaside town hustle and bustle. My goodness as I sit here and type I can taste delicious ice cream and hear seagulls overhead.

4. When I said writing a summer beach romcom can feel like you are taking a mini break – your trip length will vary. Some of us don’t have the luxury to escape and write for hours. Some of us are distracted by family, pets, delivery people, car problems, loved ones who are incapable of making themselves a cup of tea and social media. This can result in your fictional mini break lasting a good half hour at most. Before you know it you are back to moaning about the heating and shivering in your chair.

5. If you are writing a beach Romcom you will need to brush up on your swimwear clothing trends and think about things like – what type of bikini or speedos would my character wear and what’s in trend? This will inevitably lead you to browsing some swimwear clothing online sites and getting agitated as you compare the array of golden tanned legs with your own which resemble two pints of semi skinned milk and are buried beneath layers of clothing. This will only reinforce the hard truth – summer is still a long way away!

6. There’s a higher chance of you getting annoyed with your cast of romance characters in a beach romcom while writing it in the middle of winter than any other time of year. In view of it being cold, grey, damp and miserable (in the U.K.) you will have zero patience for moaning fictional characters basking in the sun, dipping their painted toes in the sea and feeling tipsy after too many cocktails. At least in a winter based holiday romcom you can shove them in a snow drift if they irritate you but you don’t have that luxury with a beach romcom. This can cause unwanted author / character tension. Before you know it you will end up writing a beach based grizzly thriller.

My new summer beach romcom era has begun! Hurrah.

Things My Draft Novel Made Me Do Last Week #amwriting

Here are the things my draft novel made me do last week. Do you like how I am blaming everything on my draft novel? I knew you woiuld – ha ha!

I am not going to say the title of it or the premise as it will take away the excitement. I will say that it is a forced proximity romcom (where circumstances throw the main characters together) and it’s crammed full of comedy, chaos and some touching romantic moments. I am currently doing several rounds of edits. This book has been continually revised since last September. It has had more revisions than I have had hot dinners. I am about to swan dive gracefully into the literary agent query pool so I am just dusting off my frilly costume,

Here’s what my draft novel made me do last week:

  1. Add more conflict. I am changing as a writer. In some of my early novels I shied away from conflict. With this book I have had a little devil on my shoulder whispering, ‘make them suffer more,’ and for once I have listened to it. You should ask yourself as you write – am I making life too easy for my characters?
  2. Hack away pointless scenes. I have been a lot tougher with this book than my others. This was something I also used to avoid. I have found the more you hack the deeper you get into your story because you end up being left with scenes which all serve a purpose.
  3. Experience a range of strong feelings 🤣frustration, anger, happiness, joy, sadness and hope were all felt last week as I knocked this story into shape.
  4. Ignore my inner critic at certain times of the day. I should NOT make crucial decisions on my book before 6.30am. My mind is not rational before 6.30am. Even better I should not think about changes until after I have eaten. About 9am I start thinking clearly. This week I saw how my mind and perspective shifts after breakfast. Also I should not make book decisions after 10pm as I am always tired and I will go for the easiest option. A big shout out to all my past stories which suffered because of this.
  5. Go for more walks. Fresh air is a writer’s friend
  6. Cry. I have found that the books you write which make you cry whilst writing they have something special about them. Last week I cried. Historic moment.
  7. Get impatient. I do hate it when draft novels try to hurry you up. They want to be out in the world seeking their fortune but you know there’s more work to do.
  8. Accepting the following with editing: editing can be soul destroying, there will be some chapters littered with typos and incorrect character names but structurally they will work, there will be some chapters where there will be no typos but structurally they will be a wreck and some chapters where even I, the author, won’t have a clue about what’s going on 🤣
  9. Skip some household chores. I do love novel writing when it makes me do this.
  10. Wear a bolder lipstick – hot pink for writers in 2023 👏🏻

Have a good week 🤩

Lucy x

Writerly Thoughts #Writerslife

Hey, welcome back!

How are you? I’m good. Here are my writerly thoughts from last week:

  • I listened to a few podcasts on song writing. Before you all grip the edge of your seat and gasp – ‘OMG Lucy’s going to be the first romcom author to write a pop song’ – I can assure you I didn’t listen to them for that purpose. I was interested in the creative song writing process. I find listening to other creators talking about how they bring things (art / music / books) to life really interesting. My favourite was the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast on Spotify and ‘How Harry Styles Made ‘Harry’s House’ – Kid Harpoon, producer song writer. I loved listening about how ideas for songs are born, how the creative process can be as chaotic as writing, how they take pieces of songs they wrote years ago and slot them into new songs to make something which works, how they will revise again and again, how they build a body of work over time and how some songs take months, even years and some take days. So much of this is the same for writing.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book, ‘Big Magic‘ was right about when a magical idea comes knocking, you have three options. This idea will try to get your attention. A lot of the time you won’t notice it as you’ll be too wrapped up in a funny TikTok, the book you’re reading, a conversation with someone or shopping. If you do recognise it the idea will ask – do you want to work with me? If you don’t fulfil your half of the invisible contract it will go find somebody else. In 2020 I had an idea for a book. It was a detailed idea with an unusual premise. I wrote it out in a notebook with the title, plot and synopsis. Then a pandemic got in the way and my idea sat in a notebook for two years. Clearly the idea viewed the pandemic as a rubbish excuse for me not fulfilling my part of the contract and it went to find a new home. New ideas are so disloyal. Last week I saw my idea on Twitter – someone else had been contacted by the EXACT same idea. They had gone further and written a book with my title and premise. All credit to that writer 👏🏻👏🏻 The fault here is all mine. I had locked it away in a notebook with a vague promise of a return. The bit which really made me angry at myself was that the other writer had secured a book deal. The moral of the story – don’t trust new story ideas and don’t think cute story ideas will be happy to sit and look pretty for two years in a dusty old notebook. Sigh!

  • First rule of writing: hoard notebooks. Second rule of writing: never write in your 28 notebooks that you have hoarded
  • I had an amazing new idea come to me in the frozen aisle of the supermarket last week. It asked me to work with it by the frozen breaded turkey burgers. All my ideas come to me in the freezer section of a supermarket. Most arrive as I am reaching for the fish fingers but this one pinged in as I gazed longingly at the freezer food. Now that I have been betrayed by a new idea (see above) I am wary of them. I have written it down in a notebook and I plan to write it next. Watch this space.
  • I will leave you with a photo of a supermarket freezer aisle in case any of you are struggling with new ideas. The colder the better. Good bye my friend – until next week!