Things To Consider When Writing Second Chance Romance #amwriting

This blog post is going to help my writer brain focus on one of my current projects. I do hope someone else out there writing a second chance romance finds it useful.

Second chance romance is one of my favourite romance tropes. I could read these stories all day.

One of my current projects focuses on a second chance romance so I could really do with going back to basics with the trope in order to revise my story.

Below I have come up with a list of all the things to consider when writing a second chance romance.

As I am madly in love with this particular artwork on Canva I am going to use it to pose the questions which I need to answer when writing this trope.

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 feel better now.

Do you have any things I should add to my list of considerations?

The Writing Competition That Changed My World In Unexpected Ways #AmWriting

If you follow me on twitter you will know of my pinned tweet. It is about how I got through to the final round of the Penguin Michael Joseph Christmas Love Story Competition and my strong urges to cartwheel with joy on zoom calls at work.

According to the competition FAQs last week was when the winner was going to be notified. At the start of last week I knew of just 4 other writers who, like me, had got through to the next round. I wasn’t looking forward to a tense, nail biting and lonely week which would mostly be spent watching my email with hawk-like eyes, jumping everytime my phone rang, eating far too many penquin biscuits and overthinking every possible competition outcome.

Well, my week did include all of the above (especially the penguin biscuit binge) but it wasn’t a lonely week and it did change my writing world in unexpected ways.

I think it was Audrey Niven, on Twitter who kickstarted things at the start of the week. She tweeted about wishing all the Penquin finalists lots of luck. Then the magic started. Fellow finalists joined in by liking her tweet and by the end of Monday there was a small gang of us on Twitter all sharing writer love and support with each other. By Tuesday our gang had grown some more as a few more finalists had found us. We all started tweeting funny snippets from our days and what we were doing to distract ourselves from the competition waiting game. By Wednesday we had grown from a small gang to a collective and this was when ideas were shared on what we could call ouselves. Bettina Hunt suggested the Penguin Collective and a Twitter list was created by Amy Gaffney. Everytime another finalist made their way onto Twitter and found us we’d all welcome them in.

It was a very different writing competition experience for me. We all tweeted and laughed our way through the week talking about the anxious wait, how we felt like we were in the Big Brother House (Lily Joseph), how some of us had turned to playing Europe’s pop classic, The Final Countdown (Jake G Godfrey) to get through, how some of us were busy ordering Penguin biscuits (Sarah Shard) how we were all looking forward to cracking open the wine on Friday at 6pm and how lucky we were to find each other. There were so many funny tweets over the course of the week, from Jenny Bromham’s thought provoking GIF ‘one more dawn’, Donna Dobbs’s hiring of a geeky IT student, Joanna Knowles Author’s tweet about how she was starting to waddle like a penguin, Rebecca Duval’s obsessive email refreshes, Hayley-Jenifer’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s GIF and Jackie Morrison’s caravan holiday which was spent checking for a phone signal. As you can imagine when Sarah Louise Robinson started a Facebook group for us we all flapped our penguin wings and waddled over there too. It wasn’t just laughter, there were also ideas from Kimberly Adams, Sarah Shard and Amy Gaffney on how we could work together in the future.

There were other finalists still joining the Pengin Collective on Friday; A Novel, tweet by tweet, Writtenbymisshm, Tallie Samuels, Helen Hawkins, Katy George.

The end of the story is that no one we knew about heard from Penguin Michael Joseph on Friday. Someone probaby has heard and we wish them the best of luck. I also hope they come on my blog and talk about their new book in the future.

For me, that’s okay. I got WAY more from this writing competition than I ever imagined; a story idea validated by Penguin Michael Joseph (which is now at 23k), new romance writer friends in the Penguin Collective group and a lot of happy twitter memories from last week.

As Breea Keenan said, ‘this chat has made my week’ and I couldn’t agree more.

Writing competitions which give you so much more than you expected are priceless.

Author Newsletters – My Top 10 Tips @eroyalauthor #MondayBlogs

I have been threatening to do a newsletter for sometime but haven’t felt like I know enough about the subject to whip one up. So, you can imagine my excitement when historical romance author Emily Royal told me she had a guest blog post for me on the subject of newsletters. Now, I am on Emily’s newsletter distribution list and I love them. They’re filled with photos, info on her new books and a lot of Emily Royal book vibes.

This blog post is packed full of Emily’s top 10 tips for newsletters and I am so grateful she’s here today.

Right I know you are keen to read on. Please give a warm welcome to Emily Royal:

Many authors have a newsletter, and you might be wondering whether it’s worth the effort—or even what it involves. A newsletter is basically an e:mail which is sent to a list of people who have signed up to hear from you, and could be anything between a couple of paragraphs, to something a bit longer with images and links. The benefit of having a newsletter is the direct contact with readers—you’re not advertising through Facebook or Amazon, or using a service which sends details of your book out to its own list (such a bookbub)—you’re contacting your own readers, so you have total control over what they read, and when they get it. To me, a certified control freak, that sounds ideal.

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How To Survive Writing Your Second Novel – Fab Guest Post by @bookish_yogi

Many creative moons ago I asked bestselling romance author Rachel Burton to write me a guest post. If you don’t know Rachel, let me tell you about her. She’s the author of The Many Colours of Us, The Things We Need To Say and The Pieces of You & Me.

Here is the guest post from Rachel. I love this post because Rachel gives good practical advice. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that second books are difficult beasts. There is a lot of expectation, particularly if your first has done well, there is usually a deadline and often a lot of people’s opinions to take into account.

All in all it’s very different to writing your first – which in general you are often writing completely for yourself.

I spent the best part of three years on my first book. I wrote my second in eleven months. In that time I re-wrote the whole thing twice and went through two big structural edits; one with my agent and one with my editor. It was eye-opening to say the least and here are a few things I learned:-

1. Trust your gut

As I said, there will probably be a lot more people involved in this book. With your first will mostly have been all alone, or at most being buoyed along by friends or a writing group. I wrote my debut The Many Colours of Us by myself in my free time, while working full-time and running a business. I didn’t take it very seriously until it was almost finished. In truth I never really believed it would be finished until it got there.

Book 2 was very different. I had a lot of people around me offering support and advice – my publisher, my editor, my agent. On the plus side this was great because when I got stuck I had people to bounce ideas off, people to suggest different themes that I could explore, people to help me develop characters. On the negative side…I had a lot of people around me offering support and advice!! Ever heard the phrase ‘too many cooks spoil the broth,’?

If you don’t trust your gut with your second novel there’s a chance this might happen. I got to a point where my agent, myself and my editor all had a different set of ideas about where the book should go. In the end I had to back away, spend some time alone with my characters – and this is what led to the first major rewrite.

Your editor and agent want your book to do well, they want to help you produce the best work you possibly can. But at the end of the day you know your characters, you know how they would behave – take all the advice you’ve been given but ultimately trust your characters and yourself.

2. Plan, plan, plan

Confession. I didn’t plan my first book at all. I just sat down and wrote and waited to see what would happen. This is part of the reason it took three years.

Now I know planning doesn’t work for everyone, but I realised that if I had to write a book in a year I needed to know exactly where I was going. I split the book into three acts and I worked out exactly what would happen in each act – beginning, middle and end. This helped me write a specific number of words per week that I would need to reach my goal. I can’t plan chapter by chapter like some people do, but I really found this method helped me have a clearer path to my end goal.

3. Get a betareader

Betareaders are kind people who will read and comment honestly on your work. There will come a point in your drafting and editing when you, your agent and your editor will all be a little bit too close to the book to get perspective. This is where a betareader is invaluable. I was lucky enough to have three wonderful readers who all read different drafts and all helped immeasurably (you guys know who you are!).

I know it’s a scary prospect letting other people read your book but remember, by this point you’ve got a book out in the world and lots of people are reading it. Take a deep breath and give it a go – I have never regretted asking a betareader to help out.

4. Read, read, read

This one is self-explanatory. Keep reading – read in your genre, around your genre, outside of your genre. Read fiction and non-fiction, read the news, read everything. You never know where inspiration might come from. I tend to read in my own genre while I’m sitting on an idea and during the first draft and then when it comes to second drafts and subsequent edits I read outside of my genre (mostly in case I accidentally plagiarise, but also for a break).

5. Keep being you!

You are completely unique, your narrative voice, your characters, the way you choose to tell a story.

Write the story you want to tell. Your agent and editor will help you tell that story in the best possible way so that it can (hopefully!) be commercially successful – but ultimately this is all you.

While working with my editor on the last edit of my second book we came across an idea we didn’t agree on. Eventually (after a sleepless night) I broached the subject of not being happy with this edit. When I explained why to my editor she was on my side and helped me work the book in a different way.

So before you start work on an edit you are not 100% comfortable with remember: it’s your name on the cover.

Thank you Rachel. 

If you are about to start writing your second, I wish you well, my friend.

Have a great day.