Why Coming Up With A New Book Idea Is Like The Fairy Tale – The Frog Prince – For Writers #Writers 🐸📚

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Do you recall reading the fairy tale, The Frog Prince, when you were younger?

It is a fairy tale by the Brother Grimm. The tale focuses on a princess who kisses a frog and to her amazement it turns into a handsome prince.

Well, hold that thought there for a bit.

Being a writer is not easy. I think I say this on every blog post. One aspect which proves to be a constant challenge is coming up with new ideas for books or stories.

If only Amazon sold ‘New Idea’ tree seeds which we could order, plant and grow. Then we could happily harvest our new ideas for our creative projects and never throw a hissy fit again about ‘getting nothing’ from our weary writer brains.

As new ideas for future novels sadly don’t grow on trees we have to come up with them…ourselves. Ugh.

This is tricky because coming up with new ideas for future best selling books can take weeks, months, years and even decades. In addition not all new ideas ping into our writer brains fully formed. A lot of the time it’s like putting flat packed furniture together and not all new ideas come with assembly instructions. You have to spend hours, days, weeks etc, carefully putting them all together to see if they will work. Even then there is no guarantee the idea will be a success.

Also, a lot of ideas fail for a number of reasons. They are slippery little things. some don’t work, some make you cringe, some annoy you after the first three chapters and some make you lose interest in them after 30,000 words.

To be successful you have to keep coming up with ideas and be able to accept that some won’t work.

So, let’s return to the Frog Prince fairytale. A funny maxim has been constructed on the tale of the princess kissing the frog.

‘Before you meet the handsome prince, you have to kiss a lot of frogs.’

I have done a bit of research and the maxim originated from a needlepoint pattern advertising campaign in the 70s.

In my analogy for this post:

The princess is the writer and she has to kiss a lot of frogs (new ideas) before she meets her handsome prince (the idea which forms the writer’s next book). Ha ha ha!

Coming up with ideas is very similar to kissing wet, slippery frogs 🐸

Some of us have to kiss a LOT of frogs too!

Happy Frog Kissing Writers!

10 Things About Writing Meet Cutes #MondayBlogs #writingromance

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I do love reading a good meet cute in a romance novel.

A meet cute is when the two main characters encounter each other for the first time and this will eventually lead to a romantic bond forming.

For us romance book lovers it is the moment we all look forward to when starting a book and it is where we will give praise to authors who make that meet cute both memorable and unique.

Writing an engaging meet cute can be tricky. Nothing is ever easy with writing. As I am about to write a meet cute here are some things I am going to consider.

  • The meet cute can be romantic, funny, awkward, disastrous, sexy, unique, explosive or heartwarming.
  • The meet cute results in several scenarios: love at first sight, enemies at first sight (one of my personal favourites), one sided attraction or awkward love.
  • It’s best not to get attached to the word, ‘cute’. The best ‘meet cutes’ I have read in romance books are not cute, they are awkward, embarrassing, funny, chaotic and packed full of miscommunication.
  • Remember the meet cute sets up the story and relays a lot of information to the reader about the characters. Think about how your characters respond to the meet cute.
  • Conflict is your best friend when writing a meet cute. The best meet cutes focus on misunderstandings and miscommunication. They are also about two characters with the same goal but for different reasons. Conflict is a must have.
  • Always add a generous spoonful of banter.
  • Connect your invisible thread to these two characters. This is important. Once their worlds have collided we (the readers) need to know there is a good chance these two are going to meet again. What is the connection between these two going forward? Do they work together? Mix in the same social circles or have recently joined the same sports team?
  • The chemistry between these two characters in the meet cute has to be insanely high. Even if they dislike or annoy each other when these two characters meet there must be a reaction. This is what will keep us readers turning the page. We will be eagerly awaiting their next meeting.
  • The meet cute is the foundation for the plot so it needs to be as impactful as possible.
  • Remember it is not only a meet cute for the characters but its also a meet cute for your romance readers.

Good luck and please let me know your favourite book meet cutes.. ❤️

Why We all Need To Read About Other Not So Perfect Writing Lives #AmWriting

Writing is not easy and there are days when it feels like everyone else in the writing community has exceeded their daily word count targets, uploaded some amazing social media posts, has managed to put a wash on, sorted out their kids for school / college and has come up with three new book ideas…all before 9.37am.

In contrast you have not even thought about writing, let alone doing some, because you have been arguing with your teenage children about the state of the bathroom, the coffee machine is on the blink, you’re nursing an eight-day cold and you still are mentally chewing over that painful agent rejection you got six months ago.

It’s on days like these when we need to read about other not so perfect writing lives.

For me, reading about other writers not so perfect writing lives helps alleviate those crap feelings which usually start with ‘I must be the only writer who..’ When a book of mine didn’t sell on submission I felt rubbish. I had assumed it would sell and I would have the perfect / dream writing story to tell. What a shock I got! If you think agent rejections are bad, I tell you having a book tank whilst on submission is horrid. Once I had picked myself up off the floor, it was other writers sharing their not so perfect submission experiences that came to my rescue. I began hunting out other writers who had been through something similar. Doing this led me to discover that books not selling on submission does happen, quite a lot actually, so I wasn’t the only writer going through this.

In the past reading about not so perfect writing moments has distracted me from comparing myself to other writers. I forget the ‘I could never write as something as good as her,’ and find myself saying things like ‘I love how her house sounds as chaotic mine on a morning.’

Writing can be so stressful. It feels like a lottery whether I wake up feeling positive about my WIP. When my writing mood is bleak the world around me feels the same. Once I was glum and tired with writing. Everyone on Twitter was announcing hot new book deals and I couldn’t write more than 27 words. My teenage children were doing my head in, my kitchen ceiling was leaking and the cat had brought in a dead rat. After sorting out the dead rat, I browsed some writer blogs and came across a writer who was talking about how rewriting her difficult WIP was making her emotional, she was halfway through a packet of biscuits, her house was a mess and she was behind with her laundry. I commented on her blog and we became friends.

A few years ago I tweeted about sitting behind the shed in the garden, with a glass of wine and a box of tissues as my WIP sounded terrible and I’d received 3 rejections in the space of two hours. I shared this not so perfect writing life moment and my Twitter feed lit up with other writers out there juggling dodgy WIPs and rejections.

The moral of this tale – when you have had more rejection emails than hot dinners and are now toasting marshmallows on a bonfire (made from wood and your half finished draft novel) – share this not so perfect writing life moment! Believe me there are other draft novel bonfires being lit all over the world and YOU ARE NOT ALONE ❤️

Very few writers get the perfect writing life. Everyone struggles and writing brings every writer to their knees with frustration at some point.

Let’s use our not so perfect writing life moments to help others.

Have a great day!

Writing 2 First Drafts at the Same Time – Good or Bad Idea? #MondayBlogs

Hey, welcome to my blog.

Well, I think I have really lost my writer marbles this time. Who would write 2 first drafts at the same time? Surely writing 1 first draft is enough pain and struggle?

That’s what I initially thought when my brain suggested this bizarre approach. The words, ‘no way!’ shot out of my mouth…as I sat on a busy train to London. The poor sleeping stranger next to me woke up with a jolt. I was forced to apologise to them, turn back to the train window and curse my writer brain for sending me ridiculous writing ideas.

After a hectic day in the office, a tasty burger at the station, a wander around the book shop and a sweaty sprint for the train as I’d got my timings wrong, I found myself sitting on a return train home considering my writer brain’s ridiculous and silly idea.

Here are my writer brain’s thoughts on this ridiculous idea:

Writing a first draft is simply a process which you go through to get the story out of your head and onto a Word document or a notebook. You are shovelling sand, a few old rocks and some pebbles into a cardboard box. Nothing else.

I don’t intend to edit and revise them at the same time. That process needs focus and concentration. I will do that one at a time.

The first draft will give me the rough material I need to start shaping and sculpturing the book. Without this material I just have a two page novel plan and a load of futile daydreams of me clutching a future bestseller.

My feelings towards my first drafts blow hot and cold. One day I am gushing with love at the thought of them and the next I am digging a hole in the garden to bury them. With two first drafts I could alternate between the two. When one feels like a pile oif literary wrongs I will just work on the other.

I have started writing my two first drafts. Here’s how things are going?

I prefer one story to the other at 10k words. I am still working on both but I have my ‘favourite’ draft child already. I wonder whether that will change? For noting – draft B is my favourite.

There is less stress with seeing them as cardboard boxes filled with sand and pebbles. They are simply containers. That’s it.

It’s nice to have something to fall back on when the words dry up on one.

Let me know your thoughts and let me know if there are any draft A fans out there because it’s starting to dislike it’s draft B sibling 🤣

Enjoy your day ❤️

Things I Consider When Writing The Fake Romance Trope #MondayBlogs #romancewriter

As a romance bookworm I LOVE reading this trope. This is where two characters make their external world believe they are a couple.

I love how the fake relationship starts out of convenience; pretending to be together for a social commitment, pretending to be in love for a competition or needing to show the world that a secret love interest does exist, but soon the fake relationship starts to change into somethinge else. I get so excited when the chemistry between the characters gets to work and things get awkward. There’s so much potential for good comedy and hilarity.

This trope can level up beautifully when the two characters don’t like each other at the start.

Writing the fake romance trope can be tricky. Here are the things I consider when writing it:

  • Both characters need to be unlikely candidates for a relationship at the start. Fake relationships work best if the characters really dislike each other or are very different. I think the best fake romances blossom from a place of dislike, as healthy relationships sometimes do. Under normal circumstances they would never ever consider dating each other. Also remember both parties must benefit from the fake romance.
  • There has to be a legitimate reason for them to fake a romance. It also has to be their ONLY option.
  • They both find it easy to get into their new role. Even though they dislike each other they don’t find it too much of a struggle to fake a romance. This is where they become ingrained in each other’s life. It’s an enjoyable stage for the reader because whilst they are busy faking a romance they are also noticing little cute things about the other like their style of wit, their dirty laugh and the way they touch their hair. However there still must be a question in the reader’s mind about whether it will turn into a romance. We all know there’s a risk with fake dating. So make sure they keep reminding each other that it is just an act.
  • Let them get carried away with faking a relationship. These two are putting on such a good romantic show everyone is convinced they are an item. It is essential during this stage they start to chuck common sense and their ‘fake romance rule book’ out of the window. You can include some great dialogue like ‘everyone’s gone, why are you still kissing me?’ or ‘shall we practice kissing lying down on a sofa? Yeah? Great, let’s get practicing.’
  • Things must get tough as they both start experiencing new feelings. This is my favourite part of this trope. It is great to read a fake romance where one person’s feelings start to turn real. Suddenly the simple act of touching hands becomes charged with electricity. Bring on the lingering touches, breathless moments and some intense gazing. So much good dialogue can be added here. Things like, ‘I’m starting to think you don’t hate me as you say you do,’ or ‘I never thought I’d see this new side to you.’
  • The big reveal. When they are at their most vulnerable one of the characters will have to take the biggest risk of revealing the truth. They will have been struggling with their strong feelings, missing the other before they leave, on cloud nine everytime they are next to them and replaying all their conversations in their head. After all this time hiding, they must find the courage to speak from the heart. This is a great time to add something like – ‘be real with me – how much of this was fake?‘ Will the other feel the same way?

This is one of my favourite tropes so do it proud, writers. Enjoy writing those fake romances!

Naming Your Fictional Characters – Not As Easy As You Might Think.. #writer

Naming fictional characters is one of those writing activities a non-writer might view as...simple to do. *Sigh* They probably think we pluck a random name out of thin air, sit down to write and bring that newly named fictional person to life. If only naming a fictional character was that simple.

Naming a character can cause the writer all sorts of havoc:

  • The amount of time you will spend thinking about the names of characters will shock you. Some of us can take weeks, even months!
  • If you struggled naming children, pets or toys – you will find choosing names for characters to be much the same; guaranteed huffing, puffing and hours of googling the hell out of names.
  • Accept that no matter how much name research you do – you will end up frantically texting a writing friend late at night with, ‘what do I name them?’
  • Loved ones may panic or get excited when you are caught browsing baby naming sites.
  • It is guaranteed that once you name your character their name will start appearing in real life.
  • Accept that you will come up with some awful and jarring names which sadly will become permanent fixtures of your brain.
  • Your characters will change throughout the drafting process and it might be that they grow out of their name.
  • The name you have chosen for your character might start to annoy the hell out of you. This can be tough but I have found your story will start to tank once you start grimacing at typing your character’s name.
  • Your character’s name stays with you. Once you give them a name you will struggle to use it for anything else; pets or children etc.
  • Every time you use your character’s name – bingo – they appear in your mind. Also linked to this is your general view of the piece of work they featured in. I have found that the names of characters from my bad / ‘pile of literary wrongs’ stories always haunt me the most.
  • During the naming process (which can go on for some time) you will find new appreciation for movie credits! They are great for getting your creative name juices flowing.
  • If your character has children you are also in for a challenging time as naming the offspring of characters will cause more stress.
  • You might find yourself wide awake a 3am trying to figure out what name to not only your main character but also…their love interest. This will open up a whole new world of name pain.

Here are some things to consider when naming characters:

  • Have a few reserve names up your writer sleeve. It sounds like extra work but believe me when I say disliking a character’s name during the drafting process can be painful and in my experience it can bring on Writer’s Block. When you have a character with a name you loathe and a story with more crater sized plot holes than the moon it can be tough to turn to write.
  • Changing a character’s name mid-drafting can reenergise you and your story. I have done this and it does work.
  • Start with the parents. Think about your character’s parents. Why?  They name your character, not you. When I realised this….a little bit of my character naming excitement died. I know this is tough, handing over naming responsibility to other fictional folk, but it’s the most realistic approach. So, after profiling fictional Mum and Dad give some thought to what names were popular at the time when your character was born?  Think about their nationality, culture, setting and the time period. Play the role of the parent and think about what would influence their choice.
  • Nicknames. These are useful as they can reflect how the family and friends of a character perceive them. Useful for characterisation. Plus remember that parents rarely use their children’s proper names; I have so many names for mine.
  • Theme. Link your character’s name to the theme running through your book.
  • Breathe life into your character’s name! Keep saying it whilst listening to how it sounds. Shout it, scream it and whisper it. This sort of thing brings your character to life. It also helps you to see whether their name is believable.
  • Be careful when asking for feedback on character names. It’s a bit like discussing child names – everyone has an opinion and no one will like your preferred name. I would just go on gut instinct.
  • Think of other characters in your story. Make sure you don’t get carried away and give two characters a similar name. I have done this and readers do notice it.

Have fun x

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.

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!

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.

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.