Things My Draft Novel Made Me Do Last Week #amwriting

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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

5 Tips For Writing Comedy @AnnaBell_Writes #AmWriting #Romcom

I am super excited because the author of heart-warming and funny romantic comedies Anna Bell has come to take over my blog today. She’s going to share with us her tips on writing comedy and I am hoping she will also tell us about her book which I can’t wait to read as it sounds fab.

Please give a warm welcome to Anna Bell:

Hello everyone,

Here are my top 5 tips for writing comedy:


1 – Belief
One of the hardest things about writing comedy is believing in yourself. Jokes are subjective, and they’re also personal. Sometimes writing comedy and exposing what you think is funny can make you feel vulnerable. But chances are if you find it funny then someone else will too. I don’t think there is anything nicer, both in real life or in your writing, than making someone laugh.


2– First Drafts don’t have to be funny

It’s very easy to get hung-up on making everything you write sound witty, but you have to remember that your readers are there just as much for the story as they are for the laughs. It’s almost easier to add humour on the next draft when you can spot if you’ve got clusters or deserts of funny scenes. On the second draft, when you know your characters better, you’re more likely to understand what pushes their buttons and how they’d react in any situation, making it easier for you to imagine the humorous situations they could find themselves in.


3– There is a fine line between funny and cringey

This is one of the hardest things to get right when writing comedy. It’s also a line that changes from reader to reader too. One person’s threshold for rolling on the floor in hysterics is another’s basis for a one-star review. One of the ways to avoid it being too cringey is to try and build reader empathy with the character, so that if the reader cringes, they cringe with the character, not at him or her.

4 – Make scenarios relatable
Watching stand-up comedians with live audiences is a great way to see what people find funny. Quite often it’s the most mundane things that people find the funniest, the jokes about extended family or ordinary situations that everyone finds themselves in. It’s often easier to relate to humour if you can imagine it could happen to you. It’s worth remembering this when writing. Scenes that are too over the top or unbelievable can seem like they’re trying too hard to get laughs.

5 – Outside the Room
Watching sit-coms can also help you learn how to write comedy. Shows like Frasier give excellent lessons in comic timing and build-up. There is nearly always a final big comedic scene that the whole episode builds up to, but to get the laughs you need to understand what has driven each character to react in the particular way they do. When you are writing a big scene with an ensemble cast, it’s worth bearing that in mind. What has happened to each of your characters prior to this scene? What is their mood? What has led them to the point they’re at? If the audience are in on the joke and understand why the character is reacting in the way they are, it makes it funnier. But you don’t always have to signpost the events that happen outside the room either. If you’ve got a big ensemble scene having someone other than the main characters arrive in the aftermath of an argument, or guarding a secret, can add to the humour and tension too. Usually that storyline would play alongside the big main event that’s happening to the protagonist, and the poor protagonist is left trying to put out fires from all sides, ramping up the humour.

Follow Anna on Twitter: AnnaBell_writes Instagram: anna_bell_writes
Anna’s latest novel is The Man I Didn’t Marry and it’s out now.


Ellie has the perfect life: a happy marriage, a gorgeous daughter and a baby on the way. But when her husband Max develops amnesia, he forgets everything about the last five years . . . including their relationship.
Now the man she said ‘I do’ to has become a stranger, and she has no idea why. Yet Ellie is determined to reconnect and find her Max again – he has to be in there somewhere, right?

As they get to know one another afresh, Ellie finds herself seeing Max clearly for the first time. But then she discovers that before his memory loss, Max was keeping a huge secret from her. Will their new beginning prove to be a false start, just as it seemed they might fall in love all over again?

Amazon
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Didnt-Marry-heart-warming-hilarious-ebook/dp/B086VWRWZY

5 Things Every Romance Series Needs – Guest Post by @sandybarker #Romance #WritingRomance

Oh my goodness, author, Sandy Barker, has written me a fabulous guest blog post below.

Sandy writes gorgeous and funny romances set in far away places. Her heroines go on wonderful journeys of self discovery and experience heartwarming romances. She’s published by Harper Collins and her debut novel plus her latest book in the same series are below.

I have added links to the book covers below so just click on them to find out more. Please read her post first!

One Summer In Santorini - Sandy Barker - Updated (1)

That Night in Paris Cover

So, let me hand over to Sandy Barker.

Hello all, 

Here are the 5 things I think every romance series needs

Lovable and relatable main characters

This may seem a little obvious―shouldn’t all main characters in a romance be lovable and relatable? Yes, absolutely, but even more so in a series, because the reader will be spending lots more time with them than in a stand-alone.

TIP: Think about your closest friends (yes, even the ones who sometimes drive you around the bend) and ask yourself why you love them. Those are the traits you can build a lovable and relatable character around.

If I think of mine, I love them because they make me laugh ’til I can’t breathe, they love every version of me (even grumpy, morose, or self-pitying Sandy), and they show up―no, not uninvited on my doorstep at inopportune times. I mean, they’re there―when I need them, no matter what. And, those are the women I write.

Interesting and well-developed supporting characters

The most wonderful thing about supporting characters in a romance series is that once they have played their supporting role, you can give them their own story, their own romance! And all the work you did to create and develop them in the earlier book(s) will pay off (big time) when they get the starring role. You will already have established the cadence of their speech, their looks, their mannerisms, and how they feel about life, the universe, and everything. They’re already part of the world you’ve created, so a lot of the heavy lifting of creating a person from scratch is already done.

TIP: Create detailed character profiles for your supporting characters as well as your main characters, including their vernacular, style choices, and the minutiae that makes them them.

A thread or a theme

I write travel romcoms, a sub-genre of romance novels that will one day properly take off and be a thing―known across the world to readers everywhere (I digress and yes, I may have an agenda). But what this means is that travel is a prominent thread that weaves its way through all the stories in my ‘Holiday Romance’ series. And, more specifically, it is the transformational effect of travel that acts as a catalyst for my characters’ arcs. Simply, if my main characters stayed put instead of opting to travel, they would not transform.

TIP: Consider what will link the books in your series together―besides the characters knowing each other. Many series are set in one location (e.g. Phillipa Ashley’s ‘Cornish Café’ series). Many series will have a theme, such as ‘the importance of family’ (e.g. Lucy Knott’s How to Bake a New Beginning and its sequel), and many series centre around an overarching story where all the characters have buy-in (e.g. Katie Ginger’s ‘Seafront’ series).

No matter the thread or the theme, ensure it speaks to you. You’ll be spending a lot of time with it.

A thoroughly developed character arc

Yes, here’s another one that is essential to every story, but if you’re writing a series, you have time to really marinade in the main character’s development. In romance, this may mean that the main character gets a ‘happy for now’ ending for one or two books before getting their ‘happily ever after’. And maybe their ‘happy for now’ isn’t about the romance at all. It could be a major decision they’ve made, or a self-discovery. The main thing to remember is that by the end of the series, they will have significantly transformed―even if for some of series they have been a supporting character.

TIP: Even if you’re a pantser, at least have an idea where your main and supporting characters will end up by the time the series concludes.

A good name

What’s in a name, right? Well, my publisher and I agonised over my series title for months (yes, really). And then we realised we were over thinking it. It’s a series about holiday romances, so that’s what we called it.

TIP: Choose something that no one else is using so your series stands out! The brilliant Julie Caplin snagged ‘The Romantic Escapes Series’ before I even discovered her. Otherwise, I would have wanted it for myself.

If you want to check out Sandy’s books here are the links:

Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Wasn’t that fabulous? Huge thank you to the wonderful Sandy Barker!

Author Photo Sandy Barker

5 Things Your Female Character Needs To Have – Guest Post by Author @zoe_writes

If you write romcoms or are mulling over a romcom story idea this post is for you.

I am thrilled to have Zoe May on my blog. She’s a romcom queen to me and I can’t believe she’s written me a wonderful guest post.

Photo taken from https://www.zoemayauthor.co.uk

Zoe May is the author of four romantic comedy novels, published by HQ Digital, HarperCollins.

Her debut, Perfect Match, about online dating, was an iBooks bestseller.

Zoe is currently working on her fifth novel, Flying Solo, which she is self-publishing this summer.

So I am going to hand over to Zoe May *squeal*

Hi, here are five things I believe your female character needs to have.

Flaws

I’ve read a few rom coms recently where the main character is practically Mother Theresa and it really annoys me! I strongly believe that characters don’t need to be perfect in order to appeal to readers. Some of my favourite rom com heroines, like Becky Bloomwood from Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, are flawed. Becky is completely materialistic, a little shallow, a bit self-involved and pretty misguided, but that’s what makes her interesting and relatable.

None of us are perfect and when I read about an overly nice character in a rom com, it feels like a likeability box ticking exercise by the author. The heroine ends up seeming fake and the execution feels forced. I like writing characters with flaws because I’m flawed and so is everyone. Flawed characters feel more real and as a result, they’re more engaging to write about. Giving your character flaws also gives them an opportunity for growth throughout the book. My debut, Perfect Match, is about a woman who has a very superficial attitude to dating, looking for a rich, handsome, successful man, and the story is about how she changes and grows and realises what’s really important in a partner. Her growth drives the story forward.

Friends
Your heroine has to be relatable and fairly likeable (in spite of her flaws), and relatable and likeable people tend to have friends. Including scenes featuring your main character’s friends will show us more about her as a person and will move the story forward as her friends may encourage her to make certain decisions. For example, in my current novel, Flying Solo, my heroine’s best friend supports her decision to embark on a trip to India to win her boyfriend back after he dumps her to jet off on a self-discovery mission.

Your character’s interactions with her friends can provide good opportunities for humour too. I love writing funny dialogue between best mates.

Not too much baggage
While I think main characters should have flaws, I think there are limits to how much baggage heroines should have. Rom coms offer readers escapism. The world is a messed-up place and when we pick up a book with a bright happy cover and a chirpy blurb, we don’t want to be reading about dark themes like death, abuse, rape, violence, war, terrorism or whatever else. We want to be cheered up, not depressed! I steer clear of anything too dark. My heroines tend to have had pretty decent lives. It may not be totally realistic as terrible things do happen to lovely people in real life, but I think it’s best to keep that kind of thing off the page when it comes to rom com.

A good heart
I’ve mentioned that I think main characters need to have flaws in order to feel human and relatable, but that being said, in the genre of rom com, your main character definitely needs to have a good heart. She may be misguided at times, she may make mistakes and screw things up, but ultimately, she must be a decent person. Rom coms are meant to be uplifting and stories about bitchy girls tend not to be. If you want to write about an antagonist, write a thriller!

Humour
Your main character has to be funny. Her thought processes, the situations she gets herself into, her dialogue with people – she needs to be entertaining. She is the epicentre of the story so if she is not amusing, the whole book will suffer. We read rom coms partly for the “com” element after all, so she has to be humorous!

Check out Zoe’s latest book, Flying Solo, here.

 

Author Interview – Ritu Bhathal @RituBhathal #Books #RomanceReaders #Bookish

Ritu Bhathal’s debut romance novel, Marriage Unarranged, is being launched on 9 February. I am struggling to contain my book excitement as my blog is taking part in the go-live celebrations on Sunday and I was one of the lucky few to beta read this book.

As I think this clever lady is going to be very successful with her books, she’s already created her own genre – Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit With An Indian Twist, I thought it would be nice to interview her over a chai latte.

Also when she’s famous I can say she came on my blog and get some kudos for interviewing a future star *sigh*

So, we’ve both got our chai lattes in fancy cups and Ritu’s made us some home cooked nibbles (she makes amazing cakes!) which I am struggling to stop devouring. We are ready for a natter. Let’s begin.

Ritu, welcome to BlondeWriteMore! Tell us about yourself

Well, as you know, my name is Ritu, and at this moment in time, I am days away from being a published author!

But that’s not the whole of me. I’m a British Indian woman, born in the mid-seventies to Kenyan born Indian parents who moved to Birmingham, in the early seventies. I grew up with a true smorgasbord of cultures around me, having a massive extended family already living here, and enjoying the colourful Indian traditions and culture, interspersed with trips to Kenya, and absorbing the culture there. Of course, being born here, I was also immersed in British life too. A true East/West mix, that’s me!

As a child I was sent to an all girl’s private school from the age of three all the way to the completion of my A-levels, at 17. Having such inspirational people around me, teaching me, made me want to be a teacher, which I did in fact end up becoming.

My mother is an avid reader, so I was always, and still am, found with my nose buried in a book. I do love a good book.

I studied, met my now-Hubby Dearest in my last year of university, and we planned our wedding, but not before I had a taste of a few other jobs, pre-teaching. I worked as an assistant manager in a designer clothing boutique in Kingston-Upon-Thames – an experience that, had it been available in those times, would have made for a fantastic reality show! Seriously, the customers! The stories!

Then I ended up in the bank for around 4 years. Marriage meant I relocated to Kent, and I had nine years in a marketing company, before finding my way back to the job I had actually trained to do, teaching.

In between all this, I dabbled in writing, and started a blog which pushed me to write more.

So, right now, you find me as a wife, mother to a teen and a tween, a feline fur baby, Sonu Singh and two feathered ones, Heer and Ranjha, a teacher, blogger, and writer!

Plenty of fodder for the imagination there!

 

Where did the idea for the book come from?

When I started writing this story, it was the year 2001. The working title was Wedded Stress. I was in the midst of planning my wedding and the urge to write was strong. I was entering into a perfect marriage, but what would happen if someone was all set up for the same, and things go belly up? That was the catalyst, but there was no planning at that stage. I started writing, and just wanted to see what happened. I wasn’t even sure if it would be a book length story, or just something short. (At over 86,000 words, I’m sure you will agree that it is most definitely not short!)

But life happened, and marriage, followed by trying for a family, having kids and raising them, meant that my idea languished on a floppy disk for a long while. I remember finding it, one day a couple of years after starting. I loaded it up, and thought, ‘I can do something with this.’ Hubby Dearest was most supportive, and he even bought me my first laptop so I could carry on making my dream come true. Then, it got shelved, again and when I started my blog, that was when the true writing started. When feedback from the first couple of chapters came in, I was encouraged to start writing properly, but time was a huge issue. I ended up using the month of August in 2017, to really write properly, and even used a plan. By this time, I had realised that pantsing a whole story might not be wise. It wasn’t complete, yet, but it was a real story with a beginning, a middle and I knew what the end would be.

And it got rechristened to Marriage Unarranged.

After a few months, I managed to finish it, and here we are now, in the year 2020, and I have a completed, and published book!

 

How long have you been writing?

I have always loved to write, from a young age. I was always telling stories, and when people stopped listening, I started writing them down, instead. At that time, I had no aspirations of becoming an author, but I loved the reading and writing process. I won a couple of school writing competitions and that boosted my confidence.

My real writing, I would say started around five years ago, when I became serious about something that started as a flippant comment about having a book with my name on it. I managed that, with my poetry anthology, Poetic RITUals, but it was this story that really wanted to be told that pushed me to learn more about the writing and publishing process, and finally got me to where I am today.

 

Can we expect more books from you?

I hope so, yes!

During the writing of Marriage Unarranged, many characters popped into the story, and began to want to tell their story. I had to control myself a little, but the feedback I received from beta readers hinted at the fact that they would love to read more about certain people they had met in the book.

And so, another two fiction books in the same genre, (coined Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit With An Indian Twist) have been planned, focussing on other people from Marriage Unarranged. Now I just need to make the time to write them!

I have also got ideas and words for three possible children’s picture books. All I need to do is finish the rhymes for the last one, and then I need to look for an illustrator. That’s something I need to research.

Sigh. The life of an author is not just creation, but perpetual education…

Thank you, again, Lucy! I do hope your readers choose to enjoy learning about Aashi and her journey.

Marriage Unarranged.

Here’s the blurb:

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something.

If you want to check this book out here’s the info you need:

Blog Tour Banner

 

In other news, on BlondeWriteMore on Thursday I have such a treat for all writers of romance. One of my FAVOURITE authors – ZOE MAY has written me a gorgeous guest post titled – 5 Things Your Female Character Needs To Have. 

I am honoured to have all these wonderful people like Ritu and Zoe wanting to come on my blog x

#BookReview Make It Up To You @Lucy_K_Author #TuesdayBookBlog #Romance

I think author Lucy Keeling rocks for a number of reasons:

  1. She’s called Lucy.
  2. She writes witty romance.
  3. Her insta stories where she talks to her followers everyday from her car are fab! Check out Lucy’s instagram because this lady always makes me smile on a morning before I shuffle into work.
  4. Her debut novel which I am reviewing below is one of my best Romcom reads from 2019.
  5. She’s part of the UK RomChat team and loves a good tweet.

This book, Make It Up To You, will transport you into the world of make-up artist, Sophie Timney and online make-up tutorials.

I have two teenage daughters who are GLUED to watching makeup tutorials on YouTube and they make me watch them (in an attempt to teach me how to apply makeup. At forty something my makeup skills are sadly lacking and anything other than a quick finger dab in something sparkly is a challenge), so I could relate to this book.

Here’s the blurb:

What do mascara wands and gardening shears have in common?

Absolutely nothing! At least that’s what wannabe beauty influencer Sophie Timney thinks when her friend Polly suggests involving her brother Marcus in Sophie’s make-up tutorials. She needs more views, Marcus needs promotion for his gardening business – in Polly’s mind joining forces will help them both. Sophie isn’t so sure.

Because Marcus Bowman has a habit of getting under her skin in a way that no exfoliating face scrub ever could. But, as the views and comments on her videos begin creeping up, it becomes increasingly obvious that Sophie’s subscribers like Marcus, and what’s even worse is that Sophie might be starting to feel the same way…

Here’s my review:

When the story opens Sophie is having a bad day as she thinks she’s uploaded the wrong makeup advice video and she’s fretting because her followers are not increasing.

I really warmed to Sophie. She’s passionate about her makeup advice tutorials and will do whatever it takes to make it a success.

Her relationship with Marcus is funny. They bicker and argue whilst this gorgeous romance grows between them. Sophie thinks he’s cheeky, wonders what fake tan he’s using and gets frustrated when he makes a tea for himself. He enjoys winding her up, thinks she can be a bit of a diva and can’t stop thinking about a kiss they once shared.

This book gave me lovely warm tingles especially around Marcus ❤️ He is gorgeous and it really was a delightful read.

Lucy Keeling has written a fab novel about what happens when career paths and romantic urges are bound together. She’s thrown in some fab female relationships for good measure and drizzled over a good helping of love.

If you want to find out more check out this book here.

It is perfect with a cup of coffee and a pastry!

#Lucy Mitchell

Important news:

Tomorrow I will be back with a fantastic book cover reveal. 

Watch this space!

#BookReview Without a Hitch on Honeymoon @BeautySwot #TuesdayBookBlog

Last year I reviewed Bettina Hunt’s, Without a Hitch, a novel about the wedding journeys of three brides. Bettina’s novel made me reconnect with my inner bridezilla which is something I thoroughly enjoyed doing. After nineteen long years of marriage there’s nothing better than being whisked away to think about wedding dress choices, flower arrangements and handsome grooms.

What I liked about the first Without a Hitch is that the three brides; Sienna, Agnes and Bryony all experienced different challenges, emotional issues and comedy moments with their weddings and it was a fun premise.

So, you can imagine my book reading delight when Bettina contacted me to say she was carrying on with the series and this book was all about the same three brides going on honeymoon.

Seeing as my own honeymoon had many hitches, one being where I got off a coach after a trip and fell head first into a cactus bush (too many Spanish lemonades) and my loved one spent a romantic evening pulling needles out of my body, I was keen to see whether Sienna, Agnes and Bryony had an easier ride.

Here’s the blurb:

Sienna, Agnes & Bryony are back! Making memories one beach at a time …

In the sequel to the hilarious wedding romcom Without a Hitch, find out what happens to the three brides after the wedding …

Because after the wedding …comes the honeymoon… doesn’t it? 

Here’s my review:

It was great to be back with the ladies from Without a Hitch again. I love sequels because it is like catching up with old friends.

This book was different to the first as the author takes things to a deeper level and you start to see the characters in a new light.

In this book I got emotionally attached to the character of Bryony. So much so, I wrote the author, Bettina Hunt several lengthy text messages. This is the sign of a good book – when you find yourself fishing out your phone in the middle of the frozen puddings aisle in Tescos and telling the author how your emotions are in shreds over what’s happening to their character. I’m not going to give anything away, but all I will say is I could have cried for Bryony.

By the end though I had this inkling something wonderful was happening inside of Bryony and I am now hungry for more.

Sienna as always provides the comedy relief and she never fails to bring a smile on.

Agnes – well…she never stops surprising me. Not content with leaving my jaw hanging open in shock at the end of the last book, she carries on doing things her way. I do like this character and she could feature in her own book.

Three different brides and three different honeymoons.

A cool part of this book is that all three brides are in contact via this wedding site and they are all emailing each other about their experiences. I thought the snippets from their emails was a great part of the book.

There is a cliffhanger at the end and I know the author is planning another in the series.

A good read and I can’t wait for the next one!

Weddings and honeymoons don’t always run smoothly and they make the perfect settings for romcom.

This book could work well as a standalone novella as the emails from the brides fill you in on what’s happened so far.

While I wait for book 3, I will be sending Bryony telepathic vibes of hope and transformation x

Here’s the link to the book.

Three things I like about the author:

  • She loves afternoon tea.
  • She loves bright lipstick shades.
  • She’s got a wicked sense of humour.