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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
Go for more walks. Fresh air is a writer’s friend
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.
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.
Accepting the followingwith 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 🤣
Skip some household chores. I do love novel writing when it makes me do this.
Wear a bolder lipstick – hot pink for writers in 2023 👏🏻
Come in and make yourself at home. Excuse me I need to switch on the lights and dust away the virtual blog cobwebs. It’s been over a year since I have been here. I haven’t had a chance to buy in some virtual milk or tea bags so I can’t make you a virtual cuppa.
Well, here I am. Back home on my blog. During 2022 I was lucky enough to work with a fabuloius literary agent. A book I wrote in 2021, Missing You, went on submission in 2022 and whilst it received lots of positive feedback it didn’t find a forever home. I knew the chances of a first book selling were low so I banked the valuable experience I had gained.
I will be swan diving back into the querying pool in 2023 which is exciting.
I won’t give up on my dream to be published. I know I can do this. Just got to keep writing!
For those of you who don’t know what I write – I create funny romances with real life characters who try to navigate their way through the minefield of dating as well as juggling parenthood, dysfunctional families, wayward pets, social media and dead-end jobs. I send my characters on wild journeys of self-discovery and I like to add a little bit of romantic chaos.
I missed my blog in 2022. It’s my little creative home. A year long blogging break was good though and it’s made me appreciate my corner of the world wide web.
What else did I do in 2022 apart from experiencing the submission process:
I started a TikTok account (@lucymitchauth) which was an experience. I do like TikTok but it’s not my creative home. My blog is my home and TikTok is like a second holiday home.
I wrote 2 new full length first draft novels.
I am on the 3rd draft of a 3rd novel I also wrote last year. This is the one I am going to swan dive into the querying trenches with.
Sticking parts of myself back together after each rejection. I am out of sticky tape so if anyone has any please send my way 🙂
I alternated between letting out dreamy sighs at my characters and a few hours later hissing with intense malice at them.
I drank a lot of coffee and I bought a passive aggressive coffee machine. Seriously this machine has issues. It starts it’s automatic descaling process during very stressful times and we are gasping for a coffee. We then have to wait an agonising hour. It spits, gurgles and splutters if we complain about it . The thing knows we are moaning about it and does it’s best to delay our coffee.
I have been collecting funny things people say about writing. Here are some of my favs:
You’re not a real writer if you don’t have an existential crisis about how you’re not a real writer on a regular basis.
Sherry’s World tumblr
The hardest thing about being a writer is convincing your partner that lying on the sofa is work.
Select-All + Delete is an equivalent to crumpling the page and tossing it into a fireplace
I am going to be here every Monday from now on. Join me in my journey towards one day getting traditionally published.
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.
A few creative moons ago I read, Without a Hitch, by a romance author called Bettina Hunt. From the start of the book I loved her humour, her relatable characters and her take on romantic comedy. I went onto read one of her other novels; A Tempting Trio, and laughed so much at her hilarious book I nearly fell off my chair. Since then I have become a bit of a Bettina Hunt author superfan. She still hasn’t managed to shake me off – lol.
In real life she’s one of the funniest people I know and always makes me smile. Now that her fabulous new book, High Heels on the Beach, is out I have persuaded her to come on my blog.
I thought it would be fun to do an author interview so you can all find out more about Bettina Hunt.
Please welcome one of my favourite romantic comedy & women’s fiction authors, Bettina Hunt.
Hello, thanks for having me on your blog, it’s such an honour!
Bettina – can you tell us about yourself?
Such a difficult first question, Lucy!
I’m a forty something writer of romcoms and women’s fiction. I have two young boys and I can tell you that homeschooling them during Covid was certainly not an easy thing as one thing I’ve never wanted to be is a teacher, huge respect to those who are!
I used to work in product management however, at one time I was thinking of becoming a lawyer… that attention to detail that I learnt during my law degree has held me in good stead 😉
As a gemini I have so many interests, I can be known to be indecisive but the one thing I knew was that I always wanted to write in some capacity. I started writing a blog about beauty and afternoon tea when I was at home with my eldest boy and then added a Friday Column so that I could share my poetry and short stories. My first book – A Tempting Trio – was originally a short story on my blog.
I’ve published four books and partially written another five. My ultimate dream is to have at least one of my books made into a film. I would also love to be part of a comedy writing team, writing either comedy sketches or a sitcom (i’m not fussy!) Sharon Horgan is one of my favourite writers and she’s written two of my favourite TV Shows – Catastrophe and Motherland. Most recently I’ve become obsessed with the BBC ONE series This Is My House. It’s a brilliant concept, so entertaining and funny.
Just before lockdown I also discovered Schitt’s Creek which is the ultimate heartwarming, feelgood comedy series. With perfectly written characters that evolve beautifully as the series plays out I laughed and cried. It’s the best series ever.
Tell us about your new book?
High Heels on the Beach is a heartwarming contemporary romantic comedy set in both London and the fictional seaside town of Sunny Bay. It tells the story of Becca who’s used to letting her bestie make decisions for her in a twist on the Choose Your Own Story books that they used to read. When her world comes crumbling down, Becca realises she needs to stop relying on others and take control of her own destiny. Her planned voyage of self-discovery is thwarted by the need for her to return to the one place she’s been avoiding, home. In Sunny Bay she’s forced to take on the running of the family’s B&B, bringing her face to face with old flames and adversaries and meeting a host of colourful residents at the B&B. The story follows Becca’s emotional journey and her struggle between the pull of her old corporate life and a new life in Sunny Bay.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
I actually got the idea when I was on holiday in Spain. I was looking around at the people by the pool and wondered how many of them were not looking forward to getting back to their jobs and the idea spiralled from there. I had planned to start writing it during NanoWrimo in November, however I felt compelled to write as soon as I got home and wrote 30,000 words during the Summer Holidays.
When you are not writing books what do you like doing?
Most of this hasn’t been possible since COVID struck but … I love going out for afternoon tea, eating out and enjoying cocktails. I love going on mini breaks. I love the theatre, the west end shows. I love watching comedy shows on TV to lift my spirits. And I LOVE to sing 🙂 just for me mostly although I do lip syncs on Instagram too.
Best piece of writing advice you have ever been given?
You have to turn on the tap to let the water flow AND you can’t edit an empty page.
How long have you been writing books?
I wrote my first full book in 2015 but i’ve always had ideas bouncing around in my head. Still do. Every day in fact. Especially when I’m doing the washing up or in bed, trying to sleep.
What book are you reading at the moment.
I’m reading a romcom (not much of a surprise there!) called The Summer Job by Lizzie Dent. It’s made me laugh out loud so that’s a good sign.
Who are your favourite authors and why?
I love Lucy Vine for making me laugh out loud. Milly Johnson’s books are like a cuddle, warm and funny with fantastic characters. John Grisham for page turning suspense – My favourite book of his was The Runaway Jury. More recently I’ve discovered JP Delaney for thrillers. But honestly I read so many wonderful books that I wish I could give them all a shout out.
9.Favourite social media channel?
Twitter I think – I love how instant it is and I love to talk and chat, connect with people 🙂
Favourite romance film?
How can I choose! I love romantic films and even better if they make me laugh… But if I really, really, had to choose – Okay I have 3 films in mind.
Some Kind of Wonderful made me cry buckets and has some fantastic lines in it. My two favourite romcoms are Sweet Home Alabama and You’ve Got Mail. I could happily watch all three over and over again.
Decision shy Becca is used to her best friend making decisions for her, but after a disastrous 30th birthday, London living Becca realises she needs to stop relying on others and take control of her own destiny.
With her life plans in tatters, she’s forced to return home to the quiet seaside town of Sunny Bay and the family’s B&B, where the bedrooms are covered in chintz and her mother is still serving up culinary delights from the 1970s. Adamant that she’s not staying, Becca embarks on a soul-searching trip to Europe.
She’s barely stepped foot abroad before a family crisis sees her back in Sunny Bay and in charge of the B&B. Coming face to face with old flames and adversaries, Becca’s reminded why she left and is determined to get back to her old life in London.
But when the mysterious Madame DoTell, fortune teller to the stars, insists that home is where the heart is, Becca begins to wonder if she should listen…
If home is where the heart is, where is home?
High Heels on the Beach is a light-hearted and fun packed Summer tale perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk.
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.
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:
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?
I am the owner of a small gang of unruly cats and an over excited dog. As an enthusiastic pet owner I often project human traits onto my animals. I am always talking to my cats and dog. They all have elaborate fictional histories and we often speak to one of my cats about his time as a stowaway on an old sailing boat in the eighteenth century.
Giving a character a pet side kick was something I thought writers did when they had an overwhelming urge to write about a particular animal or to leave a legacy for their beloved pet by adding them into their best-selling novel. I have come to realise there is so much more to fictional pets.
One of my favourite authors, Nicola May, adds brilliant pet characters to her romantic comedies. They all have their own personality and leave you with great book memories. I still chuckle about the hilarious African Grey parrot, Lady P and her foul mouth in, Love Me Tinder.
Before I talk about the benefits I think it is important to explain what I believe are the golden rules with fictional pets.
I don’t think you should add your real life pet into a story because you will end up assuming the reader will automatically relate to your pet in the same way you do. They won’t. It is a bit like adding your loved one into a romance story and expecting everyone to fall in love with their strange ways. You are the only one who can relate to your pet (and loved one).
Pet characters need to have annoying or frustrating traits, as well as loveable ones to be relatable. Most of the time my animals disobey everything I say to them, make a mess of my house, vomit at the wrong times and leave me tearing my hair out. In your books you cannot create angelic household pets who are always alert and on the look out for life saving opportunities. This does not happen in real life. My pets tend to be either squabbling, sleeping or digging holes in the garden.
Here are the hidden benefits of giving your fictional character a pet side kick:
A fictional pet can bring two characters together who are trying to avoid each other. In my novel; Instructions For Falling In Love Again, used Maria the bulldog to get my characters in close contact. Maria loves showering people, wary of dogs, with her affections. She makes a beeline in the park for Mikey, dragging Pippa with her, after he displayed a look of fear.
A fictional pet can bring some light relief to a gloomy tale. In real life pets can bring a much-needed smile to your face during dark times and this can apply to fictional characters and their pets. They can also add some fun into the writing process and boy do we need this!
Animal / owner relationships don’t have to follow the norm to be endearing to the reader. I love Caitlin Moran’s description of her pet in her book, How To Be A Woman. ‘The stupid new dog is under my bed. She has got pregnant by the small dog, Oscar, who lives over the road. None of us can quite work out how this has happened, as Oscar is one of those small, yappy types of dogs, only slightly bigger than a family-sized tin of baked beans, and the stupid new dog is a fully grown German Shepherd… I look into the dog’s eyes. She is as stupid as a barrel of toes. Galaxies of nothing are going on in her eyes. I’m going to talk to Mum,’ I explain. The dog remains under my bed, looking, as always, deeply nervous about being a dog. The phrase ‘stupid as a barrel of toes’ and coupled with the dog ‘being deeply nervous about bring a dog’ conjure up a comedy picture of the dog.
A fictional pet can assist character development, they can help illustrate an important characteristic of one of the main characters. This could be in shown in how the character speaks to the pet or cares for the pet. Useful for characters who live alone and have limited human contact.
Unusual petsare brilliant for showing bringing out a character quirk. Giving your hero or heroine an unconventional pet to love can add an unexpected dimension to their personality.
A fictional pet can help cause conflict and present their character owner with numerous obstacles. This is where those annoying and frustrating animal traits come into play
Fictional pets are great ways to bring your characters and stories to life.
A big shout out to all fictional pets – we love you guys!
I am so excited about this post. As a huge fan of all things romantic and someone who gets very carried away at the sight of any romance, within a ten mile radius, this blog post is going to leave me lying on my sofa with a cold compress on my forehead. Today we are talking about how to write a good kiss.
Now, back in the day, when I was looking for love in Leeds (in the 90s) kissing was a big thing. Especially since most of my dating was done in Ritzy’s nightclub and once a male suitor had impressed me with his dance moves, surrounded by clouds of dry ice, we’d go in for the kiss.
The kiss was an important stage – because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with anyone whose kissing skills reminded me of:
My washing machine on a fast cycle
A plunger for my blocked sink.
Snogging a block of ice.
Snogging some sandpaper
Snogging a Jack in the Box – his tongue was the Jack which popped out when I wasn’t expecting it and made me jump.
Back in the day I thought I had struck gold when my suitor had velvet lips, no crab stick breath, a shy tongue (at first), a gentle swaying action and maybe one of his hands gently running through my hair. Kissing heaven 😂
When we write romance we have to bring the joy of kissing to life and this is tough. We have to get so much right as writers so that our reader lets out a sigh as they read about our characters engaging in a delicious kiss.
So, I have asked fabulous author of heart-warming and escapist romantic fiction, Kiley Dunbar, to come on my blog and give us some tips.
In their last moments on earth nobody every says, ‘you know what, I wish I’d done less kissing.’
In fact, I can guarantee if you think back to your hottest ex, or take a glance at your significant other, you’ll be inclined to agree it would have been nice if there’d been a lot more kissing and a lot less humdrum.
There’s just isn’t enough kissing in the world. Happily, the romance genre has always been around to redress the balance and to inspire us all to perfect our pout, take one step closer and lock lips.
As well as being oh-so-much fun, kisses are an expression of attraction, an opener for intimacy, and they bring reassurance and reconnection when things have gone wrong. Kisses also make for very special moments: first kisses, you-may-kiss-the-bride-kisses, break-up kisses and make-up kisses. There are some kisses you’ll just never forget, and this applies to kisses on the page too.
As romance readers we’re literary kiss connoisseurs. One of my all-time favourites is Pernille Hughes’s divine eight page clinch in Probably the Best Kiss in the World (One More Chapter, 2019) which has lips that linger long enough to rival Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr’s epic screen smooch amongst crashing waves in From Here to Eternity.
I love writing kisses too. Whether you are crafting a slow-burn love story that builds up to one perfect smacker on the final page or a sizzling snog-fuelled steam fest, here are my top five tips for writing kisses your readers will really feel.
The reign of the grabby hero who stifles a heroine’s protests with a stolen kiss is over.
Long live the considerate, consenting kissers of modern romantic fiction. If it’s not mutual and enthusiastic, it’s not romantic.
On-page kisses are motivated by wanting.
When your characters’ lips meet there must be the full force of their attraction behind it. Even if your characters are good at communicating with words, their kiss should also speak volumes about their feelings. A kiss is also a good way of showing any lingering internal conflict: can your characters give way to their desire or is the moment less than perfect due to niggling worries, doubts or obstacles that still require resolution?
3. The bubble.
A really good kiss should be powerful enough to shut out the rest of the world.
You can draw readers into the bubble with unique little details that make the moment intimate: eyes locking; Adam’s apple bobbing with swallowed nerves; the steadying grip on the lapel of a sharp suit; fingertips straying into hairlines and thumbs caressing cheekbones as your lovers move closer. Delicious! And never underestimate the magic of antici … pation. Make your kisses worth waiting for and everyone will be satisfied.
4. Kisses add character.
No two couples are alike so no two on-page kisses should be alike.
Does your cinnamon bun hero live up to his adorable, attentive characterisation and deliver sweet nose-tip rubs as a prelude to mouth to mouth contact? Does your sensual couple linger over eyelid, temple and earlobe kisses to make your reader swoon? Does your whip-smart heroine who knows what she wants guide her partner’s kiss so it’s just right for both of them? Make the kiss fit what readers know of your characters and the dynamic you’ve built up between them.
5. Embodied kisses.
Take the chemistry further than just lips caressing.
The heat of a good kiss should spread through the body. If you can convey hitched breaths, goosebumps rising, hearts beating harder, inner muscles tensing and softening, and the acceleration and deepening of arousal then your reader will be right there in the bubble with your characters.
Right – that’s got me fired up for writing a nice new kissing scene in my Work In Progress. My hero happens to be just-the-right-height-for-delivering-a-forehead-kiss (swoon) and my heroine deserves a truly unforgettable kiss (the kind you feel all the way down) after all the pain I’ve put them through. I hope you’re feeling inspired to get your characters closer too. Now more than ever the world needs the unique healing magic and loving connection of (good) kisses.
Wasn’t that great?
I am going to nip off and start writing a few kissing scenes. Thanks, Kiley, you did me proud with this fab post.
Author Lucy Keeling is here to talk to us about writing naughty scenes in romance novels. I have to say I avoided them in my novel, Instructions For Falling In Love Again, because all my saucy scenes had the cringe factor. After writing one I would find myself hiding under my dressing table.
One day I hope to overcome this hurdle so I am going to see what Lucy Keeling has to say…
I’m Lucy Keeling and my debut novel Make It Up To You’ has had many lovely reviews, many more than I ever dreamed, but one thing that keeps being discussed is the, ahem, …saucier aspects of the novel.
If the rumours, tweets and texts from friends boyfriends* are to believed, then apparently I can write good sex. (*yes seriously, and no I don’t think I can look at them again)
And so whilst I never thought for one minute that I would be writing a blog post on this topic here I am with the five things I think will help you write good sex.
1. In the mood?
I suppose the seasoned professionals that write sex day in day out can just put pen to paper and go for it. I’m not saying that I need candles, a glass of wine, a quick neck massage and then I’m good to write the steamy stuff. It’s just if I’m trying to get the kids ready for school, if I know I need to deep clean my oven, if my car insurance is due, you know what, suddenly I’m not in the mood. I need a quiet space, a space that’s not likely to be interrupted, and yes, you know what a glass of wine sometimes helps. So think about what’s going to help you write the steamier bits and what’s not, and try to get yourself in the mood… to write.
2. What words can I use?
Ohhh, ok so you’re in the mood to write something a little steamier, but you’re looking at your screen and suddenly it feels like you’re writing a scientific journal of anatomical references. Or maybe, in order to avoid being crude, your work is instead a bit too flowery? Hmmm. For me this is honestly one of the hardest parts, as it were. You’ll have your own words for things that make you cringe, and if that’s the case do not use them. If you’re making yourself cringe you’re going to struggle to continue. It goes back to step one, being in the mood. So, if you don’t like the word Moist don’t use it. I, for one, am not a fan of mounds. To each their own.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you here is to study your contemporaries. Are there words that they don’t use, words that they do. If you know the market your aiming for then write in that tone.
3. It’s all very… textbook
Hmmm ok, assuming that you want your reader to stay with you here, I recommend going back and making sure that you’ve covered all of the senses. ALL OF THEM. What does he smell like… what does she taste like… what does it sound like when he… what does it look like when she… what does it feel like when they… you get it right?
But please make sure that what you’re writing is physically possible. I won’t go into too much detail (the original 18+ blog post can be read on my website lucykeeling.com) but look out for clothes magically disappearing, and an excess of arms etc. For brilliant examples of senses and sex scenes you can read pretty much anything by Talia Hibbert, Alisha Rai and Rachael Stewart.
4. Do I need to write sexy times?
No of course not. A heck of a lot of really good romance books are ‘closed door’. But will a sex scene show a personality insight that would otherwise be hard to get at? Will it move the story along? Will it add another layer, an additional conflict, or resolution? Then yes you might want to think about including it, especially if you’re not going to get these aspects in any other part of your story. Gorgeous stories that don’t include and don’t need to include sex can be found by Kiley Dunbar, Maxine Morrey and our very own Lucy Mitchell.
5. Consent & Contraception
If you write sex and it’s non-consensual then guess what? I’m not finishing that book. Sex has to be consented to. Simple as. It can be done simply, it can be done sexily, I honestly don’t care how, but it needs to be explicit consent.
On that note can we also talk contraception. If you fail to include contraception in your story, I’m thinking one thing and one thing only. The one with the uterus is getting pregnant, or a sexually transmitted disease. If you think writing Historical Romance gets you out of writing either consent or contraception think again. And if you need examples please see, Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan or Virginia Heath.
So, there you have it, off you go and write all the steaminess your heart desires.
This is a strange time to be living in right now. The world feels like it’s in chaos. So, this week I have decided to write about something which gives me strength and makes me positive; my blog.
I am a few weeks away from my 6th year blogging anniversary. Still can’t believe I have been blogging for that long. What started out as something to give me a break from my squabbling children, rugby mad husband and boisterous pets on wet Sunday afternoons has turned into a big part of my life.
Here are 10 lessons from my 6 years of blogging:
1. Blogging is like a fertile creative soil and other things grow from it. This is the thing which has surprised me. My blog has grown and nurtured so many creative projects; my Roxy Collins diary which went super crazy on Wattpad, my Roxy Collins podcast which I recorded whilst locked inside my teenage daughter’s cupboard every Friday after a few gin & tonics, my novel, my book blogging and a LOT of short stories.
2. My happiest times have been when I stopped caring about blog stats. When I wrote The Diary of Roxy Collins as a weekly serial I never gave two hoots about my blog stats. This was one of my best times as a blogger. There’s something in this because when I recorded my podcast deep inside my daughter’s shoe cupboard and put each episode live I didn’t care about stats or numbers. I had so much fun. It lit me upside. Like someone had turned on a light. It was only when I started looking at my blog stats and podcast data that the good times ended.
3. The bad blogging times have been signals in disguise that I need to change direction. Looking back now I can see this more clearly. However, when you are fed up with blogging and can’t face turning up to write a post each week it’s hard to see. All my bad blogging times have been the start of change.
4. Blogging breaks are marvellous things. You don’t have to quit blogging, you just need a break. I am so glad I found blogging breaks and took them. It’s so nice to come back after a few months feeling rejuvenated and created.
5. Blogging is a stress buster. Writing a blog post is for me one of the best ways to relieve stress.
6. Blogs are like trees. They take years of nurture and love to grow. They will chart your creative journey and they will one day bear creative fruits. These fruits might not bring you fame and fortune but they will be of great value to you in other ways. The great thing about life is that you won’t be able to see their value straightaway. One day you will stop and think – ‘wow – that blog post changed my life.’
7. Getting my blog links to work was one of my biggest struggles. Oh my goodness – other bloggers struggle with SEO rankings and branding. Me – well I struggled with copying, pasting and inserting a link into a little box for 2 YEARS! 🙈
8. My blog has been a great teacher. Its taught me about all sorts of things like checking for typos, grammar and resilience.
9. Fictional characters who were born inside my blog posts will never leave me. Roxy Collins – I will do something with you. I promise ❤️
10. I have met some fabulous and life changing people on my blog. They have been a huge part of my journey and without them I wouldn’t be here today.
Thank you to everyone who reads, comments and shares my posts week in and week out. You are all fabulous. 🌸📚
If you don’t have a blog and want something creative to do during these strange times, I would strongly recommend starting one. Blogs are great stress busters, they make excellent journals and you never know what might come of it 📚