Monday, 22 January 2018

The Benefits of a One Day Writing Retreat

I consider myself to be a dedicated writer and while my day isn’t always as well-planned and organised as it could be it is almost invariably filled with writerly things. Most of the time I can be found pounding away at my keyboard or reading my notes. Recently I completed the first draft of Long Ago and Far Away, the novel I began in November for the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing fifty thousand words in a month. Time now to work on editing before sending it out into the big wide world. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to become distracted – by Facebook conversations, by Twitter and, well we all know about displacement activities. However…

For a little over six years now I have attended The Write Place Creative Writing School in Kent, with weekly lessons that have kept me on my toes and from which I have learned a huge amount. But aside from the benefits of excellent tuition there is the added bonus of the one day writing retreats that are held regularly (usually once a month). 

There was one such retreat last Saturday. I went with less enthusiasm than usual due to a fuggy head. It's that time of the year isn't it! Fortunately I had planned what I was going to work on. Fugginess receded and by the end of the morning I had written the outline for my next book and begun work on the synopsis for Long Ago and Far Away. Then we broke for lunch, an assortment of delights brought by the participants to share between us all, and we always bring too much!

This is a particularly social time when we can relax for a while after hours of intense concentration, though writing usually comes into the conversation somewhere.

Back at our ‘stations’ work continued and tapping of fingers on keys was the only sound to be heard.  I used this time to finish the synopsis I'd been working on during the morning and to put on my editing hat. There was also an opportunity for each of us to take advantage of a one2one discussion with our tutor, Elaine Everest, and this is invaluable as it gives us a chance to talk purely about ourselves and our own aspirations, and of course to receive specifically tailored advice. 

By the time I got home I was exhausted but I had done at least twice as much work as I would have done at home. No breaks and no distractions. It was wine o'clock and I was ready. The next day I set to with a will and yes, I did a huge amount of work, but I may have taken the odd break here and there to watch TV or make a phone call. It happens.

The point I’m trying to make is that a day dedicated to writing is not unusual – it’s what I do – but a day dedicated to writing in a different environment where there are absolutely no outside distractions is priceless. My work is pretty much planned for the next month but I know that the next retreat will be as beneficial as this one has been. If it isn’t, it would be for the first time ever.

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Monday, 8 January 2018

Look at my latest news

I now have a Facebook Author Page so please come visit and click follow so you have all the news about my latest work and future competition etc.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Two-Faced - But in a Good Way

It’s been said that as one door closes another opens. Janus, Roman god of gates and doors was depicted as having two faces, one casting his eyes back and one looking to the future. It takes no great stretch of the imagination then to understand why the month of January is said to be named for him.

Looking back 2017 was another busy year for me and I was thrilled when my third book, Escape to the Cotswolds, was published by HQ | HarperCollins on 21st June. Here is the blurb:

Artist Holly Hunter is turning her life upside-down! She’s leaving the bright lights of London (and a cheating husband) behind her and hoping for a fresh start as she escapes to the peaceful Cotswolds countryside.

Men are off the cards for Holly. Instead, she’s focusing on her little gallery and adopting an adorable Border Collie puppy named Tubs. Or so she thought…

Because no matter how hard she tries to resist him, local vet Adam Whitney is utterly gorgeous. And in a village as small as this one, Holly can only avoid Adam for so long!

Later in the year and never one to turn down a challenge, I picked up the gauntlet and in November completed the NaNoWriMo challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. You can read about my before and after experiences here and here.

Now it’s a new year and, like one of Janus’s faces, I am looking forward. And with no little excitement either. I have renewed my love affair with short stories and today sees the publication of Some Time Alone in the People’s Friend Special #151. This, appropriately enough, is about a new beginning and is set in my favourite area of the country in the same fictional village as my book, Escape to the Cotswolds, but with different characters.   

The exhilaration continues next week on 11th January when my Pocket Novel, The Ghost of Glendale, will be on a supermarket shelf near you. DC Thomson have produced this beautiful cover for my romantic Regency ghost story. Here is a taster:

At twenty-four years old, Phoebe Marcham is resigned to spinsterhood, unwilling to settle for less than the deep love her parents had shared. That is until adventurer Duncan Armstrong rides into her home wood, larger than life and with laughter in his eyes and more charm in his little finger than anyone she has ever previously known. Far from ridiculing her family ghost, Duncan resolves to help solve the mystery which has left Simon Marcham a soul in torment for two hundred years.

For those of you who know me or follow my blog it will come as no surprise that I am particularly thrilled with this one as I have a lifelong love of the period having been practically weaned on Georgette Heyer’s wonderful novels. And I have recorded the whole series of Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle) to watch yet again. And I watched Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion during the holiday period. What can I say? I’m a total fan.

So what, you might ask, has happened to all those words written for the NaNoWriMo challenge? This is still a work in progress. I’m hoping to complete the first draft by the end of the month. The synopsis is written, the first three chapters are ready to go but there are subplots and editing to deal with before I have a completed manuscript.

All the while in the background are short story ideas and novel plots waiting to take shape and form. Then there is the RNA Conference to look forward to together with workshops and writing retreats. A busy 2018 in prospect. Would I have it any other way? Definitely not. I love what I do. I hope you do too.

Wishing all my readers, friends and family aspiration, inspiration, joy and peace. Happy New Year to one and all.