Category Archives: Believing

When you get ‘possessed’ and it’s only 5.30 am

I am close to 9000 words into the sequel novel and I am coming up for air. It’s odd when a chapter writes itself in two hours. Oh sure it will be edited and tweaked probably a million more times, but it’s flowing, good and fast like the Hudson River.  If that flows fast?! Just popped into my head. I think it, I write it. Where does it even come from?

Starting a new novel usually takes longer, finding the character’s voice, and his or her quirks. I have talked many times on here about how you need to create flaws and mannerisms and tics that make your character feel real. And while some you plan, most appear — by magic. What I had never thought about before was how nice it is to write characters that are already fully formed. The thing about a sequel is you already know your ‘people’, well the key ones at least, so their voice comes so much easier. And that is what I am finding now.

In addition, picking up the story threads six weeks on means I also know what happened to my people, and by way of a quick but not overdone recap for those who have not read book one (even though you hope they will have read book one) means you can process what happened. And the plan I have drafted means I also know where this is heading. I know the function of each chapter. Only now come the surprises.

It’s interesting how many things happen as if by magic and certainly there has been some of that since I started to work on this sequel. This morning is a case in point when my favourite flawed character with the most distinctive voice ends Chapter 4 in a way I have never actually planned. Oh, the thing it relates to was going to happen in this chapter, but not quite this way. And this is what I was talking about last week: when it surprises you but feels right, then it should surprise your reader.

So I thought I would share before I go back in to tweak.

Writing is a powerful way to lose yourself to find yourself.

And I am now possessed.

And that, for now, is all.

cartoonwriter

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Plots, Sequels and Radio Interviews!

Well, what a lot has been achieved this week… lots of plotting and planning. Four hours each morning with a notebook and I think I am about ready to start my sequel to one of my novels on Monday. Yay!

I have blogged about many things on here, mostly writerly, but not on plotting and ‘idea brainstorming’. I don’t think you can force ideas to come, you have to let them show up. Sometimes they march in without knocking and plonk themselves down in front of you. Here I am! Other times they whisper as you sleep or drift in and out like a tide that you can’t hold onto, you have it, you don’t. It’s a tease until you grab it and hold onto it like a wriggling cat until it settles on your lap.

This week has been enlightening. And it’s been exciting. You just never know who or what is going to show up. The good news is that for all its convolutions and complexities that have to be part of this novel to make it a good sequel, the ideas have come mostly pretty well formed and the new characters even told me their names! I am getting to know them now! While I never planned it this way, I have ideas for the two books that will make this a trilogy — and scope for more later. I had not planned to ‘plan’ the third book but since there is this thing called ‘foregrounding’– the legwork for the next one, i.e. the planting of the seeds — then it makes perfect sense. I now know how it all ends and what has to happen in the third one. I even have ideas for the names of the books. I am excited ❤

So how much do you plan?

Well, not too much. That said, if you were to see my notebook you would say I have it pretty much worked out, and I guess I kind of do. However, the true magic of writing happens when you allow your subconscious to guide you. Plots change. They change because as you write, things need to happen: pacing things! When you read a great novel and a chapter ends with one of those moments: another body is found, someone isn’t who you think they are — you know, ‘the unexpected reveal’, well, I like to think it’s by magic. A lot of these, I think, are not planned. They just happen. I have had a character  walk in and make a statement and I’ve spent the next hours, maybe days, working out why and what it means. Truly. Something in me knew it had to happen, and every time it really was vital to the story, I just didn’t know it when I planned the book! See, magic! Writing is magic. You need to plot and plan, absolutely — but then you need to allow the magic in.

I can’t wait to get writing now.

And in other news…

Cover reveal!

My short story collection is out in July and I will be in conversation with Tony Fisher on BBC Radio Essex this very afternoon from 2 pm talking writing and short stories! Do tune in: here’s the link!

TONY FISHER ARTS SHOW

And, here it is… my cover. Me and my nan! Her photo was taken in the 1930s and relates to the last story in the book, the newest short story of mine 🙂

Because Sometimes Medium

Out July 2019

Launch Event, St Nicholas Church, Canvey Island, July 19th 7 pm, all welcome!

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Tunnel Vision

It was such a great week last week after the ‘new agent news’ and finally feeling as if I knew what I had to do next. So I found myself up and working at 5 am every day, after a break from that for a while, and fully in that zone: that fully immersive state we all relish if we can get in there! It does mean everything else falls away around you as you write, and some mornings I was aware of the hubby speaking until he probably realised I was not ‘in the room’ and off he’d go and next thing a coffee would plonk down beside my computer mouse. I have him well trained!

So edits under guidance completed along with new synopsis and off to my agent. I am now doing something I have never done before. Working out the plot intricacies of a sequel! I had always intended a sequel to this novel (not saying which one yet) but had not quite worked out what would happen. I spent three hours at 5 am scribbling and thinking. I am not there yet but something is slowly emerging! I often find I need to look the other way for a while to see it clearly as if plots like to take shape just out of shot. My mission for this week is to get something together and find my EUREKA plot moment when I realise what it has to say. And to be ready to start writing it!

Writing is a process of many stages.

  • Planning: advice? Never force it; let it come when it wants to, just nudge it along as I do not recommend waiting for your muse either.
  • Writing new material: is the really exciting part and my fingers get a buzz when I am in that zone. I think that is probably the most exciting phase. This is when the true magic happens and often things you could not have planned!
  • Editing: I relish because it helps your work to take shape and become something so much better than that first draft. And if you are lucky enough more magic creeps beautifully in 🙂

 

Many many rounds of edits later it might or might not be ready but it has to reach a point when you MUST let it go and if you have been working on the same thing for too long — rest it and write something else. We can get too close to it. My advice for anyone wanting a career as a writer and intending to find an agent and a book deal needs to let one novel go and work on a new one, especially when new to it. Get a critique, get solid editorial feedback and learn how to improve — but when you have reached that point know when to rest it and work on something new, taking those newly acquired skills with you. Agents want you for a career, not a single book. My fourth novel was the one that was finally deemed good enough to find a publisher.  But nothing is ever wasted because you have something to later work on.

So that is me, just wanted to pop by to report in mid-editing a manuscript for a client!

That is all. Happy Writing! Happy Week!

Books HD

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Don’t Give Up

I began my serious journey from scientist to writer close to fifteen years ago. Eleven years ago  I saw my first short story published. My mission to seek an agent and have a novel published took writing four novels (it’s a thorough learning process) until one was deemed good enough to find a home with a publisher in 2013. An agent (after several near misses) followed in 2014 after my move back to Essex. I did the dance…

I had hoped then to finally see some of the other novels, including the new ones that followed, seek homes but it is not always as simple as that. My agent moved to a big agency and while she took me with her, her focus then shifted to non-fiction and I found my submissions and my plans slowed right down. That is not to say I was not writing, and I have had something published every year since that first short story was published — amassing over thirty short story successes. I have still won or been placed in competitions so that was keeping my belief alive. But it can feel as if you lose your momentum when nothing happens with the novels. You feel as if you are writing into a void. We all need to know we are heading somewhere.

As some of you know my life has undergone some significant personal changes over the past couple of years with meeting the new love of my life and then, of course, my focus was the wedding last year. While I did have some excellent feedback from my colleagues at Cornerstones about one of the novels and was empowered when I did the screenwriting course last year because my lovely tutor felt I was on the brink of a breakthrough, I was still uncertain of my next steps. Which novel to develop first.

So, I wrote a list of what I wanted to achieve in 2019. Apart from getting married, I decided I wanted to finally publish a collection of my short stories and that is now all put together. I will do a cover reveal soon 🙂 It is set for a July launch! Thank you Bridge House Publishing. Dancing 😉

I also said I needed to get a new agent. It can be demoralising thinking about starting again when you have already been through all of that. However, if you want something enough you do whatever it takes, right? And I was going to do just that. Luckily for me, I had a serendipitous meeting with an agent while attending an event that was part of the Essex Book Festival with friend and amazing writer, Fiona Cummins.  It was what I would call fated, happenchance perhaps… and lead to a request to look at my work. That lead to a meeting in London last week and… on Friday I signed a contract with the amazing top London agent Camilla Shestopal formerly of PFD but now with her own agency! We met at the Chelsea Art Club and two and a half hours just melted away. We connected. It was exciting, for both of us. Inside I was doing the dance again. It felt right, that’s all I can tell you.

So I announced the news from our weekend getaway in Brighton where we celebrated with cake (as you must… an ENORMOUS piece of cake for ENORMOUS news!) and now I feel as if I finally have a focus and begin edits today. I will not say which novel we are working on first, suffice it to say, I could not be more thrilled or excited.

So, writers: the message is clear: never lose sight of the goal even when life changes. Accept that life is change and there is no rush. Sometimes what happens is exactly what is supposed to happen. Oddly for me, good news always seems to come when I look the other way. It just kind of happened. We do not know what will come next but all I can say is I have a great feeling that this is the right time. I feel like a real writer again.

Validation is everything.

So, stay strong… and keep writing. Keep learning. Don’t give up.

My new pen pot bought in Brighton… nice eh?

Humming bird pen pot

Oh… and I am doing the dance! Dancing like no one is watching 😉

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Writing Groups

Last night the Canvey Writers met for their monthly meeting.

The group was established by yours truly in January 2015 and it’s hard to believe we will be four soon! Last year we launched our special charity anthology for Havens Hospices which to date has raised (with our showcase evening) close to £500.

This year we have been quieter as there is a lot of work involved in that, but I am sure we will come up with something else. We do have a short story prize set up in honour of one of our members who sadly passed this year.

The problem I have is in keeping the ideas flowing and keeping it fresh. Last night, to emphasise the importance of reading, we looked at the books people have loved and asked them to read some extracts and tell us why that book captivated you. I think, as writers, it’s important to embrace our reading and when a book grabs you and won’t let you put it down, then ask yourself why. What has that writer done to achieve that? The exercise of this critical analysis is a great tool for your own writing. So I urge you all to do the same.

So have a think on what book you would have chosen?

I would love to hear from you!

Have a great Tuesday!

Dead Zone

I loved this book, I have always liked Stephen King’s mastery of character, but the premise of this novel is what captured me so much when I first read it years ago. 

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When the Leaves Drop

I love this time of year.  I love the chilled air and the crispy leaves. I love that feeling of the seasons changing, I embrace it. What about you?

It’s been a strange but exciting year of change for me. I am still writing but the focus has changed a little. After ten years or more or less full on then, I guess, we do need times when we make other things priority. Right?

I’ve still had some short stories published and been working on the British novels, but unless you pursue it with undying passion then not a lot happens. Don’t we know it. But life is good and as we approach five years since the release of my debut (yikes!) I am getting itchy feet. I need to see another novel out there. So I guess my mission after my wedding for 2019 will be just that. I am ready.

I think it helps at times to have distance and to rethink purpose. I love that saying that ‘being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life’. So true. Right now I feel as if there is something I am supposed to be doing but I am not! Like I am not living my dream. Then I have to stop and remind myself: I am a writer but life changes. That is life.

And good things will happen, it just needs ‘life to happen’ to have something to say about it.

So come on the journey with me and let’s see where it takes us next.

So what am I reading? Bereft by Chris Womersley… have been reading a lot this year and enjoying it 🙂 This is great writing.

So… have an amazing week and enjoy the change. Embrace it.

Autumn

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Four Years On…

A lot has happened in the last four years since my debut novel was published. No more novels are out yet and that is a shame, but it is not that novels have not been written, just that things have slowed down since I was signed by my agent. I am hoping that 2018 is the best year ever by seeing progress in getting that second novel out there. So watch this space.

Well, today sees the 54th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination: the event that inspired, first the short story and then the novel While No One Was Watching. So it seems right to slip in another quick blog post for the rare few that follow this blog that did not buy the book, with a blatant plug! I launched it on this day at the same place I will be launching the Canvey Writers book this Friday. November 22nd, 2013 was, in fact, a Friday and we showed the famous news clip announcing Kennedy’s death at almost the exact moment it broke some 50 years before!

I did see that the book Kindle version is only 99p today so do download it if you haven’t yet and the paperback is also on offer too!!!

So here it is… !!!

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