Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Writing scrapbooks

For each novel I've written, I have a scrapbook. In fact, for several books I have more than one! In these scrapbooks, I keep initial thoughts, plot outlines, notes developing the plot, notes on each character, notes on each scene before it gets written, notes for when I'm editing... it's great fun looking back through them and if I ever feel unsure about what I'm writing, or uninspired, all I need to do is flip through them to get enthused or for the ideas to start flowing again.

sample page from a notebook
(absolutely no copyright infringement intended!)
They're mostly A4 in size, though recently I've had a bit of a shift towards B5 size (especially for using in my writing folder) and often lined, though a couple are plain. The best bit about them are the pictures and drawings. The notebooks genuinely are scrapbooks! As well as all the notes, there are pictures pasted in from magazines of interiors - how I imagine the characters' houses look. As you can see in the picture at the side, I have an image of what a bedroom looks like (and also an image of what a character might be wearing).

I've also added in property schedules sometimes - it can be very inspiring to do a search on the property websites, looking for the kind of house you imagine the characters to live in (or aspire to), even if the only thing that really makes it into a book is the layout of the place.

I also draw in the books. I (amazingly) have an 'O' level in art and used to enjoy sketching, so there are sketches of layouts/items/locations etc. in the notebooks. There are also drawings of costumes. I'm not great at drawing people (at least, not with faces - I'm quite good at drawing the rest!) and so there are also pictures of people pasted in - usually actors or people from clothing catalogues. Clothing catalogues can be a great resource not just for what the people look like but for outfits - what the characters might wear (even if they don't look like the models).

I'm trying to make a note of what music I've been listening to for each book too. Listening to the music again is one of the quickest ways to get me back into a book if I've been away from it for any time - but I'm not good at noting it down at the time.

These notebooks will make almost no sense to most people, but to me, they are an inherent part of the process of writing a book and something I cherish.

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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Decluttering... home and mind

Actually, for me, decluttering the home makes my brain feel a lot less cluttered too. Not that you would always know it to look at my desk, but I can get overwhelmed with objects. If there's too much stuff around, my brain gets agitated.

My desk can be a veritable sea of stuff sometimes, but I seem fairly blind to that! But too much stuff in the rest of the house unsettles me. It's why when people ask me what I want for Christmas or birthday, I usually say "nothing - please give a donation to charity instead". I have more things than I need and there are too many people in the world who don't have enough. In fact, Christmas in general makes me feel ill - so many people buying so much stuff that the recipients rarely want or need. The waste appals me. Please, just give the money to charity.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Back to work...

We had an amazing time away, but now it's time to get my backside back in the chair (metaphorically, as I tend to stand to write, rather than sit) and get back to doing some writing.

I'm trying to get some work done on the first book of the trilogy while "Liars" is away with Gillian for editing. I've been thinking about it quite a lot while I was on Lewis and Harris so hopefully, my head is in approximately the right place to get stuck in.

And the weather has finally broken! It was wall to wall sunshine here before we went away and then the same on Lewis and Harris, but it's cloudy now - much more conducive to writing than scorching sun and enticing shady corners in the garden. (Much as I adore being outside, I never get quite as much writing done while sitting outside as I think I will - I'm too distracted by all the wildlife!)

My batteries are recharged, I have a stack of new notebooks clamouring to be written in... time to get back to writing.

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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Giveaway closed...

... thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for Lesley Kelly's book Songs by Dead Girls. The winner has been chosen and contacted. If I don't hear back from them, I will draw another winner from the list and contact them.

Sorry that not everyone can be a winner, but if you missed out by not signing up for my newsletter, then there's an obvious way to increase your odds! The sign-up form is just over there in the sidebar. No spam. No selling on your details. Just an email once per month with my news and special offers.

I'm taking a short break and so there won't be any post next week. Hope you're all having fun!

Back soon!

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Back to The Trilogy!

The book that follows on from The Call (currently called "Liars") is away to the editor (Gillian Holmes again - I'm really glad to be working with her again!) and so I'm able to work on something else. Hooray!!

I've been doing a couple of courses with Writers' HQ (and I'm really sorry if you run any kind of online writing-coaching service, because these guys are simply the best!). One of the aspects they talked about was writing about what you love. Well, for some time now, I've been wanting to write fantasy. Not swords and dragons type fantasy. More parallel worlds type of fantasy. Though apparently, dragons always sell, so maybe I should add some in...

I started work on this fantasy trilogy, back in 2014, when "Liars" and I were 'on a break'. I'd already written Lies That Poison in that break, and what then started clamouring to come out of my head was something very different. There were soul-stealing wraiths that could kill you with a single touch; there was a woman in the wrong place - banished for a treason she hadn't committed; there was the threat of mass extinction of the population... I wrote the first two books of a trilogy and planned out the final book. And I loved writing them and planning them.

Then, I got pulled away from all of it, first because I was publishing Lies That Poison and republishing The Call, and then because I needed to finish "Liars".

But now... "Liars" is on someone else's desk and I can go back to writing what I really want to write at the moment, which is some "action and adventure fantasy" (according to the Kindle categories!).

But no dragons. Well, not yet.

Reminder... Give away

Remember, I have one paperback copy of Songs By Dead Girls by Lesley Kelly to give away. You can read my review of it here and my interview with Lesley Kelly here. All you need to do to be in the draw to win it is to sign up for my newsletter by midnight (BST) on May 20th, 2018. A winner will be drawn from the list of newsletter subscribers and emailed in the week following the end of the competition. If there is no reply within three days, the next name drawn will be contacted. If you are already signed up for my newsletter, you do not need to sign up again; you are already eligible for the draw.

The competition is open worldwide. My decision is final.

To be in with a chance to win a copy of Songs By Dead Girls, just subscribe to my newsletter. It comes out once a month and subscribers are not only in the draw for the book, but will get a free novella and all my special offers.
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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

'New' writing folder - an old Deskfax!

My 'new' writing folder
I know many people can write straight into their laptop, but I'm more analogue than that! I need to make notes (LOTS of notes!) on paper first.

I'm a big-notebook person, I can't lie. I may manage to use small notebooks for shopping lists and to-do lists, but when I'm writing, even A5 feels small. That said, A4 can feel a bit on the big side, especially if I'm writing while travelling. And what size lies between A5 and A4...? B5

B5 is 176 x 250mm (or approximately 7 x 10 inches; A4 for comparison, is 210 x 297mm or 8.3 x 11.7 inches). For me, it's big enough for taking a decent set of notes, but not so big it entirely fills my handbag with no space for anything else.

The B paper sizes aren't common in the UK. I think they are more commonly used in Japan, and certainly the majority of B5 or B6 notebooks that I have are Japanese. (B6 is, as you may have guessed, halfway between A6 and A5). Japanese stationery is almost invariably excellent - lovely to write on and fountain-pen proof (essential for me).

So, what is this 'new' writing folder?

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Too much sunshine...

... leading to no writing!

I know the south has had rubbish weather, but where I am, it has been wall to wall sunshine (or at worst, sunny spells) for what feels like WEEKS. In fact, the garden is crying out for rain. I want it to rain. I need it to rain. Not just because that will give me an enforced break from gardening (which my body will rejoice at) but because I'm spending all my time in the garden and no time writing.