Tuesday, 12 October 2021

1857 and jobs or hobbies

1857 is a podcast by one of my good friends and I was listening to it over the weekend, while doing some knitting. (This was my attempt to make my brain shut up and allow me to chill.) The episode was on when hobbies become jobs, and if they do, will they lose their appeal. Give it a listen.

It struck me as apposite, because I had a 'proper job' (i.e. one that paid me a decent wage and a pension) and I gave it up, mostly because it had pushed me into a breakdown but partly because I wanted to do 'my dream job' which was writing. And while I was doing the proper job, writing was a hobby.

Is writing still my dream?

Well, eleven books on and I'm still doing it. And luckily I'm in the fortunate position of not needing to go back to having a 'proper job' because all those years of working allowed me to squirrel away money. Which is good, because writing doesn't even cover its costs, never mind actually let me earn anything!

Some days, it's a fabulous lifestyle. I lose myself in the worlds I'm creating, talk away to the people I made up, and time just flows. On days like that, I feel like the luckiest person alive.

Other days, it's hell. As Stu and TJ contemplate in the podcast, as soon as you start monetising something, it stops being a hobby and starts being stressful. I can feel as if I'm on a treadmill and not always writing what I want to write.

I think I need to go back to having more fun with my writing and write stuff just for me. (Of course, in many ways, that's kind of what I did... I wrote The Guardians of The Realm series for me, because I wanted to read something just like it and found nothing out there that was quite right. I hadn't realised at the time that I had such unique taste...)

The quandary I feel I face is that what I want to write isn't what other people want to buy. Which is a bit of a bugger when you turn your passion into a job. What sells like hot cakes in the urban fantasy world right now are a whole series of things that I personally don't enjoy reading and couldn't write.

I'm currently deep into edits, but once they go off to my editor at the start of next month, I think I might take some time to write stuff that I enjoy. It'll probably never be published. But the passion is feeling too much like an unpaid job right now, and I am a terrible boss.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Juggling too much...

 ... as ever!

I'm working my way through the first draft before it goes off to Fiona, my editor. Yes, I do realise that in many ways I am doing the writing equivalent of tidying up before the cleaner arrives, but I want it to be in a reasonable state before I send it off.

Fiona books up well in advance, so I had to choose a start-date, long before I was even close to finishing the rough draft of the book. I went for November 1st, with the hope that I will have done my various edits before then, but thankfully, Fiona is very flexible and so if I need to shift the date, I can do.

On top of trying to get those edits sorted, I have a gazillion other things braying for my time and attention, so it might be a close call!

I may be some time...

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

First draft is done!

Well... when I say 'done' I mean it's a first draft, so there are still some scenes with 'FINISH THIS' written across the bottom, and I don't yet have a brilliant final line, despite having stared at the laptop expectantly for an hour or so.

There are also lots of bits of highlighter on it, because I know the word I've written is rubbish, or I haven't got a name right, or a load of other bits and pieces.

But it's at the point where I'm taking a few days off from it and then will do a full read-through, making plenty of notes on what's working and what's not.

And the hardest part of it all? Taking a few days off from it!

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

And... breathe...

I figured out the ending to the current book!

Allegedly, I'm a planner, not a pantser, so how on earth did I not know the ending of the book??

Good question. I actually had two potential endings and it depended on what was happening with the series as to which would be The Ending. If sales of the series were amazing, I would be writing Ending A, which would propel the series through two further books (to make 7 in total).

Or, if sales were still chuntering along and other things were burning holes in my brain, I would be writing a different ending.

Well, dear readers, sales are chuntering along and other things are most definitely burning holes in my brain, so Ending B it is.

Because it could have gone two different ways, I also hadn't actually planned much detail on either ending. I'd sketched out key points but nothing more. This morning, I've just had a fabulous writing session where the ideas flowed, and everything knitted together.

Now I just have to write it!

Tuesday, 7 September 2021


 A couple of weeks ago, I teased that I had a new project on the cards, that involved a garden parasol and a blanket. These are for making myself a recording tent!

That's the set-up, in the corner of the room in the house furthest from the traffic. Under all that red blanket is a garden parasol - you can see the green tip of it at the top of the picture. Inside the tent is a second desk (my main desk is also in this room, but by the window). The lamp you can see behind the sofa (with the crumpled blanket on it) is now inside the tent.

Why? Why do I have a recording tent in the corner of my sitting room?

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Angela Nurse - 10 books that shaped me

I've had the huge honour of interviewing Angela a couple of times on here. First she told me about her way of planning a book; and at the start of June, I interviewed her about her book "Jack in a Box". Well, I'm delighted to have Angela back, and this time, I asked her: "Tell me the 10 books that have shaped your life."

Here are her 10 books. Enjoy! It's a great read.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff (ladybird edition)
It’s not the story that’s important to me with this one, it’s the storytelling or rather the storyteller. When I was very small my dad was not often home at bedtime (work commitments) and when he was, we would both delight in his telling of this classic. I remember the tension building with the ‘trip trap’ on the bridge and my mum telling him off for getting me too worked up right before bedtime. Story telling feels like it’s part of who I am, and I think that’s why this book had such an impact.

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
Another childhood classic. I identified with Mildred Hubble; I was a clumsy, messy kid who had a habit of getting things a bit mixed up. I also wanted more than anything to be a witch myself, to make magic potions and cast spells and was always on the lookout for my very own pair of hobnailed boots. The Worst Witch taught me that you didn’t have to be perfect to be the Main Character.

Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Interview with Janna Ruth

I'm delighted to be able to share my interview with Janna Ruth with you this week. Janna is the author of The Spirit Seekers urban fantasy series, the first book of which - A Force of Nature - has just been released. I caught up with Janna recently to grill her.

Tell me more about your book?

All she ever wanted was to live in peace with the spirits. Now, the storm king is out for her blood.

My new Urban Fantasy Series “Spirit Seeker” is working on the premise that all natural disasters and extreme weather events have been caused by nature spirits. The story follows Rika, who is one of the few people in the world who can see the otherwise invisible spirits. After having lived on the streets for eight years, she is taken in by the Spirit Seekers, elite soldiers in the war against nature. To survive, she’ll have to learn their ways, but Rika isn’t quite so sure whether she wants to become a spirit seeker, because not only can she see spirits, she might’ve befriended one or two.

The series takes place in Europe, showcasing a different European capital in each novel and featuring a different kind of spirit. It’s a series for everyone that loves action-packed stories with found family, conflicting loyalties and a slow-burn romance (so slow the love interest only appears once in book 1 😉).

What prompted you to write it?