Familiar blunders when writing a novel

There’s something about the first 10,000 words of a novel. I like them because (usually), nothing has gone wrong …

It’s after that the problems begin. And I’ve noticed that they’re the same problems in every book I write, so here they are:

  1. I’ve begun the book in the wrong place. I get a MUCH better idea for Chapter 1. And probably Chapters 2-4, also. There’s no point carrying on with the angle I’d first thought of so I rewrite what I’d written from the new angle. Much better.
  2. I haven’t been assiduous in keeping a cast list and I’m beginning to forget the names of minor characters. I update my cast list and find I have four characters whose names begin with J or two characters called Peter. I make the necessary adjustments to my castlist and to my manuscript.
  3. DSCF9002While I’m at it, I update my timeline (a long strip of paper created by stapling together A4 sheets from my scrap paper drawer). I find I’ve messed up my timeline and have to go back and sort it out. I make the necessary adjustments to my manuscript.
  4. I get involved with promo for the last book and return to my WIP in short bursts. I lose continuity and realise I have far too many ideas for one book. It will end up about 300,000 words long.
  5. I feel like one of those people who keep fifty plates spinning on thin sticks. I’m worried I’m not keeping them all going and I go back and read and edit what I have so far.
  6. Getting ready for our Heroine's Abroad workshop, which was good fun and well supported. Evonne Wareham (back to cam) in Welsh national dress, Lynne Connolly, helpful lady called Carolyn, Christina Courtenay.

    Getting ready for our Heroine’s Abroad workshop, which was good fun and well supported. Evonne Wareham (back to cam) in Welsh national dress, Lynne Connolly, helpful lady called Carolyn, Christina Courtenay.

    I go away to teach or attend a convention and swear to work every day on my book so I don’t lose momentum. I work on it on the plane there. On the plane back I stare at it and wonder whether this is actually my book at all. Once home, I go back and read and edit what I have so far. (If I’m really organised, I manage to make 5 and 6 one step, which saves a lot of time.)

  7. I realise that the dynamics between certain characters are not coming out as I thought they were. I make the necessary adjustments to my manuscript.
  8. At the bar in the Grand Union Station.

    I realise that I do NOT have too many ideas for one book. I have too few. I panic and feel sick and begin scribbling new plot ideas on post-its. I may turn to drink.

  9. I find a hole in my plot. For some reason, the knowledge comes to me when I’m either on a train or in the shower. I worry a lot. Sigh. Scribble on post-its. Make the necessary adjustments to my manuscript.
  • photo 1-1I stare at the 63,449 words of my manuscript and know that I’m going to sweat over unknotting my plot lines and bringing the book to a satisfying ending … so I write a blog entitled Familiar Blunders When Writing a Novel.

31 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Paperback Release; Crazy, Undercover, Love – the day has come!

suemoorcroft:

Nikki Moore is one of my favourite authors.

Originally posted on Writing, Work and Wine:

‘Most definitely a must read for all romance fans!’ – Chicks That Read

‘I couldn’t put the book down!’ – Erin’s Choice

I’m so incredibly excited to be able to say that my debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love published by HarperImpulse is out as a paperback today!!

Crazy Undercover Love Cover

Since it was released as an eBook in April, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from family, friends, other writers … and of course, my lovely readers. I really appreciate each and every review written, because it means someone has felt passionate enough about the book – one way or another – to give up their time and share their thoughts about the story.

It feels like a dream come true that not only is it available as an eBook on a dizzying amount of websites, but it’s also on the Waterstones website – bit.ly/Y8HlVO, and Amazon – amzn.to/1lfuBnd – for…

View original 178 more words

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Celebrating UK Paperback Publication Day! And thank you.

TWP_HIGHRES 150dpi

I’m lucky enough to have loads to celebrate, lately, and here we are again –  UK paperback Publication Day for The Wedding Proposal!

Publication Day is always lovely. It’s better than my birthday. I get one of those every year without any work whatsoever but to reach Publication Day takes an avalanche of work not just by me but by the entire and very lovely Choc Lit team. We work hard together to produce the best book that we can. My thanks to all of them for the rounds and rounds of edits and proofing, cover consultations, marketing and promo.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers, not just for buying my books but for following me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest, LinkedIn (and anywhere else) and especially if they have taken the trouble to send me lovely messages. It’s a privilege to be a writer in the age of social media and interact with readers – lucky me again.

To mark Publication Day I’m going to meet my mum and brother for lunch and then toddle off to the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire studios to be a guest of Sue Dougan ‘In the Chat Room’. I may just mention to her that The Wedding Proposal has been shortlisted for the Best Romantic Read Award, too …

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shortlisted! Romance Reader Awards

TWP_RGBpackshotAbsolutely thrilled to hear this week that The Wedding Proposal has been shortlisted in the Romance Reader Awards for Best Romantic Read. This is the first year that the entry has been open to all so I’m beyond delighted to be in illustrious company. You can read the complete lists for all categories here but this is the line up for mine:

Best Romantic Read
(Sponsored by Headline Eternal)
Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey (Ebury)
The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman (Ebury)
The Cornish Stranger by Liz Fenwick (Orion)
After The Honeymoon by Janey Fraser (Arrow)
The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell (Headline Review)
One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin (Carina)
The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft (Choc Lit)
The Proposal by Tasmina Perry (Headline Review)
One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson (Quercus)

Rowan Coleman is currently flying high as a Richard & Judy pick and Jill Mansell has long been a mega-bestseller so you can see what I mean by ‘illustrious company’.

The award ceremony is at the Festival of Romantic Fiction on the evening of Saturday 13th September 2014 at Leighton Buzzard Theatre. I’m attending the Festival all day on the Saturday, to be part of the book fair in Leighton Buzzard High Street from 10am to 3pm and the Traditional Afternoon Tea with the Authors at The Green House, Market Square, Leighton Buzzard. I’m glad I booked a hotel for Saturday night as drinking fizz at an awards ceremony is a basic human right … and I’m rather a fan of it.

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Romance comes to #AskSwanwick with writer, tutor and competition judge, Sue Moorcroft

From Swanwick’s monthly newsletter:

Join Sue Moorcroft for the next #AskSwanwick tweetchat on Tuesday 16th September at 8pm (BST). You may know Sue from her extensive work as a writing tutor, or from her popular novels, or from her many short stories and articles. Sue, a full time writer, tutor, and competition judge, will be available to answer your questions on any writing matter, including her novels and how courses can help writers improve their skills.

I first came across Sue at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference where she fearlessly delivered a workshop on how to write convincing, sexy and erotic scenes. Her ‘how to’ book, Love Writing, published by Accent Press, is essential reading for those hoping to spice up their stories with a sexy or funny romance.

TWP_RGBpackshotHer latest novel, The Wedding Proposal, is has just been published by Choc Lit as an ebook and paperback.

ios_homescreen_iconIf you sometimes wonder what Twitter is for, then why not follow the tweetchat with Sue on Tuesday 16th at 8pm, and watch the Q & A unfold before your eyes? To follow the chat, type #AskSwanwick into the search box on Twitter and select ‘All’ (not ‘Top’). Then join in and put your questions to Sue, not forgetting the #AskSwanwick hashtag so that everyone following can see your question.

Sue’s website: http://www.suemoorcroft.com/

Sue on Twitter: https://twitter.com/suemoorcroft

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Interview: Sue Moorcroft

suemoorcroft:

Many thanks to Heidi for interviewing me for Cosmochicklitan.

Originally posted on cosmochicklitan:

I am delighted to be welcoming Sue Moorcroft to my blog today. 

Portrait of Sue Moorcroft

Your newest novel is called The Wedding Proposal. Could you please tell us a bit more about this book?

I wanted to write a reunion book because I love reading them so much. Had I realised that it would mean I’d effectively plot two books, the backstory and the frontstory, I may not have been so enthusiastic! I couldn’t believe how much backstory I needed to know to make the frontstory work. It took ages. I had to find a plausible reason for Lucas and Elle to have split up in the first place yet make it credible that they would eventually consider getting back together. I ended up with a secretive heroine and a hero that didn’t like secrets.

I set the book in Malta because I wanted a change, because I like to be in…

View original 1,042 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How to ‘write what you know’ if you’re a horror author – from author Mark West

mark west profile pic

To celebrate the publication of his novella ‘Drive’ I’ve invited Mark West onto the blog today to talk about something that has always interested me:

what makes authors write horror and how do they go about it?

I’d like to thank Sue for allowing me to guest post on her blog and assure those amongst you who are squeamish that this little essay with contain no blood or guts. Or not many, anyway…

As a writer, you’re always told to write what you know and so – as you can imagine – when you write horror, that earns you plenty of odd looks. The first writers group I belonged to (I joined it in 1998 and it’s where I first met Sue), I was the only one who dabbled in the glorious horror genre and I chose to read a story about a kid getting chased by a sabre-toothed tiger. Which went down well. Building on this complete inability to read my audience, my next story was a little flash-horror piece called “Toes” (which you can read on my website now for free) and that, as you can perhaps imagine, went down a storm.

Back to the topic though and the truth is that, like any other genre, you write about what you know until you step over the line into fantasy (which is as true for writers of romantic fiction as it is for those horror lovers out there) and that’s when your imagination or research steps into play.

drive cover finalIn order to illustrate this, I’ll use my latest publication as an example. “Drive” (just released by Pendragon Press) is an ‘urban chiller’, that I think is nicely frightening without ever once resorting to a supernatural element. In it, our hero David is taking a woman called Natasha home from a party in a town he doesn’t really know and they cross paths with three droogs in a stolen car who decide they want to have some fun and start up a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse.

The initial germ of the idea came to me as I was driving down the M1 at 3am – I was on my way to Luton airport, to fly off on business and I was almost the only person on the road. My mind began to ‘what if’ wander – as it often does – and I wondered what would happen if somebody started to chase me. By the time I’d come off the M1, I had it clear in my head who the heroes were, a pretty good idea of the baddies and the fact that it’d take place almost in real time, over an hour or so of a very late night/early morning.

Meanwhile, at the time, my company was based in an office attached to a Morrisons warehouse in Northampton. A lot of their contract staff were Polish and the majority of them drove big cars with blacked out windows. One such was a big Audi A8, sleek and grey with a stereo you could feel in your guts from two hundred yards away. That, I decided, could be scary of an evening and was the perfect vehicle for my villains (who I called droogs all the way through the drafts, even naming the characters after the actors in “A Clockwork Orange”).

Since the novella is a ‘chase’, I had to draw the reader into that environment to make it work, to keep up the suspense and place as many logical (and realistic) obstacles in David and Nat’s path as possible. One of the bains for modern horror/suspense writers is the mobile phone – hey, you’re in trouble, ring someone – though it was easier than I expected to get rid of this element and I played it in the story as it would happen in real life, that you need the phone but it doesn’t have any battery life.

But the main thing to maintain suspense and realism was to “write what I knew” and firmly locate the story into a place. Almost all of my writing is set in a fictional town called Gaffney which is clearly in the middle of Northamptonshire and takes most of its cues from Rothwell (the town I now live in) and Kettering (the town I used to live in). Elements of Northampton and Leicester are sprinkled liberally over this place but the geography is constant, so whatever stories of mine you read there is always a brook at the bottom of the Rec, the bandstand is on the common and the old cinema is always on Russell Street.

The tour of Gaffney that our heroes undertake is, essentially, a trip around a night-time Kettering with a few liberal uses of fiction to make my tale work better. The Audi runs through the town centre causing havoc before latching on to the goodies and Nat lives on London road (though in real life there’s a church where her house should be and the police station – some distance away in the book – is across the road). In pursuit, David is forced onto the A14 and even though the geography and junctions don’t quite work, it’s very much the distance between Rothwell and Kettering and even includes the BP garage on the eastbound side (though I’m sure the people who work there in real life are nicer than in my story). The climax takes place on a road that really exists too, though I’ve made it a cul-de-sac and incorporated it with a farm at nearby Cranford.

So that’s how you “write what you know” to make the story flow, you incorporate real events and locations that people can identify with and then take them a step or two over a line they wouldn’t normally cross. I’ve never been pursued by three thugs in an Audi (and hope I never am) but I’ve made sure that my characters react the way I think me and my friends would do. I’ve never done the things that David & Nat have to do at the farm but I’ve made my goodies normal human beings, who experience pain and fear and a sense of self-preservation, as I’m sure I’d feel. And all the time, they are in locations that read and feel real because, well, they pretty much are.

I’m too close to know if it works properly or not, but if you’re writing anything and you need the reader to willingly suspend their disbelief, you have to give them a reality (or elements of it) to properly ground them.

Just, clearly, don’t use this kind of idea to excuse a trail of willful civil unrest across town and pretend it’s all in the name of research…

BLURB: David Moore has one night left in Gaffney and is at a party he doesn’t want to attend. Natasha Turner, at the same party, is lost for a lift home.

Meanwhile, three young men have stolen a car, and as the night darkens and the roads become deserted, David and Nat enter into a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse. . .

Mark West writes horror stories – sometimes they’re supernatural, sometimes they’re not – and they often have a bleak thread running through them. He’s written two novels – “In The Rain With The Dead” and “Conjure” – a collection – “Strange Tales” – a novelette – “The Mill” – and his chapbook from Spectral Press – “What Gets Left Behind” – sold out four months before publication. He’s also published over seventy short stories and has several novellas awaiting publication.

drive cover finalMark’s latest novella “Drive” is available now from Pendragon Press as a limited edition paperback (with an exclusive afterword) and as an ebook across platforms.

Mark can be contacted through his website at www.markwest.org.uk

Mark can be found on Twitter at @MarkEWest

You can check out his fetish flash-horror tale “Toes” at http://markwestwriter.blogspot.co.uk/p/toes-by-mark-west-free-fiction.html

 

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized