The first review is in for ‘Just for the Holidays’ and it’s five stars! Thank you Jenny O’Brien!
Jenny O'Brien HQ
In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy. Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.
But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…
I loved The Christmas Promise (what wasn’t to love) so when I spotted Sue had written another and something set in France it was a sure fired bet I was going to be quick off the mark in adding it to my…
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I don’t think so. If you want to write hanging upside down from a lamppost with an Etch-a-sketch, you go right ahead. (If you do write hanging upside down from a lamppost with an Etch-a-sketch, please get someone to take a pic and post it on social media so I can see how it’s done.)
Some of us plot roughly, some plot minutely, some don’t plot at all and ‘write by the seat of their pants’, therefore winning themselves the title of ‘pantsers’. I make use of notes, timelines and mind maps and others say this would drive them demented.
I like to write in silence. This, in the not too distant future, is going to earn me an office at the bottom of the garden so my silence doesn’t disturb anyone else’s noise. If I don’t have silence I play music. Sometimes it’s classical but I also have an ever-growing and eclectic writing playlist consisting of Pink Floyd, Damien Rice, Jimmy Nail, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, Eddie Vedder, David Bowie, Mark Knopfler, Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilsson, Carole Bayer Sager and Cat Stevens. It’s what I think of as ‘in the zone’ music and I have an almost Pavlovian response to hearing it … it’s time to work. My friend Elizabeth Chadwick writes with heavy metal music playing and constructs a different playlist for every book. Some people write in cafés or at work during lunch, with the children running laps of the kitchen or while the TV’s on at night. Some say silence would agitate them.
I think you should write in the way that’s right for you – but I do suggest that you try other ways from time to time. You never know when something’s going to work. And if it doesn’t – then you never have to do it again.
I’m reblogging Jenny Harper’s thoughts on the difference between commercial fiction and literary fiction. This post first appeared on Take Five Authors, a group blog of which Jenny and I are part.
Take Five Authors
Take two novels: each has lively, interesting characters, each is well written. Each has a theme – let’s say, a love triangle. Each explores the strengths and weaknesses, desires and motivations of the main characters. Yet one is described as ‘literary’, the other as ‘commercial’.
What underpins that distinction?
A year or so ago, a friend urged me to read Jonathan Franzen’s hugely lauded book, Freedom, which I listened to on audio. It was, at heart, about a love triangle. It was very long, extremely well written in the sense that the prose was admirable and his exploration of character profound, yet it seemed to me to amble through various people’s lives and come to no very interesting conclusion. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t either like or care about any of the characters and at the end of the book I was left thinking, ‘Why?’.
Read a great thriller, action…
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In February I posted Write quickly, edit sloooooowly, a blog about techniques I was trying in order to get my first draft down. You can read it here.
Now I’m revisiting the subject as I’ve worked on the second part – editing slowly.
Here are my findings:
- My self-imposed deadline for the first draft was March 1. Did I hit it? Yes.
- I’d hoped that the second draft would be done ‘in a few weeks’. Was it? Yes, pretty much. I sent it to my agent yesterday (4 April). My deadline to send the ms to my editor is 18 April so I’m on course.
- I expected my second draft to take more time than usual. I’m not sure that it did.
- My first draft contained more words than usual: over 103,000. This was a worry but, as it turned out, I cut 9,000 words during the second draft without breaking into a sweat. Some of these words would have been cut out under my old strategy of editing the previous writing session firmly before going on with the present session.
- Having completed the second draft I feel a bit sick of it. Pleased with some parts, convinced others don’t work AT ALL, and that I’ve got this relationship COMPLETELY WRONG and that relationship NOT AT ALL CREDIBLE. This is exactly how I always feel at this stage.
- I kept a greater number of notes and a more detailed timeline. I don’t feel the time was wasted. The second draft profited from it and I think it saved me time.
- Knowing that during the second draft I would have to cut a thread that didn’t work did prey on my mind a bit. In the past, I would have gone back as soon as I realised it needed doing and made what I’d written so far work before going forward. This is the part of the process I’m probably least secure about. Time will tell (or my editorial notes will tell) whether I’ve done an OK job or not.
At this point, I do believe that writing quickly and leaving more to the second draft has worked, so the ‘edit slowly’ part might have been unduly pessimistic. This bodes well for my tight publishing schedule.
Will I try the ‘write quickly’ technique again? Absolutely! I’m a convert.
(At least until I get those first editorial notes …)