Category Archives: Plotting

How to write 47,000 words in two weeks

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The house at Arte Umbria

I increased the length of my manuscript by 47,000 words between the 20th of June and the 4th of July this year.

For me, it’s a massive result, because I’m not the fastest writer in the world. How did I do it? I went on a writing retreat.

Before I began going on retreats I looked askance at other writers going to lovely venues to write. Was this not a thinly-disguised holiday? A bit of a jolly with your mates? I’m the first to admit that I love going to Italy to work on a sunny terrace and also to enjoy the company of other writers at meal times and in the evenings, but it is not a holiday to write approximately half a first draft of a novel in two weeks.

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I love the sun so put my laptop into a handy box to enable me to see the screen. Other writers took the more conventional route of writing in the shade.

So how does a retreat work for me?

  • By freeing me from domestic responsibility, gym classes and social engagements and the only timetable being dictated by mealtimes.
  • I took time off to watch the Formula 1 races and their qualifying sessions but, apart from that, I began after breakfast and finished just before dinner every day.
  • Maybe I should have taken more time out to visit nearby Citta della Pieve or Orvieto but I found that having almost no distractions meant my story occupied centre-stage in my mind, allowing each writing session to follow seamlessly from the last. I didn’t want to disrupt that.

In case you’re wondering if the 47,000 words were a fluke, last year I was only on the writing retreat for one week and wrote 23,000 words.

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Part of my apartment

I suppose if I stayed at home, cancelled my classes, ignored my family and friends and had meals delivered I might achieve a higher writing output than the norm but somehow I don’t think it would be the same as ‘getting away from it all’ to a peaceful, beautiful venue that inspires as well as frees me.

Pick your spot- sun or shade

I love Arte Umbria. I taught writing courses there for several years but now I’ve moved onto heading up writing retreats instead. In my mind, it’s also the setting for One Summer in Italy, the town of Montelibertà being built around it. My imagination grew the house into Casa Felice, the hotel where Sofia and Amy work, and the view Levi paints in watercolours is the view from the terrace.

OSII bookshotWill I return next year? Absolutely! For one week beginning 26 June 2019.

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Filed under Arte Umbria, Authors, Courses, Italy, One Summer in Italy, Plotting, retreat, Umbria, Writers, writing retreat

One Summer in Italy or how I write a book #OneSummerinItaly #NewBook

Publication Day!

Today’s one of the happiest days of the year – a publication day. One Summer in Italy is sent out into the world … well, it’s sent out to shelves and portable devices, anyway. I hope you like my latest book baby.

The jokey term for a novel ‘book baby’ came into being for a reason, I think. Though a fantastic, joyful event, there’s a lot of hard work involved in giving it life.

Here’s the bullet-point version from my perspective:

  • Get an idea for the premise of the book. For One Summer in Italy this came when I was in Italy at Arte Umbria, where I have taught courses and led retreats for several years. The chef and I happened to be taking a break at the same time, sitting in the sun with our feet in the pool, and she told me about being a seasonal worker. I thought, ‘What a great thing for one of my heroines to do’.
  • Work on characters and planning.
  • Research. Yes, this did involve being in Italy again and taking a host of pictures. ♥ But also a lot of finding and absorbing information on seasonal workers (employees and employers), ex-pat families, the hospitality trade, laws and regulations, web development, homelessness, motorbikes, blood groups, watercolour painting and even Italian cemeteries.
  • Write the first draft. This takes months and is punctuated with constant distractions and interruptions. I was thankful for last year’s writing retreat where I wrote nearly a quarter of the first draft and had the joyful experience of being in the place I was writing about … more or less. My imagination added a town and a hotel.
  • Write another draft or two
  • Send book in
  • Receive structural edit. The structural edit covers all the large changes my editor feels will make help me produce the best book I can. Discuss with editor; make decisions on how many suggestions I’ll take up; perform structural edit.
  • Send structural edit back
  • Receive line edits. Line edits deal with smaller matters, continuity and timeline. I’m timeline-blind so this stage often involves a lot of head scratching whilst wearing a grumpy expression – on my part, anyway. Probably it’s the same for the line editor.
  • Send line edits back.
  • Receive copy edits. Copy edits deal with punctuation, grammar and anything that hasn’t yet been picked up in another edit.
  • Send copy edits back.
  • Receive proofs. To proof a book I have to read the whole thing again and indicate any errors I see.
  • Send proofs back.
  • Write acknowledgments and any dedication.
  • Write any backmatter (bonus material) requested.
  • Breathe a great sigh of relief.
  • Start another book. This usually takes place betwixt and between the above tasks.

I can’t tell you in the same detail what the other side of the process is, carried out by the fab Avon team, but it will include the all-important cover (I LOVE the cover of One Summer in Italy), editing, scheduling, typesetting, promo, marketing and blurb writing. I’m involved in some of those areas too, mainly the promo.

Underpinning the process on both sides is respect, co-operation, negotiation, discussion, and a whole heck of a lot of emails!

But it’s worth it when this is what we end up with:

It_s time for Sophia to live her own life – and to fulfil the promises she made to her father Aldo.Montelibertà in Italy_s Umbrian mountains holds plenty of family secrets waitin

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Filed under Arte Umbria, Avon Books UK, Cover, ebook, Italy, Launch, One Summer in Italy, Paperback, Plotting, publication day, reading, retreat, Umbria, Writers, writing

Welcome M W Arnold, The Season for Love @rararesources @mick859

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I don’t often invite authors onto my blog but I’ve made an exception for M W Arnold as Mick is a stalwart member of my street team, Team Sue Moorcroft. You might also see the same interview on Rachel’s Random Reads to make the most of our respective audiences.

How does it feel to be joining the ranks of the traditionally published authors? How long have you wanted this?
For a ‘supposed’ author, I’m actually lost for words and until it’s actually released, I guess you could say that I’m still waiting for it to all fall through. I can’t tell you how many of my writing friends have told me not to be so silly when I say that. Actually, it’s really not something I thought would happen so soon. I only joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association, New Writer’s Scheme in 2013 after starting to write semi-seriously the previous year, so I’ve only thought about getting published since around that time.
Tell us something about The Season for Love
‘The Season for Love’ is actually the second book I’ve finished and, so far, the only one where the last paragraph was the first thing I’d written. That’s as far as the planning  went. I’m not a ‘Planster’, I’m afraid to say. I’ve tried it since, and for this one too, but it only goes as far as jotting notes on the bottom of the page I’m writing as they come to me, though only about say, 40% of the time do they actually make the story. I expect I could get a sequel out of the notes I have stored away for this book.
What made you choose to write romantic fiction?
I’m a huge fan of the late and very great Terry Pratchett, but my Lady Wife read ‘The Xmas Factor’ by Annie Sanders and she insisted I read it, now. So, and more to humour her I have to admit, I did…in one sitting. Then read again. The morning after that second reading, I felt the need to write. I had no idea what I was going to write, just that I had to write. I was finally pulled from my old laptop late the same evening and I’d the start of what would be my first book. That’s unpubished, and I now know why, though I would like to come back to it as the story is good, but by gum, the writing needs improvement. That was in this genre because of that book I’d read, and since then, this has been my genre of choice. It helps that I really am an old-fashioned romantic. I like to think I’ve found my calling.
Where can readers buy your book?
I’ve been lucky and ‘The Season for Love’ is being released on both sides of the Atlantic on the same day, December 16th. It’s available on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords, Bookstrand and the Passion in Print (the publishing house I’m signed with for this book) website. And seeing as you were so kind to ask, here are the links:
What jobs have you had apart from ‘author’?
For the first fifteen years of my working life, I worked for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. That sounds very impressive, doesn’t it? It’s not quite so much when I elaborate. I was actually in the Royal Air Force, so it counts. Nothing so fancy as a pilot, I was office staff, but I did serve on flying squadrons and saw quite a lot of the world, which was kind of the point as I wanted to travel.
Do you have a day job now?
After leaving the RAF, I started working with computers and that’s what I do now. It pays the bills, so far, though I’d be fibbing if I didn’t say I’d love to be able to earn my living writing.
Have you told your day job colleagues about The Season for Love?
Yep. They all know and after getting their heads around the genre I’ve chosen to write it, have all been very supportive. One of them was actually a beta reader for this book and says it’s encouraged them to write (not that they have yet), so that’s good.
Do you have much time for reading? What do you read?
I don’t have as much time for reading now as I did before I started writing, though I do try to read at least during my lunch break, it helps to clear the mind for an afternoons work. When I do read, it’s very much in the Romance genre. It won’t come as a surprise to those of you reading this that I’m a big fan of Sue Moorcroft books and consider her very much a benchmark I’d like to aspire to attaining. Whenever I feel the need for a break from romance though, I always go back to Mr Pratchett, with a sideways trip into the Harry Potters too.
Thank you for the shout out! Is there another M. W. Arnold book coming along any time soon?
Currently, I’m finishing off ‘Knicker Shopper Glory’, which I expect to start sending out in the hope of getting a publishing deal for that in the New Year. So, yes, if anyone’s out there, read’s ‘The Season for Love’ you know where to find me. Whatever happens, I am determined to get that second deal as soon as possible.
Love the new title. I hope both books do really well for you, Mick.

 

The Season for Love – blurb

Believing she was responsible for the death of her husband, Chrissie Stewart retreats from all those who love her. A chance meeting with a mysterious stranger, single-parent Josh Morgan and his bewitching young daughter Lizzy, breathes new life into her and gradually, she feels able to start to let go of the memory of her lost love. Unexpected links are revealed between the two families that strengthen the growing bonds she feels to this man and with the encouragement of her best friend Annie, herself hiding a hidden conflict from Chrissie, she battles with her demons to believe in her ability to trust and love again. Everything comes to a head on Christmas Day; which all goes to show that this is truly The Season for Love.

The Season For Love AuthorBio – Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England, and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elizabeth II in the Royal Air Force, before putting down roots, and realising how much he missed the travel. This, he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and writing a regular post at the www.NovelKicks.co.uk blog site.

He’s the proud keeper of a cat bent on world domination, is mad on the music of the Beach Boys and enjoys the theatre and humouring his Manchester United supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, with the forthcoming publication of his debut novel The Season for Love.

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/mick859

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MWArnoldAuthor/

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Filed under ebook, Launch, Plotting, publication day, Romantic Novelists' Association, Team Sue Moorcroft, writing

Is there a right way to write?

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.)

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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.file-17-02-2017-08-32-09

 

 

 

 

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.

Happy writing.

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Filed under Music, Plotting, writing