It's five thirty on Friday, 16th March and I have arrived at this weekend's writing retreat. Yay! If you've followed my previous blogs or Twitter you'll already know that I love writing retreats. I view it as a planned hibernation from the rest of my life so I can indulge my imagination in the current project eg. book 4. I set goals, I tweet goals, I stick and conquer writing goals on a writing retreat. To be frank, I would recommend any writer, published or aspiring, books themselves a 48 hour weekend retreat to focus on their passion. I'd do longer, but as you know, I have a day time job so, Monday to Friday isn't possible.
Anyway, this is the third time I have attended this particular retreat organised by Alison May and Janet Gover, who are excellent mentors by the way. I wouldn't return unless I felt it benefitted my writing psyche, would I? I can honestly say, I have left my 'real' life behind but that's what I do on a retreat weekend. I pack my case, kiss husband goodbye and hope my dog is properly nurtured in my absence but I leave 'my world' behind. I step into Narnia and write. I indulge myself guilt-free for the duration knowing that come Sunday evening, I will re-enter 'my world' via the wardrobe doors and life will resume.
So, my plan for this weekend is quite simple. I am working on a rewrite for book 4. It currently stands at 404 pages but was originally written in first person narrative. I've been steadily working my way through each age changing it to third person narrative. By Sunday evening, I wish to have reached page 404 and go home with a manuscript in my desired viewpoint.
The manuscript was written five years ago, and even I can see that I have progressed as a author in that short time. I initially created it in first person as I felt it was stronger more emotional but... now, I feel differently. So, begins the laborious task of changing the viewpoint. Part of my laughs that I should even consider doing this as I have always been a '1st person' type of gal but I may reached a lightbulb moment that the tale 'feels' stronger in third person. Anyway, I'm going for it. I'm currently on page 247 of 404. By Sunday night, approximately 5pm, I wish to be on 404 of 404. Enough said, it's now nearing six o'clock and I have a date with a bunch of writers and a large Zinfandel in the bar for a get to know each other chat before we tuck into a gorgeous dinner.
(I'll update as the weekend unfolds... rest assured I'll hit my weekend goal, I'm determined x)
Update: After a delicious evening meal, our mentors led a discussion about genre and the importance of understanding the specifics of our story. Our discussion developed to include specific marketing, sales and difficulties arising due to multiple genres. I currently feel that my current project book 4 is the darker side of RomCom. Which doesn't sound quite right given the expectations of RomCom, given my project mixes the lighter and grittier elements of life. Anyway, I need to give genre more thought before I proceed to prevent travelling the wrong track and creating an issue. I finished the first evening with a late night writing session in my room working on viewpoint.
Update: Saturday 17th March.
I woke very early so I could work before breakfast. I managed to convert a few pages from first person to third person so felt happier at starting the day so earlier. It had started to snow by the time I came out of breakfast, so I quickly dashed back to my room for a 90 minute session of work. Our first workshop was at 9am so I happily worked until then.
Today's sessions have focussed on:
I also had my one to one session with Alison May - which confirmed my own thoughts regards my current project. I need to complete my conversion to third person before going back to the planning stage before I do the rewrite. Phew! It seems like a lot but it will be worth it in the end. It might sound like one step forward and two steps backwards but it will be progress. I also had another light bulb moment in a workshop on generating ideas in relation to a future book that my brain is hatching - so I felt I killed two birds with one stone this morning.
At 4pm, some of the group nipped to the bar for a quiet break before returning to our rooms to work. I've plodded along and am grateful to have reached the 300 page mark.
So, my current work plan is:
Saturday night update: I had to be realistic come Saturday night, was I going to make this deadline. Deep down I thought no. How could I convert 105 pages with one day to go. I'd listed my potential writing session during the previous post so knew it was going to be tight. I made the decision that I was going to go for it but if I missed the goal, I would be completely honest with my readers. I'd complete once I had arrived home.
We had our evening meal, the group had a question and answers session afterwards and at 10:30pm I brought myself back to my room... to work. I worked until 1am in the morning which took me to page 330. I fell into bed, knowing that I had to be up at 6am to repeat the effort.
Sunday morning. The alarm rang at 6am, up I got and straight to work. After breakfast, I returned for another mini work session before packing my suitcase and checking out of my room at 9am. By the time the morning's workshops began I was at page 348. It seemed a long way off from the finishing line of 406.
Our mentors led us through two informative workshops on editing and the techniques of editing - which were most useful. It gave me chance to reflect on the routine I usually choose. I might attempt to change my system when next editing and see how it fairs. Editing isn't my favourite task but I have learnt to enjoy it more in recent years.
11am signalled a two hour break in which we were encouraged to work. I settled myself in the silent room and away I went prior to our lunch. I managed to work through to page 389. Suddenly, with 17 pages remaining my goal seemed realistic and maybe the dread of not completing started to fade.
The afternoon workshops were focused upon 'Things our mentors wished they known before being published' - a very honest and frank discussion for the benefit of us attendees.
The final session saw us setting our goals for: next week, next month and the next six months. I have attended this particular retreat three times in the last two years and have completed this task each time. Its vital to know what you're aiming for. At 4pm we broke for coffee and cake which signals the end of the retreat. I quickly consumed my goodies and returned to my manuscript. It didn't take me long to complete the final 17 pages - but boy, did it make a huge difference to my sense of achievement for this weekend. I had completed what I had set out to do. Enough said.
This week has been very exciting for me as Brook Cottage Books organised a blog tour for ‘The Single Girl’s Calendar’. As a reader, I used to love blog tours because I felt I was gaining insider knowledge from the professional readers before spending my precious pennies. I still feel the same way, now that I’m an author. Below are just a few of the beautiful reviews received this week. I can only say ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ to Brook Cottage books and the army of bloggers and reviewers who participated.
The Single Girl's Calendar available on Amazon in ebook or paperback
Brook cottage Books
An interview with Erin:
The Single Girl's Calendar - Chapter One
Thursday evening had started well.
‘The air smells so different at the end of a working week,’ said Esmé, stepping from Stylo Stationery onto a busy Birmingham street alongside her two work colleagues.
‘That’s your Friday night saying – surely it doesn’t apply to Thursday night, too?’ laughed Marianne, for whom a Friday night meant a take away and wine, snuggled on the couch alongside her Jimmy.
‘Technically, this is her Friday night,’ said Penny, whose Friday night goal was three loads on an economy washing cycle before watching the comedy hour.
‘But it’s true, smell how beautiful…’ Esmé inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the possibilities of a long weekend. When invoices for premium paper, double-sided sticky tape and multipacks of cheap biros would be forgotten until Monday morning.
A smattering of street litter flurried along the pavement as they stood contemplating Esmé’s plans.
‘I can’t believe Old Steely Stylo granted you the day off,’ added Marianne, checking her wrist watch.
‘She’s deducted it from my holiday entitlement, so no fear of favouritism,’ corrected Esmé, determined to stick to the facts. She wasn’t taking liberties. At Stylo Stationery the aged owner, Mrs Stylo, treated every employee in an equally harsh and abrasive manner.
‘Even so, she must be softening in her old age!’ said Penny, adjusting her scarf. ‘Maybe we should all ask for long weekends come our anniversaries?’
‘Like she cares about me and Andrew!’ said Esmé, attempting to control her lengthy auburn locks in the spring breeze.
‘She cares for no one,’ said Penny.
‘Seven years tomorrow, who’d have thought it?’ laughed Esmé.
‘Not me!’ Marianne laughed as her dark fringe blew about.
‘Exactly, so I need to make the most of it.’ Esmé blushed in anticipation.
‘You never know, he might not need your assistance, he might have pulled his finger out and organised a big surprise all by himself,’ said Penny, having glanced at Marianne.
‘I doubt it. He’d forget his own birthday if I didn’t do a countdown. But tonight, could be the night…’
‘LookArk at you, jumping the gun – you’ll only be disappointed if he doesn’t ask,’ warned Marianne, buttoning her coat against the March chill. ‘Most men need an arm up their back or an unexpected pregnancy to force them into marriage. Take my Jimmy… twelve years of dating and still nothing.’
All three women shook their heads, knowing the tale of woe which would follow, each was word perfect in their practised lines for the retelling of Marianne’s one and only proposal story.
‘You ruined your chances by pushing your luck,’ began Penny.
‘Really?’ said Esmé in a bewildered tone, feigning interest, much like a first-time listener.
‘I made an appointment with the vicar, tea and sponge cake arranged…’ explained Marianne.
‘All proper and above board, then?’ asked Penny, knowing her lines.
‘I drove us to the local church and then bam… delivered the ultimatum – marry me or else!’ announced Marianne, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
‘Such a beautiful declaration of love,’ said Esmé, her eye lashes fluttered at Marianne.
‘Who’d have thought such a proposal could be perceived as a tad too pushy,’ said Penny.
‘Exactly,’ giggled Esmé. ‘Wasn’t it your fairy-tale dream?’
Marianne nodded in a comedic fashion, her maturity enabled her to laugh at herself, unlike five years ago.
‘I’ve lost count of the nights I’d dreamt of him springing such a gallant gesture, driving me to church and booking a wedding date.’
‘Locking himself inside your car and performing a one man sit-in for eight hours, while you pleaded with the vicar, was a definite cry for help,’ said Penny.
‘A definite answer, though,’ said Esmé, who hugged her friend.
‘The vicar was none too chuffed given his wasted sponge cake and tea platter,’ said Marianne, adding. ‘Seriously, Esmé – joking aside, what have you planned?’
Esmé gave a cheeky grin, before she stared at each colleague in a bashful manner.
‘Oh Lord, if that’s not the face of a woman on a mission!’ cried Penny, her wide eyes sparkling.
‘I’ve got it all planned… candlelight, champagne on ice, bubble bath for two, a slinky silk number ordered from Agent Provocateur and a fresh set of Egyptian cotton sheets,’ reeled off Esmé, trying to supress the shiver of anticipation that ran along her spine.
‘A dirty night on clean sheets, hey?’ said Marianne with a knowing smile. ‘That should do it.’
‘And not too much champagne… be giggly but not drunk,’ warned Penny, her blonde curls bobbing from side to side. ‘And above all… let him think it was his idea!’
Good news! Book three, a Christmas story, has been polished and was submitted to my publisher at the beginning of February 2018. I can’t give away too many details until important people give me the green light but here’s a few snippets…
I'm hoping this blog finds you each happy, healthy and harmonious following a great Christmas and a joyous New year.
I've had a tremendous time spent with my loved ones and even managed to sneak a couple of writing days in amongst the festivities. One of the highlights of my holidays has been the publication of my second book 'The Single Girl's Calendar' which was released just after midnight on 1st January. Please forgive the fact that as I counted down the New year of 2018, I was secretly counting down my own special delivery too! Naughty, but I'm honest!
Anyway, once the clock had struck midnight, fireworks had filled the sky and I'd delivered celebratory kisses, I was thrilled to receive my Kindle version from Amazon. I'd received a paperback copy of the book the day before, so this was the icing on the cake. Who'd have thought that just 22 weeks after my debut novel 'A Christmas Wish' was published I'd be celebrating the release of book 2 - not me!
2017 was one of the most amazing year's of my life, so many of my dreams came true, so I'm truly saddened to say goodbye. But life moves on, and so must I. Thankfully, I have a head full of ideas and the energy to match, so keep an eye on my events diary as I have upcoming visits and talks booked. I'm just completing another Christmas book and for the next month there is a fabulous blog tour to celebrate 'The Single Girl's Calendar'
Love Erin x
Today, we are celebrating the publication of author M.W.Arnold's debut novel 'The Season For Love' published by PIP Press on 16th December.
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, breathe new life into her and gradually, she feels able to start to let go of the memory of her lost love.
A story of hidden conflicts and internal battles pitched against the desire to love, trust and overcome the past.
I was lucky enough to ask Mick three questions in order to understand a little more about his writing process and goals.
1. How long have you been writing for and when did begin?
I'd always been a reader, I didn't start to write until about 2009, though only started to focus my efforts in 2012/2013. Christmas 2012 was when my Lady Wife read a book called 'The Xmas Factor' by Annie Sanders and insisted I read it. Within a day, I had read it and felt a strong impulse to sit down and my, ancient at the time, laptop. There was no plan, but after writing non-stop all day, my wife forced me off the laptop about ten at night. I've been writing ever since. By the way, that first book cam out at over 120,000 words on the first draft - I learned about editing at the same time!
2. Where did you inspirations for 'The Season For Love' come from?
I get a lot of ideas (too many, as most are only rough-outs) from listening to Radio 2 and this one was no different. As I recall, it'd been a bad day and an Elvis Costello song, 'A
Good Year for the Roses' came on and, apart from nearly causing me to swerve off the road, it sparked the idea for this book in my mind. Miracle of miracles, I could actually remember the idea when I got home and quickly scribbled it down. About all I really planned out was the last paragraph, and that's where the finished book actually ends. Though not the story from
the song, it gave me the idea for my tragic heroine.
3. What type of books do you read for enjoyment?
I still very much enjoy anything by Terry Pratchett. He always was and, probably, always will
be the author I can fall back on when I need something to put a smile on my face. I had the
good fortune to meet him a few times and I treasure the memories. Otherwise, I do tend to
mostly read in the genre I write in. I'm a big fan of Sue Moorcroft, Carole Matthews, Trisha
Ashley, Bella Osborne, a certain author whose intials are EG and whose second novel I can't
wait for, and many others, most of whom I'm at least acquated with. I also loved Phillip
Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy and am thrilled that he's got a new set of stories out
set in the same universe.
M.W. Arnold's debut novel 'The Season For Love' is available on-line at Amazon.
Throughout my journey towards publication I've come across numerous people... as you do. I've stood in many social groups being asked 'What do you do?' It usually relates to your career choice and strangers use it to quickly assess someone's worth, which is why I rarely ask it. But eventually, if they've continued to chat to me after the first question, I used to mention my writing. Those were the early days, when I freely shared my desire to be an author but soon learnt my lesson: you can't always be honest. And here's why. The responses I received varied immensely - from a look of utter surprise accompanied by 'you, write!?!?' This group of folks sometimes continue with 'don't hold your breathe... you know everyone wants to write a book, don't you?' and 'Really?' (usually accompanied with a laugh and a slow head shake) as they continued to stare and assess my intelligence/writing abilities as though it were tattooed on my forehead. It isn't. And, I'm really not intelligent! Proof: I didn't achieve higher than a 'C' grade at O level.
So, I thank the heavens for the other group. The 'diamonds' that I have encountered, quite unexpectedly, with whom I have shared my dreams. The ordinary folks who I've trusted. It is these guys that I can't thank enough for their quiet support. The handful of dear friends, close colleagues and husband who have paved my way towards publication ensuring my journey amongst the 'other sort' was pleasurable. It's thanks to this group that I survived and didn't give-up!
And now, having achieved my dream, I have the greatest pleasure of signing their books and acknowledging their support within my novels. I have a long memory, so they will never receive the usual one line dedication. Instead, they will always be honoured and remembered fondly. Below are three such dedications:
Tonight, is a special evening for me as yet, another dream-come-true moments has occurred. I've delivered two paperback books of my debut novel 'A Christmas Wish' to the village library which I joined at the tender age of five.
I remember so vividly my Saturday morning visits, with my three cardboard ticket holders in emerald green numbered 1, 2 and 3 which I proudly held during each visit. I can hear my Clarke's shoes tip-tapping on their brown polished tiles as I hurried to the children's section; home to dark wooden shelving and a small section of scratchy carpet. The soft square seats, rubbed shiny by numerous children before me, neatly positioned in the centre.
It seems strange to think that under the very roof which has homed so many books over the years, my two paperback now sit patiently awaiting readers. That, is most humbling.
I truly hope that other readers gain as much enjoyment from that village library as I have over the years...
'A Christmas Wish' by Erin Green - available from Sainsbury's stores UK or on-line from Amazon
'Another exciting milestone has finally arrived, 'A Christmas Wish' has entered Sainsbury's shelves! On Thursday, 19th October, I made an extra early trip to my local Sainsbury's store, purely to enjoy the moment and to ensure that I wasn't dreaming.
I arrived early, which if you know me, you'll know is typical me, so had to wait in the car for fifteen minutes for the store to open. I have to admit, my heart was thumping loud and proud by the time I'd found the book section and there it was 'my book' sitting pretty on the shelf, next to Jenny Colgan. I felt slightly greedy taking two copies to the check-out till, but hey, I had to purchase on the first occasion of seeing her sitting on a shelf! Anyway, the nice cashier lady remarked 'Two of the same book?' I explained why. Bless her, she seemed thrilled to have served me, which added to my enjoyment. Though, it still feels very strange explaining to people that I'm an author...
I went straight from Sainsbury's to the day-job and had a wonderful day sharing my news with the folks. Throughout the day I received snippets and message updates regards the emptying of shelves at local stores and the quick restocking in others. All in all, I had a truly marvellous day.
I had a delightful start to my Saturday morning, a postal delivery containing my new paperback cover. I literally squealed with delight on seeing the additional pink foiled font used for the title and my name. Eeeeeeekkk! I definitely have a secret magpie gene in my DNA mix as I love a little glitz and glam. I then spent twenty minutes simply stroking the embossed cover. My new cover will be gracing the shelves of Sainsbury's supermarkets from Thursday, 19th October 2017.
My first cover will always be special to me, as I waited for many years to be lucky enough to secure a publishing deal. I won't ever forget the moment that I saw that beautiful image for the first time.
It seems ironic, given that it will be one year since I entered the final straights towards publication. On 18th October 2016, Katie Fforde informed me that she'd chosen me as one of two authors to receive her annual award 'The Katie Fforde Bursary'. One year and one day later, my debut novel has been published and enters Sainsbury's stores - wow, what a dream come true!