Today is the final day of August - yay! Not that I want to wish my life away but tomorrow signals the official start of autumn for me. During the last few days, I've watched the leaves begin to change colour, a patch of blackberry bushes begin to ripen and can feel that distinct nip in the air. Autumn has arrived - my favourite time of year!
You know I'm a planner so, what's in store for the season ahead?
Firstly, and most importantly, I have a book deadline for 1st October which I'm currently writing/editing and is well underway.
September usually signals my necessity to purchase lots of pretty, colour-coordinated school supplies - which is purely an excuse to feed my stationery addiction! This year is different. Instead, I'll happily admit to my obsession with bouquets of sharpened pencils, as mentioned in You've Got Mail!
Recently, I’ve cleared-out and reorganised my reading books so have chosen a selection to see me through the new season. I’m returning to my beloved Dickens with ‘Our Mutual Friend’ and his biography by Claire Tomalin. My copy of ‘Our Mutual Friend’ was given to me as a ‘Secret Santa’ present when I was teaching – inside was a beautiful letter which I’ve kept and treasure*. The novel starts one autumn evening on the river Thames, London - most fitting for September. I’ve bought a couple of Kindle ebooks which dear friends of mine have written, some take me out of usual genre comfort zone, but will give me great pleasure in supporting my buddies. As always, I have my usual mix of Agatha Christie too as I continue with my 2020 reading challenge.
October will launch me back into the planning stage for a Christmas book to be published 2021. It's a sequel to my current writing project which allows me to keep certain characters whilst introducing many new ones - always an exciting prospect! The planning stage will be long forgotten by November, when I'll dive into NaNoWriMo for my tenth year! I can't believe where the time has gone; it seems like yesterday when I cried with joy at having completed my first NaNo. My 2021 Christmas book will have at least 50,000 words by 30th November thanks to the annual writing scheme.
During lockdown, I managed to knit four blankets for a neonatal unit - having received undue 'praise and thanks' for my efforts I've purchased more wool for a second batch. Alongside my sketching classes and personal studies, I'm set for the season!
All in all, I'm thrilled to see the return of autumn along with her dark nights, brisk dog walks and cosy blankets - total bliss!
* like with many Secret Santa pressies, I'm 99% sure who bought my beautiful gift - thank you KP x
It has taken me much longer than I had anticipated due to my additional research and required study, but I’ve actually finished it!
I can’t say it was easy. I can’t pretend that I fully appreciate or understand the contents. I’ve learnt much and, I’m still in two minds as to whether James Joyce was a genius or … (words fail me here!). On completion, I have a million and one questions regarding his initial intentions, his motivation and even, his method of writing such a tome.
I take comfort in the fact that his wife, Nora only read three pages before giving up. I managed all 682 pages of my edition – not that I was counting each page as a mini success.
There were moments when I was bowled over by his beautiful descriptions, surprised by the inclusion of the crude/uncouth language and boggled by the inclusion of so many characters. I loved the inclusion of many things but the photograph captures a moment of personal delight for Erin Green.
I never need open my copy again; it can sit on a shelf as a reminder of lockdown2020 (alongside my well-thumbed study guide!)
'10th Aug: Morning world, I woke to find this today ... number 1 in the Women's Popular Fiction chart and there's a tiny orange 'bestseller' flag flying next my title too. The book is also number one in the 'Solo traveler' chart too.
As you can imagine, I am one very happy girl - bubbles for breakfast, me thinks!
Link to Amazon: press here
As you can imagine I've had the most amazing day. Many friends sent me beautiful messages and numerous readers got in touch via social media to share their thoughts about the characters and the location in beautiful Brixham. All in all, simply a great day from which memories are made. I feel privileged to have the job that I do; it really was my childhood dream. If you listen carefully, you'll hear a little girl tapping her shoes on the brown floor tiles of Polesworth library - yep, she's still there!
In my world, summer officially begins today!!!! I'm excited to announce that ‘NEW BEGINNINGS AT ROSE COTTAGE’ has been included in Amazon’s Kindle Monthly Deal for August at the incredible price of 99 pence!!!
So, why not treat yourself to a five-star summer read which has the feel good factor from page one! You can indulge in a staycation to beautiful Brixham from the safety of your sun lounger!
In Brixham, you’ll meet three new friends, Benni, Ruth and Emma during their two-week solos holiday and discover if it's ever too late for a new beginning!
Available from Amazon - press to browse.
Benni needs to live, Ruth needs to laugh and Emma needs to love ... the question is, what do you need?
Remember, you've purchased, read and enjoyed New Beginnings At Rose Cottage please let me know who your favourite character is: Benni, Ruth or Emma! I love reading your reviews and receiving emails.
I'm still recovering from my recent appendix op but life as an author continues at a slower pace. If you are available tonight for a date at 8pm, why not tune in and join us. I suggest you bring your own drink and nibbles, but there's bound to be a giggle or two which might brighten your evening.
I met Kim Nash several years ago when we both attended a one-day writing workshop hosted by Miranda Dickenson, with additional sessions led by Rowan Coleman, C.L. Taylor and Kate Harrison. It was such an enjoyable day listening to their hints and tips about writing and the publishing world - I learnt a lot, for which I'm grateful.
To watch our interview please press - grab a fresh a coffee first though!
If you've watched the interview clip - the giveaway prize draw will be selected at 10pm, 29th July 2020.
Winners of signed books were: Gail A and Michelle R - signed, packaged and posted :-)
CampNaNo Current word count: 55,076/50,000
Day 11: word count: 21,138/50,000 - For those who have followed my NaNoWriMo addiction for many years, you know that I advise others to 'plan all you can but expect the unexpected'. Every year, life will throw you a curve ball during the month of November dedicated to NaNo, CampNaNo in July is no different. Well, on Day 11 mine arrived! My appendix decided it had had enough of 'lockdown 2020' and was whipped out on Saturday evening by the fabulous folk at my local hospital. I won't bore you with the details, but whilst awaiting surgery and between medical examinations I had plenty of time to complete my CampNaNo word count on an iPad! Hey, don't tell me off - this author gal needed a distraction!
Being an author is truly a dream come true for me so, despite the pain, when a member of the surgical team asked whilst prepping me for theatre 'so what's your job?' I happily answered. What I didn't expect was the immediate silence as everyone tuned in, the hilarious conversation and impromptu author Q&A session which quickly followed as I was wheeled into theatre. Boy, what a fabulous team and such a humorous and relaxing way to go under for an op! #GeorgeEliotHospital
Day 12: word count: naught, nothing, zero, zilch written today (see Day 11 for a pretty decent excuse). Today's focus was proving to the medical team that I could do the basics after surgery in order to get back home. Though, having watched me trundle about the ward at tortoise pace and then snaffle/inhale a chicken dinner followed by pie and custard, I received the 'green light' from the medical team to be allowed home by early afternoon. And so, my recovery begins.
Day 13: word count: 22,763/50,000 New rules apply in my life for the next three weeks - I'm allowed to read, watch films and write. My chosen speed is a tortoise plod and nothing more. Ah well, let's get start!
A strange day if I'm honest, but a relaxing one spent downstairs plodding between my chosen activities. I've started a new reading book 'Meet Me At Pebble Beach' written by my fabulous friend, Bella Osborne, which kept me engrossed and entertained between small bouts of CampNaNo writing.
Day 14: word count: 24,376/50,000. Not a bad writing session; the slow plod is working for me. My laptop is now in the dining room which eliminates me having to climb stairs, so I've had chance to develop a pattern of write a bit, rest a bit. Repeat.
Day 15: word count: 26,078/50,000. Another slow plod but a productive writing day. I woke with renewed vigour for this month's CampNano so, settled to write as early as I could. I've switched writing location; from the dining room to the lounge, which isn't ideal, but my gran's old chair offers my frame better support. Tomorrow, I plan to complete my NaNo writing before adding details to the fresh idea I started planning last week. Common sense tells me, the plan will change if needs be.
Day 16: word count: 27,693/50,000 An interesting writing day which went totally off track in relation to my post-it note plans. A moment of inspiration produced an unexpected scene which I hadn't imagined prior to sitting down to write it. I might keep it for the final book or edit it out at a later date but either way its now captured in words.
Day 17: word count: 27,693/50,000 ought, naught, zilch, zero words written today due to a headache which wouldn't ease. Never mind, I'll go with the flow for the moment.
Day 18: word count: 30,858/50,000 I've made up for yesterday's empty word day by not moving from the chair and plodding along with the scenes in my head. It's felt good being able to return to my planned scenes and let the word flow. Though, I did delete a whole conversation of wooden speech provided by a minor character who tried to take centre stage at one point. Eh, eh, that's not happening on my watch! You get used to deleting words despite the time taken to write - I can't afford to be precious about such things. I'm chuffed to bits to see that I've hit the thirty thousand marker - quite incredible how every word counts and the number creeps without you realising.
Day 19: word count: 32,768/50,000 - some days you simply sit in a chair and let your imagination do the work; today, was that day. The hours slipped by, the words flowed and I consumed copious amounts of tea. Simple. Recovery news: every day I can see an improvement regarding my movement, my incisions and my swollen abs returning to normal. I've granted myself three weeks of recovery ensuring that I'm healed and healthy before venturing back into the real world.
Day 20 & Day 21: word count: 36,210/50,000 - another two days of decent writing sessions. I'm currently nearing the end of one main character's conflict arc which is why the words are flowing as well as they are. The current scenes are fully formed in my head enabling me to write simply supported by my post-it note plans.
Day 22: word count: 37,882/50,000 I began writing on a new character's plot line today which gave me a new voice inside my head. The character is an elderly lady so, her turn of phrase and view point is refreshingly different from the previous character. Though, true to form, I've had several details come to mind for the previous character so I'll return to add a second layer to her characterisation. This happens every time I switch characters; it's part of my creative process.
Day 23: word count 39,975/50,000 I have backache today - nothing new for an author, but I can't afford to ignore it. With just eight days to go, I'm happy with my progress; I captured the words pretty swiftly today. The rest of my evening will be spent alongside my yoga mat undoing some of these knots - hopefully tomorrow, my back behaves itself.
Day 24: word count: 41,595/50,000 - the end is in sight, folks! There's just one more week of CampNaNo and it takes the pressure off knowing that this final week won't be a frantic dash for the finish line but a gentle plod.
Day 25: word count: 43,213/50,000 - a late start for today as I was busy elsewhere. I attended an on-line art lesson this morning which was a lovely distraction from writing and the recovery process. I had a three hour class and the time whizzed by in the blink of an eye. I was delighted with my finished piece given that I wasn't sure about the composition on first viewing it, but hey ho, it shows what you can achieve outside of your comfort zone. The added bonus is that such hobbies nurture my creative side in another manner - which all helps in supporting my writing. I simply absorb inspiration and stimulus from whatever source is available to me in order to recharge the batteries. My intention is to complete all 31 days for CampNaNo, I won't cease once I hit the 50,000 word count - in previous years, I've found that the final two days can ignite a torrent of unexpected chapters.
Day 26: word count: 44,906/50,000 I struggled to reach my word count today; I kept deleting words rather than writing them - which is never good. This usually happens when I'm writing a scene from the wrong angle but having pondered and reread several times I stuck with it and plodded on. Who knows, tomorrow I might make changes or even rewrite it. Meh!
Day 27: word count: 46,711/50,000
Day 28: word count: 48,416/50,000 - my writing was completed early because I was attending a live on-line interview with Kim Nash on the evening so wanted to clear my diary for the day. Interview link: grab a fresh coffee and enjoy!
Day 29: word count: 50,399/50,000!!!!! Done and dusted, but I'll carry on, folks. Apologies for not updating my blog last night but I received some very exciting, super exciting news from Headline, my publishers so was busy celebrating and organising in an 'authorly' manner ready for Saturday morning. That's a huge hint by the way so, you'll need to visit my homepage from 1st August onwards to hear the latest news.
Day 30: 52,583/50,000 Back to it this morning. I've relocated to the garden as the sunshine is simply divine plus, I've been inside for three weeks nursing my post-appendix self. Though, I'm predicting a very healthy lunch given I'll be sharing my garden space with three tortoises!
Day 31: Last day! word count: 55,076/50,000 Apparently, today might be the hottest day of the year so, I'll have an alfresco office again. Yesterday proved productive although, doing battle with the surrounding neighbourhood noise wasn't easy. Today's the final day of CampNaNo2020 my intention is to complete my writing shift and finish at whatever word count I have. I'm not aiming for a specific goal. This month's project is my latest book called 'From Shetland, with Love' to be published by Headline PG in late spring 2021. My deadline for completion is 1st October so, I'll need another month of words before the manuscript is complete.
If you're a NaNoWriMo addict too, I'll see you back here 1st November for the main event of the year and another 50,000 word goal. My November project will be called 'From Shetland, With Love At Christmas' a sequel to the current project and will be published late autumn 2021, in time for Christmas.
Regular followers know I have a passion for Agatha Christie which dates back to my teenage years, when I'd take solace for an entire weekend alongside Poirot or Marple. Over the years, I have lost track of those I'd read, the adaptations I'd watched and those I'd listened to on audio. So way back in 2019, I vowed that 2020 being the centenary celebration of her debut novel, I would reread her beloved books.
During 2020 I've read:
Dumb witness - my first ever AC read when I was aged about 13
The Mysterious Affair at Styles - her debut novel
Death on the Nile
Murder on the Orient Express
Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Appointment With Death
Murder Is Easy
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories
And Then There were None
I've taken comfort in many ways by rereading during lockdown 2020; it has provided an escapism from our current situation and much like memories linked to music or films has delivered me back to an aspect of my teenage days.
Sometimes whilst reading, I'll post on Twitter using the #ReadChristie2020 which has been assigned by the Agatha Christie group as a means of promoting her work.
Hoorah, July has arrived! Despite the confusion and pain delivered by 2020, I can still rely upon a global NaNoWriMo event to lift my inner spirit. I am a self-confessed NaNoWriMo addict - who usually dedicates the whole of November to the quest of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. The good news is that July is the summer camp version. The only difference being is that you choose your own specific goal. In previous year's I have chosen an editing goal for the summer but not this year. I'm steely strong and going for 50,000 brand-new, sparkling words to be written by 31st July.
The words will be the second half of my current project - yay! I will track my progress as a blog post and update my word count on the homepage.
Current Word Count: 17,891/50,000
Today is day one of summer camp!!!! Words: 1,617/50,000
A basic start for Day 1. To reach my goal by 31st July I must write 1613 for this project each day. I tend to focus on writing a specific scene rather than focus on the actual word count. Let the creative juices flow and word count simply follows. It's a personal trait I've recognised in my writing manner. There's a method in the madness of writing! My task for tonight is to revisit my plot and decide which scene(s) I'm focusing on tomorrow. Overnight, this allows my little grey cells time to generate images, new details and links to previous scenes ready for tomorrow's first writing session. Again, another little trick which always works for me.
Day 2 & 3: Words 5,344/50,000 my writing day was cut short on both days but I managed to hit the minimum daily target on each. Having nipped out for a dog walk after today's session I've just had a brand new idea for an additional scene which I'll write tomorrow. A regular occurrence whilst I'm walking; an invaluable trick should the flow of words begin to stall during a writing session. I've had to spend some additional time on research today as a small detail came to light which needs addressing before I continue with a specific plot line. The lovely thing about research is you can casually browse the web at the end of the day when you've got one eye on the TV rather than it gobble up valuable writing time.
Day 4 & 5: Words: 8,755/50,000 I write everyday whether it be NaNo season or my usual routine. I find it keeps the momentum plodding along and saves me having to keep picking up the threads of the story. Which feels like wasted time to me. I've had two decent days, the words have come easily. More so on Sunday, as I have a late writing session on a Sunday so spend the entire day doing other activities/chores whilst mulling over what I will write later. It works; I completed my Nano session word count in just over an hour as the scene literally spilt from my imagination. Writing sessions such as these make my heart sing; my fingers can't keep up dancing around the keyboard. The added bonus for today, CampNaNo day 5, is that I've had another idea for a book - yay! Always a bonus when that happens. So, I've spent some time today jotting down notes and details for future reference. I have a little book stashed away purely for ideas. I have more than enough writing to be getting on with at the present time but give it a few months and I'll need a new project!
Day 6: Word count: 10,681/50,000 - What a fine start to my week! I arrived at my desk at a pretty early hour for a Monday morning and away I went. I only managed two cups of tea and my daily word count was complete. This project seems to be on a role at the moment, the plot is staying on track, the characters are doing as they should and the words are flowing nicely. Three more weeks of this would equal a dream Nano season but I know from experience that the day arrives when typing a sentence is like pulling teeth because I haven't had chance to muse and envisage a scene before I arrive at writing it. On those days, it might take me six hours to complete the word count produced in 80 minutes on Day 5! This writing malarky is a strange business but each author needs to know themselves and for me 'plodding' is the answer when such occasions arise. I know that the writing becomes tough when I don't apply the 'thinking time' before the writing session. So, on that note, its time for some 'thinking time' whilst I walk the dog and enjoy a change of scenery.
Day 7: Word count: 12,586/50,000 - boy, what a session! I started early and feel slightly embarrassed to admit the daily word count for CampNaNo was complete before the local church clock struck eleven. My intention is to take full advantage by having a couple of hours off to entertain myself with other tasks and then to return for another CampNaNo session to boost today's final count. I have an Agatha Christie book which is nearing the finale plus, my Ulysses studies so, I'll catch you laters.
Day 8: Word count: 14,209/50,000. It felt like a hard slog today. I knew what I want to say but could I get my words out? No! I have literally completed 13 words over and above my daily requirement and I have had to drag those from the bottom of my muse. Simply, one of those days when the 'dream job' is on a go slow. I don't beat myself up about such days anymore, I once did. Tomorrow is another writing day. Hey ho!
Day 9: Word count: 16,232/50,000. I'm grateful that today the words have reverted back to a fast and furious flow. Yesterday, was painfully slow. My book have three main female characters so today I switched to write the first scene from another's point of view - boy, has she got voice! Which explains why the words flowed so easily. Likewise, yesterday, I was drawing to the end of the other character's pollen which explains why the word did;t flow as my plot material was drying up and I've been listening to her voice for a few weeks now. I try to reflect and look for explanations following an unusual day, much like I did when I had a difficult day of teaching in my previous career. Anyway, it is only half ten and I still have an entire day in which to write so I have no intention of stopping here. Who knows how many more words I can create today by shuffling these 26 alphabet letters before me! I continued to write into the early afternoon but later treated myself to a creative session with pens and flip chart focusing on a new idea which sprung to mind recently. I was lost inside my imagination jotting down themes and connotations which relate to my central location. I love session such as these; almost childlike in nature and play. The end result was me reaching for my baby naming book which always signifies a significant moment for my muse. i shall give it a few more days before |I return to the flip charts and add a second layer of details. Nothing is ever wasted for author; everything has a future life as long as you capture the details and essence when the muse throws you a gem of an idea.
Day 10: Word count: 17,891/50,000. The words flowed beautifully but boy, did I have a battle to concentrate due to distractions and interruptions to my writing session. Most days I am left in utter peace; not today, the world and his wife want my attention. The reality being it has taken me over five hours to write the daily CampNaNo amount! I try my hardest to be honest about my work so, if you're an aspiring author or simply followed my week you can see there have been days where in just over 90 minutes I was done, but today, five hours! Writing is a weird business. Anyway, I must dash for another crazy task in my week: my Friday yoga session while listening to Radio 4 Gardeners' Question Time. I can't believe I've just confessed to that one - oh well, it probably made you chuckle.
(To continue this month's CampNaNo journey - view the new post 'Expect the unexpected, always')
You're might be wondering how I'm getting along with my epic read. Well, I'm chuffed to bits and doing a geeky dance in anticipation of announcing that I'm a third of the way through. Now, that might not seem a lot to some, but to those who have attempted to read Joyce's tome - that's great news.
I must say, I feel I am 'studying' it rather than 'reading for pleasure' but all the same, I'm getting there. I've managed to read some each day, little and often being the approach, but it has worked for me. I may have mentioned last blog post that this is my third attempt. My first and second attempt failed at or before page 50 but this third attempt is plodding along nicely. The difference being I was armed and better prepared with a detailed study guide plus, I accepted the need to constantly reference the internet. I have watched numerous clips on Youtube about Joyce's life, his work and listened to podcasts discussing Ulysses. Did I mention I was prepared?
Podcasts: In Our Time and Start Of The Week
Anyway, certain things have motivated me. Firstly, the book is as strange, as weird and yet, as absorbing as others say. Secondly, I have vowed never to read it again so, I'd best make the most of this attempt and thirdly, this made me laugh out loud on hearing it, on completion of the manuscript Nora Joyce (his wife) managed to read the first few pages before giving up! That made me feel somewhat better.
I haven't found it easy at all; I've struggled to understand the language, the unique inclusion regarding simultaneous scenes and keep track of the occurring events. Nevertheless, I have loved his descriptions, the constant reference to Dublin's street map and the depth and breadth of knowledge referred to by Joyce. This said, I vow never to reread it once complete.
I've calculated that given my current rate of progress it'll take me partway into August 2020 to complete but, I'm getting there: slowly.
How the devil are you? Happy and healthy, I'm hoping! I can't believe we've entered the billionth day in isolation, but hey ho, there's excellent reasons to stay at home. I've not altered my routine since the first wave of lockdown so, not a lot has changed. I've happily plodded on with my daily writing, reading and basic exercise - though the dog no longer jumps with excitement when I fetch his lead!
I've managed to make a substantial dent in my huge 'To-Be-Read' bookcase - yes, you read that correctly, bookcase not pile. I've trundled through numerous Agatha Christie books which is my personal challenge for 2020. I've been taken aback by the artistic license that many of the TV producers have taken in adapting her work for the small screen. One particular book 'Murder Is Easy' is virtually unrecognisable in the screen adaptation - it made me wonder what AC herself would make of it.
I've reread a couple of favourite classics as a guaranteed route to escapism and pleasure. In uncertain times, you need to know there's a warm welcome by revisiting your favourite book friends. I've consciously saved Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' incase of an emergency. In which case, I'll hibernate with a box of teabags, packets of biscuits and Mr Darcy!
I've ventured into 'modern history' during lockdown by purchasing 'Monica's story' written by Andrew Morton. I'm not usually one for his style but on this occasion it hit the mark. Excuse the pun! I love history, so thought I'd read about something that I remember in my lifetime. Boy, oh boy, was I shocked by her version of events. Regardless of opinions about him, her and the whole affair, I was intrigued by the inner workings of the White House and its staff. It literally took me a few days to read and yes, it was comforting to return to an era that I remember so well.
The big challenge for the next few weeks is a book which I have started to read three times and have twice ceased reading after the first 50 pages due to my lack of understanding. This third attempt seems to be going well but only because I have a copy of 'Spark notes' to accompany it. If it wasn't for the study aid, I would have fallen by the wayside for the third time.
Ulysses by James Joyce ... need I say more! I'll admit, I'm not 'reading' it - I'm 'studying' it like a course rather than reading for pleasure. The only pleasure I'm getting so far is understanding the events whilst being on page 65! Though, given my current rate of progress it'll last me until August!
I've lined up a Bill Bryson travel book, another Christie and a series read for the coming weeks to provide some light relief when I'm not studying James Joyce.
Stay safe xx