It is 2:20am and I should be going to bed, but I can't. I literally couldn't sleep if I tried. I have just waved goodbye to the month of November - which has been the most productive month of my writing career. Seriously.
Firstly, for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I managed a staggering 72,900 words in relation to the expected challenge of 50,000. Those 72,900 words are my Christmas book for 2021. I just need 25,000 words to complete draft one! My deadline is 1st February 2021.
Secondly, three weeks ago, my structural edits arrived back for the book I'd completed in October. My deadline for completion: today. I've just sent the amended manuscript back to my editor and agent.
I'm chuffed to bits with how much I've accomplished in 30 days. Tomorrow, I will celebrate with a bottle of bubbles!
For the next three days, I'm officially taking holiday away from my screen, but I'll see back here on Friday morning when I'll crack on with those final 25,000 words for the Christmas book 2021.
Night, night x
I'm as surprised as anyone, believe me. I literally started the month with my usual NaNo plan and something else took over but I'm delighted with the results. Every book I've written has had a life of its own and this current project is no exception. I have a few more chapters to write until I finish the Christmas book, but I also have structural edits to complete for my October book. Now that I've reached my 50,000 goal I intend to switch my main focus to my edits as my deadline is 30th November.
I'll continue with my NaNoWriMo updates every few days.
Word count update: 72,900/50,000
November 6th - I'm delighted to say that NaNoWriMo 2020 is the best NaNo project I have ever had. I'm chuffed to bits that I've written 25,033 words since 1st November. Half the monthly goal in a week!
My daily writing routine has been like any previous NaNo project with three writing sessions spread throughout the day.
I'm writing next year's Christmas book 'From Shetland, With Love At Christmas' and the words are like a tsunami each time I sit at my laptop. Though I have fallen in love with the plot line which helps immensely for any author.
Update: Monday, 9th November. The structural edits for the book I finished in October have arrived back for completion. It'll mean a little juggling is needed to accommodate these during NaNo month, but it'll be grand!
Update: Wednesday, 11th Nov. I've averaged 4,114 words each day so I'm hoping to reach 50,000 by this Friday. Given the arrival of my structural edits, I'll continue to work on my NaNo project but lessen the pace as I've nearly finished writing the story.
Current word count: 50,290/50,000
Seriously, I'm that excited for NaNo 2020; it is the first event since March which has remained on my calendar even, my birthday was scraped!
My 'To-do list' is complete:
A freezer full of food ✅
A stock pile of tea bags ✅
All essential tasks cleared for the whole month ✅
New eye drops purchased - just in case the late nights/screen use plays havoc with my eyes ✅
New stationery pad, pencils and pens - as if I haven't enough already! ✅
Downtime reading books chosen ✅
Freshly painted writing room - I know, I went the extra mile! ✅
It's official: I'm ready to start.
Below is a snap shot of my NaNo progress chart - I'll change that day by day!
Update: a second lockdown has been announced - it appears that everyone will be living like an author doing NaNoWriMo! Make the most of it and invent your own month long creative venture`:: read, write, draw, paint, sing, photograph, knit, dance or craft in any way you can.
NaNo started at midnight and so did I, but you knew that! I'll update my progress photo at regular intervals but this year I'll be saving the words for NaNo rather than posting a daily blog update.
Word count: 25,033/50,000
Good morning, if you're a regular visitor you'll have realised weeks ago, that I have a new publishing contract with Headline Publishing Group. I have two brand new books being released in May 2021 and September 2021! Both books are set in Shetland, which I was lucky enough to visit during 2019. For the first time, I've written a series linked by a beautiful setting and loveable characters.
Amazon links: For pre-orders
From Shetland, With Love
When Jemima loses her beloved grandfather, keeping his allotment alive seems like ideal way to feel close to him. She's never fitted in before - is this her chance to find where she really belongs?
Finally Melissa has the allotment she's been longing for to distract her while her husband works away - even if it is chest-high in weeds. But when she looks for help in the wrong place, she finds she's the hottest topic of gossip.
For Dottie, her allotment and part-time job of 'a little light dusting' at Lerwick Manor keeps a spring in her eighty-year-old step - and her ears open for secrets.
Though generations apart, these three women are about to find a common bond in a new-found passion and that true friendship can grow anywhere.
From Shetland, With Love At Christmas
Verity is embarking on a better-late-than-never gap year now that her sons have flown the nest, and dreams of turning a lifetime's hobby of knitting and crocheting into a profitable new enterprise at Lerwick Manor's gallery.
Nessie has returned to Shetland after two years spent retraining as a blacksmith on the Scottish mainland. She's determined to do whatever it takes to reignite the traditional craft and prove that gender is no obstacle taking on her family's heritage.
Isla is fresh out of catering college, but she is desperate to prove she has what it takes to run Lerwick Manor's artisan café. Focused on perfecting her grandmother's traditional recipes, Isla has no time for anything else - especially not her pesky ex.
With the island's Yule Day celebration fast approaching, it's the ideal moment for their crafts to shine. But they can't do it alone - and their friendship might turn out to be their greatest creation yet...
More exciting news for 2021!
I can't believe I have more news, but I'm greedy like that!
Four of my books are being released in audio format which means you can listen whilst you're on the move. I'm never without an audio book on dog walks or cleaning duties so, it's exciting to imagine others listening to my stories whilst plodding about.
Plus, slightly secret news ... so shhhh, but "the February book", you know the one, is heading into a big supermarket ready for the new year 2021!
NaNoWriMo 2020 is happening! There’s no chance of cancellation, wavering on dates and definitely no restrictions. Since it began in 1999, NaNoWriMo has always been “Covid friendly” given that I spend the entire month of November in self-isolation, before a screen and messaging on-line buddies for support. Seems uncanny, but I’ve unknowingly been preparing for this episode of my life for the last ten years!
It’ll be the first event of my year which hasn’t been struck from my calendar. So, today is the day when I upload my novel details, begin my planning and start stashing the freezer with easy cook meals.
I’m delighted to be writing a Christmas book during the winter season as previously I’ve written Christmas books at the height of summer – it was slightly weird playing Christmas tunes in July!
I’m sure my regular band of buddies are planning ahead too; given that we’ve undertaken this annual journey for numerous years.
For further details: www.NaNoWriMo.org
My October deadline has come and gone! The past few weeks have flown by in a blur as I polished a manuscript for my publishers. The usual routine for me is to submit, and within minutes, I have a flurry of ideas which I wish to make. Seriously, it has happened every time! I submitted on 30th September, then spent the 1st October creating a list of plot points which I wish to amend.
I allowed myself a few days to chill out, watch films, draw and plod about the house 'free' to do as I wish. But today, I began plotting the next book: a Christmas book for 2021.
For me, this means creating my next manuscript template, noting down character names and ages, deciding on dedications and quotes which I like to have in place beforehand. I love that my dedication is in place for every word written; sometimes, it helps to inspire and motivate.
I already have a synopsis for this book so, the next stage is to play with post-it notes creating a plot line/time line for my three new characters. I'll juggle the order numerous times before pining it to a board and start to write. My aim is to have at least 95,000 words in place by 30th November, though remember NaNoWriMo starts in November!
Anyway, that's me. Happy, healthy and back to the first draft routine.
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!