Before I was published I had no idea how a book was produced, the time frames or the actual process from manuscript to book launch. I am currently part-way through the process with my fifth book "Taking A Chance On Love' so thought I'd share with you the timeline.
A misconception is that you write a book and that's it, you simply hand it over and the publishers do the rest. Nope. This is how it works:
6th Jan 2019 - began plotting a new book.
7th Jan 2019 - began writing the new book.
6th May 2019 - submitted the written manuscript to my editor (111,000 words).
29th May - book cover revealed to me by my editor - I loved it!
4th June - book cover revealed on social media.
30th June 2019 - structural edits* arrive from editor (I had four weeks to complete).
6th July 2019 - structural edits completed and manuscript returned to my editor.
7th Sept 2019 - copy edits** arrive from my editor (I had three weeks to complete).
11th Sept 2019 - copy edits completed and manuscript returned to my editor.
? - proofreading the manuscript (a future date which I expect to happen in the next month to six weeks).
23rd January 2020 - Taking A Chance On Love - book launch!
* structural edits - alterations needed or queries arising from the timeline/plot line structure of the book
** copy edits - fine tuning of the written word be it phrases, punctuation or misunderstanding which need further detail
As you can see there are many stages over the duration of nine months. I was quite shocked when I signed a publishing contract because no one had explained to me the above timeline so I hope it helps aspiring authors.
In between the timeline gaps of delivering a written manuscript to your editor e.g. 6th May, you simply get on with plotting, planning and writing another book. Which means that when the structural edits arrive e.g. 30th June, you will cease writing your current manuscript to focus on the edits needed and return a.s.a.p. before going back to your current writing. You don't wait for the whole process to end before starting a new book - you literally juggle the projects as needed. For me, I tend to be writing a fresh manuscript, part-way through the edits on the next publication and thinking up ideas for a future project!
Last week, I was on holiday in St Ives. I entered the holiday cottage, walked upstairs into the bathroom after our long journey and bang, stopped dead in my tracks on closing the door. I stood staring at a pristine white bathroom with a beautiful tile effect. Seriously, inspiration hits you when you least expect it! That was 'the moment'. The moment a seed was planted in my head and it began to grow due to an unexpected observation. I'm happy to share my tile picture below.
You might wonder why I'm sharing such a simple anecdote about me standing in a bathroom but the reason is inspiration surrounds you day and night. You simply need to tap into the rich source of objects, people, buildings, art, nature, history and language which surrounds you. For me it can be something as small as a bathroom tile, a man waiting at a bus stop or an annual Christmas tree news report - just some 'seeds of inspiration' which have kick started my muse for previous books.
Two days after the bathroom tile find, I saw a single word - I'm not sharing that but the two made a pairing in my head and by day four of my holiday I had a fully fledged premise for a book. Exactly the same thing happened to me last year whilst on holiday in Brixham and that resulted in my latest book 'New Beginnings At Rose Cottage'. It appears that day four of holidays might be a special day for me and my brain.
As a creative person, I am open to the world around me. I look at the world around me. I see the small detail, which given that I've had duff eyes all of my life means I have to look and observe just a little closer than most. Personally, I think my duff eyesight is an asset because I can't dart through life not looking properly at what is in front of me. I notice things that some others don't see, tiny details, gestures, expressions even sometimes big whopping details which others shouldn't be blind to but sadly, they are.
When I was an aspiring author, I think I wasted effort searching for 'hot' inspiration, making a tough job of it when really, now that I understand how my brain/observations work, I can almost relax and allow inspiration to be delivered to me in such unexpected finds such as the bathroom tile.
Note: when a seed of inspiration comes to me when I'm in the middle of a new book or know that I simply can't use it 'yet' - I note it down in a small book which I have. I tend to date each entry so I can refer back to them when needed for planning an entirely new book or looking for inspirational kick-starts regards plotting.
I will start a proper blog about my new project but let's just say in one week I've written 20% of a new book (whoops, I was supposed to be on holiday). Anyway, the words are simply flowing faster than my fingers can keep up - long may that continue!
Firstly, I have no idea how many parts there will be to this topic. I've literally written it a step at a time as I reflect upon my own journey pinpointing mistakes I made and errors which held me back.
Who knows how many parts - I made many errors!!!
A significant moment for me which I waited too long before arranging was a 'room of ones own' (Woolf). Firstly, please don't take that phrase literally that every writer must have a specific room in which to write but, in general we each need to find our 'spot', a place whether it be the kitchen table, the library, the local coffee shop or yes, like me a writing room of my own. I'm a person who likes to define things in my life (but that's another story).
I used to write in the corner of the dining room on a tiny table. It gave me a 'space' defined by my writing and I would happily sit for hours tapping away on my laptop. I wrote my first book in that corner which took six years so, I'm grateful for that. I couldn't have another spot in the house because I had four step-children visiting and so bedrooms were quite rightly allocated to them for their home comforts, toys, private space etc. You immediately realise that my living space could be quiet and empty with just two adults in the house and then suddenly busy and loud when four children visited for weekends and holidays. A mixed bag around which I would plan my writing.
Anyway, my little formica table, with it's wobble chair, did the job. But the job was made harder by its location - the world and his wife seemed to walk past me via their route to the kitchen. I have to 'pack away' when the dining room table was needed for six bodies. I could hear every TV programme watched in the lounge and, I saw my little corner 24/7 as I moved about the house. When I 'saw it' but was unable to sit at it - I felt sad. When I 'saw it' be didn't want to sit at it - I felt guilty for doing another task. It was as if my little writing table called my name every time I walked past - it wasn't a positive spot.
Roll on a few years, and anyone who has step-children will tell you things change regards visits and whatnots. Anyway things changed and we had less bodies needing our bedrooms at weekends. I claimed possession of the smallest one. I can't tell you how excited I was but I know the date in which I moved in 3rd January 2013! Seriously, it was like a little piece of heaven. Yes, its the box room, the baby room in most houses but it was mine. It had a door, a window and everything! I'm sitting in it right now. I was so thrilled, I even purchased from Ebay a sign for my room then added another sign when I was published (see photos).
My little room has made the world of difference to me. And I understand myself well enough to know it is linked to my psychology. As I said earlier I like defined spaces: writing space, reading chair, yoga space - a colleague of mine pointed out that I always sit in the same seat during our department meetings - yeah, I know, that's me. By now, I'd purchased a beautiful old desk so that took pride of place, I filled the room with bookcases, wicker baskets and writing stuff (which mainly means paper) and lots of stationery (addiction alert to any aspiring author). I thought the main success would be the silence enabling me to write. Wrong. I found that my productivity increased no end not because of the silence and less traffic walking past and bumping me chair every three minutes but the fact that my writing room became like the Narnia wardrobe. Whenever I entered the door, I picked up where I had left off from. Whether it was planning post-it notes scattered upon the floor - which I could now simply leave in position or sitting down to pick up the last sentence. The psychology of entering the room, sitting and doing was a repetitive habit and it worked for me. It still works six years on and after five published books. Nothing else happens in my writing room other than my book writing/planning/editing - oh, and sleeping by my dog, who is usually curled up on the wicker chair.
Anything pinned to the wall, standing on my desk or piled on the floor inspires me to write. I have bric-a-brac objects which I have found and collected so, I have to have a 'muck out' every now and then but the inside of my writing room kind of mimics the inside of my head. If I pause for a minute from writing, view the contents of my writing room something will catch my eye that pushes me to return to the keyboard. I have nonsense stuff around me: a china dog which sat on my nan's mantlepiece, a cotton reel produced by Sylko the colour is called 'Erin Green', a ceramic lion who I call Aslam, a rusty key, a photo of my great-grandparents and a bulbous sand glass all sit before my eyes at this precise moment.
I visit this room everyday. Sometimes I can spend all day in here tapping away on the keyboard other days I am in and out in two hours job done, free to go elsewhere. But my writing room helps me to write. And when I am done, I simply get up, leave and close the door until next time. The beauty being that I don't feel anything negative, sad or guilty about my writing room which is how I sometime felt about the dining room spot.
In recent months, I've stayed at various places and so have had to choose a new spot for a week or two. I have found that the kitchen table also works for me, the local cafe on other occasions. If it is 'your spot' you will sink into that creative zone and be way with the faries in no time. If it's not 'your spot' you can't enter Narnia because you can't tune out from the surrounding noise, bodies and life which is bumping past your chair.
I was about to photograph my writing room but it is requires a 'muck out' so, I can't frighten you with such a sight. I'll simply photograph the top section of my desk instead - chaos!
It's been a few days since I posted part 3 so, lets go for a fourth post. If I'm totally honest, I'll write this post before I begin today's writing session (but more about that topic later). Apologies before I start but it'll become obvious later why social media and networking is my chosen topic for today.
When I was unpublished I wondered what the fuss was about regarding social media and the impact it could have on my world of writing. I was naive. I was blind to the possibilities before me. I lacked experience regards the scope and range of audience with whom I could interact.
After many years on social media, I now know. The reality for me and my published writing is that social media is necessary. Very necessary.
I think of social media as a 'shop window' from which I showcase my writing wares and myself, as a human being. Over the years, I have been delighted to share my publication news, my successes and my disappointments. I'm honest. I don't feel there is any point ladling lies or living a false life to impress others. When I was an aspiring author, I wanted to know what life was like once published. I wanted to achieve that dream so badly I wanted to know the realities beforehand - I now share via this blog.
I've always learnt by watching others. Be it my alphabet as a small child when my mum copied out letters and I traced them with my finger. Learning to drive, public speaking or bell ringing in church - I learn by watching others. So, I created a Twitter/FaceBook/Instagram account and followed others to watch and learn. I saw many mistakes being made. I saw people making unkind comments about things which I didn't wish to showcase in my 'shop window'. Those comments told me more about the human being behind the social media account than their latest book, art, sculpture, cat photo or football team news etc than I wanted to know. There's no point having a smiling author head shot if your interaction with the world is rotten and unkind. I wanted to browse 'shop windows', enjoy their goods, follow their account and enjoy more of their good stuff.
So, I made a few self-imposed rules for myself on social media, similar to those I live my life by. You'll never read a post from me which discusses politics, religion and hurtful gossip/info/slagging off others. Others can act as they wish, their choice but I won't. I don't want such ' negative stuff' in my 'shop window'. I accept that everyone else on this planet, and maybe on others, doesn't think or like what I think or like. Not a single person. Fact! I know myself, a little too well if I'm honest regarding self-reflection but that's another story. NOTE: If you do ever see a negative post by Erin Green Author please tell me because I'll have been hacked.
My social media shop window is for my writing journey... and life's good stuff!
I'll support fellow writers (published or not - I don't care which you are)
I'll Retweet info about good books, art, sculpture, cat photos and footie team news (even if I don't support them)
I'll give an encouraging comment, remark if you've had a success or are having a bad day
I'll remind you it is Wednesday (but mainly because I bloody love that name and will one day get to use it in a book)
I'll do what I can to show kindness, support, generosity and just be the girl-next-door who actually loves good things happening to other people in this world.
What I won't do is snipe, growl or slag you off on social media - because that simply isn't me.
If you are an aspiring author - thank you for getting this far in reading my blog but think about what you want to showcase in your 'shop window' because the audience who read it will make an opinion about you and your writing. I'm not saying you have to be sickly sweet and be false with everybody but stop and think what your post says about you. Is it what you want to showcase to others?
I feel that anyone reading my posts doesn't feel crappy once they've read it. I feel my long-term followers know me as a 'friend' who they happen to have met on-line. I can still be a friend to anyone in this world - I have no boundaries on social media. Some of my most supportive followers, who tweet, retweet and comment on my posts each day I have never met. They support me in so many ways, I can't thank them enough. (I'm honest enough to admit that I just welled up typing that last line - see, that's how honest I am! Soppy mare!)
Social media is totally necessary as an author. I sell books because of my interaction with the audience on Twitter. FaceBook not so much but, I can link up with my gorgeous author friends for a different exchange on FB. The social media audience see my posts and they realise my books and Happy-ever-afters are of a similar tone because it is the same human being behind the posts and the book pages. Me.
So, why have I chosen to talk about social media today? Earlier today, I had a 'private discussion' with someone on Twitter about a negative post which I believe refers to my 'Aspiring Author - part 1' and 'writing everyday'. Basically, the social media equivalent of the 'Mean girls at school' slagging off the 'nerdy girl' in the toilets. Guess what, this nerdy girl uses the same toilets. And, she'll communicate directly if what you said/posted simply showcases your mean side towards her. Enough said. I'll even add, if the remarks weren't about Erin Green 'writing everyday' then this nerdy girl will still stand up for whichever author you took a pop at! Writers should support each other not tread on each other.
If you wish to follow me, please come and join the party @ErinGreenAuthor
I need to love and leave you, folks. I have a book to write because I proudly state, 'I am a writer and I write every day!'
I've realised that I'm an author twenty-four seven. There is no time when my brain switches off regards books, imagination and creativity so, during my long journey towards publication I've tried to harness that in a positive manner.
Since childhood, I've always been creative: singing, music, painting, drawing or reading. And so, here lies my hobbies during downtime which enable me to have a break from actual writing whilst still encouraging my creativity in a different manner. It allows my mind to drift and yet, I'll generate a thought or idea which links back to my current writing project solving an issue or creating a new scene. I try not to have any expectations regards my hobbies - they are purely for fun and my enjoyment.
You'll find that many authors are walkers. I think the solitude and rhythmical movement of pacing helps to generate ideas and solutions. Apparently, the Bronte sisters used to pace around there dining room table in Haworth before writing. I use my daily dog walking sessions as thinking time. I don't see it as walking the dog but exercising my observational skills regards nature, people and usually the sky. I adore weather and clouds. You're probably realising that there isn't an area of my day when I'm not absorbing from the environment around me. I think that has been my key to remaining productive. But there is a downside. I feel I know myself well, I understand me and the things which make me tick. So, when I do find myself in situations that are negative be it stress, tensions, day job issues or negative people - I know it will affect my creativity. And, I can't afford that to happen given the enjoyment I gain from my creative world. It isn't unusual for me to remove myself from certain people, places, situations or even to see me fall silent and consciously withdraw whilst still engaging in conversation. I quite often put myself into 'a protective bubble'. In those moments I need to interact with the said negativity but I can't allow it to affect me. It sounds harsh but it is the realities for me as an author.
As I said last time, I wrote in secret everyday. I literally opened a file on my computer and labelled it as my book - away I went. At this point I had no idea what I was doing but my struggle became my apprenticeship. I was open minded enough to try anything so whether it be free writing, timed writing, picture prompts or word goals - I'd give it a try to see if I was productive or not by using the method. I soon learnt that for me setting a kitchen timer which bleeps and having a specific window for writing worked. My concentration was best with a thirty minute window especially if I noted my word count at the beginning and the end. I am competitive by nature but not necessarily with other people, simply myself. Back then it felt good to see I'd written 300 words in thirty minutes and improved on yesterday's word count. It gave me the buzz I needed to repeat tomorrow or, later the same day.
I soon realised that my writing was even more productive if I thought about my planned writing session during the day whilst driving, standing in queues at coffee shops, waiting for the kettle to boil, waiting for others - in fact any moment during the day when I could be still and quiet. If you start analysing your daily routines you'll see there are plenty of opportunities for the thinking/planning stage. Once settled at my desk the words literally poured from me. Even now, I never settle at my desk without knowing the thing I'm about to write. Thinking time remains away from my desk.
Within a matter of a few changes I had altered my writing output. It felt as if I was on a roll and the positivity in me simply soared which in turn motivated me even more. This circular model of 'think, write and motivate self' became my primary goal. Day after day, I simply repeated the habit.
I then began seeking the answer to my age old question 'how to write a book' was it the chapter by chapter method of write it, read it, polish, polish, polish it to death or not. It isn't. I was doing it wrong. By this time I had spent six years writing a novel called 'Her' which is unpublished but one day I'll rewrite it for publication as it is a decent story. I had also joined the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) which runs a fabulous scheme for New Writers (romance based) where you submit a manuscript and receive a written critique. I'd taken the plunge to join and begun attending their parties to network amongst other authors. Not that I dared speak to many of them at my first few parties I was overwhelmed to be in the same room to be fair. Though I still have 'girl-fan' moments with certain authors as my admiration remains sky high regards their achievement.
Anyway, I booked myself on to a writing retreat with Alison May on which I learnt that you start at the beginning and write to the end of the story or as much as you have planned or not planned as you can (I'll come to planning later) Draft one should look like a straight line from start to finish and not the laborious curling-back-on-yourself style I'd developed constantly revising before moving to the next chapter. Guess what, I tried the straight line writing - it worked. I now think of it as layering because I now write draft 1 then go back to the beginning save the document with the name draft 2 and start adding bits, defining details in a straight line again until I get to the end of that draft. I save the document as draft 3 and reread adding and changing as I go until I get to the end. In fact I never go backwards, I always go forwards and make notes of things that come to mind so I can amend on the next draft. Note: always go forward! It also meant that I always have the last draft should I need it. I'd addressed mistake number one (see previous Aspiring author - part 1)
So imagine, I now have 100,000 words labeled as draft three. I was ecstatic. I'd written a book, hadn't I? Nah, I'd got 100,00 words but not necessarily in the right order or the best sequence. That came as a shock. It suddenly dawned that with the best will in the world I might have ordered the sequence of events in the wrong, addressed issues in the wrong light, forgotten to craft arcs for the conflict, characterisation motivation and development, worse still have no pace - how the hell was I supposed to address those issues? And here is where us authors are divided into two groups: planner or pantser. Planners plan. Pantsers wing it by the seat of their arse and simply write. I had initially written as a pantser - I simply wrote my story but now I was being asked to think about the fine details. I had to go back through and find the bits that needed improving. Yes, finding specific bits in a 100,000 word document - I found that hard. I got through it, I did the best I could but I vowed I'd be planning the next book. Can you see how my writing rules came about by doing it, tripping up and realising my own errors. I'd written 100,000 words but still I hadn't written a book.
I have plenty of author friends who remain as pantsers. I admire them for their bravery, their nerve and their dedication because I did it once but never again. I'm told that pantser spend 25% writing 75% editing to reach the end of a project. Their dedicated time goes into editing/polishing their 100,000 raw words into a book. I am now a planner. I feel I spend 15% planning, 60% writing and 25% editing to reach the end goal of a book. I think that in terms of days or months it equates to the same amount of time but tackled and handled in a different way. Only you know which will work for you. I have realised that pantsers seem to love the editing task (which is a bloody good job given their one and only draft can be pretty raw). And, I've noticed that planners love the writing task but not the editing. If you plan there does seem to be less editing which may decide it for you.
Pantser method of writing:
1. create a document
2. write until the end
3. Edit like crazy
My planning method of writing:
1. find the 'nugget' of your story and create a mind-map showing a multitude of possibilities for that idea
2. I create a note book for each book I write into which goes any details that I might need to refer to e.g., family trees, street maps, character pictures cut from magazines, character profiles and additional notes to myself.
3. create characters onto which you can hang those mind-map possibilities onto (I find photographs and paste them my note book)
4. note each scene upon a post-it note (this can be as complicated as you want using coloured notes for each character)**
5. try to pin point a theme which is surfacing from your planning - there is always a theme (can this theme be highlighted more?) - add it to your post-it notes where you can
6. I pin my post-it notes to a cork board or stick it the length of the staircase and spend several days looking/changing the sequence
7. I begin writing when I can't not begin writing - at this point I'll be itching to start.
8. create me document template and chapter headings
9. create a spreadsheet showing chapter by chapter the events I've written
10. I begin writing at the beginning and go straight through to the end one post-it note at a time. I create draft 2 and add details as I read through from start to finish. Draft 3 if I need to reread and add more details. Stop writing at approximately 100,000 words.
11. Spell check. Print a hard copy. I then read through creating a note sheet of queries as I go - my main focus is the sequence of structured events. I'm looking for holes in the story too***
12. Create a new draft and amend depending on what I found during step 11.
13. Once happy with the structural order I print a hard copy and begin seeking out the smaller errors then amend as necessary. After this stage, I feel I have a book but not before.
** I plan 75% of my story in this manner I know I'll have moments of inspiration whilst writing and I'll want to include the new ideas too but they arise for me as I write the book.
*** It is a bugger when you find that you've written an event in the wrong place or realise that it would be better else where but then you have to unpick that section and work it in else where.
For me the planning method works. I feel it is more logical and my brain can organise a huge amount of information in this way. I'll do research at any stage of the sequence but it can't take up precious writing time. I usually do research during downtime otherwise it simply swallows up your writing time.
Anyway, I'll love and leave you for today. I have a writing meeting to attend tonight. I have rejoined a large city group as it offers much more scope and has many published and aspiring authors that actually write!!! Unlike the one I mentioned in my previous post. I attend not to read my own work aloud, I have editors and readers doing that, but more because I missed the energy and buzz amongst authors. I enjoy listening to their ideas and giving support where I can.
I'll write part 3 of 'Aspiring author' in the coming days.
Once upon a time, I was an aspiring author. My dream was to write a book and have others read my book. If the truth be told, I'd have done anything to spend time with a published author to know 'how they do what they do' but at the time pre-social media and such like - it was difficult to glean info. My only option was to read 'How to' books on the subject of writing. They were helpful in some respects but not entirely honest. They promised to help me become an author whilst taking my money. But the worst thing was their methods didn't feel like me, they felt like a 'painting by numbers' way of writing. As I read, I struggled to match my imagination with their instructions... the result is I have a shelf of 'How to books' about writing which I never refer to which sadly, didn't really teach me how to write a book.
Last week, I gave two library talks which coincided with the publication of my fourth book 'New Beginnings At Rose Cottage' and several members of the audience asked how I got started. I talked for 90 minutes non-stop - seriously, I did. I'm known for sharing details - I remember how difficult it was for me.
It took me six years to write my first book* - my last book took 108 days from blank page to submission to my editor of 95,000 words! I think you can safely say back then, I was doing it wrong! *This book remains unpublished but one day I'll rewrite it.
Three mistakes I was making back then:
I'd write chapter one then keep reading, rereading and editing it seeking perfection. Then I'd write chapter two and repeat - this isn't how you write a book. Or, it is if you want it to take six years.
I wrote only when the mood/muse inspired me - which means I might go three days without adding a single word to my manuscript - this isn't how you write a 95,000 word book.
I kept thinking that writing had to be some sort of struggle, pained process of creativity which tortured the soul - I'd learnt that detail from my 'How to books'. Yes, I was feeling frustrated flailing around in the darkness without a clear path on how to tackle writing a book but I wasn't tortured, pained and suffering for my art! I really don't think that is the way to write a book despite what the 'How to books' told me.
So, I joined a writing group. Surely there I would be given hints, tips and some direction on how to write a book and that is when a lightbulb moment occurred for me. I soon learnt that many aspiring authors want to write but don't actually write. Some of you may have just sat up and your nerves are bristling at what I've just written. So, I'll say it again just to get under your skin because it might be your lightbulb moment. Many aspiring authors want to write but don't actually write. They are going to write tomorrow, next week, the next free weekend they have, maybe in the holidays or when the kids grow up, when my retirement arrives, when the mortgage is paid or when the new kitchen is fitted... On many occasions, I was the only person who had written in recent weeks and had something to read aloud at the monthly meeting. I ask you, how can a writing group call itself a writing group if the members aren't writing? That would be like a band saying they were a band but they never play music. A dentist saying she is a dentist but never turning up for appointments since 1999! Seriously, my dentist turns up everyday at her dental surgery in order to sustain her job title of being a dentist!
That was my lightbulb moment. Hearing the stream of excuses each month for why members hadn't done the one thing that they were saying was their dream: to write!
It might seem really harsh pointing out the obvious but we all have busy lives, we all have family commitments, we all want to mong on the sofa and stare at the box, are all tired and are all feeling, dealing and coping with a plethora of things in this modern world in which we live. But, writers write! My dentist dentists (I know that isn't a word).
So my first big change was I would write everyday - which erased mistake number 2 (see above). I made it a rule in my life. I wanted to be a writer so I would write everyday. It didn't matter what I wrote, whether I wrote on computer or paper, for how long or how many words. The rule was simple: write everyday... and I still do. The knock on effect was that by the end of the week I had pages of written words, I'd clocked up lots of minutes being a writer and the best feeling in the world was I began to feel like a writer. I suspect my dentist feels like a dentist after doing dentistry all day.
I still didn't have a structured path or know what I was doing regards writing a complete book but, I was writing everyday!
I need to go and write now so, I'll publish this blog and explain how I addressed my other 'two writing mistakes' another day. But before I go, I do need to say that I was writing in secret. My writing was a secret because earlier in my 'dream of being an author' I'd chosen to share my dream with the wrong people. These people then constantly asked 'published yet?' when it was quite obvious that I wasn't as I'd have been dancing about and celebrating if that had occurred. My lesson here was that not everyone is going to support you and my inner writing goddess can do without the constant jibing, questioning and put downs. So, my second rule was to only share on 'a need to know' basis. In my world that came down to a tiny amount of people. I felt back then, and still do, the need to protect myself from any negativity be it comments, certain people, situations, even news clips and films scenes - it does us no favours in this world. Having now been published, I do realise that some people who I didn't tell could have been supportive towards me - I failed to give them the opportunity but they've been utterly fabulous since my publication so, I harvest that now. Back then, I didn't share that I wrote or had a dream of writing a book. I just didn't. Though, it felt kind of awkward once I'd signed a publishing contract and had to inform my family what I'd actually been doing for near on two decades. Oh yeah, sorry if that comes as a shock but that's how long I was secretly writing for. But as I said earlier, I was doing it wrong!
Anyway, I need to go... I have book to write and, if you're an aspiring author so do you!
Regular followers will know that there are occasions when I take myself away from the family home simply to write. Last week, I did just that. I didn't go far, simply to Birmingham city centre where I booked an apartment and set up camp. It might seem strange to some and a little decadent to others - to me, it is necessary.
I have a daily routine in which I constantly juggle my writing time with other aspects of my life and a day job so, to have a dedicated week, alone to focus upon a specific idea is the most productive thing I can do. My intention was to submerge myself in a specific project and write without distraction, responsibility or interruption. And, this is what I did.
I realise some people may struggle being on their own for the entire time - which isn't a problem I have. I am a pretty solitary creature by nature.
I stocked the food cupboards, rearranged the apartment's furniture to suit my needs and literally lived, breathed and slept my project for seven whole days. I took my sketch pad and pencils providing a creative activity for my downtime and a reading book.
It was heaven.
I managed to plan, research and write during my retreat time which now, that I'm home, becomes the backbone of my focus over the next few weeks.
I have previously attended writing retreats organised by authors: Alison May, Julie Cohen and Roman Coleman which have been three day affairs with other writers - which have a structured routine of workshops, one to one appraisals and plenty of interaction with other authors. My solo retreat might seem extreme, it might sound indulgent but other writers may find they benefit from a little bit of 'author time' away from daily life.
Publication days are exciting there is no denying that but today, the eve of publication is also special to me. Today, is the final day when myself and a handful of people (editors, proofreaders, bloggers and reviewers) know the story whilst the readers are kept waiting. From tomorrow onwards, the story is free available to anyone who wishes to invest their time in reading my latest novel. From midnight tonight the ebook will download onto various tablet devices and the story will be out in the big wide world. In the morning the paperback deliveries will begin arriving and I will be sent lots of wonderful photographs of readers with their new book.
Tomorrow, readers will devour it in approximately ten hours and will have their own opinions on each of my characters, plot lines and location. There will be reviews, blogs and stars awarded based on their opinions, understanding and relationship towards: Benni, Ruth and Emma.
Some readers will create a magical world in their head of locations whilst others will recognise many landmarks in and around Brixham. Some readers will connect with the backstories of the three female characters and perhaps reflect upon their own circumstances.
Amongst the story line and the characters, I have dotted little bits of my personal history. I do this in each of my books as my creativity comes from deep within and is inspired by the life I've led. My first full-time job after leaving education was as a bank clerk for NatWest bank in Tamworth, my paternal grandmother lived in a bungalow in Redwood Drive, Burntwood and my paternal grandfather used to demolish brick cooling towers - each is mentioned within the book.
And finally, Rose Cottage is a beautiful holiday let in Brixham in which I stayed during August 2018 for one week thanks to a kind invite from good friends. It is in the small rear garden that I sat on Thursday, 23rd August 2019 and wrote the synopsis which was to become tomorrow's publication.
Today, the eve of publication is filled with excitement and delightful memories knowing that tomorrow my readers can share in my latest novel 'New Beginnings at Rose Cottage'.
Available to purchase Amazon or Waterstones
The countdown has begun with a week to go until my fourth book ‘New Beginnings at Rose Cottage’ is published. I am so excited for Thursday, 8th August to arrive – like a child waiting for Christmas.
All book publications are special to an author but this one feels a little different from my previous three. Book four is my first novel published with the fabulous team at Headline Publishing Group – who’ve embraced my creativity and vivid imagination.
‘New Beginnings at Rose Cottage’ feels different because I have written about a cottage in which I actually stayed whilst visiting Brixham in August 2018. It was a last minute invite from friends to join them on holiday. I hadn’t any intention of planning a novel whilst on holiday, I was there purely to enjoy a good rest amongst such a beautiful location. But my mind never switches off and within three days an idea sprung from nowhere. I noted down three lines outlining my main character cast into my phone app. I still look at those three lines and smile knowing what has been born from those tiny lines.
I use the world around me to stimulate me as an author. Everything that I see, feel and encounter on a daily basis plays a part in creating the world which inspires me. I love people watching. I’ve always been fascinated by watching human beings interact with one another, their gestures, their exchange of communication and body language. It’s no surprise that I felt the urge to study psychology – which helps me to portray my characters.
It’s quite common for me to be intrigued by a passing individual and wonder about their life and experiences. This is how my three new ladies came into the world. In any crowd, I see women who lead full busy lives, for which they sacrifice certain aspects in order to maintain a balance elsewhere. I wanted to explore the nature of these individuals and their inner worlds.
I created three females and sent them on a solos holiday where they know nobody and yet, are expected to live alongside two other strangers in Rose Cottage.
Benni is in her twenties but she’s yet to embark upon the independent life which she craves being a little scared to break free from her comfort zone.
Ruth has dedicated her five decades of life to loving and looking after others but sadly, she’s lost her sense of herself over the years.
Emma is an energetic thirty-something who recognises that she’s taken the wrong path in life. She wants to be her own boss but can she use her talents to secure her future?
I wanted to see their personalities and experiences entwine capturing the changes that can occur when we are placed in a new surrounding and allowed to be ourselves for two weeks. And so, ‘New Beginnings at Rose Cottage’ was born.
New Beginnings at Rose Cottage is available from Amazon and Waterstones.