Ever wondered how a book comes into fruition from the initial idea through to submitted manuscript? Today’s blog is the time line for my fourth publication, ‘New Beginnings at Rose Cottage’ to be published 11th July 2019 by Headline Publishing Group. I’ve been totally honest regards dates, the creative process and the effort involved. I share such details, primarily to help aspiring authors who might glean information to support their own projects and secondly, for my readers who frequently ask ‘behind-the-scenes’ questions about my books.
Saturday, 18th August 2018 – Saturday, 1st September 2018
My husband and I were invited to join our close family friends on their annual summer holiday, which this year was a cottage in Brixham. They’d never been to Brixham before and neither had we, so weeks earlier we’d accepted their kind offer. For me, it was to be a relaxing holiday consisting of leisurely reading and spending quality time enjoying their company. That might sound strange, but there are times when I spend hour upon hour on my own in a room with only my thoughts and imagination for company. Don’t misunderstand me, I love my creative process and my work but I frequently recognise that I don’t clock up much interaction with other human beings. I’m not a people person by nature, which sounds somewhat insular to others. Instead, my mind is filled with ideas and projects which bring me pleasure and happiness so, I have a tendency to lean towards solitary pursuits.
Anyway, the cottage was quaint, the family fun to be with and the weather utterly beautiful so, for three days, I sketched, read and enjoyed the harbour views. Unbeknownst to me, my brain was doing what it does best in collecting information, absorbing the scenery and whirring silently in the background collating ideas. On the fourth day, Tuesday, 21st August 2018, was a family birthday so, we took a trip into the local town of Totnes to celebrate. The six of us piled into one MPV car and headed out on the short journey from Brixham to Totnes, which is a short journey of approximately twenty minutes. That’s when my muse decided to inform me she’d been secretly working. I hadn’t pen or paper so, grabbed my mobile to write a few details which came to mind (see photograph). From these few lines my mind began to spin and create story lines, back ground and histories for each woman. By the time, we arrived back at the cottage after our outing, I had three fully formed women chattering in my head. I berated myself. I was on holiday, I wasn’t supposed to be working but chilling. I’d captured the initial idea which was the important thing, but it would need to wait until I arrived home. How wrong I was!
On Thursday, 23rd August, we were enjoying a drink in the Sprat and Mackerel pub on the harbour front when I opened an email from my agent David Headley asking if I’d created a synopsis for a new idea? I hadn’t expected this email until after my holiday. I’d had a meeting earlier in the month with a senior commissioning editor and he was simply checking-in regards a potential idea. No, but… well, dear reader, you can guess the rest.
That night, while the others cooked dinner, I sat outside on the patio devising plotlines for my three ladies. Seriously, in a matter of two hours I had everything I needed to write a synopsis. With a little help from my friends, who provided feasible forenames and surnames as I blurted out specific details about each character. As sunset arrived, I began writing the synopsis. By twilight, it was complete. On Friday, 24th August, I emailed the synopsis to both the commissioning editor and my agent. As you can imagine I was as pleased as punch with my efforts given the quick turnaround from initial notes to synopsis – that, had never happened before. I usually take a couple of weeks to plan an idea and create a synopsis but hey, sometimes the ideas just flow!
Our holiday continued jogging along happily until our sad departure on Saturday, 1st September – when we packed up our belongings, piled suitcases into cars and made the long journey back to the Midlands. Who’d have thought on my journey home I’d have a new idea in the pipeline – not me!
Anyway, as an author you learn that life goes on. You can’t afford to sit around waiting for a response, you simply need to crack on with writing something, anything in fact - otherwise you are wasting valuable time.
As many of my readers know, I am also work full-time as a teacher and so, I returned to school after the six week’s holidays. I didn’t hear anything about my synopsis until 17th September when my agent called to say, I’d been offered a two-book deal with Headline Publishing Group and the first book was to be the Brixham story. The editor had taken it to their commissioning meetings and discussed in full and the only query was the title, they wished to change it. Again, it’s something authors must get used to, you can’t be ‘precious’ regards your book title, character names and even, plot events because the publishers need to make changes where they need to make changes. So, their chosen title was ‘New Beginnings at Rose Cottage’ – which I think is lovely given the location and events in the story. My agent informed me that my submission deadline was… 4th January 2019. I was thrilled to bits.
I put the phone down, and then reality hits home. The date was 17th September and my deadline was January, mmmm! I then asked Siri how many days remained until 4th January 2019? His monotone reply was 109 days!
Panic! I had 109 days to write an entire book… 108 days if I chose not to work Christmas day… 107 days if I take New Year’s Day off. Eeeeeek! Previously, my novel ‘The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm’ had been written in 147 days. Double eeeeek!
I went straight upstairs to my writing room and created my manuscript document, my working spreadsheet on which I record chapter notes and inserted my title ‘New Beginnings at Rose Cottage’. A good start, I had a title and an agreed synopsis!
At this point I have two choices:
I chose the latter! I have always lived my life with the notion that I must celebrate success because we never know if these moments will come our way again. So, I spent the evening out, celebrating and enjoying the events of the day knowing that tomorrow the hard work would begin. And, it did.
From 18th September it was full on, nose to the grind stone juggling the day-job and the dream job. It wasn’t easy and I’m not going to pretend it was a breeze, because it wasn’t. I know plenty of people who juggle two careers and it blows my mind how many hours we work to meet our goals. We each only have so much energy in a twenty-four-hour window and sadly, many sacrifices have to be made but I can’t complain. It is my choice. My theory is - if you want what you want then, you must do what you need to do. So, the weekday routine of day-job from eight o’clock until six o’clock followed by writing during my evenings restarted in earnest. Thankfully, I teach for four days a week so, have Fridays and weekends at my disposal to dedicate to writing, which I do religiously. I couldn’t afford to waste my Friday sessions, which have become my most productive day of the week.
Initially, I plotted events for each character using post-it notes, then wrote each post-it note in full. Whilst writing, my imagination always adds extra details, twists and turns so, I did stray a little from the original synopsis but it worked.
Now, we all know the best laid plans of mice and men never run as we’d like and yes, I encountered many obstacles. But, I just needed to crack on with the job in hand. There were days when the words flowed beautifully and my fingers danced across the keyboard. Those days were a pleasure. Sadly, there were days when I was metaphorically digging for coal. Hard, tough and dirty work. Those days aren’t nice but with experience you realise you learn more about yourself on those specific days than on the beautiful days. So, you plod on and hey presto, the next day is a beauty.
I repeated this pattern for 108 days - I didn’t work on Christmas day but, I did work on the evening of New Year’s Day.
I submitted my manuscript just before midnight on 4th January 2019. As an author, you can’t afford to miss your deadlines and I pride myself on having never missed one.
5th January - I took the day off. I didn’t write a thing, I spent hours reading, sketching and day dreaming in an attempt to unwind. Seriously, this brain of mine never switches off so, I try to accommodate in with other creative pursuits.
6th January – I got up early as my brain had thrown up an idea and I was bursting to make notes. I worked all day plotting out the lives of three new ladies.
7th January – I returned to the day-job.
Friday, 11th January, I received the news I’d been waiting for confirming that my editor is ‘delighted’ with the submitted manuscript. I can officially breathe… and, celebrate!
‘New Beginnings at Rose Cottage’ available from Amazon and Waterstones
On Thursday, 6th December I had the honour to spend two hours in the studio of Radio Tamworth 106.8fm alongside my friends, Kiren Parmar. In two hours we managed to chat about book reviews, cooking tips (not mine), annoying habits word of the week and even, murdering folk who plot spoil!
If you wish to listen 'on-demand' please visit RadioTamworth106.8fm or this link.
I have a new addition to my writing tools kit. She's as essential as my MacBook, post-it notes and imagination... a brand new teapot. But, she's no ordinary teapot selected from the beloved Price and Kensington range, oh no. This special delivery was crafted by HandDrawnWorld and I love it!
For further details: follow @HandDrawnWorld on Twitter or visit via this link
Wow! My third book ‘The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm’ is about to be published by Aria and I can’t believe a year has passedsince my debut novel ‘A Christmas Wish’ was released in 2017.
The idea for ‘The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm’ stems from the knowledge that not everyone enjoys the festive season. For some families, there is sadness and grief, for other folk relationship issues and break-ups but for the lucky ones, it is the most wonderful time of the year!
I have friends who buy presents in June and others who shop on the weekend before Christmas amongst the bustle of crowds – everyone has such a different routine regards this particular holiday. Personally, I like my house decorated on the 1st December which signals the beginning of present buying. Part of me feels cheated if I can’t enjoy my festive decorations for a whole month given the time it takes to unpack the loft and perform the transformation of the lounge. Despite loving or loathing the festive season – we all know we can’t avoid the age-old traditions, the annual invites and the fond memories of years gone by.
I wanted to explore the differences encountered by three women: Nina, Angie and Holly. Nina wants to cancel Christmas as it signifies the anniversary of her father’s death. Angie is eager to make amends this Christmas due to the disastrous year she has endured. And young Holly, she’s hoping for the best Christmas ever as she’s dating the hottest male at school.
Add into the festive mix the much discussed and yearned for moment when your stomach flips. Hollywood, Disney and true romantics constantly refer to this special moment when we encounter true love – a moment which has forever fascinated me. Nina has never felt it, Angie has but lost it and Holly… well, she’s currently experiencing it every time her and Alfie meet up.
‘The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm’ weaves the three women’s stories into a garland of festive delight and romance as each discovers what Santa has in store for their Christmas treat – and, it isn’t necessarily what they’d planned, hoped or asked for.
The majority of the novel is set in a fictional Christmas Tree farm located in a local village near to my home called Baxterley, Warwickshire. I never think of Christmas Trees as a farm crop until December arrives and I watch the local news reporter deliver their annual piece to camera regards the planting, care and sales of spruce. It intrigues me to think that someone has to nurture these spruces and firs all year round so we can enjoy our festive tree for a few weeks. Having researched the topic thoroughly, I found that growing, purchasing and caring for a real Christmas Tree isn’t an easy task. My fictional farm sells four species: Blue spruce, Fraser fir, Nordman fir and a Norway spruce - each has very different characteristics and histories which customers favour or dislike. The size seems particularly important: a teeny-weeny tree, a modest spruce or a jolly green giant seems to be the three categories favoured by customers. So, there is more to spruce buying than meets the eye – especially if you are craving the perfect Christmas on which to pin your memories. Worse still, if you are hoping to cancel Christmas, recreate previous Christmases or hoping to experience the best Christmas ever – as my three characters are planning. And then, what happens if it goes wrong? All the planning, the ideas and festive cheers goes AWOL and it’s not in your control to save or fix?
For those that love a Christmas read, I have packed the novel full of festive cheer and tradition, for those who aren’t interested in the December holidays there is plenty of romance and humour to delight and entertain whilst snuggled beside a cosy fire.
My aim is that every reader can relate to one of the females, one of their festive situations and hopefully, receive their own happy-ever-after by the final page of the story.
If anyone is wondering, on 1st December I shall be purchasing a Blue spruce, approximately five foot tall, so a modest height, to be decorated with silver garlands, bows and glass baubles. And knowing what I’ve learnt from my research, I’ll be watering it twice a day, every day until the dustbin men come to collect in January.
Update: on 1st December 2018, I visited my local Christmas Tree Farm and came home with not one but two Christmas trees! I have a beautiful Fraser fir with its distinct spicy smell and a tiny Blue spruce. I was hoping to buy a larger Blue spruce but there is a shortage this year. Never mind, it meant I could be slightly greedy and justify having both!
P.S. whilst buying my trees we spotted a peacock decoration - I couldn't resist! (My readers know that in each of my books a peacock is mentioned).
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
As a child, I was taken to my local library at Polesworth in Warwickshire on a weekly basis. I remember my three green cardboard ticket-holders – I was amazed by the number of books available to borrow for free. I think that day was my true beginnings as a writer. Another monumental moment was when I read ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and C.S. Lewis took my hand and led me through the back of the wardrobe towards Narnia. I’m not sure if I’ve ever returned home.
What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?
I’ve had many occupations: waitress, banking, retail industry, fitness industry and currently in education. I’ve always written alongside my other careers.
How do you carry out the research for your novels?
Research changes for each book depending upon the knowledge I currently hold on a subject or event. I tend to focus on research prior to the planning stage, a little more after the planning stage and return to researching specific details after draft one has been written. Prior to draft one, I don’t always know everything that needs to be researched so it can feel like an on-going process as the novel evolves. By nature, I’m a curious person so research and learning feeds my inquisitive side. I love discovering new and interesting topics in reference books, library achieves or interviews.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I adore the initial draft one writing – a blank page which is waiting for a story is my idea of heaven. Some writers hate this stage but my imagination thrives without boundaries so the words simply flow. My second favourite stage is day-dreaming. Creating new characters, their names and locations occurs as I move through my daily routines so, I tend to muse and make notes as ideas surface. My least favourite stage of writing is around draft three, when the story is captured and structured on paper but additional details are needed so it’s a case of rereading and adding, as necessary. I literally argue with myself regards over or under writing sections – quite often I add, then delete and re-amend the same detail to the point of frustration. I’m never a happy bunny until that stage is complete and I can start the first edit.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
The majority of my writing takes place in the tiny spare room claimed a few years ago as my writing room. It’s made a huge difference having a dedicated space for all my papers, work notes and diagrams. I can write anywhere, so regularly change venue to local libraries, coffee shops or even on trains, when necessary. I tend to write early in the morning or late at night during the week, with weekends providing longer writing sessions during the day.
When you're not writing, what do you like to read?
I read everyday, though my chosen genre changes depending upon the stage that my own writing is at. When planning or drafting I tend to drift towards reading crime or classics but once my planned story is drafted I move back towards contemporary fiction. I think it’s a working habit to ensure I don’t mix ideas or be influenced by the author I’m reading.
How important do you think social media is to authors in today's society?
Social media is vital for me to stay in touch with my readers, other authors and bloggers. It makes my day when I receive an unexpected compliment from a reader who has loved my book – I literally walk about with a huge smile on my face.
Afternoon folks... I had a special author jolly this morning on Radio Tamworth 106.8fm with an interview conducted by Kiren Parmar. As always, Kiren was a delight to chat with - I can't believe that two hours simply whizzed by.
If you were busy and missed it, below is a useful link... enjoy!
A live link to RadioTamworth interview - simply press
If you follow my blogs, you’ll know how excited I become as October draws to a close. It isn’t just the beautiful autumn colours and seasonal delight which I adore but with each passing hour National Novel Writing Month nears. For all that I love of October, and I do truly love October… I love November more!
November means the arrival of a manic month of writing in which I attempt to write 50,000 brand-new, sparkly words alongside millions of other fabulous authors around the globe. Every other month of the year, I sit alone in my writing room plugging at the keyboard and sipping hot tea. For November, I imagine all my friends, known and unknown, crammed into my tiny room, alongside me, jostling for desk space to write their daily fix of 1667 words. Seriously, it doesn’t matter what time of day I write in November, I know I have company.
My 7th year is no different - I have my routine. I will sit at my desk on Wednesday, 31st October waiting for midnight to arrive – I will hear my local church clock strike and watch SkyNews as confirmation that my metaphorical starter gun has sounded. This is the night writing which I love. The rest of the world sleeps while us writers dash forth capturing as many words as we can. I will write until the early hours ensuring I make my usual start.
My project this year is the final 50,000 words of draft 1 for a brand-new book (NBARC) which I must deliver to my publisher on 4th January 2019. My followers will know that my previous three published books have all started life as a NaNoWriMo project - another reason why I am geared up for this annual event. It has proven to be so productive and viable for me as a writer. My plan is to have three writing sessions per day: morning, noon and night aiming for 2000 words a day… which will give me a word safety net if the unexpected occurs (which it usually does!). My calendar already shows several events: a Birmingham Chapter meeting, a RNA Winter party in London plus my usual weekly activities which help to guarantee that I won't become a NaNoWriMo recluse!
I know many authors who dislike the annual event. I understand their complaints, their quips and their avoidance. But, for me it simply works – so, why would I not return year after year?
At this moment on 30th October, I have less than twenty hours remaining in which I can polish my post-it note plot points and get ready to make this my best NaNoWriMo… but, I won’t know until 30th November when I submit for an official word confirmation.
To follow my progress either revisit this website (see my progress graphs on the opening home page) or follow @ErinGreenAuthor via Twitter.
For further details visit: NationalNovelWritingMonth
P.S. for those that know I am a tea monster - I have stocked up on my favourite brand @TwiningsTeaUK
Ever wondered how an author fills their spare time away from their writing? I suspect answer is as varied as the genres we write but my ‘down time’ usually finds me lost in other creative pursuits. Recently, I rediscovered my love of drawing, something I haven’t done for over a decade. Who knows how or why I abandoned my sketch pad but I suspect it was lost along the busy path of life. Anyway, I ‘found’ my pencils packed away and unloved in a bottom drawer, alongside a brand-new sketch pad. My talents are mediocre but that’s irrelevant, it’s the act of creating an image that I’m loving. In the last three months, I have welcomed the simple thrill of graphite upon paper, observing and sketching whatever takes my fancy. I’ve spent time browsing art supplies and have gained the same comforting feeling that I do when I browse book stores – the excitement of exploring new territory and possibilities renews your energy.
Whilst publicising my books, many bloggers and readers ask about my interest in ringing church bells. Again, this activity supports my lifelong interest in history and music - as a child, I used to listen to the church bells ringing at Polesworth Abbey. Two years ago, I enquired about learning and discovered that St Martin’s Guild, Birmingham have a dedicated school for bell ringers. It looks very simple, but there is an art to handling the bell and the ‘methods’ rung certainly stimulate the ‘little grey matter’. I recognise that I am fairly insular and independent by nature so the enjoyment of ringing within a group offers a contrast to hours spent alone whilst writing. I’ve meet some incredibly interesting people through bell ringing, who also feed my creative energy.
If you follow my social media, you’ll know that my dog is never far away whilst I write. He has a tendency to sleep in the chair while I do all the work but he’s part of my creative flow. I’ve never had a dog before and so, long country walks have become a new-found enjoyment in the recent years. Many authors use walking as a means to stimulate ideas and rearrange plotlines prior to their desk work and it’s fair to say it works. I regularly leave the house with ideas swirling about my mind to return with a completed plotline ready to write.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that any activity that enables my mind to remain creatively fresh and alert is advantageous in supporting my work. And, long may that continue.
It was excitement all round this morning when I was invited onto Radio Tamworth 106.8FM to be interviewed by the fabulous Kiran Parmar, as part of her weekly book show.
The interview was conducted over two hours and we covered a vast array of subjects from wedding proposals, retro jewellery, Mad dog 20:20, tea making and a lot of chatter about my three books.
If you missed the live interview here is the opportunity for you to listen via the on-demand player - follow the link below , sit back and enjoy!
We will definitely be doing another interview as this morning was so much fun!
On-demand player link: select