#1stdraftdiary – end of week one


Elizabeth Gilbert is still my hero. You don’t come up with an idea, the idea seeks you out! More ideas have flown into my mind this week than I ever would have thought possible, I am amazed at where they came from. One minute I was just typing away, the next a furious new idea swirled around and just demanded to be let in. As the week went on, more and more things kept happening in the story that were never meant to be there. Imagination is an amazing thing.

The week started out quite slowly as I spent too much time plotting and not enough time writing, but by Days 4 -7 I had finally cracked it and learnt something intrinsic about my writing; it has a life of its own.

After starting on about 10k words originally, I got about the same again written. So total word count after week 1 is now standing at 20,591. Hooray! And now I can really see where it’s heading.

All of last weeks writing was working on back story. It wasn’t supposed to be, but as the back story was flowing I kept at it. the plan just became a rough guideline at this point, but I am not throwing it out because I may need it when I come to the editing later. I think there will be a lot of ‘Copy and Paste’ going on.

The backstory is about the events that happened that summer when the hero/heroine met, and events that had happened even prior to that and continued to spiral out of control.

I never meant the story to be anything other than a light hearted romance, but it now has some darker elements in it, and a mystery that occurred even prior to that summer which has consequences to the heroine.

After returning from the RNA summer conference in Lancaster this weekend, I have decided to go even darker with more sinister events and keep weaving the unsolved mystery into it. Personally I know they are the stories I love reading, the ones with a dual time line that jump back from present to past, plus weave a mystery throughout and keep the reader guessing to the end.

I attended a very helpful workshop on writing crime, particularly a murder investigation, so I shall see how it goes.

I think it’s always a surprise where your story takes you, so it is easy to see now I am a pantster, no matter how good my previous planner was. So while the ideas keep coming I just want to get it all out and type as quick as I can.

So, home again from the weekend, a ‘little’ sleep deprived, but ready for Week 2 of #Nanowrimo #1stdraftdiary .



Paper and Sage Book Cover Designers


I have found a fantastic site, called Paper and Sage – Book cover designers  which designs  pre-made  and custom covers and I am going to rave about it!

The price is amazing, $50 – $70 for an ebook cover. You can change the typography I think for free if they have used it already on another cover.

The covers look professional, and, one of my big bugbears about self-pubbed books, they do not look less than a proper published cover. You will look like a professional!

They do other design things for you which will help with branding/promotion etc.

Bookmark this site people!!

#1stdraftdiary and Nanowrimo


Elizabeth Rose Murray (Caramel Hearts and The Book of Learning) has described how she flies through her first draft at breakneck speed, you can read about it here. So a few writers who have heard about it are also trying to log their #1stdraftdiaries . Try twitter for more information.

So, since I also wanted to join in with Nanowrimo, (National novel writing month – write 50k words in 30 days), I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to also keep a #1stdraftdiary.

Day 1 -2

Unfortunately, I am the queen of procrastination. Aren’t we all though whenever we set our minds to something, particularly when something is a little bit tricky with it.

The book I am trying to write, (I have changed my mind about three times before getting stuck in), was one which I wrote 10,000 words of a few years ago, to enter into a M&B competition. So I had a short but complete novella, but very much in a M&B style. And that seems to be the problem. I’m not really a M&B writer. It’s hard! So I have to rewrite bits of that, whilst keeping the same plot, plus extend and deepen it all.

It’s hardly surprising I kept putting it off. Part of me kept saying, just let it go, throw it out, but then the other part won’t let it go, the characters are there, I love the setting, and I still want it to see the light of day, probably self-publishing it myself sometime.

So, Day 1 – 2, I have plotted the book out. Twice. using very pretty pink post-its. Using two different methods and now, Day 3, I am ready to go again.

I should mention that the first method was by Better Novel Project, for planning your 30 day Nanowrimo novel, but it was better suited to action/adventure YA lit. There are still good points through it, so I haven’t totally thrown it out, but it isn’t a great fit for this piece.

Then I found an article by Laurie Sanders about a course she is running in conjunction with RWA, about plotting a romance novel and it is a great fit.

So last night I did finally start writing. Only about 1,300 words, and that now means I am nearly 2,000 words behind so I need to get BICHOK, as Kate Walker termed it! ‘Bum in chair, hands on keyboard’, for the uninitiated!

Here’s to Day 3!


Submitting to journals: the Jo Bell method

This is what I am doing wrong. In a nutshell. I am too precious about my short stories. I stand over them like the anxious mother at the school gate, fussing and petting over them. I need to let go. I need to submit. Great post here from Bell jar blog.

The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog


[This article is now taught as part of the Open University’s Creative Writing MA, and I’ve had many many messages to tell me that people have increased their publication record, sometimes by 200% in a year.]

I’ve spent some time lately with poetry journal editors – and also with the poor poetic beggars who, like me, send off work to them. It’s struck me anew that many people, especially those at the beginning of their poetry career, don’t have much idea of how submission works and what time span is realistic for an editor to consider a poem. Also, they’re wondering how to keep tabs on the seventeen different poems that they’ve sent out, in order to avoid the no-no of simultaneous submission.

What follows is the Jo Bell Method; the method of an immensely, award-winningly disorganised poet who nonetheless has managed to win awards. My vast and lofty experience teaches…

View original post 1,566 more words

Where do stories come from?



If you are not a writer, or have never yet put pen to paper, it is not surprising if you ponder the idea ‘where do stories come from’?

If you are a writer, you’re probably not wondering where they come from, but where the hell did all the good ideas go?


You can bet your sorry little ass, that for that insy winsy split second, when the most amazing idea for a blockbuster – ‘5 million copies sold’ novel – comes silently floating into your brain, it just as inconsiderately slips right back out again. And you don’t remember one itty bitty bit of it.

If you have read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, you will have read of her concept that ‘ideas’ are their own thing, and are buzzing around the world waiting until the right person opens up for them and allows them space to grow.

This is a unique concept and not everybody might agree on that point. However, Elizabeth Gilbert does use it to explain why more than one person happens to come up with the same idea at the same time. Perhaps you have even experienced that yourself. You know the thing. You’ve been mulling over a story idea for ages, you meant to get on with it, and then bingo! You find it’s the current plot line in Eastenders, or Downton Abbey,  or Dr. Who, or whatever else you watch.

Now, if you don’t go along with this idea of floating plot lines etc whizzing through time and space, then where do they come from? And if they don’t magically appear in your head, how on earth will you find any at all?

  1. You’re a writer are you not? Be nosy. People watch. Listen in to their conversations – it’s allowed, you’re a writer!
  2. For reasons I don’t quite understand, people tell me things. Seriously (rolls eyes), I mean, I’m a writer, and people feel like offloading their most guilty secrets to me! Really! So I listen, then write a plot line around it. Well, not all of it, but you get the gist. And it is true that people like to tell me stuff. I wish they wouldn’t.
  3. Read the newspapers, especially the trashy ones. It’s amazing what weird and wonderful events happen to other people. And they do say truth is stranger than fiction. But write down any odd thing that takes your fancy.
  4.  This follows on from 3. Job descriptions. I love reading snippets in the local rag about so-and-so, a bricklayer/chimney sweep/ pest control/self-employed personal finance consultant has embezzled his company out of thousands of pounds/brushes/cans of highly toxic chemicals etc. Keep a notebook and make list for jobs/ crimes/names/bizarre events/funny sounding town names etc.
  5. Keep a look out for snappy sounding titles and you could write a short story starting from an inspiring title. I was in the departure lounge at Stansted airport recently, or maybe it was Belfast, well I can’t remember, but it was an airport. We were having a snack in a restaurant and I took a photo of the napkin. It had a snappy logo/statement emblazoned on it, and I thought, wow! I could totally turn that on its head and come up with a totally amazing, bestselling commercial novel that would start a bidding war to end all bidding wars. The napkin said ‘NOTHING TO DECLARE’. Now it was talking about additives and other crap in its food, that it had none obviously, but it was also a bit of a pun because we were in an airport. But I thought to myself, you know, I could turn that on its head and have a crime/psychological thriller novel about a man called Alfred, who worked in Pest Control, who embezzled his company of 100’s of cans of rat poison, and then his wife goes missing. Did he do it? Did he murder her? Or did she in fact, frame him for the job, knowing he’d nicked the rat poison, and actually she had run off with a woman called Maybelline who was a bricklayer from Nether Wallop.  I still think its a good title, but the plot might need a little work. Actually it might make a good short story.
  6. Go online and look for old documents/websites/newspapers. I once followed a link on the PRONI website, and ended up on a highly fascinating site that gave me details of all the shipping records at Derry during the 18th century. And what did I discover? Cases of cannibalism! Uh huh! Who would have thought of that? Sailors used to eat each other. And there were lots of other little snippets that were logged that at first glance might not have been that inspiring, but when you let your mind wander, and open your creative side to a bit of ‘what if?’ your brain starts to imagine all sorts of possibilities.
  7. Or you could try anyone of the many short story or plot generating sites online. This was my amazing bestseller that I rustled up in no time!

    Someone like Doris

    A Sizzling Romance
    by Patsy Chattykins

    Richard Bogtrotter is a weak, pale and understanding police officer from the seaside. His life is going nowhere until he meets Doris Donaldson, a hairy, thin woman with a passion for cookery.

    Richard takes an instant disliking to Doris and the tactless and rude ways she learnt during her years in Scotland.

    However, when a mugger tries to trick Richard, Doris springs to the rescue. Richard begins to notices that Doris is actually rather brave at heart.

    But, the pressures of Doris’s job as a computer programmer leave her blind to Richard’s affections and Richard takes up stamp collecting to try and distract himself.

    Finally, when snotty cleaner, Alison Thunder, threatens to come between them, Doris has to act fast. But will they ever find the sizzling love that they deserve?

    So there you have it.

    7 ideas to find great ideas to write your blockbuster.

    Have you any better ones to beat my sailor cannibal from Derry, or Pest Controller and his sneaky wife, or Doris the skinny baker and Richard Bogtrotter?

    I hope you do.


Book Review of The Cherry Tree Cafe by Heidi Swain

heidi swain cherry tree cafe

I totally adored this book. The writing was sublime and it slipped through my brain like cherry jam on whipped cream!

The beauty of Heidi Swain’s writing is that she laid out such a satisfying, compelling world, that by the time I had finished reading, I was entirely convinced I should set up my own craft cafe. And let me tell you I can’t even crochet!

Heidi managed to fabricate such a  desirable little cafe, with bunting and cake, and sewing and scones and also a totally gorgeous couple that I fell totally in love.

The Cherry Tree Cafe was a contender for the RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Scheme Award for debut authors, and although didn’t win, in my opinion, was just as good as the winning book, The Gunner Girl by Clare Harvey. See post here.

I would give this book a huge ten out of ten, and I am totally looking forward to her next book coming soon.