blog tours, guest author, writing

#BlogTour The Savage Shore by David Hewson talks about How To Research A Book. @blackthornbks @david_hewson #TheSavageShore #BookResearch

It’s always exciting when a new imprint bursts onto the scenes, especially when it is an imprint that focuses on crime fiction, which is my favourite genre. So I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for the first two books by Black Thorn books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to squeeze in reading either of the books, although I really did like the sound of them both. Thankfully David Hewson, author of The Savage Shore was kind enough to write a guest post for us, about how to research a book. I’m sure that it will be interesting to those who are writers and those that aren’t. Thanks David for stopping by!

Here is a bit more about Black Thorn before the post itself. Enjoy!

blackthornbooks.com

Independent publishing powerhouse Canongate has announced the launch of its new crime fiction imprint, Black Thorn. From psychological thrillers to police procedurals, and from historical detective dramas to heart-thumping suspense stories: Black Thorn intends to seek out and publish compulsive, high quality crime thriller fiction.

Officially launching in May 2019 with 4 titles, Black Thorn will focus on a variety of crime thriller audiences, providing them with compulsive titles from both new and old authors. On 2nd May, crime master David Hewson will launch The Savage Shore, the latest instalment in his tremendously popular Nic Costa series alongside debut American author Catherine O’Connell’sThe Last Night Out. Then on 6th June master of the modern who-dunnit Simon Brett will launch The Liar in The Library and Caro Ramsay, author of the critically acclaimed DI Anderson and DS Costello series, will present The Suffering of Strangers.

How To Research A Book by David Hewson.

Before I became a novelist I was a journalist. Research – hunting down facts, sometimes ones that don’t want to be found – is second nature. I’ve written more than 30 novels over the last quarter of a century and every one of them has involved extensive research. This isn’t because I want them to be ‘true’. They’re not. They’re fiction. Even on the rare occasion I’ve included real-life characters from history I’ve never pretended they’re accurate portrayals. Writers of fiction rarely do that. Even Shakespeare mangled the truth to a huge degree in depicting Macbeth, Richard III and other historical figures in his drama.

No, research is there to provide the bedrock of a story. To kid the reader into thinking your lie is really a version of the truth. That becomes so much easier if you can talk them into becoming a part of a world they may already know just a little, then convince them they’re meeting a bigger, more colourful version of it through the cleverness of an author who knows his or her stuff.

Research, then, is a fundamental part of building the world behind a story. After all these years I have a very practical and well-established way of going about.

First… read.

Yes, writing depends on reading, something a few budding authors tend to forget. If you don’t consume the work of authors you won’t begin to understand structure, style and craft, all the things you need to write yourself. The Savage Shore is set in Calabria, the toe of Italy, a part of the country few people know, even many Italians from other regions. That made the research for this story even more interesting. I perused history books, an old academic tome about the strange society of the communities dotted away in the mountain region of Aspromonte. Then a publication from the EU which investigated the background of the local shadowy crime organisation, the ’Ndrangheta. Some tourist guides, naturally, and a century-old travelogue of the area, Old Calabria, written by a dodgy English writer, Norman Douglas, who was to die in a religious hospital Capri in 1952 after a rather scandalous life,  uttering the timeless last words, ‘Get those fucking nuns away from me.’

Head filled with facts I then start visiting my target area. You can’t fly directly to this part of Italy from the UK. The closest you can get is Lamezia Terme from Stansted with Ryanair (who lost my luggage the first time out and couldn’t give a damn). Several trips later though I had a notebook filled with ideas about locations I could pillage and a copious file of photos. Pictures are important to me because I tend to think visually. Calabria is a natural place for this. Much of the action in The Savage Shore takes place in the part which overlooks the Strait of Messina, with Etna looming in Sicily across the water. At night, in the hills, you can see the glow of the volcano. During the day eagles soar effortlessly in the breeze down to the coast. The fields are full of a fruit you’ll scarcely see anywhere else in Italy – the bergamot, a citrus used for perfume and the scent of Earl Grey tea. The Calabrians live in one of the poorest parts of the country, but they are immensely proud of what is theirs. Another local delicacy too is the swordfish which gather in the strait during summer and are hunted by harpoon using techniques centuries old, a practice which Nic Costa will face himself during the course of the book. 

Lastly, I will always take a run through local cemeteries snapping headstones. A book needs names, and there’s no better to find ones for your local characters than on a grave.

Pictures, thoughts, notes, facts, names. Those are the building blocks of a book’s world for me. Until I have them I can’t write a word because the characters I work with and the story that follows must emerge from that world, and be unique in the sense that the tale I tell could happen nowhere else.

That is definitely true of The Savage Shore. From the bergamot plantations in the hills to the harpoonists looking for swordfish in the glittering blue sea, from the hidden mountain chapels to the grimy criminal corners of the city of Reggio, this is the Calabria I wanted to portray.

Is it ‘true’?

Some of it. Not that external truth matters in fiction, only the inner: does this world feel real to the reader? Am I transporting them to a place they’ve never known, but one they can see and smell and feel and hear?

That’s the test of my kind of book. I put a lot of work in to try to make it happen. If you find your way to The Savage Shore I hope you get the scent of bergamot and the salt tang of that wonderful stretch of the Mediterranean as it runs along the ragged coastline of Calabria. It’s a magical place to be… and to write.

Detective Nic Costa finds himself a stranger in a strange land when he’s sent to infiltrate the mob in a remote part of southern Italy. 

Roman police detective Nic Costa has been sent undercover to Italy’s beautiful, remote Calabrian coast to bring in the head of the feared mob, the ‘Ndrangheta, who has offered to turn state witness for reasons of his own.

Hoping to reel in the biggest prize the state police have seen in years, the infamous Butcher of Palermo, Costa and his team are aware the stakes are high. But the constant deception is taking its toll. Out of their depth in a lawless part of Italy where they are the outcasts, not the men in the hills, with their shotguns and rough justice, the detectives find themselves pitched as much against one another as the mob. As the tension rises, it’s clear the operation is not going to plan. Is Nic Costa getting too close to the enemy for comfort – and is there a traitor among them …?

About the Author:

David Hewson is a former journalist with The TimesThe Sunday Times and the Independent. He is the author of more than twenty-five novels including his Rome-based Nic Costa series which has been published in fifteen languages, The Savage Shore is the latest instalment in this critically celebrated series. He has also written three acclaimed adaptations of the Danish TV series, The Killing.

The Savage Shore by David Hewson is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

how to, NaNoWriMo, rambling, writing

#authorslife Finishing my first edit!! #NaNoWriMo #submitting #scary #hardwork @bookouture

So my regular readers will know that I have been attempting to write a book for a few years now. In November 2018 I completed NaNoWriMo, where you write 50,000 words in a month.

This isn’t anything new, I have completed NaNo twice before but I have never got further than that. I learnt heaps from my first two attempts at writing a book, but the main one was that you need to write a book that you would read yourself and that you are really interested in. A writer will spend many hours on their book, you need to love it!!

So after I reached 50,000 words with NaNo 2018 I was unsure about what would happen next. I had loved writing it and hoped that I would carry on with it but life most definitely got in the way with major surgery and a load of other stuff going on.

But my writing helped to keep me sane, I had a month where I pretty much stayed home. I’m a huge homebody so in many ways I loved that but I also went a bit stir crazy. So writing helped me escape into another world and gave my brain a workout.

When I completed my first draft I was totally stunned and very excited. I had never got that far but I knew that I was nowhere near done. Lots of people say that it is best to put your book down and go back to it after a break so that you can see your work with fresh eyes.

I had an enforced break from it because it was school holidays and so my time to work on the book was limited and I decided to go back to it in January and have a few weeks off.

I was surprised to find that I really, really missed my book. For a few days, I felt almost bereft and I missed my characters so much. Sounds a bit silly really, but that was how I felt.

It was over the break that I heard about a scheme that one of my favourite publishers, Bookouture, was doing. They were looking for underrepresented authors to submit their manuscript and they will select some to read through and give feedback to the author about their work. An amazing opportunity and one that I did not want to miss.

And so once my kids were back at school I set about editing my book. This terrified me, what if I cut the wrong bit out? Or made it worse? Or didn’t make it better? Scary times. So I sent my book to a friend to read, she isn’t a blogger or author, she just likes reading and so she read my book. And thankfully she loved it and gave me some great feedback that helped to give me focus and the courage to keep going.

Thanks to ProWritingAid I hopefully worked out most of the major grammar errors and sentences that could be constructed differently to make them more readable. I also discovered that I use the word ‘that’ all the blooming time. It felt as though almost every sentence had the word in it, and some had it more than once! I reckon that removing them cut my word count significantly!

It also gave me the opportunity to go through the book chapter by chapter, hopefully, pick up continuity errors and changing the surname of one character that was used regularly in the story.

I use Scrivener to write and I love it, I’m very sure that I don’t use half of what it can do but I wouldn’t be without it. It helps me in so many ways. And it compiled my manuscript for me and saved it as a pdf so that I was able to submit it to the Bookouture scheme.

Oh, and I needed to write a pitch of a couple of sentences which is not the easiest thing to do!!!

So today I submitted my manuscript for feedback from Bookouture, but I also did something very exciting. Scrivener helped me convert my manuscript into a mobi file that can then be transferred to a Kindle to read. So I have my book on my kindle. This just blows my mind! I feel so happy and proud! I know that there is an awful lot more to do on my manuscript but I’m just amazed that I have got this far!!

My book on my Kindle!!!

If you live in London and fit the criteria you can submit your completed manuscript here: https://www.spreadtheword.org.uk/applications-are-open-for-1-2-1-feedback-from-bookouture/ but you don’t have long!!

NaNoWriMo, rambling, writing

Finishing my first draft. #NaNoWriMo #firstdraft #writing #amwriting #authorslife

So something pretty amazing happened yesterday. Not only did I write over ten thousand words in a day, but I also wrote two of the best words ever.

This is my third attempt at writing a book, the first was pretty rubbish but it taught me an awful lot. The second was better, I still think that the story is a good one and with a lot of work it might go somewhere but I’m not sure that I love it enough to do it.

The difference with this book is that it is a book that I know that I would love to read and I think that is why I also loved writing it.

I have never planned my books, I see photos that other authors post showing their boards or notebooks fully of planning, with each chapter outlined and every character thought through. I have no idea what it is like writing a book that is planned in such detail, but for whatever reason planning is just not for me. I have tried but I just can’t do it, my brain simply doesn’t work that way.

But I like it the way that I do it, I started this book with a vague idea of a plot and two characters in my head. I thought that I had a fair idea where the book would go but I was wrong, the book turned out totally differently to how I imagined. Well, not totally but very different. Another character appeared and demanded a bigger part in the story and that changed the book significantly. But I am very happy with the direction the book took and I love not knowing what is going to happen, it feels like the characters write the book and I am just the puppet that types.

I also had my first author lightbulb moment when the ending suddenly came to me, I’m not quite sure where it came from as I had had a different ending in mind, but the moment it came into my head I knew that it was the perfect ending.

Some of you may know that I had a busy November, not only did I do NaNoWriMo but my twins also celebrated their eighth birthday and anyone who knows anything about kids birthdays knows how time consuming and exhausting they are. I also squeezed in a bit of major surgery. It was a busy month.

So quite how I have managed to write seventy four thousands words in thirty seven days I do not know. But I did. And boy it feels good. I have no doubt that a lot of the book will be pretty rubbish, writing in a post general anaesthetic haze is unlikely to equal an amazingly written book and I know that I have made a load of continuity errors when my brain was too befuzzled (that so needs to be a word) to remember what I had written only a paragraph or two before.

But my enforced house arrest as I recover from the surgery has meant that I have had far more time to write, and it has been nice to think of something else too.

So my first draft is done, blooming amazing that I’ve got this far I think. But now the hard work starts…editing. This is foreign territory for me, I’ve never made it this far and so I’m more than a little scared because I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m going to give whatever it is my best shot! Any advice appreciated. Really, really appreciated!

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But for now, I’m am so happy that I got to write the words ‘The End’ and I’m proud of every single word that I wrote, all 74,311 of them!

blog tours, guest author, guest post, how to

#BlogTour #Content Tips for writing about the past by Tiit Alexsejev #LBFBALTICS #BALTICBOOKS @midaspr

From today in London there’s a very big event happening for the book world, it’s the London Book Fair. They’re focusing on celebrating literature from the Baltic Countries and I have a guest post by Tiit Aleksejev talking about writing historical fiction. Enjoy!

Baltic Books Blog Tour

Guest Post: Tips for writing about the past – lessons from a historical fiction writer.

Tiit Aleksejev (1968) is historical fiction writer and playwright. He won the European Union Prize for Literature for his novel The Pilgrimage, which accounts the First Crusade. Since April 2016, Aleksejev has also been the chairman of the Estonian Writers´ Union. Estonia and the Baltic Countries are the Market Focus at this year’s The London Book Fair.

Aleksejev provides some tips on approaching the difficult historical subject matter and turning it into accessible fiction.

  • Do your own research into the period you are writing about. Then forget most of what you have learnt, the reader is not interested in your knowledge; but he or she cares about authenticity. Small errors kill the credibility, an accurate detail can be a cornerstone. Check the details but don’t overload your writing with them
  • Read as many resources as you can: chronicles, accounts, battle reports, songs, poems etc. Most will be inclined or distorted, they are written in favour of someone or something. For example the medieval conception of truth and veracity is completely different from ours. But you may find authentic fragments and voices; it is all about voices.
  • We don’t know how the ancients spoke, we know how they wrote, but this writing was done by a limited social group. So, you have to reconstruct – to invent in most cases – spoken language. Avoid anachronistic speech. It was probably not “O thou noble boy, hand me over this golden chalice!”. Distinguish everyday talk and ceremonial talk. Do your characters speak like priests or beggars? Or do they speak like people who surround you? If you are not sure how they really spoke, go for the brevity and laconic dialogues.
  • Find original names for your characters which suddenly sound right to you. Chronicles is a possibility. Or tomb stones if you are not afraid of the dead.
  • Visualize space: a room, a house, a street, a city. You need to see what is in the room. Pieces of furniture may be unaccustomed to us e.g. shelves for the scrolls. Maybe the room is empty. Then you have to see it empty.

The Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – will be the Market Focus for the London Book Fair 2018 (10th – 12th April).

About The Author:

Tiit Aleksejev

Tiit Aleksejev in 2011

Tiit Aleksejev (born 6 July 1968) is an Estonian novelist and playwright.

Aleksejev was born in Kohtla-Järve. He studied history at the University of Tartu, and served as a diplomat in France and Belgium.

His debut novel was a thriller called Valge kuningriik (The White Kingdom, 2006). It won the Betti Alver Prize for best first novel. His second novel was a work of historical fiction, set in the time of the First Crusade. This novel called Palveränd (The Pilgrimage, 2008) won the EU Prize for Literature and was translated into several languages subsequently (e.g. Italian, Hungarian, and Finnish). In 2011, he published a third novel Kindel linn (Stronghold). Palveränd and Kindel linn are the first and second part of what is to become a trilogy.

His first play Leegionärid (Legionaries), about the fallen soldiers of the Estonian Legion, appeared in 2010 and premiered in 2013 in Rakvere. It received the Virumaa Literary Award in 2011. Another historical play, Kuningad(Kings) was published in 2014 and is about the murder of the four Estonian kings during the St. George’s Night Uprising (1343).

Aleksejev lives in Tallinn.

blog tours, guest author, guest post

#BlogTour #Content 88 North by J.F. Kirwan. @kirwanjf @RaRaResources #thriller #spythriller @HQDigitalUK

 88 North Full Banner
Today I am delighted and excited to be part of the blog tour for 88 North by J.F. Kirwan. Readers of my little blog will have seen my reviews for the first two books in this series, 66 Metres and 37 Hours, both of which were very enjoyable, fast-paced, thrilling reads. I agreed to take part in the blog tour for all three of the books without having read any of them, something that is quite a big commitment for any book blogger that is inundated with requests to read and review books. I was relieved when I read the first one and really enjoyed it and when I finished the second one I asked whether I could have a copy of 88 North so that I could also read and review it, along with the guest post that I’d agreed to post. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to fit in reading 88 North yet, but I absolutely and most definitely will. This is a good series!
And I love this guest post where the author talks about his writing and how he gets his ideas. I like it because he is like me and doesn’t plan much, that he knows the beginning and the end but has no idea about the middle, just as I do and it seems that he does his best thinking in the bath, which is almost the same as me, because I hate baths and shower instead. Perhaps I’m not doing it all wrong then?!!

Guest Post:

Writing and Russian Roulette

by J F Kirwan

People always ask me if I know the end of my next book. I always reply yes, because I do, and that I also know the beginning. However, the middle 300 or so pages are a different matter. It’s like being able to see a house on a faraway mountain, but the valley before it is shrouded in mist. As a writer, having promised a book to a deadline, it kind of feels like Russian Roulette, because there’s a chance that the inspiration simply never comes… I believe this tension travels down through my fingertips into my laptop. I also believe it’s essential, at least for me. If I had it all plotted out, I’d get bored and my writing would be flat. Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of writers turn out fab thrillers and plot everything out meticulously beforehand, but it just wouldn’t work for me.

After 66 Metres and 37 hours, which have the same protagonist (Nadia) but are slightly different books in style, I wanted the third one also to be different still. For about a month I was keen to start the next book, but after writing the Prologue I stopped, because I couldn’t see the twists and turns I would need to make this one stand-alone from the others and not simply be ‘more of the same’. Mostly, I couldn’t see the overall arc of the protagonist. If you’ve made it to the end of 37 hours, you pretty much know what Nadia needs to do. But what challenges would she have this time, possibly her last? It had to be something new. Luckily for me, my Sony laptop broke (the keyboard – I get carried away and sometimes I can’t type fast enough) – and I had to wait 10 days for a replacement (a Mac – 10 days? I live in France – just don’t ask).

And then, following in the great footsteps of Archimedes, I was sitting in the bath one evening thinking about nothing in particular, and the plot came to me. Just like that. Like it was hiding in plain sight and I’d missed it all this time. I got out, vaguely dried myself and began scribbling notes. This went on for 10 minutes, then I sat back. It would work. Already the shape of the book started to form, the clouds lifted from the valleys, and I could see the road, the places Nadia would travel, the obstacles in her way, and how it would change her. I didn’t go any further, because I still needed that uncertainty to drive me forward.

I also play Russian Roulette with my characters. Quite a few of them die in my books. One in particular, a real innocent, is someone Nadia saves in 88 North. In the initial draft she lived, and my fellow writers applauded. But the more I thought about it, it lessened the dramatic tension, and I knew Nadia’s nemesis, Salamander, would do everything he could to put Nadia off her game. So I killed the innocent. This led to one of the most dramatic scenes in the book, in Sudan, where Nadia finds out, and goes on a killing spree fuelled by revenge. One reader told me she punched the air while reading that scene. Had I planned it all out, and stuck to the plan, it never would have happened.

The ending was also re-written several times, as was the epilogue. I don’t mean edited, where the basic frame stays the same, I’m talking about major-rewrites here (even if the same characters remain standing at the end). But you can’t rewrite too much. Russian Roulette is a good analogy. Six chambers, one bullet. After three pulls of the trigger, you are really pushing your luck…

Blurb:

88 North

The deadliest kind of assassin is one who is already dying…

As the radiation poisoning that Nadia Laksheva was exposed to in Chernobyl takes hold of her body, she knows she has mere weeks to live. But Salamander, the terrorist who murdered her father and sister has a deadly new plan to ‘make the sky bleed’. Nadia is determined to stop him again, even if it is the last thing she ever does.

The only clue she has are the coordinates 88˚ North, a ridge in the Arctic right above one of the largest oil fields in the world, three thousand metres below the ice. If Salamander takes hold of the oil field, he could change the climate of the whole planet for generations to come…

But can Nadia stop him before her own time runs out?

The gripping third and final novel in J.F. Kirwan’s brilliant spy thriller series. Perfect for fans of Charles Cumming, Mark Dawson and Adam Brookes.

About the Author:

KIRWAN Barry 01 ret 6x8J.F. Kirwan is the author of the Nadia Laksheva thriller series for HarperCollins. Having worked in accident investigation and prevention in nuclear, offshore oil and gas and aviation sectors, he uses his experience of how accidents initially build slowly, then race towards a climax, to plot his novels. An instructor in both scuba diving and martial arts, he travels extensively all over the world, and loves to set his novels in exotic locations. He is also an insomniac who writes in the dead of night. His favourite authors include Lee Child, David Baldacci and Andy McNab.

Website: www.jfkirwan.com 

Blog: www.jfkirwan.com/blog 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kirwanjf/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kirwanjf

88 North by J.F. Kirwan is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

 

 

how to, NaNoWriMo, rambling

How I wrote 50,000 words in fourteen days for #NaNoWriMo #crazy

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So as I wrote on here I decided fairly last minute to do NaNoWriMo again this year. I took part in it for the first time last year and won, you can read about that win here, so I did feel some pressure to do the same this year.

Now the thing that I have realised about NaNo is that you learn a lot about yourself doing it. Last year I surprised myself, I had absolutely zero confidence in myself as a writer and the fact that I was able to write 100 words surprised me. The win boosted my confidence, but I didn’t realise how much until I started NaNo this year.

Unfortunately I haven’t completed my book from last year, in fact since finishing NaNo last year I think that I have only written a few thousand more words which is a real shame. But I think that the problem with that book is that my lack of planning came to bite me, I just didn’t know where to go with the story next.

My book for this year was totally different to last years, a completely different genre and feel, and in many ways a far more complicated story. As I wrote on here when I started the idea of this book came from a competition that I wanted to enter (you can read that here) and when I started I really did have only the vaguest idea of what the story might be about.

Yet I found it so easy to write compared to my book last year and I think partly that was because I had less anxiety and doubt, I wrote knowing that I could always change it later so it didn’t really matter how good it was now. That really took the pressure off me and allowed me to just write, I even changed the tense that I was writing in after 12,000 words (blooming annoying now though that I did!).

Something that I really struggled with last year was writing conversations. Early in the book, the conversations that characters had were very short with one or maybe two sentences being spoken at a time. I hated writing it and it felt awkward to write and so no doubt it would feel awkward to read. This year writing conversations has been easy, I was a good way in before I even remembered how difficult it had been last year as that just wasn’t the case this year. Why? Well I’m not totally sure but I expect that part of it is that I didn’t worry about it too much and so that let it flow. And what it really showed me was that I learnt from last year and it made this year easier, perhaps once this book is finished I might go back and revisit the first one.

I have discovered that I am quite a fast writer, at least I think that I am but I really don’t have much to compare to, but I easily reached the daily word count of 1,667 words that you need to complete NaNo in the month of November. Currently my average words per day for the month of November is 3,500, so significantly higher. I guess that’s kind of that for the post then, as that is how I wrote 50,000 words in fourteen days, I made sure that my word count was much more than it needed to be.

Now in a way I’m lucky in that I have absolutely no social life, so I never go out and so can write morning, afternoon and evening if I want to. I am a single parent to twins though and that is definitely not easy but they really got behind me with NaNo this year, clearly proud of what I was doing and keen for me to win and ‘beat others’, they couldn’t understand that NaNo is not a competition where you try to beat others, everyone who gets to the 50K words wins, as long as they do it in November. But their support helped, it meant that they often told me to write more and so would leave me in relative peace to do so. Sure they have watched more television than normal but hopefully they have also been inspired watching their Mum do something like this. One day at school the teacher asked all the children who their favourite authors were, as you can imagine in a room full of six and seven year olds, most of them said Julia Donaldson, probably because she’s an author that people know the names of. But when it got to my son he said ‘my Mummy’ which really made me smile.

Something that I really learnt about myself this year doing NaNo is that I am competitive and that I hate failure. This spurred me on to write more. But there are other reasons that pushed me to write more and get NaNo completed as fast as I could. Firstly the reason that I was writing this book in the first place, I have to get 5,000 words looking ship shape and ready to impress for the competition by the 4th of December and I had that playing on my mind.

The other thing playing on my mind has been cake. Not eating cake, although that would be nice, but making cake. I am not a baker and I am most definitely not a cake decorator, yet I am going to attempt to be both. My children turn seven next week and have requested two cakes. One cake they want to be of our dog, Dotty. Um, ok. And cake number two they want a tree with the three of us sitting under it, with the dog too obviously. Now I don’t know about you, but to me, that doesn’t sound very easy.

So I’ve been on Pinterest which has given me many ideas for the dog cake. Too many ideas really. Do I do a dog shaped cake, a cake with a sugarpaste dog on top, or a round cake that is the dogs face? Of course there are many other options too on Pinterest but I have discounted them. I haven’t even thought about the tree cake which will be worse in many ways as that will be eaten by adults, the dog one is for children and they are a far easier to please. But that has been pushing me to finish NaNo. There’s no way that I can make two cakes next week while doing NaNo. Nope, not going to happen.

So if you want my advice on how to complete NaNo in fourteen days I would suggest the following:

  • Have a huge pressure towards the end of the month. Something that will be challenging and stressful and no doubt exhausting (a child’s birthday is always exhausting for the parent/s, doubly so when there are two children involved).
  • Decide to learn a new skill with a huge deadline towards the end of the month that if you miss will mean that your children will stop believing that you can do anything.
  • Have something really important that you need to be completed at the start of the next month, something that will take a lot of time and scare the hell out of you (show people my writing?!!! AAGGGHHHHHHHH)
  • Just write. Don’t worry about what you’re writing and how good it is, just get the words done.
  • Don’t worry too much about minor details. Last year I spent a crazy amount of time trawling names websites looking for the perfect name for my characters, this year I gave them whatever name came to mind. If it doesn’t fit then I can change it (there is currently only one name that I am going to change, I just haven’t thought what to yet, but I’m not stressing about it).
  • Google is your friend, just hope that no one goes looking at your search history!
  • Join Facebook groups, or just one group, where others are also doing NaNo. Support from others going through it is priceless.
  • Get some NaNo buddies, it’s fun (and motivating) to check others wordcounts.
  • Post your daily wordcounts somewhere, Twitter is good for this if you want it to be a bit more anonymous, Facebook if you want to get your friends behind this.
  • Use your friends. If someone that you know knows something about what you’re writing then ask them if they will help, or post on Facebook and wait for the responses. One of my characters was going to Greece, I have never been so I posted asking for people who have been to give me tips and suggestions and things that would only be known by someone who had been. Twenty minutes later I had more information than I could possibly need. Who knew so many people had been to Athens?!

I think that NaNoWriMo is brilliant and if you want to write but need some extra motivation then it’s the perfect time to give it a go. Sure. it really isn’t easy but whether you end up winning or not, you will have learnt a lot.

Since I got my 50,000 words I have kept writing, I’m now on 58,640 words, my pace has slowed but I have written every day, today I have only done 780 words but yesterday I did over 5,000. I am really enjoying it and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to my characters, I love how they show me the way.

NaNoWriMo, rambling

#NaNoWriMo Here we go again! #amwriting

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-Cover

So, some of you might remember that last year I participated (and completed) in NaNoWriMo. NaNo is a crazy event where authors, or would be authors, from around the world attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

If you think that sounds easy then trust me, it isn’t. Although based on last years experience it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I was delighted to complete it and be able to call myself a winner. Unfortunately, I have struggled to complete that book. I still want it finished but I don’t know when that will be.

So I’ve thought on and off about whether to do NaNo again this year and in the end, I decided that I would. Why not? I had the whole ‘if I only do 10K then that’s 10K more than I have now’ thing going through my head. I only signed up last week and figured that I would be relaxed about it this year.

So today is day one. The target is to write 1,666 words a day to get to 50,000 over the month. Last year I worked hard to get ahead so that I could take days off through the month, especially weekends when my kids are about, and I’d like to do the same this year. Especially as it is their birthday near the end of the month.

This year I have a very, very vague idea for my book. There is a competition being run by the charity Gingerbread and Trapeze Publishers, they want a book written by someone with experience of single parenting, either being a single parent or having grown up with one, to write a fiction book with a single parenting theme. As a single parent, I like the idea of the competition, of having fiction books with my diverse families represented. So, here I am. Writing a book with a single parenting theme.

I cannot tell you what genre my book will be, my complete lack of planning (no characters even had a name this morning) mean that I don’t know. The characters will take me where they take me. It’s kind of exciting to see where it will go, but I have to say that I’m going to give it my best! It seems that I am a teeny bit competitive.

Oh, and today’s word count? 3664 words!! I’m pretty happy with that!