In September 2021 I started a new, monthly, blog series ‘Diary of a Novelist’ to document my progress on my latest book.
I haven’t posted an update for months.
Life took an unexpected turn, as life often does, in February 2022 after I developed a health condition that, as yet, I haven’t learned to manage. Although I’m on medication, I’m still waiting for further tests and we know how stretched our poor NHS is (and you can read about my experience calling the emergency services for an ambulance here).
As a result of my condition I’ve felt exhausted, unable to think clearly or focus. Unable to make decisions for myself, let alone my characters, writing fell by the wayside. Last October my 10th book was published and although my publisher still has a couple of thrillers I’d already written to bring out over the next couple of years, I felt that my career was over. Everything I worked so hard for, gone. Although my publishers are lovely and supportive I tied myself up in knots worrying I wouldn’t be able to stick to the editing schedule. That I’d let them down.
I’ve been absolutely devastated.
I’m a very private person and it’s difficult to open up, to be vulnerable, but by the beginning of this year I’d also been diagnosed with depression and health anxiety. My mind full of worry about my diagnosis, what else the tests might reveal. I became somebody I no longer recognised. All traces of the author, gone.
Then, things took a turn for the worst. My specialist increased the dose of my medication and I felt a little better. A little clearer. Something happened that hasn’t happened for a long time.
I wanted to write.
It was terrifying to sit in front of a blank page, to even think about beginning a new book, but little by little, over the past 4 weeks, I’ve begun to build a story. A thriller which I think may be my best book yet. More importantly, I’ve enjoyed it.
Stepping back into my writer shoes is exciting, daunting, exhilarating and anxiety inducing but I’m so grateful that I’m building a world I can transport myself into, to lose myself again in something I love so dearly.
Progress is slow, but every word, every sentence, is a sign that I’m moving forward.
Longing to feel like myself again, and immensely looking forward to April’s publication of my 8thpsychological thriller, ‘The Fall’ I’ve booked a few events to speak at because I’ve missed connecting with readers and writers. I’m mindful of my energy levels, and I’m not taking on too much (I hope!) but I’d love it if you can join me at any of them.
Tonight, at 7pm GMT, I’ll be over on Instagram chatting to the Squad Pod about all things bookish. You can find us here.
On Thursday 2nd March I’ll be at Leicester Writers Club. You don’t have to be a member to come along. Details are here.
On Saturday 4th March I’ll be at Towcester’s very first book week at 2pm. Details are here.
On Thursday 9th March I’ll be at Earls Barton library at 19.30 which has been saved from closure by a wonderful group of community volunteers. Details here.
I feel incredibly nervous about being out there again, wish me luck!
I am completely obsessed with this fabulous cover for my 8th psychological thriller, ‘The Fall’ and very grateful to the team at my publishers who created it.
I can’t believe this will be my 11th published book and I can’t wait to share more about it closer to publication. It’s coming out on April 27th (my birthday!) simultaneously in the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand & Australia and you can pre-order via your local Amazon here.
So more soon, but for now here’s the blurb –
She promised she wouldn’t tell. They made sure she couldn’t…
At her surprise 40th birthday party, Kate Granger feels like the luckiest woman in the world but just hours later her fifteen-year-old daughter, Caily, is found unconscious underneath a bridge when she should have been at school.
Now, Caily lies comatose in her hospital bed, and the police don’t believe it was an accident. As the investigation progresses, it soon becomes clear that not everyone in the family was where they claimed to be at the time of her fall.
Caily should be safe in hospital but not everyone wants her to wake up. Someone is desperate to protect the truth and it isn’t just Caily’s life that is in danger.
During my last update in May I’d hoped to get back on track documenting the progress of my latest thriller month by month. Sadly, my health has deteriorated further and I feel so ill and exhausted most of the time I’m not making as much progress as I’d like. I did venture out to the Harper Collins Summer Party. I hadn’t been out for months and although it was tiring it was lovely to briefly catch up some author friends at the gorgeous Victoria & Albert Museum. Unfortunately it took so much energy I made the difficult decision not to go to Theakstons Crime festival at Harrogate this year but have loved seeing everyone’s photos online.
Anyway, I’ve been slowly editing my next thriller, publishing Spring 2023.
I realised when I was reading back the first draft that I made a mistake with this book, that I had thought was in pretty good shape. This story covers two timelines and 6 points of view (honestly not as confusing as it sounds). This meant, more than ever, I had to know my characters and my story inside out. This is where I went wrong. With so many characters reacting to circumstances and each other I needed to know exactly how they were acting both on and off the page and I hadn’t thought it through enough. Characters began behaving, well… out of character, because in-between their chapter points of view I wasn’t entirely clear on what they were doing or how they felt.
The timeline is always my nemesis, this time I needed a mammoth one to include what everyone was doing when they weren’t active in the story. It was worth the extra effort because the story now flows better than it did before. If you’re writing a novel, something isn’t quite right and you can’t put your finger on what I’d recommend you have a think about the ‘off the page’ action because this will impact everything the characters do when they renter the story.
This month I’ve also been writing my new monthly fiction series ‘Confessions’ for My Weekly magazine. Each part sees a client confess something to Stella, a hairdresser. I’ve adored creating Hawlington Cove where I’ve set the story, and the community who live there. I’m learning a lot about constructing short stories and a series and I’ll be talking about how I approach both of those things soon.
For now, wishing you a happy remainder of the summer.
I’m SO excited to reveal the cover for my new book ‘From Now On’ which publishes this October (15 weeks, not that I’m counting…)
I’ve adored writing the twists & turns of the Johnson Family in this love story/family drama. Charlie, Nina & Duke, the siblings who each tell their story have completely captured my heart, particularly 11-year-old Duke. I shall miss them enormously.
‘From Now On’ is available to pre-order now from Amazon, Waterstones, Apple, Google & your local indie bookshop will be able to order it. Here’s the blurb –
A heartbreaking tragedy.
Charlie left his hometown behind years ago and hasn’t looked back since. These days, with a successful career and a beautiful soon-to-be fiancée, he couldn’t be happier. But when he receives some unexpected news, his life is forever changed.
A life-changing choice.
Suddenly things are falling apart, and now Charlie has to care for his family. But how is he supposed to look after a heartbroken little brother and a sullen teenager who wants nothing to do with him? He’s completely at a loss and knows he can’t do it alone – not without the help of his oldest friend, Pippa.
The chance to start afresh.
As Charlie steps back into his old life, he soon realises it’s not just his family who needs fixing, but his relationship with Pippa too. But returning home is a painful reminder of all that he lost and tried so hard to forget. And if Charlie’s to fight for what he wants, first he must face up to his own past and decide whether he is ready to let go…
From Amelia Henley, comes a brand-new emotional and uplifting novel about family, love and the hard choices we face to protect the ones we love the most.
There is something very special about this book. Although it’s my 3rd Amelia Henley novel it’s my 10th book overall. TEN! I’ll be revealing more soon, as well as planning my usual live launch party, with prizes which of course you’re invited to.
This weekend I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to CrimeFest for the very first time. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, CrimeFest is a convention for readers and writers of crime fiction. There are over 100 participating authors and in excess of 40 panels, along with a gala award dinner, quizzes and, this year, a Eurovision pizza party.
Firstly, a note about the venue. CrimeFest was hosted this year by the Mercure Grand Hotel in Bristol. I’m aware the venue has changed from its previous location, and may again, but the takeaway is that it’s small. Not in a vast exhibition hall as I’d imagined but with panels taking place in one of three conference rooms, all close together, with a bar downstairs to sit and chat in. There’s plenty of parking in Bristol and rooms to stay in (we didn’t stay at the Mercure but were a very short walk away). It was super easy to get around with lifts when things were on the first floor and a ramp for where there were unavoidable stairs. Bristol is fabulous and really deserves a blog post of its own.
Back to the panel. Our subject for discussion was ‘Doubt and Suspicion – who can you trust’ (in my books, nobody). This was my first event since the pandemic hit and I’d forgotten, despite all my pre talk angst, how much I enjoy sharing my passion for writing, and, how much I learn listening to other writers. Always.
Writing is a solitary experience, more so these past couple of years and I’ve been feeling increasing tired. Isolated. I’ve found it difficult to concentrate on my manuscript lately. I haven’t been well this year and have put it down to that but listening to the other writers share their challenges has made me realise I’m not alone in feeling this way. Helen made me aware that many writers can’t write at home and without access to coffee shops have found it hard to focus. Although I hate to think of anyone having a hard time (except my characters) there’s comfort to be found knowing that other writers haven’t all been effortlessly producing books.
All writers work in different ways and it’s always reassuring to be reminded that there is no right and wrong way. Helen, Mason, David and Robin are mores structured and have more of a plan when they write. I never plot my thrillers because I can’t but that’s okay. We all end up with a finished product. One thing we all had in common though was that when we begin to write, initially everything focuses around character and, in the first draft, plot is almost secondary. A well developed character is at the heart of every good story.
Stepping away from the computer and switching off when I don’t feel the words flow is something I don’t do enough of and it was interesting to hear that the other writers consider this essential (which it is and something I definitely need to work on). From watching comfort TV and films (Selling Sunset & Sister Act) to exercise everyone seemed to have a ‘thing’.
The biggest lesson I learned however, is that even if you aren’t progressing your story it doesn’t mean that you aren’t productive. I’ve always found myself irritable at the end of days I haven’t penned any words. No matter how much work I’ve put in to my career in other ways, unless the word count on my WIP has risen I feel I haven’t achieved anything worthwhile. Listening to Mason, Helen, David and Robin discuss that research, marketing and even thinking is a valuable use of time has really been a game changer for me.
I’m 7 years into my writing career now, my tenth book is publishing this summer, I’ve sold over a million copies and been translated into 25 languages and I still have SUCH a lot to learn but there’s so much joy in honing a craft and I think, over the past few months, I’d forgotten that. I’ve come away from the festival with (books – hurrah!) renewed enthusiasm, reminded of how much I love what I do. It’s been wonderful to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed live events and I can’t wait for the next one.
It was wonderful to see copies of my books in the CrimeFest bookshop. The digital version of ‘The Stolen Sisters’ is currently in a 99p offer. Download from Amazon here.
I began this diary series back in September to record my progress writing a first draft of a new psychological thriller, to keep myself on track (you can read the first part here).
This is my first update since January, so it’s going well then…
Since I began writing in 2014 I’ve written virtually every day. Initially squeezing in time around a full-time job but even when I became a full-time writer I rarely had a day off. Fitting in a session before/after days out. Early mornings during holidays. Even over Christmas. And now, now I feel quite despairing because I have barely written since before Christmas.
I’ve had so many health challenges in 2022. On top of the problems I was already experiencing there has also been a car accident which left me with whiplash and a headache so debilitating I couldn’t look at a screen for weeks, and then a nasty case of Covid which I still haven’t fully recovered from. This all led to a really low mood, at times thinking my writing career was over, that I’d never be able to get back into the swing of things. Unable to focus on anything for any period of time.
Two weeks ago though however, I found myself in Paris, and you can read more about that here. I didn’t think I’d have the strength emotionally or physically to go but with a BIG birthday to celebrate and a research trip needed as next summer’s ‘Amelia Henley‘ book is partly set in Paris we set off telling ourselves that if all we did was sit outside a cafe and drink coffee it would still be time well spent. Thankfully we managed more than that.
I’ve returned, not with renewed vigour, but with a quiet determination to return to the job I love. I have two edits waiting for me. The copy edits for my forthcoming ‘Amelia Henley‘ book. And the first structural edit for my 2023 psychological thriller (and I’m not procrastinating and avoiding reading the editorial letter by writing this blog…)
Wish me luck!
p.s. – If you’re at Crimefest this weekend do come and say hello. I’m on a panel at 16.00 on Saturday the theme is ‘Suspicion and Doubt – who can you trust?’
Monthly round up: –
No new words written!
High – My trip to Paris!
Low – Feeling so ill
What I’m reading – ‘Before the coffee gets cold’ Toshikazu Kawaguchi
What I’m watching – Only Murders in the Building
Special offers – ‘The Stolen Sisters’ is currently 99p – Download from Amazon here. “Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?” I adored writing this tense story about Carly, Leah & Marie Sinclair.
Join me, hopefully next month to find out how the edits went and if I’m back on track with writing. Subscribe to my newsletter here today and get two FREE short stories.
In 2014 I began writing my debut, ‘The Sister‘, for fun. It was meant to be a short story. I hadn’t written any fiction as an adult and I hadn’t any qualifications other than a clutch of GCSE’s. I never believed I could write a book. I had always thought that to be a published novelist you needed a wealth of experience and a degree in creative writing.
When it got to the point that my ‘short story’ had reached 90k words I began to tentatively hope I could edit it to a high enough standard where I’d dare to submit it. Out of my depth, I was so grateful when a writer I met at an event offered to read the opening 3 chapters for me. I didn’t check where she was published, or how she was published. The fact she was in print led me to believe she knew absolutely everything.
Her overriding feedback was that my prologue was a huge mistake, “readers hate them, agents hate them and publishers hate them. If you submit something with a prologue it won’t be read.”
I felt my face burn with embarrassment. I didn’t know the rules and I’d been found out for the imposter that I was.
Immediately I deleted my prologue, but now, several books on and with over a million copies sold I’m familiar with most of the rules and (whispers) here’s the thing. There aren’t any.
That writer, as it turned out, was right that ‘The Sister‘ shouldn’t have a prologue, but not for the reasons she said.Her overriding feedback was that my prologue was a huge mistake, ‘”readers hate them, agents hate them and publishers hate them. If you submit something with a prologue it won’t be read.” That writer, as it turned out, was right that ‘The Sister‘ shouldn’t have a prologue, but not for the reasons she said.
The prologue wasn’t needed. It didn’t serve a purpose and in a novel, every single scene, every single word needs to earn its place, prologue included. After ‘The Sister’ spent two months at No. 1 I found the confidence to include a prologue in my second psychological thriller, ‘The Gift‘, because no matter what that writer said about people hating prologues, I don’t, and first and foremost I’m a reader. I don’t write one for every book because not every story warrants one.
So how do I decide when to use one? ‘All For You’ (currently 99p in the Amazon Kindle Deal) is my newly published thriller and I’ll use it as an example. In this story I wanted readers to know that teenage boys are disappearing and that Connor, my main character’s son, will be taken next. Then, in chapter one we jump to several days before Connor is taken so readers can watch it unfold and try to figure out who is taking the boys, and why.
All For you – Prologue
Something is wrong.
I’ve a deep, primal instinct screaming that I need to get home to Connor. It isn’t just because of the row we’d had. The horrible, hurtful things he had said, it’s something else.
A knowing that, despite being 17, I should never have left my son alone.
The flash of neon orange cones blur through the window as I gather speed until the roadworks force me to a stop. The candle-shaped air freshener swings from the rear-view mirror – its strawberry scent cloying.
My fingertips drum the steering while I will the temporary traffic lights to change to green. The rain hammers against the roof the of the car, windscreen wipers lurch from side to side. It isn’t the crack of lightning that causes my stomach to painfully clench, or the rumble of thunder, even though storms always take me back to the time I’d rather forget, but a mother’s instinct.
I’ve felt it before. That bowling ball of dread hurtling towards me.
Drawing in a juddering breath, I tell myself everything is fine. It’s only natural that worry gnaws at me with sharpened teeth. Every mother in our town is on high alert right now after the disappearance of two teenage boys. I have more reason to be on edge than most.
It’s not as though I’m thinking Connor has been taken, but it’s one thing for him to ignore my calls, he’d never ignore Kieron’s.
Particularly when he had asked Kieron to call him after his hospital appointment.
Why didn’t he pick up?
In my mind’s eye I see him, bounding down the stairs two at a time, balancing on a chair to reach the snacks he doesn’t realize I know he hides on the top of his wardrobe.
An accident, or something else?
My stomach churns with a sense of foreboding.
I’ve been under so much pressure lately that I’m bound to be anxious. Edgy. But . . . I jab at my mobile and try Connor once more. My favourite picture of him lights the screen. We took it five years ago during an unseasonably hot Easter. Before Kieron was diagnosed, before everything changed. We’re on the beach, the wind whipping his dark curls around his face. His grin is wide, traces of chocolate ice cream smudged around his mouth.
We were all so happy once. I don’t know how, but I have to believe that we can be again. The alternative is too painful to bear.
The phone rings and rings. Fear brushes the back of my neck.
I try from Kieron’s phone this time. He still doesn’t answer.
The lights are taking an age to change.
Next to me, Kieron sleeps. His head lolling against the window, breath misting the glass. The dark sweep of his lashes spider across his pale skin. The hospital visit has exhausted him. The red tartan blanket I always keep in the car has slipped from his knees and I reach across and pull it over his legs. The passenger seat is swallowing his thin body. At thirteen he should be growing, but his illness is shrinking him. It’s shrinking me. Sometimes I feel as though my entire family is disappearing. Aidan barely talks to me, never touches me. In bed there’s an ever-increasing space between us. Both of us teetering on our respective edges of the mattress, a strip of cold sheet an invisible barrier between us. My head no longer resting on his chest, his leg never slung over mine, his fingers not stroking my hair any more.
Connor is monosyllabic and moody in the way that 17-year-olds often are but he never was, before . . .
But it isn’t just that, it’s also this sickness that isn’t just Kieron’s. It’s everybody’s.
The lights change to green.
Before I can pull away there’s a streak of yellow. Through the rain a digger trundles towards me, blocking my path.
Kieron sighs in his sleep the way his brother sighs when he’s awake. Sometimes it seems the boys only communicate through a series of noises and shrugs. But that’s unfair. It’s hardly surprising Connor’s mouth is a permanent thin line as though he’s forgotten how to smile. It’s not only his concern about his brother on top of everything he went through before the summer that has turned my sweet-natured son into a mass of guilt and unhappiness, but the sharp truth that out of his friendship group of three, two of them have disappeared.
‘The Taken’, the local paper calls them, printing that out of those who were there that tragic day, Connor is the only one left.
But Connor knows this as he hides in his room, too scared to go to school.
We all know this.
Tyler and Ryan have vanished without a trace and the police have no idea why.
It’s up to me to keep Connor safe.
I glance at Kieron.
I’ll do anything to keep both of my boys safe.
The driver of the digger raises his hand in appreciation as he passes by me. Before I can pull away, the lights change to red once more. Frustrated, I slam my palms against the steering wheel.
Rationally, I know Connor hasn’t been taken.
He’s at home.
The door is locked.
But still . . .
He never ignores Kieron.
Despite the lights being red, I pull away. There’s no approaching traffic. I snap on the radio again. The newsreader relays in cool, clipped tones that the missing boys haven’t been found but police are following several lines of inquiry. Nobody else is missing. The unsaid ‘yet’ lingers in the air, and although I know Connor is safe, my foot squeezes the accelerator. Home is the only place my anxiety abates. When we’re all under one roof and I can almost pretend everything is exactly how it was.
Visibility is poor. Frustrated, I slow, peering out through the teeming rain. If I have an accident I’m no use to Kieron, to anyone. My heart is racing as there’s another crack of lightning. I count the seconds the way I used to with the boys when they were small.
A grumble of thunder. The storm is closing in. Everything is closing in, crashing down. My stomach is a hard ball, my pulse skyrocketing as a sense of danger gallops towards me.
The urgency to be at home overrides the voice of caution urging me to slow down. I race past the old hospital, which has fallen into disrepair, the white and blue NHS sign crawling with ivy, and then the secondary school. I barely register the figure cloaked in black stepping onto the zebra crossing but on some level I must have noticed him as I blast the horn until he jumps back onto the path. He shakes his fist but I keep moving.
My chest is tight as I pull into my street, my driveway. A whimper of fear slithers from my lips as I see the front door swinging open.
Without waking Kieron I half fall, half step out of the car, my shoes slipping on wet tarmac as I rush towards my house.
The table in the hallway is lying on its side. My favourite green vase lies in shattered pieces over the oak floor. The lilies that had been left anonymously on the doorstep are strewn down the hallway.
‘Hello?’ My voice is thin and shaky.
The cream wall by the front door is smeared in blood. Connor’s phone is on the floor, lying in a puddle of water from the vase. His screen is smashed. My feet race up the stairs towards his bedroom. A man’s voice drifts towards me. I push open Connor’s door just as shots are fired.
Instinctively, I cover my head before I realize the sound is coming from the war game blaring out of Connor’s TV. His Xbox controller is tangled on the floor along with his headphones.
His bedroom is empty.
He was here.
He was safe.
The front door was locked.
Quickly, I check every room in the house until I’m back in the hallway, staring in horror at the blood on the wall, trying to make sense of it.
Connor has gone.
As you can see, prologues are a great tool for grabbing attention, giving background, creating a twist , and for providing a hook. A question. The prologue must be set apart from Chapter One, either with a different point of view or a different time – past, present, or future.
I asked my son once, who is an avid reader whether he read prologues as I was genuinely shocked to hear some readers don’t.
‘Of course,’ he said, ‘but I never bother with the things at the end. The epilogue.’
‘Why not?’ I was horrified.
‘Because I already know how the story ends,’ he said.
Not in my books. There is often, as there is with ‘The Family‘, a twist on the very last line in the epilogue, but how to end a story is another blog post entirely.
Being an introverted writer who suffers from social anxiety it took me years to pluck up the courage to go to Harrogate and when I did I wondered why I’d put it off for so long.
Everyone was so welcoming. I had the BEST time (you can read about it here).
This year, the most lovely Lauren North is giving away a weekend package to the festival to a writer (published or unpublished) who hasn’t been before. If you’d love to go but circumstances such as cost haven’t made it possible for you to attend then do check out this most amazing prize.
Touchingly, Lauren is offering this phenomenal prize in memory of her father who was kind and generous. I’m sure he would be immensely proud of her for doing so.
Included in the giveaway is: –
3 nights accommodation Bed and Breakfast at The Cairn Hotel for one person (2 minutes walk from the venue and a short distance into town;
Classic Rover Ticket allowing access to all the panel events (includes lunch on Friday & Saturday)
Access to the site including bars, bookshop and signings;
First opportunity to access tickets to exclusive on site publisher events;
Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival goody bag
Find out more at Lauren’s website here and do check out Lauren’s amazing books on Amazon here.
Good luck to all the entrants and I hope to see the winner there!
It’s part 4 of my Diary of a Novelist series (catch up from part one here). Working on the first draft of my latest psychological thriller has been a challenge so far but my December was a LOT more productive than I’d hoped.
Panic has set in. Unusually, this year, I’m intending on taking at least a week’s break over Christmas – usually, other than the big day itself I write almost every day of the year but I’m feeling so exhausted it’s take a break or burn out. Stepping away from my manuscript midway through a first draft isn’t ideal. I don’t want to lose the sense of story or connection to the characters. My editor has let me know the edits on my next Amelia Henley love story should be with me by the end of the year, followed by the edits on my 2023 thriller so it’s likely I won’t be returning to this book until the Spring. I NEED to cobble together a coherent story, even if I only bullet point chapters or scenes. I carry on working on the end, weaving in all three points of view until I have an ending that is so dark I will likely change it but it’s an ending – hurrah!
Finishing the end has forced me back to the middle which I have entirely skipped. I have zero ideas what might happen here so I take my dog for a walk and think about my beginning and my end while letting ideas brew. I find getting outside, away from the house, really kickstarts my creativity. When I return I have a few potential scenes and a big twist in mind so I dig out my index cards and jot them down. Once I can see them in black and white other ideas begin to germinate so I write each idea on a separate index card and then spread them out over the living room floor, rearranging the order, discarding the ones that don’t fit until I have some sort of bridge between the middle and the end.
I work in Scrivener so, following my index cards, I open a new section for each idea and transfer my notes. With experience I now know roughly how many words I like per chapter (between 1200-2500) and I can tell that I have enough story to take the script to around 88k words – enough to fill a novel.
I’m frantically expanding my notes as much as I can so it’ll be easier to pick up in a few months when I get back to it. Really, I should have visited some old Tudor houses by now for research but the ones that are open to the public are full of Christmas events and I don’t want to come into contact with anyone and potentially catch Covid so instead of writing any detail I’m inserting ‘XX’ into the places I need to fill once I’ve managed to visit some locations next year.
Still, the story is the main thing and I really happy with the way it’s taking shape. I’m writing between 8.30-5.30 every day (usually I only write new words in the mornings). My eyeballs ache I’m so tired but my word count is shooting up and I feel quietly confident I’ll have some sort of draft by Christmas.
I have a zoom meeting with my editor about my forthcoming release ‘All For You’ which publishes 20thJanuary. With only 3 weeks to go I need to arrange an online launch and prizes and SO MUCH.
The event is set up on Facebook (do come and enter some of the giveaways here) and after a final push on my 9th psychological thriller, I have a shorter than usual, very patchy with lots to fill in draft. Christmas Eve my edits arrive so that’s my January sorted. Time to switch off, spend some quality time with my family with lots of bracing dog walks.
New words written – 32,000 (Total of wip 72500)
Highs – Finishing what I’m loosely calling a first draft
Lows – Not getting any research done
What I’m reading – The Salt Path – Raynor Winn
What I’m watching – The Landscapers – Olivia Coleman is brilliant
Special offers – ‘The Family’ is 99p across all digital platforms. Download from Amazon here and discover why, once you’ve entered Oak Leaf Farm, you’re NEVER allowed to leave…
Event – ‘All For You’ live Facebook launch with prizes, details here
Newsletter sign up – subscribe here and get two free short stories and access to exclusive giveaways.
Welcome to my diary of a novelist where I’m documenting my routine (such as it is) and progress (pitiful) on my new psychological thriller.
The shame I felt sharing last month’s progress should have pushed me to achieve more this month.
Ridiculously, I spend this week in much of a panic because (and I told you it was ridiculous) it’s NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know that’s National Novel Writing Month where you (clue is in the name) write a novel in a month.
Now, I have no desire to try this (kudos to those who do) so it shouldn’t have any impact on me.
But I find myself lurking on social media, feeling more and more deflated at those taking part posting their daily word count. By the end of week one most have surpassed the wordcount on my new novel which I’ve been working on for two months.
AND I WRITE FULL TIME.
Now, usually, I’m pretty positive (because I’ve taught myself to be) and I know that no good EVER comes of comparing myself to other writers but sometimes, particularly during such a rough time personally when I’m feeling so low anyway, it’s just so bloody hard not to.
Consequently, I end up writing, deleting, rewriting the same chapter over and over and then eating too much cheese.
This week is publication day for ‘Everyday Kindness‘. An anthology in aid of Shelter Charity. Having had my own life transformed by a single act of kindness I was really happy to contribute a story. I take a few quiet moments on publication day to think about how lucky I am. There are people out there who are homeless.
And I’ve been stressing about Nano WHICH I’M NOT TAKING PART IN ANYWAY.
Back to my wip. I carry on writing the past point of view featured in part three, the end (I’ve skipped the middle for now).
Then my husband begins to feel unwell. His throat is raw, he has swollen glands, a raging temperature, muscle aches, fatigue. He takes a lateral flow test which is negative. I make him take another two and then, not quite trusting them after my son’s Covid experience, I take him for a PCR. That’s negative too. Turns out he has tonsillitis.
Knowing that while he’s sick I have less time because all the shopping, cooking, childcare etc will fall on me I use my time more productively. I write the epilogue knowing now where I want to get too but still not quite sure how to get there.
The ending is growing longer and longer. My pet peeve, as a reader, is endings which are rushed so I like writing this way, giving the twists the space they need to breath, knowing the middle will be less meandering because I’ll have fewer words less to fill. I’ve almost, almost, finished the point of view I’m working on.
I take a couple of days break. One of my kids graduates and we head up to his uni for the ceremony. My husband was still feeling exhausted but wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We kept our masks on throughout the ceremony but behind them, we couldn’t stop smiling.
There’s a 16th birthday in the house! I take my son to see Hamilton to celebrate. It’s odd being on a train. Odd being in London. But we loved it. We were in the actual room where it happens!
It takes me days to regain my energy but by the end of the week I’ve finished the point of view I’ve been working on. I have two other points of view to write in the final part and the entire middle to go.
The middle is the point I’m most concerned about, not wanting to make it too supernatural (actually desperate to make it really supernatural but I don’t think my publisher is super keen).
And so we’re beginning December. Three weeks until Christmas and I hope by next month, although I’m incapable of planning, to at least have a good sense of the story I need and be able to bullet point some scenes so I’ll be able to pick it up again in the New Year.
Watch this space…
Monthly round up:-
New words written 25K
US paperback publication day for ‘The Family’
Some lovely review for ‘All For You‘ which is out in Poland – can’t wait until this is published in the UK next month!
High – Some exciting news regarding ‘The Life We Almost Had’ that I can’t quite share yet
Low – My husband being so poorly
What I’m reading – Everyday Kindness
What I’m watching – I’m a celebrity, get me out of here
Social offer! – Two of my books have been selected for Amazon’s ‘Countdown to Christmas’ 99p deal. ‘The Life We Almost Had’ my Amelia Henley debut (which is NOT a typical love story) and ‘The Date’ featuring face blind Ali trying to stop her stalker ruining her life (challenging when she can’t recognise them).
I’ll be running another giveaway very soon so if you haven’t already, subscribe to my Newsletter here to be kept up to date and receive 2 free short stories.