Our Holiday Adventure From Here to Nashville (part one)

And so it’s back to life and reality now that our big holiday adventure is over. Oh, but what an adventure it was 🙂 I checked out all the places I referred to in my book and I’m pleased to say that I think I did a good job. For today’s post, I’m going to share those places with you and to tell you some of what we got up to while we were there.

The Journey From Here to Nashville

DSCN0039The first photo I took was at Heathrow where I was pleased to see a branch of Tiffany’s. I spent quite a few minutes with my daughters looking at all the beautiful jewellery there but didn’t find the exact pieces that Jackson buys for Rachel in the book. It didn’t matter though, it was just good to be in there 🙂

 

 

We were slightly delayed on the journey from Heathrow to Chicago and then sat on the tarmac when we got there, watching the window for our connecting flight to Nashville get smaller and smaller. We decided to go with the flow though and not let it bother us too much. We knew there were flights later that evening so we were sure it would all be okay. Some very kind people fast-tracked us through immigration and security but by the time we’d picked up our bags again, we thought we had definitely missed our connecting flight. Then, just as our bags were being retagged, we were told that our flight had been held for us and so we ran all the way to meet it and finally arrived in Nashville about half an hour after our original arrival time. Sadly, our luggage didn’t make it on time but we did get it  before the night was out!

Nashville

Day 1

On our first day, we walked towards the Nashville Farmers’ Market and after some breakfast there, we made our way downtown.

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I had no idea when I wrote my book that the 7th President of the United States was from Nashville. His name was Andrew Jackson and by pure coincidence, his wife’s name was Rachel Jackson, a lovely combination of the names of my two main characters 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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And as we continued on our way down the hill from the Capitol building, we came across The Hermitage Hotel (named after Andrew Jackson’s Presidential home), and Rachel’s bolt-hole when everything goes a bit awry. The clothes shop in the hotel is called ‘Rachel’s Boutique.’ Such a delight finding out these little things along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

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And here is our first view of The ‘Batman’ building as it is affectionately known in Nashville. Everywhere we went, the AT&T building rose high above the skyline and I thought of Jackson describing it to Rachel every time 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

And DSCN0105after we’d had a play around at The Visitors’ Centre, walked the length and breadth of Broadway and had some tasty Tex-Mex for lunch, we went on The Music City Hop On, Hop Off Trolley tour. On our way back to our condo, I led the way past the inspiration for Jackson’s loft.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2

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And so on to the iconic Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. A wonderful building on both the inside and the outside and we spent hours just marvelling at everything there was to see and hear. We loved the history and the variety of exhibits and memorabilia. Our girls focussed mainly on the Taylor Swift exhibits, of course but they had fun and that was the main thing!

 

 

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It was soon time for our trip to RCA Studio B where so many great musicians have recorded songs over the years. It was a great experience, full of history and memories from another musical era.

 

 

 

 

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And here’s the piano that Rachel sits at, sensing all the greats that have sat here before her, including Elvis Presley.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3

DSCN0185We were all very excited about this day because I’d managed to reserve us a table at The Bluebird CafĂ© where Rachel sings her first ‘Open Mic’ session. It is a very small venue, just about 100 seats in all and I’d been lucky enough to get us a table on my second try at using their automated reservation system. The night we attended, it was an ‘in the round’ session organised by ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). This meant that the four performers were sat in the middle of the audience and they took turns telling us about their songs before performing them. It was a fantastic show, with such talented performers that you will never have heard of I’m sure but I really hope they all get their moment one day soon. If you want to look them up, they were: Ryan Shea Smith, Austin Jenckes, Andrea Pearson and Jonathan Kingham.

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Day 4

I haven’t told you as yet how beautiful the weather was while we were in Nashville but on this day, it actually rained. It was only a quick shower though and we were soon able to get on our way to visit the Parthenon as we had originally planned.

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It is a replica of the real Parthenon in Greece, of course, built for the Centennial celebrations in Nashville and then rebuilt once again at the request of the people who couldn’t bear to see it torn down once the celebrations were over. It was meant to represent Nashville as ‘the Athens of the South’ on account of all its veritable educational institutions. We had a fun time visiting it and reading all about the history of the celebrations.

 

 

 

 

Next week, I will post about all the other wonderful things we did on our trip which I didn’t refer to in my story, including our days in Memphis. If you haven’t read my book yet though and now feel moved to do so, it is on sale this week at 99p! Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/FromHeretoNashville

Lastly, if you’re in the London area on Friday, April 17th, I will be attending the Indie Author Book Fair, hosted by Triskele Books and the Alliance of Independent Authors at Foyles’ bookshop in the Charing Cross Road. It starts at 4.30pm and it’s free. It would be lovely to see you and sign a book for you.

Thanks for reading as always and do please leave me a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Things I’ve Learnt in my First Week as a Published Author

Image by stemberovi via flickr.com

As I sit here, one week after self-publishing my debut novel, From Here to Nashville, the one word I would use to describe how I feel is exhausted! But to qualify, it is a good kind of exhausted, if you know what I mean 🙂 Last Monday, my launch day, purposely timed to coincide with my half-term holiday from my day job as a teacher and also #MondayBlogs, of course, was a fantastic day. I had three times the normal number of shares and retweets of my blog post that day. Three times! I was overwhelmed by the support I received from the blogging community on Twitter, from my Facebook Author page and from friends, new and old. It was great to learn how supportive my online community is though and quite humbling, I have to say.

I had set up a blog tour, visiting a different blog each day last week and so I was busy promoting my interviews on those blogs as well throughout the week. I know I said thank you to all those people last week but I’d just like to say so again because every single one of them took time out of their busy schedule to support me, sharing their blog posts repeatedly to draw attention to my new book and for that, I am extremely grateful. Not only that but more people have offered to host me on their blogs as a result! It was amazing to learn how people I have never met have been prepared to step up and help me and I still find myself marvelling at the generosity of other writers, bloggers, readers and book reviewers.

Talking of readers and book reviewers, I had another wonderful moment when I received my first review. This was from Clare who reviews books she has read at her website, TheTBRPile.com. She wrote a lovely review for me, which you can read here and in doing so, she set the ball rolling. I now have a few reviews on Amazon and a fair number of people have added my book to their Goodreads shelf as a book they want to read. You can add it too using this Goodreads link 😉 This has made me realise how important reviews are to you as the author. I knew they would be important before I published but what I learned this week was that a positive review boosts your confidence in your own ability as a writer. They don’t need to be glowing in every word or phrase necessarily but if they show that the person has enjoyed reading your book and that they have understood what you were trying to achieve, then that is a fantastic boost. Another thing I learnt though is that Amazon doesn’t tell you when you get a review so you have to check every day.

I have to confess to becoming a bit obsessed with checking for reviews and various other stats, including sales of course, every day. Mind you, it hasn’t been a minute-by-minute obsession, mostly just a daily check because in Amazon’s case, that’s the only update you get. The pre-order sale did give me a spike in sales for that first day but that hasn’t been matched since. I could best describe sales as slow and steady in this first week, which I think is all you can hope for as a self-published author at this stage. I am celebrating all those sales and learning that visibility takes time to build.

My paperback is now almost finished too. My cover came back from the designer during the week, as did my ISBN numbers. I decided to get my own so that the book will be published by me, rather than by Create Space which is what happens if you use their free ISBN. This is only because I would like to try and contact bookstores in the future to see if they will stock From Here to Nashville and I have been told that bookstores are less likely to want to stock your book if it says ‘published by Create Space’ on it. I learnt that I should have agreed to having the paperback cover designed at the same time as the ebook cover, which the designer suggested but I decided against. I should have purchased my ISBNs then too. Still, there is only so much room in my brain for all the new things I’ve been learning and I know for next time. I won’t have to worry about ISBNs for a while now because I bought ten!

And so, what next? The paperback is being reviewed and I should have a proof copy soon and then it will be full steam ahead for adding that to my Amazon page. I am moving on now to the next phase of marketing for From Here to Nashville which will be contacting some of the book reviewers I have come to know to see if I can organise some more reviews. Reviews don’t affect sales rank directly but when readers land on your Amazon page, a higher number of reviews might just persuade them to buy. I am also continuing with my second novel, again slowly but surely, which seems to be my motto for the week 😉 Oh and I have to go back to the day job on Wednesday, back to reality for the time being 🙂

Thanks for reading everyone. As always, do leave me a comment below if you’d like to. It’s always great to hear from you.

 

It’s Publication Day and I’d like to say Thank You.

DSC_7271Today, I can celebrate, at last, the joy and wonder of being a published author with you, the readers of my blog. I started celebrating yesterday with my family, as you can see from the picture of the cake on the left. Doesn’t it look amazing? It was very difficult having to cut into it but we forced ourselves! We have raised a glass today to my book as well and it feels very good to have made it this far.

I couldn’t have made it this far though without some help along the way and some of those people are thanked directly in the acknowledgements section of my book. However, I have also been lucky enough to make so many new friends on social media and whilst I can’t thank everyone individually, I would like to thank everyone who has got to know me through this blog or via Twitter or Facebook, or indeed via any other social media site. It has been an absolute pleasure to make so many new friends.

Some of those people have also been kind enough to host me on their own blogs both in the run-up to my publication day today and during this week to come and I would like to thank them so much for their time and their generous efforts on my behalf. I am truly grateful to them all. I would like to thank Heidi-Jo Swain for hosting me on her blog last Monday and Rebecca Bradley for hosting me on hers last Friday. Please do go and take another look if you get the chance. Every guest post has been slightly different and there may be something you still don’t know about me yet!

In addition to these interviews, I have set up a small blog tour for this coming week.

  • This kicked off with my first proper review on my lovely writing friend, Cat’s blog yesterday. Cat is one of my beta readers but she has always offered me up-front and honest, constructive criticism and I respect her opinion. Here’s a quote: ‘This novel isn’t just about love blooming, it’s also about the risks involved in following your dreams, being honest with yourself and daring to go where that dream might take you.’ Thank you, Cat.
  • Today, I am honoured to have been asked to visit author, Lisette Brodey’s renowned Writers’ ChĂąteau in Los Angeles, for an interview with her about my book. When Lisette first asked me, I couldn’t believe my good fortune and it was a super interview, with some brilliant questions. So do go and have a read and see all the other fabulous authors who have gone before me. Thanks to Lisette too.
  • On Monday/Tuesday, my host is Tracey Weller in Ontario, on her fabulous website, Nevertoolatetowrite.com. Tracey and I have only just ‘met’ through Twitter and this blog but we are already firm friends. Go and see what a fantastic post she has put up about me (around lunchtime UK time) – it has tweetable quotes and everything! Tracey has a great take on this writing life and I would really recommend you to take a look, especially if you are new to writing and you’re in what Tracey calls your ‘second act,’ like me 😉 Many thanks to Tracey.
  • On Wednesday, I’m in Kentucky with Dena Rogers, who I met through another Twitter friend, Emma Wicker who is hosting me later in the week. Dena is another romance author and despite the fact that we only know each other virtually, Dena has been kindness itself in sharing her knowledge of the writing and publishing process. She shares my love of country music too and that has strengthened the bond of friendship between us. Thanks to you too, Dena.
  • On Thursday, I’m being hosted by Brooke Cottage Books. I contacted Debbie there about advertising my book cover when I saw that she was offering a special 4 week deal for just ÂŁ10.00! There are some fabulous deals on the site all the time so you should really take a look. I’m doing a promo post with a rather special giveaway on Thursday so don’t forget to go on over and take part! Thank you, Debbie.
  • Finally, this week, I am on Emma Wicker’s blog again. I met Emma on Twitter, through another mutual friend, Bill Cunningham and she has already hosted me on her blog just a couple of weeks ago but she’s so generous that she offered to do it again. Emma has just published her own debut, ‘Fractured Immortal,’ which I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a great vampire novel with a modern twist to it. So please do go and look up my post on her wonderful site. Thank you, Emma 🙂
  • I have a P.S. – On Friday, I will also be featured on Bodicia’s website at awomanswisdom.wordpress.com. I am so lucky to have met all these wonderful people online who are so generous with their support of authors and Bodicia has kindly offered to promote my book on her site a week earlier than we had planned. So please do go over and take a look later in the week. Thanks to Bodicia too 🙂

All that remains then, is for me to offer you a virtual slice of cake and to raise a glass to you. Thank you for all your support everyone and wishing you all a fabulous week. Please do leave me a comment. I always love to hear from you.

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Word of Mouth Marketing for Authors

logoI took part in this year’s online Romance Festival again this weekend organised by Harper Collins and the really wonderful thing was that this time, I was able to do so as an author! I was able to submit an author Q&A for display on the Romance Festival site and I also submitted one of my blog posts entitled ‘5 Things I Have Learnt from Writing my Debut Novel’ which you may have read on my blog recently. They were both viewed and shared many times and that felt really satisfying.

Not only that but from 2 – 8pm on both days of the weekend, there were Twitter and Facebook chats, virtually every half an hour by famous authors and industry people with tips to share, and there were also Google Hangouts with a number of different authors. I learnt so much from all these people but most of all, I had a lot of fun! I was struck again and again by how much time these people were willing to give up to help aspiring authors or to talk to their readers. It was not at all sales orientated but you can bet that sales will go up for these authors or business will go up for the trade people who took part because people like me will talk about them to others, just like I’m doing here today.

One of the Twitter chats was actually about Word of Mouth marketing and was run by a lady called Molly Flatt. Her Twitter page is here. She began by saying that WOM marketing is about getting other people talking about you, inspiring their thoughts, rather than just throwing messages at them. She went on to say that an author talking about their book on their Twitter feed isn’t WOM. Others discussing it on THEIR feeds (or at their dinner tables) is. Her main idea is that WOM marketing isn’t really even marketing at all. It’s about building relationships with people and that has to happen over a long period of time of course, it can’t just happen overnight. The phrase that really struck me was ‘You have to give to get’ because I think that so many of us are doing this without maybe even realising it! Just look at #MondayBlogs for example. I have met so many wonderful, supportive friends through having my blog posts shared on Mondays and by sharing those of other people.

So how would this work for the readers you are trying to attract? Well, she suggested that the first step is to find people online or offline who share your subject matter. You can do a Twitter search for this if you’re starting with an online approach. Then tap into their shared passion. I have met a few people because of my love of country music, for example. Once you meet them, let them get to know you and they may check you out as a result and find that you’ve written a book and hey presto! After this, you can think more about what would inspire them to engage with you. I haven’t really explored this yet because I’m really worried about hassling people so this is something I’m going to take slowly but I like the idea of it very much.

There is now only one week to go until my debut novel From Here to Nashville is published and I want to tell you how lucky I’ve been with some of the friends I have made online. Firstly, Emma Wicker, another Indie author featured my book on her blog last week and she’s doing it again for me next week. Then I was able to get a feature on the Alliance of Independent Authors Members’ Showcase which goes up every Saturday. Then I was featured in Sonya’s round-up of book news on her website here. As I’ve mentioned, I also had a lot of exposure through the Romance Festival this weekend too. Today, my RNA friend, Heidi-Jo Swain is featuring me on her blog for #MondayBlogs and I really can’t tell you what a good feeling all this support gives me. I have quite a few other blog posts lined up in the coming weeks and I count myself really blessed to have made so many good friends via social media. This is what word of mouth marketing means to me right now and I look forward to being able to do the same for these friends in the future.

Thank you all for reading and I’ll see you next week on Publication Day!!! Please do leave a comment below if you’ve tried WOM marketing in another way that’s worked really well for you. Have a great week everyone 🙂

How To Set Up a Goodreads Author Page

goodreads_icon_200x200-8b5b322a54ffbe04db26585de0830763Another week has gone by and we’re already in February. My publication date for From Here to Nashville is just two weeks away and, having worked through all the amendments from my proofreader, I will be able to meet my deadline to upload the final version to Amazon before the end of this week. As always, I have been juggling a few other things during the week as well. Mainly, I have been liaising with a number of lovely people about interviews on their blogs and I also contacted the organisers of the Romance Festival 2015, taking place online next weekend about a Q&A with them and a blog post. Once the final version of my ebook is ready, I will also be contacting some book reviewers to see if they would be able to review FHTN for me.

One of the other things on my to do list during the week was to set up a Goodreads Author Page. I have been on the site as a reader for quite a while now so it made sense to get my Author Page set up too. I have heard from quite a few people though that they find the site a bit of a nightmare to use so I was prepared for it to be a bit tricky. And it was! So I thought some tips might be useful for readers of my blog for when the time comes to set up your own page.

1. You have to wait for your book to be available somewhere, either for pre-order or actually published, before it will show up on Goodreads. I tried to join the Author Program but because my book wasn’t there, nothing would happen. Once my book was available for pre-order though, it automatically showed up on the Goodreads site because it’s owned by Amazon. Then all I had to do was to click on ‘Author Program’ which is right at the bottom of the page and search for myself and my book. Once you have done this, it asks whether this is you and you can ask to join the program. My situation was slightly  complicated by the fact that there is another Julie Stock out there and I was showing as the author of her book as well. It was very easy to contact Goodreads though to explain and now I’m no longer associated with that book. Just as well because it was a Breastfeeding Manual and this is not something I excelled at, I’m afraid 😉 Hope that wasn’t TMI on a Monday. One final thing, it takes a while for them to get back to you to say you are set up as an author so you may need to be prepared for that.

2. How to upload your own photo. When I’d had to contact Goodreads about the other Julie Stock, I had managed to get to know a very helpful Librarian there who was happy for me to pester her with other questions. The first one I had was how to upload my photo, which I hadn’t been able to work out on my own. For this, you need to go to your Author Page and click on edit data, not on edit profile, as you might have expected. Then you will see the options for uploading a picture of yourself.

3. Your Author Bio. This is also uploaded under edit data. One tip is that when you upload your bio, make sure to include a link to your newsletter sign up page right near the top. This makes it easier for readers and, in my case, will take them to my website too. I do have the links for my website, Twitter and Facebook all there too. On this page, you can also add a video and it’s recommended that you do. I have uploaded my book trailer there and I did that without having to ask any questions! Goodreads also sent me some questions to answer for the benefit of readers stopping by my page so I answered a few of those as well. I have also linked my blog to my Goodreads page, although it isn’t showing any pictures and is only showing ten posts so I may have to come back to that one.

4. To giveaway or not to giveaway? Once you have done all this, you can click on your book and see all kinds of information about it and who wants to read it etc. Goodreads is very keen for me to list a giveaway of the book too and I have given a lot of thought to this for the purposes of visibility. However, after reading this article by Roz Morris at the weekend, I had a very interesting discussion with some writing friends on Twitter about the whole idea of giving work away for free when you only have the one book out. The conclusion was that it just doesn’t make sense at this point for me to do it. When I have more than one book out, I will consider the idea again because that could then add value for me. So, even though it’s tempting, think carefully before giving away your work and make sure that if you do, there’s going to be something in it for you too 🙂

I hope these tips are helpful for you and if you’d like to go on over to my page to see what it looks like, here’s the link. You can click on the Want to Read button there too if you feel so inclined 😉 Thanks for reading as always and do leave me a comment below if you’d like to talk about any of these points a bit further.

The Multi-Tasking Life of an Author

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Image courtesy of dreamstime.com

I bet if you ask any woman around the world how much she has to juggle in her 21st century life, she will roll her eyes before reeling off a list as long as your arm of things she juggles every day, from children’s lunches, school uniform, taking them to school, other appointments, doing the housework, looking after pets, sorting out home affairs like tax, insurance etc, liaising with husband/partner about most of these things and of course, going to work herself (either in the home or outside it)! The modern day woman is a superhero in the purest sense. I hope women reading this can picture themselves doing this every day. Some of us, like me, are lucky enough to have partners who help with all this stuff and can juggle along with the best. I’m going to come back to how great men can be at multi-tasking too in just a minute so please bear with me 😉

As if my life wasn’t already busy enough, I decide to write and self-publish my own book! Whose crazy idea was that? Well, yes, it was mine and this past week has shown me just how many extra balls I am now going to have to juggle as a result of making that decision. This week should have been a good week. ‘From Here to Nashville’ is with the proofreader and bar a few minor queries, everything was going fine there so I should have been all set to get on with finishing the first draft of book 2. You know there’s a but coming, right? Yeah.

During a quick chat with one of my writing friends, one of my beta readers, in fact, we started discussing potential names for my publishing company if I decide to buy ISBNs for my paperback version of FHTN. We thought that my main character’s record label name would be brilliant until my friend came back and said ‘You know that company name already exists, don’t you?’ Cue three nights of my life spent trying to get advice, thinking of a different but equally brilliant name for the record label, only to abandon it all in the end to just make a couple of changes to the existing name. I was a woman possessed. We’re not talking big-league names here but the law is murky on this and I don’t want to get into a mess over this issue with my very first book.

As a result of this spanner in the works, I have done almost nothing on my second book all week 😩 However, it has been a trying week in other ways too. My husband has been away at a music convention in Los Angeles and whenever he’s away, I realise just how much he does around the house. Not only that of course but he’s the one I turn to when I have something like this to sort out and only being able to talk to each other for a few minutes each day over Skype isn’t quite the same. By the way, I have two teenagers in the house as well but they are soooo not interested in my crises. So I had to try and sort it out for myself and I was lucky enough to have some help from some good writing friends.

During the week, I read the latest vlog by another author friend I have made on Twitter, Michael Cairns. Mike is a full-time teacher and a writer as well. He has two small children so he doesn’t get a lot of sleep either. On top of all this, he has set himself an enormous writing challenge this year. This challenge is to release 15 novels in 2015, writing 1 million words of original fiction and he’s also vlogging about it every single day! You can read all about it here. He writes and edits every day and I just don’t know how he does it. I do know that it is very inspiring to see what is possible when you set your mind to it and after chatting with Mike, I realised that I do have to change my mindset as I go forward into my published writing career.

Right now, my mind is flitting from one thing to another all the time. I am trying to finish off the writing and editing process for ‘From Here to Nashville.’ I am communicating with the proofreader and have just started contacting and liaising with a few lovely people who have offered to host me on their blogs around the time of publication. Preparing for these blog posts is important but it also takes time if you want to do it properly. I realised that I needed to have all this information ready to send in an email and on my web page, whenever anyone asks. Not only that but I have been trying to get to grips with a paperback version of FHTN. This involves a bit of research but I can’t really make much progress until I have the final copy back from the proofreader, yet I’m still fiddling about with it.

I’m trying to plan some marketing for FHTN as well and once again, this takes time and research. And last but not least, I’m trying to write! I have put pressure on myself again by re-joining the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme so I must have a completed first draft at least to send in for review by the end of August. But that’s months away, you say. It is still quite a long way away but I need to get some sort of better time management in place now if I am to get that done in time. I’d also like to be getting on with a novella to send out when people sign up to receive my newsletter so I need a plan and I need it now. Step one, I think has to be a change of mindset but how to do it?

If you have any tips to help me manage my time better (apart from getting a new brain 😉 ), please let me know in the comments as always. Thank you for taking time to read my blog today – we are all superheroes for what we manage to fit in each and every day 🙂

Update: Since writing this post, my book has gone up on Amazon for pre-order! This is earlier than I’d planned but I’m still very excited about it! Here are the links: Amazon UK and Amazon US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Julie Stock and My Writing Life, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Stock and My Writing Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 Things I’ve Learnt from Writing my Debut Novel

strasbourg-90012_1280Now the euphoria of having sent my debut novel ‘From Here to Nashville’ to the proofreader has died down a little, I have no more excuses to stop me from starting the rewrite of book two. Just to refresh your memories, this is the book that I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2013, yes, nearly 14 months ago 😩 After NaNoWriMo and a few more writing chunks some months later, it stood at 80,000 words. Not bad for a first draft, I hear you cry!

However, when I got to that point and read it all through, I could see that the story had veered off in the wrong direction and that I was really going to have my work cut out to get it back on track. So it has been really easy to put off doing anything to move book two forward, especially as I’ve been so busy with finishing my first novel and getting it ready for publication next month.

This weekend, I decided I had to get on with it at last. I have been thinking about it on and off for weeks and adding new thoughts to my outline so when I went back and reread it, things didn’t seem so bad. By the end of the day yesterday, I had almost finished my first rewrite of chapter one and I was buzzing with excitement for my new story, which was a great feeling. I could also see that I’d grown as a writer since the very first rewrite of ‘From Here to Nashville’ and it was a pleasure to implement some of the things I’d learnt from that experience as I was actually writing.

So here are some tips I’d like to share with you today.

1. You don’t need to write your characters’ names into every single line of dialogue. As long as it is clear who is talking, your reader will be fine without the reminder. When you think about it, you hardly ever say the name of the person you are talking to because it’s not necessary. I only use my husband’s name for example, if I’m calling him from afar. I certainly don’t use it in texts or on the ‘phone but my writing was littered with names. I have been really brutal about cutting them out and the result is much more realistic dialogue. Similarly, don’t put in too many examples of ‘er’ and ‘oh’ etc because they clog up the dialogue.

2. The reader does not necessarily need to have the timeline spelt out for them, even if you need to know it to make sure it’s consistent. I had put in dates for all my scenes in ‘From Here to Nashville,’ partly to help me keep on top of the timeline but also to show the whirlwind nature of the romance. I have now taken them all out because I could see that I had explained the timeline in other ways so the dates weren’t necessary. I have also put days into my second book which I’m going to keep there for now but as I progress through my drafts, I will finally remove them. As well as this, my scenes often started in the morning and ended in the evening to give me a structure to work through and to show time passing so I had to work hard to vary this and not start and finish the same way all the time.

3. To help with pace, it’s a good idea to check the length of your sentences and your paragraphs. A shorter sentence every now and then moves the action forward and keeps your reader reading and if you start a new paragraph every time a new action occurs, it makes reading easier and maintains the pace and excitement for the reader. You don’t need an empty line between paragraphs either, you just need to go to the next line. This formatting issue took me ages to put right. An empty line signals a new scene.

4. As a new writer, it is very easy to fall into the trap of over-describing physical movements. By this I mean, the ‘then I did this, then I did that’ style of writing. More often than not, you can cut this and jump straight to the action because that is what your reader will do and if they’re skimming your words, not reading them, they’re going to feel disappointed when they get to the end of the story. This is especially useful at the start of chapters, which don’t need to be bogged down with interior monologue like ‘The next day dawned bright with another beautiful blue sky,’ for example. Instead, jump straight to the action and draw your reader in.

5. Even by the time I sent my book to be professionally edited, I still hadn’t included enough detailed description of people and settings. Even my hero, Jackson needed to be better described the first time Rachel saw him. I think that I’d made it a glimpse for the reader like it was for her but the reader wants more than that so I had to rewrite that first sight of him to include a lot more detail. Similarly, I needed to develop some of my descriptions of settings, from quaysides, to weddings, to apartments and much more detail about Nashville and its iconic sights.

These are just a few of the things I had to deal with when I got my final edit back but they are all things I’m taking on with me to book two. The new book is set in France, in the picturesque region of Alsace which is near the German border (see the photo above). It is a story about self-discovery, as well as being a romance and I look forward to telling you more about it as I progress. I hope you find these tips helpful and I would love to hear your comments on them. Thanks for reading as always and have a good writing week 🙂