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Tag: romance

My Writing Process – Blog Tour

I have only been writing seriously for about a year and yet in this short time, I have made so many new friends through Twitter, through my blog and most importantly, through my writing. One of those friends is Sandra Danby who very kindly asked me to take part in this blog tour about my writing process (I still can’t quite believe it’s me writing that last sentence). I ‘met’ Sandra through her blog ‘Notes on a Spanish Valley’ and we became friends through a shared love of rural Spain. Sandra is also a serious writer and is just about to publish her first novel. You can find out more about her writing by following this link to her writing blog here.

My hope in taking part in this blog tour is to help other writers, maybe ones like me who are just starting out and wondering how to go about things in this strange new world of writing 😉 Next Monday, 21st April, 2014, please take a look at the blogs written by my friends and fellow writers, Cat Lumb, Heidi-Jo Swain and John de Gruyther (find out more below).

What am I working on at the moment?
Nashville Book CoverI have just finished a second proper draft of my debut novel, ‘From Here to Nashville’ (FHTN), a contemporary romance about a music teacher who decides to pursue her dream of becoming a successful singer/songwriter of country music and finds love along the way. It has been a bit of a slog to get it to this point but I’ve done it! In January, I joined the New Writers’ Scheme run by the Romantic Novelists’ Association which means that I can submit a manuscript to them for a professional assessment. The deadline for sending the manuscript in is the end of August but I’d like to send it sooner than that. FHTN is now out with my lovely beta readers and I await their comments on what I need to do next which I should have by the end of this month. I am then going to do a final edit in May and send it off to be professionally assessed by the end of the month. When I’m not working on FHTN, I am busy writing my second novel, ‘Seeking Approval’ which is also a romance but with a completely different theme and I’m about 60,000 words in.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
DSC_0886This is a really interesting question for me because a lot of the romances I read are chick-lit romantic comedies but I write more serious romance stories, which I can only refer to as ‘Contemporary Romance’. My characters so far seem to be on journeys of discovery about themselves and what they really want from their lives. I was inspired to write my first novel after watching the TV series ‘Nashville’ and discovering a hidden love of country music within myself! Since I started, I have seen two other stories come out with a Nashville setting so obviously, it inspires other writers too. I have always been a singer and it was great fun to include my love of singing and song-writing in the story. My second novel is partly set in France, which I have always seen as my second home as I have family there and took my degree in French many years ago. Whilst lots of romance writers set their stories in France, the background to my story is a bit different though with my character helping someone else to trace her family history and find her mother.

Why do I write what I do?
?????????????There is only one answer to this: I confess that I am a soppy romantic at heart! I have always loved reading romances and for me, there is nothing more enjoyable than a ‘Happy Ever After’ (HEA) ending. I enjoy all kinds of romance story too, from comedies to, dare I say it, more erotic stories like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. I seem to spend quite a lot of time explaining why I liked that particular trilogy but whilst I like a bit of hot sex – who doesn’t? 😉 – what I enjoyed most about the story was the romance at its heart. I find it enjoyable to see all the different ways that writers come up with for bringing people together and the new boom in self-publishing has made many more stories accessible to us all, which in my view, has to be a good thing. The other good thing about romance stories is that they’re timeless in their appeal. Everyone has been or will be in love with someone else at some point in their life and I find it life-affirming to write about it.

How does my writing process work?
2014-Participant-Square-ButtonI wrote my first novel by the seat of my pants, although I didn’t know that’s what it was called at that point! I just sat down every day and kept writing until it was finished. I knew it would have a HEA ending but I had no other plan than that. When I got to the end, I realised that there were so many plot-holes, I might never manage to fix them all. With the help of Scrivener, the writing software package and an author’s advice about writing a synopsis, I had a go at rewriting the story and the result is what is now with my beta readers. It still needs a lot of work doing to it and I will do what I can in my final edit but then I’m going to hand it over to the RNA, for some professional advice. At the moment, I am taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo to continue my second novel which I started writing in November NaNo last year. I wrote just over 50,000 words then, at a rate of 1,667 words a day for the most part. The discipline is hard but so worthwhile and what my experience so far has taught me is that I need to outline, even if only briefly, before I get started. That way, I can write much more quickly when I do start. If I didn’t have a day job, I would try and write 1,000 words every day or edit for four of five stints a day with short breaks in between. As it is, I do still have a day job and I fit in what I can when I can.

On Monday, 21st April, 2014, it’s the turn of three more writers to tell you about their writing process. Please visit their blogs then to find out how they go about it.

Cat Lumb Cat is a thirty-one year old Yorkshire lass living on the wrong side of t’hill in Stalybridge, Manchester, with her wedding-phobic fiancé and a rescue dog who is now her shadow. She began writing again after being diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalitis (M.E) in 2009 and since then has written two and a half novels and a selection of short stories. In the past year she has blogged for Manchester Literature Festival, been short-listed in a Writing Magazine competition and is an active committee member for the Huddersfield Literature Festival. She can also read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. 😉 She can be found on Twitter as: @Cat_Lumb

Heidi-Jo Swain Heidi-Jo has always wanted to be a writer but was in her thirties before she plucked up the courage to tell anyone, enrol on her first creative writing course and submit a variety of short stories to the online writing community, Shortbread Stories. In 2013 having attempted to write one novel the urge to write another was just too strong to resist.

Now writing and blogging feels as natural as breathing and she is currently editing her debut novel The Cherry Tree Café in preparation for submission to the Romantic Novelists’ Association having secured a place on their New Writers’ Scheme at the beginning of 2014.

Plans are already well underway with her next novel The Skylark Serenade and having almost finished plotting she intends to begin writing after submission to the RNA. Heidi-Jo blogs every Saturday about her writing week, her random list, her dreams of seeing her novels published and everything in between.

John de Gruyther Following a mild case of redundancy John didn’t want to return to the finance sector. So he took the time kindly afforded to him by his former employer and he started to write articles. This went quite well so he decided to call himself a freelance writer and finally commit to his long held dream to write a novel.
He is currently working on his novel, a book of poetry, an illustrated story and various articles for online sites and magazines, including his “A Novel Approach” features for Star Trek Magazine.

Finding new inspiration at a Country Music festival

WP_20140316_048Some of you reading this blog may know that I spent the day at the Country to Country Music Festival in London yesterday. This is actually a two day festival but I had never been before so I only went for the one day this year. However, it was such a fabulous day that I really am tempted to go for the whole weekend next year 🙂

I am a new convert to country music, having only got into it last year as a result of watching the TV programme ‘Nashville’. Even though some of my family members have always liked it, and I have liked some of the greats, like Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell etc for years, I didn’t really think of it as my kind of music until I saw that programme on TV. I found the music so inspiring that I started looking for other more contemporary country music singers on Spotify and the next thing I knew, I was hooked. My favourite band in the early days of my conversion was Lady Antebellum and I really liked the hot, sexy nature of some of their songs so much so that I decided to write my own contemporary romance with a country music theme. Yesterday, I got to see another band that I have come to love, ‘The Band Perry’ and they even sang one of the songs that my main character covers in my novel, which is possibly my favourite song of theirs. My daughter has also been converted and she introduced me to Brad Paisley who we also saw perform yesterday and he is responsible for leaving me with his latest song, ‘Mona Lisa’ going round and round my head this morning! A truly lovely guy and a great performer.

One of the best experiences of the day though was being able to see up and coming bands on pop-up stages around the O2 arena. This idea really inspired me and I’m definitely going to add it in to my story somehow 🙂 The best band we saw on a pop-up stage was a Scottish duo, no less, called Raintown. Some of you might already know them because they’re really doing well and they were absolutely fantastic live and seem to have a great following already. If you don’t know them, you really should check them out.

So this year, I went to the UK festival for one of my birthday presents. The only other thing I want to do now is to go to Nashville itself and I have already told my family that that’s what I want to do next year for my big birthday!

After such an inspiring day yesterday, I feel reinvigorated to carry on with my rewrite of ‘From Here to Nashville’ once more and I feel more hopeful that the end is in sight now. Going to the festival couldn’t have come at a better time for me, giving me just the motivation I need to keep going.

What motivates you to carry on with you writing? Let me know by leaving a comment below, I love to hear from readers of my blog. Thanks for reading.

A Festival of Romance!

It’s been a good week for me, writing-wise and I wanted to let you know why. First of all, I am now working part-time rather than full-time which meant that I got a lot more writing done and what’s more, I could write all day and not feel self-indulgent! That’s a great feeling, I can tell you.

Secondly, I heard about The Festival of Romance which is taking place in Bedford, not far from me, on the weekend of the 8th November. There will be lots of romance writers and publishers there and they are also running some workshops. If you haven’t already heard of it, you should have a look online here.

I have also taken the plunge and decided to enter my first chapter into their New Talent award competition. Of course, I would love to win the competition but even if I don’t, I have paid extra to have my chapter professionally critiqued which I think will be very useful advice.

Finally, I have been reading lots of helpful advice from writing people on the internet encouraging me to keep my head down until I have finished my first draft and to not get tempted by the prospect of editing before I do so. I have already fallen into this trap to some extent and it has been really hard to deal with. So, I’m taking that advice, ploughing on and feeling much better about the first draft being completed soon.

I have added some new website links to my website as a result. Have a look in case you find them helpful and if you know of any others you’d recommend, do let me know!

Off to do some more writing now 🙂

Part One – will the revising and editing ever end?

As I explained in my last post, I have been editing the first part of my novel and rewriting large chunks of the story too. I have been reading a lot about the three act structure and trying to make my novel conform to this which, if you are a writer, you will know is easier said than done. I do feel happier about the first part of the story now because I have slowed down the romance a bit and made the falling in love more realistic in the process (I hope!)

I have also been editing as I’ve gone along, using the notes I made on my hard copy, as well as the comments I have received from Authonomy users and a few select friends and loved ones but as I have also been reading a lot of tips for new writers about editing, this seems to be a never ending task!

For example, I find The Creative Penn to be a fantastic website and have used the school holidays to start reading all the emails I subscribed to receive from Joanna, as well as trying to keep up with all the new posts. This one from yesterday, was really useful for pointing out what editors will look for but it also frightened the life out of me! I like to think that I am very literate, with a background in foreign languages and some years of teaching English in schools now under my belt but there are still a fair number of things in the post that I feel less than confident about.

Then there was this list of an editor’s top ten tips from BubbleCow.

Again, it will be really helpful as I work my way through it but it is also quite daunting. So, what to do? Well, I know that I will ask a professional editor to work on my finished novel, when that day finally comes so for now, I can only do what I feel confident doing and accept that when I have done all I can, that is the time to hand over to the experts.

For now, it’s on to part two for more of the same. To quote another writer, ‘Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.’ 🙂 Good luck with your writing, editing, rewriting in the coming week and please do post any comments on how you’re getting on with the process.