Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.
Today’s prompt has a mothers theme.
As it is Mother’s Day at the weekend, I thought I’d set today’s prompt around the relationship between child and mother.
Most of us know the film, Freaky Friday where the mother and daughter swap places with one another. Write your own version of Freaky Friday. You could make up the setting and scenario from scratch or you could use a memory of your own from when you were a child. You could also you a situation you’ve had with your child.by
Hi Dani, thank you for joining me today. Congratulations on the release of This Love. To begin, could you describe what was your route to publication like?
If it was a journey, I would have to say it was one that took a scenic route, rather than the fast track. Like many unpublished authors, I was largely fumbling around in the dark, trying to get my first book noticed. I did send it out to literary agents, but sadly without success. Eventually I had to accept that, for whatever reason, this was not the right time for me or my book, and sadly relegated it to a memory stick in my desk drawer. Then four years later in 2013 my daughter offered to help me self-publish. Very soon, after a lifetime of thinking it was never going to happen, I was lucky enough to have both an agent and a publishing deal. But best of all, I finally had the opportunity to share a story that very nearly never got to be told at all.
Your new book is called This Love. What’s it about?
THIS LOVE is an emotional drama, but – as its title would suggest – at its core it’s very much a love story. It’s a book about falling in love with possibly the one person you should never become involved with, for a great many reasons. But it’s also a story about the heart ruling the head.
The main character is Sophie who, because of a past tragedy, has chosen to live a very contained and limited life, until a dramatic event occurs, and she meets Ben. After that the prison walls she had built around her come crashing down and the path to her future is rewritten. Although it’s about being rescued, THIS LOVE is also about finding the courage to rescue yourself. And, of course, it wouldn’t be one of my books if there weren’t some fairly major obstacles standing in the way as well.
What’s the best and hardest part of being a writer?
The best part of this job is doing something for a living that you would choose to do as a hobby anyway. I don’t think you can – or should – ever consider writing a book to earn a great deal of money, because that literary jackpot only happens to a very small select group of authors – which is probably why those jaw-dropping six figure deals make the headlines. Most of us are just happy to earn enough to cover the mortgage. I believe the only reason to do this job is because you have a passion for storytelling. And if you’re fortunate enough to find someone who wants to pay you for the privilege of doing something you love, then that is the most incredible bonus.
The hardest part of being a writer is probably the isolation and the potential loneliness. There’s no one around for the famous ‘water cooler chats’ anymore. Also there is a very slippery slope you could easily slither down: unwashed; not even brushed your hair; working all day in your pyjamas; not wearing a scrap of makeup. Funnily enough, however scruffy you look, the people in your book don’t seem to care a bit!
When writing This Love, what was your writing process like? Did you plan much? Do you tend to complete a first draft before editing?by
Award winning author Liz Fenwick’s latest novel, The Returning Tide is released today by Orion.
Two sisters and one betrayal that will carry across generations . . .
In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins – the story of Adele and Amelia, and the heart-breaking betrayal that will divide them forever. Decades later, the effects of one reckless act still echo – but how long will it be until their past returns?
A big, lovely welcome to Liz who joins me today with her advice on staying motivated when writing. Over to you, Liz…
The beginning of writing a novel is a wonderful thing. I am in love. The book in my head is perfect in every way from flawless sentences, twists galore and characters to die for…it’s all there unsullied by actually putting a single word on the page.
This love affair normally lasts for about 20,000 or maybe to 40,000 words if I’m lucky…then the doubts creep in. What was I thinking? It’s awful. These thoughts I refer to as the crows of doubt and they really begin to circle. This is when I turn to research and writing craft books. I’m always scared that I won’t find the inspiration to complete the story but digging into research fills my head with more ideas. Writing craft books make me look at things from a different angle.
Both of these exercises are essential to finding the will and the inspiration to keep going until I type the end.
I also remind myself that the first draft of the book is for me…for me alone. It’s fine that it is so far from perfect, from the book in my head. I tell myself that once the first draft is done I can fix it but I can’t fix an empty page.by
At last, I’ve picked up my metaphorical pen and started writing again. After a couple of months of reading some very good books, especially some nice proofs (thank you Rosie Marguessen), I decided that it was about time I picked up my writing hat again. This was helped by the results of an online Pitch Event in the USA that I attended back in February.
The results were as good as could be hoped for, a couple of agents after mixed bags of both my current books; including two who asked for the complete manuscript!
Can anyone guess the problem there? Though one is as finished as it can get, the one’s that wanted the complete m/s for wasn’t. Or rather it was but only up to the second draft. Very clever bod that I am. So, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks going through two more drafts until it’s at such a state I felt I could send it off. Fortunately, both agents in their replies state that it’s ok to say if I’m a first time author and seeing as I’m not published, I took that as an okay to say I was; so I did. What will happen from these, who can tell, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
These two weeks of hectic writing, reading, re-writing, re-reading (you get the picture) has also reminded me to send this latest off to the RNA’s NWS scheme. I didn’t last year, which is kind of a waste, but as I didn’t feel it was worth sending off a half-finished effort, I didn’t trouble the readers. However, the bug is BACK!!!! So that’s going to go off shortly, today if I get my finger out.by
Iris Parker has passed away. She’s left the large amount of money from the sale of her house to her three daughters; Rose, who is tight lipped, controlled and closed down, Dee (Daisy) who is sensitive and has a big heart and the youngest sister, Fleur who is the free spirit.
The catch of the inheritance is their mother’s kicking the bucket list. The girls have to get together every other month and take part in various tasks set out by their mother. These are six weekends where Iris wants her girls to bond.
The three sisters have been estranged for years. Neither of them understand the other and not one of them is happy about having to get together. Dee needs the money as the home she has rented for years is about to be sold, Rose is distant as she has her own tragedy to face and Fleur is more lonely than she is letting on.
Can they make it through the year and get to know one another again like their mother wants them to?
This book resonated with me on such a level that it was sometimes hard to read and I imagine it would be the same for anyone who has lost a parent. That was through no fault of the book that I found some passages difficult. I didn’t want to stop reading. I just spend most of it trying not to cry.
Each woman is fighting her own battle but none want to communicate it to the other two. There are moments where you want to bang their heads together.by
For today’s activity in the writing room today, it’s all about putting the following sentences in a story.
Use all of the following lines of text below in a short story involving a wedding.
Write a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 1,500 words. You don’t have to keep the sentences below in the same order.
The lines to include in your piece…..
‘But I am in love with her.’
‘The war has begun and they are coming for us.’
‘No, you can’t take the unicorn home.’
‘You know he will kill you the moment you step outside.’
‘I saw them in the bowlplex yesterday. Kissing.’
‘When the time comes, you’ll know.’
Shortlist for Wellcome Book Prize 2017 announced.
Four non fiction books and two fiction books have been shortlisted for the 2017 Wellcome Prize.
The list includes the following:
How To Survive a Plague by David France (non-fiction,) When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (non-fiction,) Mend The Living by Maylis De Kerangal (fiction,) The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss (fiction,) The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee (non fiction) and I contain Multitudes by Ed Yong (non fiction.)
2017 could mean a posthumous win for Paul Kalanithi.
The Wellcome Prize is an annual award which is open to non-fiction and fiction novels that have been submitted by publishers and that have a central theme that has some aspect of medicine, health or illness.by
The wonderful Sue Moorcroft is back with her new book, Just For The Holidays.
It’s due to be released by Avon on 18th May 2017 in eBook and paperback.
I was delighted to be asked to be involved in the cover reveal for Sue’s new book and I am incredibly excited to read it.
In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.
Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.
But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…
A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.
So, time for the book cover… drumroll…..by
2017 is promising to be a fantastic year for new book releases, if my TBR pile is anything to go by anyway.
As I have not done a haul in a while, I wanted to blog about some of the fantastic books that my letterbox has received to review. I also haven’t been able to resist buying a load of books too (much to the boy’s complaints.)
The first book in this haul is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (released by Walker Books, May 2015.) I kept seeing the trailer for the film adaptation of this book at the end of last year and it is this that brought the novel to my attention. The imagery in the trailer looked absolutely stunning and the plot looked really intriguing. I knew it was a book I had to go and buy and one I very much look forward to reading. I want to read this before I see the movie. This looks like it would be a story that resonates with a lot of people.
Connor has the same dream every night; the one he’s been having ever since his mother fell ill and stopped having treatments that didn’t seem to be working. This one particular night is different though. When Connor wakes, there is a visitor at his window. Ancient and elemental, it’s a dangerous force of nature and it is wanting the truth from Connor.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella was released by Bantam Press on 9th February. Becky Bloomwood is one of my favourite fictional heroines. However, I have a big soft spot for books outside of the Shopaholic series too; Can You Keep A Secret being one of my favourite books. This book looks as fantastic as you’d expect Sophie’s novels to be. The cover is incredibly cute and the subject matter does look very topical especially with Social Media seemingly taking over everywhere. This is currently sat on my pile of books to read (having brought it a couple of weeks ago,) and I am itching to read it.
Katie is living the perfect life. She has a glamorous job, a flat in London and a cool instagram feed. In reality, she rents a tiny room with no space, has to commute to a low paid admin job and what she shares on Instagram isn’t even hers. Then, to add insult to injury, she looses her job. Katie ends up moving back to Somerset to help her Dad with his glamping business. Her ex boss books in for a holiday and Katie sees her chance. Should she get revenge or try and get her job back? Also, is her boss living as perfect a life as she portrays?by
Huge hellos today to Julia Chapman and the blog tour for her new novel, Date with Death which is part of the Dales Detective Series, released by Pan on 9th March. Here’s a bit about it….
Murder’s no cup of tea.
Samson O’Brien has been dismissed from the police force, and returns to his hometown of Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales to set up the Dales Detective Agency while he fights to clear his name. However, the people of Bruncliffe aren’t that welcoming to a man they see as trouble.
Delilah Metcalfe, meanwhile, is struggling to keep her business, the Dales Dating Agency, afloat – as well as trying to control her wayward Weimaraner dog, Tolpuddle. Then when Samson gets his first case, investigating the supposed suicide of a local man, things take an unexpected turn, and soon he discovers a trail of deaths that lead back to the door of Delilah’s agency.
With suspicion hanging over someone they both care for, the two feuding neighbours soon realize that they need to work together to solve the mystery of the dating deaths. But working together is easier said than done . . .
To celebrate the release of her new novel, Julia asks, what’s in a name.
My novels are full of characters. But when you are creating a brand new person, where do you start? Usually, the physical characteristics come first for me. On the odd occasion, a character has emerged on the page complete with name from the very beginning. But that’s unusual.
On the whole, I create the people who populate my books from scratch. But sometimes the traits I give them come from real life. For example, I have a gorgeous Weimaraner called Tolpuddle in my new Dales Detective Series, a large grey dog who has a habit of leaning against people. I took that detail from a New Zealand Huntaway I once knew who was just like that. He would come up and lean into you, his weight heavy on your leg. But it wasn’t threatening. It was reassuring. As though he was letting you know he was there – in case you were in trouble.
I stole that characteristic and gave it to Tolpuddle. The rest of him is pure fiction. Especially his penchant for beer!
But perhaps the most essential part of any character, for me, is the name. It can tell you as much as any detailed physical description. More sometimes! We all know a Susie is different to a Susan. A Bill is going to be possibly less formal than a William. We can even deduce a person’s age simply from what they are called. Edith and Lucy – both live in Bruncliffe, the setting for the Dales Detective Series. Want to take a bet which one lives in Fellside Court retirement complex and which one runs the local cafe?
(Having said that, I do have a character called Titch who is massive. But then, if a bit of name inversion was good enough for Little John in Robin Hood then I’m happy to follow suit!)
How to choose this fundamental aspect of the people who will populate my books, then? By the time I reach the stage of assigning a label, the personality is usually fully formed. So I need the name to be right – it has to fit the person emerging from under my words like a glove. Consequently, it can take me a lot longer to christen my characters than to create them.
Take the landlord of the Fleece in Bruncliffe, the setting for the Dales Detective Series. He’s morose. A misanthropist.
He’s a reluctant host and suffers his customers only because they make him money.by
Friday 10th March 2017: Film Focus
Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.
Today’s prompt is about a character in a movie.
Think of your favourite movie. Now think about your favourite character in that movie.
Write a scene featuring this character but a scene that doesn’t feature in the current movie. Is it that the boy doesn’t get the girl? Could it be that the person you thought was the good guy is actually the bad guy?
You can write this in prose or you could have a go at writing it in a script format.
It’s March! How did we get into March so quickly? We are already getting the lighter mornings and longer evenings and this is totally ok by me. The clocks go forward at the end of this month too.
Before we get too far into March, I wanted to look back over some of the things and products I have been loving in February.
An honourable mention needs to go to Gilmore Girls. This has been in a previous favourites and I am still making my way through it and loving it. I have managed to stay away from spoilers about it (especially around the latest episodes,) and I am hoping it stays that way.
OK, so lets begin with my favourites in stationery.
The first product I have loved in February is my Vanskap (which I believe means friendship in Swedish,) Personal Planner from Kikki K. It has cats on it people. Cats. I couldn’t resist it. Having been late to the Kikki K party, I missed this particular collection so I had to track this down on eBay but so worth it.
I have never really used Filofaxes. I tend to gravitate toward bound diaries. However, I have completely fallen in love with this planner. It’s fabric (not leather,) and it is such a pretty colour. The inserts all have cats on them and there are blank stickers so you can customise it. I think Kikki K are definitely bringing me around to the planners.
I am enjoying using this planner. I am enjoying it very much.
Next up is a sticker subscription. I have an unhealthy love of stickers for someone who is in their thirties. I like decorating my diary, planner and notebook with stickers. It cheers up the page and makes me smile. I have recently subscribed to a sticker subscription service. It’s called Pipsticks, it’s based in the United States and it is amazing.
There are various types of stickers in the pack. It’s affordable considering it is coming from the states. If you’re into decorating diaries or planners, this could be a good way to get a monthly supply of stickers. If you’d like me to do a review of this subscription, let me know.
My book favourite this month was definitely When The Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea. It’s based in Jersey when the German army invades in World War II. It focuses on a small group of villagers and their will to not let bad circumstances dampen their determination.by
For today’s exercise, this is your chance to become an explorer for a while.
Getting out into the fresh air is always good for clearing the cobwebs and going in search of inspiration.
Get out and explore your neighbourhood today. Walk down a street you don’t normally walk down. Turn left where you would normally go right or vice versa.
What do you hear, see or smell?
You could always take a camera to keep a record of everything you discover.
Once you’re back, go through and see what inspires a story.by
Writing conferences are great for new and established writers alike. They are a chance to spend time with like-minded people and to gain inspiration for writing.
If you find yourself near Purchase, NY on 25th March, the seventh annual Unicorn Writers’ Conference is being held at Reid Castle (Manhattanville College.)
Starting at 7am and ending at 8pm, the conference runs all day with various panels and workshops.
These include sessions on opening scenes, social media, self publishing vs. traditional publishing, dialogue, marketing, plots, setting and outline as well as media training and book publicity.
Speakers on the day include Beatriz Williams, Jason Matthews, Michael Sullivan and Nancy Kress.
Conference registration is $325 for one person with the option of purchasing addition review sessions on varying topics including genre networking and query letters.
You can register online or via post. For more information on the conference and how to attend, visit, http://www.unicornwritersconference.com
A big welcome today to Dinah Jefferies. Her new novel, Before The Rains was released by Viking in February (2017.)
1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband’s death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza’s only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she’s determined to make a name for herself.
But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince’s handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families – and society – think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what’s expected, or following their hearts. . .
Hello Dinah, thank you so much for joining me today. Your new novel, Before The Rains sounds great. Can you tell me about it and where the idea originated?
I read about and then visited a small palace where, in the past, the royal family had mortgaged the family jewels to pay for an irrigation project. That gave me the idea for the title and one of the themes of the book. I fell in love with Rajasthan and wanted the pages of Before The Rains to shimmer with spice and silk so that the beauty of India would shine through. It’s about an independent female character with an interesting job as a photo-journalist. But above all it’s a story of forbidden love, with an edge to it, and plenty of opposition from either side. I wanted the story to be life-enhancing, despite the mystery of what’s going in the dark recesses of the palace. And so I tried to bring to life the colour and immense luxury of a Rajasthan palace and contrast that with the raw emptiness of the desert that surrounds it. It’s a romantic story that offers something more.
What elements do you need in place prior to writing a novel? Do you need a comprehensive plan, do you edit as you go etc?
I usually prepare a fifteen-page synopsis and stick to it as much as I can as I write. Having said that, there will inevitably be changes, edits and shifts as I go along. Sometimes a new idea will come to me, sometimes I’ll need to take the story in a different direction, sometimes something doesn’t work, so I try to remain flexible throughout. I do loads of revisions and love the editing process once the first draft is done.
What writing rituals do you have?
I’m not really a ritual kind of a person, but I try to write in the mornings while my mind is still fresh. A cup of coffee is a must, as is a warm room. I have a lovely new garden room where I write now and that has made all the difference. I was in a cramped back bedroom before. I now have my den and I love it.
What’s your favourite word and why?
My favourite word at the moment is ‘cinnamon’ because it figures widely in the book I am currently writing. I also like the sound of the word and the smell of cinnamon, especially on a cake or pudding. Mmmm! Cinnamon buns and coffee. Now there’s a thought.
Best and hardest thing about being a writer?
The best thing is when you hold a finished book in your hand for the first time. I absolutely love that moment. It has usually taken a long process to reach that point and some of the hardest things happen on the way. The very worst thing is when a manuscript isn’t working as it should but you can’t figure out what’s wrong. Then it feels like you’re grappling with a wild beast intent on devouring you. That’s when your editor is fantastically useful.
Out of all your books, do you have a favourite passage/section?
I love the section on page 20 of The Tea Planter’s Wife when Gwen sees the tea plantation for the first time and describes the tea bushes as a tapestry of green velvet, where women tea pickers looked like tiny embroidered birds.by