Hello, I’m Listening

A great post from lovely Lisa Hill about the psychology of romance writing, and many other things to give you hope on a rainy Tuesday afternoon :).

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I feel a cloud has lifted for me recently. I wonder if it’s a dark cloud which has  darkened my mind for over two years, perhaps from when Dad was terminally diagnosed in the beginning of 2016. I’m not entirely sure but as we move into Spring (and, my, hasn’t it been a long winter?), a time of new beginnings, new life, fresh buds, that I am beginning to blossom myself.

At the end of last year, I didn’t feel in a very good place. The fact is 2017 should have been a good year, one of the best in fact, as after almost a decade of working towards it, I was finally published. Alas, the sheer excitement was short lived. Not long after I was published, I was offered representation by someone (who will remain anonymous) who advised me to turn down a second contract offered by my, then…

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Bookends and Cold Turkey

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So this week is half term week, and I’m supposed to be stepping away from the computer, remembering I have a family and spending some time with The Husband and The Sprogs. As you can see, that’s going well! I’m generally not very good at Cold Turkey, whether that’s biscuits, booze or books…

In all seriousness, this is something I really need to do for a few days. The thing about being in the thick of a first draft, though, is that you end up feeling a bit like Odysseus facing the Sirens. The call of the characters is so strong, that it’s all I can do to step away and ignore them. In fact, I’ve been sneakily adding some bits and pieces to the story since the kids have been in bed (small sprog crashed out on the sofa, and big sprog has just headed upstairs, so I feel less guilty about it, and The Husband has been plugged into the PS4 for an hour or two now), and now that dinner’s in the oven I can add a little more. I guess I’m so used to being a writing ninja that it’s a hard habit to break!

Something I am trying to do now I’m on the home stretch of the first draft is to bookend the chapters. As you know if you’ve ever read any of my blog posts about my so-called process, I write everything out of sequence and then stitch it together usually after there’s about 50k in place. I work to a maximum word limit these days of 100k, so once it’s about half done, I can usually get things in a rough order. For this current novel, I’ve also been writing in plotlines, as there are three distinct strands to follow, all concerning different characters (some are familiar characters, and some are brand new ones). This stranding has made putting things together a bit easier, and working out where the ‘beats’ of this story should fall easier, too.

But the bookending is something a little different. I tend to write myself into scenes by using dialogue. I hear characters so clearly in my head that I like to start every scene at first draft stage with some sort of conversation, but of course that wouldn’t work structurally for a whole novel – it would get awfully repetitive! So what I tend to do at this stage, when I’m about 60-70k in and stuff is vaguely in the right order, is to write the openings and endings to the scenes I’ve already written. These are my bookends, and it’s where I can set the dialogue into its context. Of course, I’m aware all the time of the dreaded ‘information dump’, which I’m trying not to do, as with the novels I write, it generally is all about characters driving the action, rather than plot, and I don’t want to slow the pace. Probably, a lot of what I add now will come back out again later, but there does need to be an element of scene setting to frame all the conversation! But the bookending process is a useful one, mainly to set characters in their environment and give the reader some context and when and where stuff is taking place. I wish I could drop a quick example in, but I don’t want to give anything away just yet about book 3’s plot and characters! Let’s just say that I think, if you liked the first two books, you’ll find a lot to like in this one, too :).

The Last Jedi fanfic roundup

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So, in between getting some good wordage done on Little Somerby book 3 (and having a cracking idea for the climactic scene of *gasp* book 5!) I’ve been writing Star Wars fanfic again, and I thought it might be a good idea to post  list of links and fic summaries for those who might be inclined to read them. All rather Reylo-centric, all one shots of varying lengths from 500-2000 words, they’ll take no time to read, and hopefully might push a few buttons for those of you who are, like me, counting the days to Episode IX :).

So…here we go…

Sanctuary

After General Organa’s death, there was nothing. The Force Bond between them had been silent, severed since the doors closed on the Falcon. But today, at Leia’s memorial commemoration, she feels him again. And he’s hurting.

Spoilers for ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’.

Peace

Notes and summary: Post TLJ fluff. I’m intrigued by thirsty!Rey. Luke’s line ‘this is not going to go the way you think,’ rings true here, too ;). Rey and Ben might not be opening the door to each other while they’re awake, but when they sleep, it’s a different matter. Yes, it’s that trope.

Starved

Because we all know that THAT moment in the hut was a metaphor for so much more. And Rey and Ben are so desperate to be touched. Oh dear. Two people who haven’t been held in a long, long time, find a mirror, and a moment of comfort, in one another. Perfect, really.

Maelstrom

Ben’s mind is fractured throughout The Last Jedi. This is a snapshot into it.

So that’s as it stands for now…but I don’t think I’ve finished yet! Watch this space…

Prose and Process…

This is still ringing true as I break the 50k boundary on book 3. One thing I would add is a kind of addendum to point #4, which is that writing scenes out of sequence has really helped me to ensure every scene has an explicit focus and that nothing I write is filler. One of the most important things I’ve read from several authors is that every scene MUST either tell the reader something about character or move the plot forward. By writing scenes out of chronological sequence, I’m always cutting to the chase, getting to the heart of the moment, and so far this has seemed to work! Of course, the challenge comes when I have to stitch it together, which is probably my least favourite job…

Fay Keenan

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Since I finished looking over the copy edit of book 2, I’ve started to get really stuck in to writing book 3 of the Little Somerby series. As usual, this has led to much thought about what my ‘process’ is when I’m writing, so I thought I’d try to document some of that here, for those who might be wondering what it looks and feels like in my head!

  1. I’m a plantser. That means I plot a bit and I fly by the seat of my (massive, mummy) pants a bit. I generally know the beginning and end of a story when I start, and who the main characters are, but I don’t often know what’s going to happen in between until it happens! Sometimes my characters go off in directions that surprise me. For example, I didn’t know what was going to happen to Meredith in The Second Chance…

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*Blog Tour* Springtime in the Cider Kitchen

Thanks so much for hosting an extract, and for being part of the #Springtime blog tour 🙂 xxx

A Sky Filled With Sparkling Stars Blog

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From the bestselling author of The Second Chance Tea Shop…

Caroline Hemingway can’t help but feel a little strange watching her ex sister-in-law marrying the owner of Carter’s Cider Farm, but she’s delighted Anna’s found happiness after the death of her late husband, and Caroline’s brother, James. If only Caroline could find her own love story…

Desperate to escape the rat race, Caroline decides to take the plunge and move to the idyllic village of Little Somerby, where she is given the task of opening and running a restaurant in one of the forgotten barns on the CiderFarm.

But secrets from her past seem destined to haunt her, and not even the attentions of the very dishy Jonathan Carter can distract her from all she’s left behind…

Perfect for all fans of Fern Britton, Katie Fforde and Cathy Bramley.

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Exclusive Extract

Of all the things to do…

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An introduction to Springtime at the Cider Kitchen by Fay Keenan – guest post

Thank you so much for hosting me today, Janet, and for being part of the #Springtime blog tour :). xx

From First Page to Last

Today I’m pleased to welcome Fay Keenan to the blog. Fay is the author of The Second Chance Tea Shop and her latest novel, Springtime at the Cider Kitchen was published by Aria Fiction in ebook format on 1 January 2018.

Kay has written this guest post to introduce us to her novel.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be introducing Springtime at the Cider Kitchen to you today. The second book in the Little Somerby series, it’s been an absolute joy to write. Returning to the village to create another story has been like coming home. But how did it come about? Allow me to explain…

When I’d finished writing my debut novel, The Second Chance Tea Shop, I already knew there was another story to be told. Although ‘Tea Shop’ finished with all the loose ends tied up, there was one character who just wouldn’t…

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Blog Tour: Springtime at the Cider Kitchen by Fay Keenan 

Thanks for being part of the blog tour, Katherine, and for the review and the extract 🙂 xx.

Katherine's Book Universe

About the Book:

Caroline Hemingway can’t help but feel a little strange watching her ex sister-in-law marrying the owner of Carter’s Cider Farm, but she’s delighted Anna’s found happiness after the death of her late husband, and Caroline’s brother, James. If only Caroline could find her own love story…

Desperate to escape the rat race, Caroline decides to take the plunge and move to the idyllic village of Little Somerby, where she is given the task of opening and running a restaurant in one of the forgotten barns on the Cider Farm.

Opening and running The Cider Kitchen is no easy task, and there are many challenges on the way, but slowly Caroline feels she’s being accepted into the local community, and starts to believe she may have found her forever home. But secrets from her past seem destined to haunt her, and not even the attentions of the very…

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