Welcome to new subscribers. Thanks for signing up; it’s so good to have you with us. I haven’t written here for a little while, so this is a catch-up post. Here in lovely Lancashire in the North West of England, autumn is quite stunning. On the edge of the picturesque Trough of Bowland and only a short drive to the Lake District, the autumnal countryside is beautiful at this time of year, especially when the sun is shining.
More recently, there has been heavy rain, and threats of flooding in the area and the little town where I live was hit by the deluge.
I’ve been hitting the keyboard hard these last few months and will soon have exciting news of my next book. I am in love with all the new characters and can’t wait for you to meet them. As much as I love writing, it is a job and takes discipline to sit down and slowly but surely work through the process of putting a manuscript together. The new novel has been different for me because I was given a theme and asked to write a story around it. With this in mind, here are a couple of tips that I’ve employed during the process.
Write for yourself, rewrite for others.
So often, writers are told to write for themselves, get the story down, feel the story and let the words flow onto the page. One of the most essential points in the process is listening to an editor and acknowledging their constructive points. So you have your first draft. You think it is brilliant, then your revisions come back with a hell of a lot of suggestions. Don’t cringe away with hurt feelings; take on board the advice from the capable and experienced editing brain that you entrusted your book baby to. They know the market and the reader you are writing for. Learn, write and learn some more.
Make your readers feel something.
If you don’t care about your characters, your readers will feel precisely the same way and soon turn to another book. You have to step into the shoes of the individuals you write about and walk through their lives with them, feeling their highs and lows and understanding what makes them tick. Sometimes I find myself crying when one of my characters is having a tough time, and that’s an emotion I embrace because readers may feel the same too.
Like many, the travel bug has been itching, and last month I was able to scratch it when we caught a last-minute flight and headed to the tiny island of Paxos in the Ionian Sea. Paxos is one of a cluster of islands that dates back to prehistoric times, and the Romans ruled the island from the 2nd century BC. By the end of the 14th century, the Venetians had taken over, and there is still evidence of incredible Venetian architecture throughout the Ionian islands.
With no airport, access to the island is by boat only, and on the day we travelled, the sea was choppy and not for the faint-hearted. October was stormy with heavy wind and rain at times, but it was genuinely glorious when the sun came out. Our home for the duration was a villa set in an olive grove. The house had been the former home of the British Governor of the island during the 19th century when Paxos was a British Protectorate. A perfect place to relax and take stock of the previous year, even when there was no electricity due to the weather and the candles came out.
I love audiobooks, and this month, in my free time, I have been listening to several novels by Diane Chamberlain. My favourite was Big Lies in a Small Town, which slips between 2018 and 1940 and is a great read.
I adored Eva Glynn’s The Olive Grove. It is beautifully written and based in Croatia and made me want to jump on a plane and head off to discover the places so skillfully described. Don’t miss it – it’s a great read.
My book club recommended Mike Gayle’s, All the Lonely People, and given the difficulties of isolating during the pandemic, this book really hit the spot. Another gorgeous read.
If you fancy a fun, cosy mystery to snuggle down with on the dark nights, my novel Hattie Goes to Hollywoodis on promo for you at only 99p/99c. Hattie is one of my favourite characters. Larger than life and full of fun, she gets into a great deal of trouble but somehow digs her way out with a smile on her face and plenty of laughs along the way. I hope you enjoy the story. It’s also available on audio and read by the lovely Gill Mills, also a fan of Hattie.
Christmas is around the corner, and I will write again before then. Do get in touch. I love to hear from you and don’t be shy. I love to chat about all things books and travels and whatever else is on your mind. You can find me on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I am always delighted to follow back.