Catching up

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I arrived back home three days ago, after six months touring Europe in our motorhome. Yes, it was an amazing trip! We spent three months in Italy, a month in France, a month in Spain, and the rest of the time split between Croatia, Switzerland and Portugal with four days back in the UK in July to attend our son’s graduation.

Both our boys came out to visit us and spent a week each touring with us. We have been to some amazing places. Too much to try to cover here, but if you want to know more about the trip please take a look at our travel blog for all the details.

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The Dolomites, one of my favourite parts of our trip

My plan was always to keep going with the writing while we travelled, and I did manage to do this though possibly not as much as I’d hoped. It took more time than I’d anticipated to keep the blog up to date and to plan ahead.

But here’s what I did manage to achieve writing-wise while on the road:

  • Two rounds of edits of my next novel. I had just finished a rough draft before we left which I printed out and took with me. Edited that, sent to my editor, re-edited it in line with her comments then sent on to my new editor (my previous one has moved on to a different imprint with HarperCollins and will be much missed)
  • Planned the novel after that, wrote a synopsis, wrote about 15,000 words.
  • Some promotion for my latest, The Girl from Ballymor, which came out in September.

Not bad for a mobile life! But now we are home I need to get going with all of it again. Promotion, editing and first-drafting – all need to be progressed. Oh, and I am back at the day job from tomorrow. There’s no rest… but no one feels sorry for me after my six-month holiday! Can’t think why!

 

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Publication day!

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At long last, publication day for The Girl from Ballymor has finally come around. It’s been a long wait this time, and I am longing to find out what people think of the book. Early reviews have bthe-girl-from-ballymor_highreseen good – the one I posted here last and then this lovely one by Pam Norfolk in the Lancashire Post. I have been quoting parts of that one to my husband continuously since reading it yesterday!

We are currently in our campervan on a cliff top on the Atlantic coast of Portugal. A pretty spectacular location ins which to celebrate publication! We have another 4 weeks travelling before we return home, and at last I will be able to hold a paperback copy of my book.

Meanwhile, on with the next book, or rather the book after next, which is also set in Ireland though in a different time period. I’m enjoying writing this new one very much.

First review!

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So delighted to see this lovely first review for The Girl from Ballymor from Karen at GoBuyTheBook! There’s just over a week till publication, and it is always a nervy time wondering whether readers will like it. Karen’s enjoyed my previous books so I am delighted to find that she was not disappointed by this one either. To my mind, it’s my best yet. But different readers like different things – I have friends who prefer the emotion of The Pearl Locket over the twists and turns of The Daughters of Red Hill Hall, and other friends who have said the exact opposite.

The Girl from Ballymor is more on the emotional side, but I hope there are enough twists and turns to keep all readers happy!

7th September is release date. The book will be available in paperback as well as ebook, and should be stocked in Asda supermarkets as well as online.

Delay…

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Unfortunately I need to announce a delay in publication of my new book The Girl from Ballymor. The book is ready – the delay has come from Sales and Marketing. There are only so many ‘slots’ available at retailers for the paperback and they want to give this book the best possible chance.

So publication has been put back to 7th September. I’m obviously disappointed by this but also keen to see the book on sale in as many places as possible.

Sorry to make you all wait a little longer. I hope you find the book is worth the wait!

My two favourite words…

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I just wrote “The End” on a (very rough) draft of my next novel. It is SUCH a satisfying moment! All the more so this time, as I have been racing ahead to finish a draft before going travelling – we leave in just 6 days time.

Having finished it before we go means I can print it off and take the printout with me to edit. I prefer doing the first, major edit on paper, with a red pen. It’s easier to be ruthless when you can put a big red cross over an entire page and scribble something different in the margin or on the reverse.

Of course, once we are away travelling in our motorhome printing will be a bit tricky. I’ll be taking my laptop of course, and we have various arrangements to allow us to be online (see here if you are curious!) but printing would involve taking a memory stick to a print shop and explaining what I need in broken French or even more broken Italian. It’d probably cost a fortune too. So I was keen to get to the point where I could print it at home and take it with me.

In other news – The Pearl Locket is currently on sale in the UK at 99p, but only for a few more days.

And don’t forget my new book The Girl from Ballymor is available for preorder in both ebook and print format!

The Girl from Ballymor

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Well I don’t know about youthe-girl-from-ballymor_highres but I think this cover’s absolutely GORGEOUS!

I love her vibrant hair which is exactly right for my heroine, Kitty. And the background image is perfect for the setting of west Cork, Ireland.

This book feels like it’s been a long time coming. I actually finished the first draft and sent it to my editor way back in August last year. Since then there has been a number of rounds of edits, and I have just this minute finished going through the printed proofs.

This book, I am DELIGHTED to announce, will be available as a paperback as well as ebook. It’s been my dream for ages to hold one of my novels, printed, in my grubby little paws (or maybe I’ll even wash my hands before picking it up). And now that’s finally going to happen! Although, as this book won’t be released until 1st June we’ll actually be out of the country at that time (as you’ll know if you’ve looked at my other blog linked from the last post). I’ll have to wait until I’m back to finally get to hold it.

It is funny the reactions I’ve had when telling people it’ll be available as a paperback. Old friends and in-laws who just don’t ‘do’ Kindles are the most delighted for me, hugging me excitedly as finally they will get to read one of my books in a format they like. Other people, especially those who read a lot of ebooks, smile uncertainly, shrug, and ask me to explain why paperback is such a big deal.

I’m likely to make more money on the ebook sales than the paperback, but still, knowing that format will be available does feel like a really big deal. My publisher is a digital-first publisher, and only selected books go into paperback. The fact they’ve picked one of mine means they have faith in this book and think it’ll sell. That’s a real confidence booster. And it will, of course, be lovely to actually have a copy of the book on my book shelves at home. I’m also delighted that this format will mean the book can reach more readers.

I’ve added a page at the top of this blog for reviews and links relating to this book, as for the other ones. It’s available now for preorder.

 

Another blog… and some news

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I haven’t been completely ignoring this blog – I have just been stupidly busy so far in 2017. I’ve been editing the next novel, and writing the one that’s to come after that. And I’ve been planning a six-month trip in our campervan, which will begin in April. Associated with that I’ve been learning Italian.

Oh, and then there’s the day job, of course.

So – about this six-month trip – my husband and I have set up another blog in which we will write about our travels. Please do take a look, and if you are interested in following our progress around Europe, bookmark it or subscribe to follow it by email. I won’t put much about the trip on this blog, which I’ll keep for writing and book news. Here’s the link to the new blog: https://inktravel2017.wordpress.com/blog/ 

And a little bit of writing news – my book The Pearl Locket is on promotion in the US, currently selling at just 99c. This has given it a lovely boost, and I was over the moon earlier today to see it reached number 27 in the overall Kindle chart.  Of course I had to get a screenshot of that, to grin stupidly over whenever I need a confidence boost:

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It’s slipped a bit since I grabbed that screenshot but it was up there for a while, honest!

Happy New Year!

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So here it is – another year over, a new one about to begin. 2016 was an odd year, wasn’t it? Referendums and US elections yielding unexpected and (to me) unwelcome results; the worrying rise in popularity of the  far right; all those celebrity deaths; the ongoing tragedies in Syria.

I don’t do politics on this blog – there’s enough of it elsewhere. Instead it’s time for my annual goal-setting exercise. I looked back at last year’s new year blog post to see what I’d targeted myself with in 2016 and found this:

So what am I planning to achieve in 2016? Actually for once I don’t have as many definite goals. It’s more a case of keep on keeping on. I want to maintain fitness and try to keep weight off. I want to keep writing the dual timeline novels I love writing, and which people seem to like reading. I will definitely write another complete novel in the year, and as that will be the second contract completed I’ll then need to work on getting another one.

Keep on keeping on. Easy enough, for once! Maintain fitness – yes, kind of. Keep weight off – hmm, crept up a little over the year. Keep writing – yes, definitely done that. I completed a novel which is currently awaiting publication, and I did manage to secure a new contract for three more books, one of which I’m a third through writing.

2017 is going to be a rather different year for me. The company I work for in my day job (John Lewis) give employees six months paid leave when you have completed 25 years service. I qualified a while ago but we’d always known we would wait until both sons had left home for university before taking the leave, and 2017 is the year we ear-marked. My husband’s retired so no issues with him having time off.

Back in February 2016 we bought a  motorhome and our plan is to travel through France, Italy, around the Adriatic, back through the Alps and across to Spain, starting in April and coming home in early October. I’ll be blogging about it – for anyone who wants to follow our travels! While we’re away travelling I do intend writing each day. I have to – to meet the deadlines of my new contract – but I also can’t imagine not writing for that long. It’s too much part of my life now.

So, my 2017 goals are:

  • To make the most of the six months travelling
  • To come home part way through the trip so we can make it to our son’s graduation!
  • To complete the book I am currently working on
  • To be about 2/3 through the next book by the end of the year

Finally, let me wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year, and I hope 2017 is better for the world than 2016 was. Have a great evening, whether you’re out partying or curling up alone with a good book, and here’s to 2017!

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(free fireworks image from here)

 

News catch-up!

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I am a bit shocked and horrified to discover it is over 3 months since I wrote a blog post, and I am becoming one of those bloggers who has to start every post with an apology that it’s been so long since the last one. So sorry, dear blog followers, I shall try to do better!

So in the last post I was between novels. Since then I have completed two rounds of edits on the ‘Irish covernovel’, which does have a title now but not one I am allowed to share just yet! I’m waiting to hear back from my publisher on the latest edits, and also to hear when it’ll be put up for preorder. I will, of course, announce it here!

And I am now 20,000 words in to the next one, working title ‘Drowned Village’. So there’s been plenty of writing going on in this house, if not any blogging.

And in another snippet of news, my book The Daughters of Red Hill Hall has been included in Amazon’s December monthly deals, so is priced at just 99p for the next 3o days. Go on, treat yourself!

 

Between novels

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I’m in that wonderful, exciting, refreshing but also terrifying space between novels at the moment. I finished a draft of my last, still-to-be-titled, one over the weekend, and sent it to my editor today. There will still be plenty of work to do on it no doubt, but for the moment it is out of my hands.

Meanwhile ideas for the next novel after that are filling my mind, so although I’d planned to have a bit of a break I have spent a lot of time today scribbling notes and putting together a Pinterest board to inspire me.

There are a number of things I do when planning a novel before I start actually writing it. I’ll do them in roughly this sequence:

  1. Scribble notes about key scenes, in a lovely new notebook of course!
  2. Decide on names, ages etc of main characters
  3. Draw up family trees for main characters, especially important if genealogy is to be a theme in the book
  4. Draw up timelines for the two timelines in the novel
  5. Build up a Pinterest board of inspiring images
  6. Note down main areas where I’ll need to research ahead of writing, and order any necessary books
  7. Create detailed character sheets for the main characters so that I can really get to know them
  8. Scribble details of the main settings, draw a map or house-plan if necessary
  9. Write a one-page synopsis for my editor to (hopefully!) approve
  10. Write a chapter plan – two or three sentences outlining what will happen in each chapter

So although ‘the Irish novel’ has been sent off ready for the next stage (rather like a five-year old child being sent off for his first day at school), the ‘drowned village’ novel is already swilling around my head. You know you need to write a novel when you find yourself waking in the night with scenes for it playing out in full colour in your head.

It’s funny – to my readers Daughters of Red Hill Hall is considered my latest novel, but I feel as though I’m two novels on from that!