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)

 

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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!

A Shortcut Through Time – collaborative short story

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Shortcut coverRecently I have had the pleasure and honour of collaborating with some wonderful authors of timeslip novels, to create a short (10,000 word) timeslip story. We wrote this originally for a Facebook group – the Historical and Timeslip Novels group – which has always been hugely supportive of all of us. This was our little way of giving something back. The story has been serialised in that group over the last couple of weeks, and now I can share it here for my blog readers. Click the link below to read the PDF on screen or download.

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Your authors are listed below. All links are to their Amazon author pages. If you enjoy A Shortcut Through Time you’ll almost certainly enjoy their full length novels, so please do go and check them out!

Anna Belfrage – author of the marvellous Graham series

Annie Whitehead – To Be a Queen and Alvar the Kingmaker

Irina Shapiro – the Wonderland and Hands of Time series

Terry Lynn Thomas – The Spirit of Grace

Nicola Layouni – Tales of a Traveller series

We passed the story back and forth via Facebook as we wrote it, writing three sections each, to a rough plan from Anna Belfrage (although the plot did change as we went along – you can’t expect six authors not to stray off-piste from time to time!) I bet you can’t see the joins or guess who wrote what part. Please let me know what you think of this story in the comments below.

We had great fun writing this and have not ruled out writing a sequel at some stage in the future…

Catching up!

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Oh dear it has been over a month since I posted anything on this blog. I had a fortnight’s holiday in Ireland in May, travelling round in our campervan, and I feel as though I have barely stopped moving since.

There is a little bit of bookish news to share – The Emerald Comb is currently on an Amazon promotion – 99p on Amazon.co.uk until the end of this month. Grab it while you can!

As a result of this, I now have TWO books with best seller flags which is extremely pleasing. Obviously I needed a screenshot of this – and here it is.Two best seller flags

While in Ireland we toured the south-west corner – counties Cork and Kerry. This is where my next novel is mostly set, so I found it very inspiring. No date yet for publication but I will let you know when I have one.

Gertie (our campervan) turned out to be perfect – better than we’d dared dream. I love everything about her. Just as well, because next year we plan to spend six months touring Europe in her! Here she is parked at the foot of Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain, which we climbed on a beautiful and memorable day. That’s me, just before we set off.

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Publication Day!

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At last, The Daughters of Red Hill Hall has been published, and is out there in the big wide world! It feels like ages since my last publication – well, it is over a year. Before that I published 6 books in 2 years (including my self-published books for writers). I’m writing more than ever, but full-length novels simply take longer to complete!
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Anyway – I am delighted to be able to say this one’s now available, and am looking forward to finding out what people think of it. I will link to related blog posts and reviews on the dedicated page for this novel – click the link at the top of this page.

If you read the book and enjoy it, please do leave a brief review on Amazon. I’d really appreciate it as it does help future sales.
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I’ve spent half the day on Twitter and Facebook announcing the publication, and this evening I think I might just have to celebrate with a glass or two of something fizzy (and I don’t mean lemonade!)

 

 

Three weeks to go!

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coverJust three weeks till publication of my new book, The Daughters of Red Hill Hall! I am very excited about this one and can’t wait to see what people think of it. It’s been on pre-order for a while and doing nicely – this week it’s been up in the top 20 Women’s Historical Fiction chart along with both my other Carina books. Not that I’ve been checking the rankings often, oh no. Very rarely. Ahem.

Anyway – here’s its final cover which I absolutely adore. I sent back the copy edits a couple of days ago, so it’s ready to go. There’s a blog tour being organised for the end of April – I will post links to them all on the book’s page here.

And meanwhile I’ve been getting on with the next novel which is now over 1/3 written. No time to catch my breath!

Inspiration from place names

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For some time now I have wanted to write a novel in which all the characters are named after Dorset villages. Maybe it’d end up being a pastoral Hardyesque tale, who knows, but Dorset place names are wonderful for conjuring up characters. Here are some I’ve thought of.

Worth Matravers – elderly tweed clad, pipe smoking whiskery gamekeeper

Kingston Lacey – as Lacey Kingston this is our heroine, bit of an airhead, heiress

Margaret Marsh – the down to earth widow who runs the village post office

Piddletrenthide – split it as Piddle Trenthide and this is a fellow whose real name is Phillip, but he picked up his nickname in boarding school on account of his frequent bed wetting

Sixpenny Handley – dear old Simon went to the same school as Piddle Trenthide, and got his nickname for being not quite the full shilling

Melbury Osmond – all tan and teeth, tribute act playing the local pubs and clubs

Hazelbury Bryan – let’s rearrange her as Hazel Bury-Bryan,  horse mad and horse-faced

Bishop’s Caundle – Bishop Caundle is the white-haired retiring clergyman with a dark past

Maiden Newton – the town bike, ironically nick-named

Melcombe Horsey – actually he’s Malcolm, but he has such an upper crust accent it comes out as Melcombe

Wimborne St Giles – can be Giles Wimborne and I think he’ll be the hero who sweeps Lacey off her feet

I could go on! Wiki has a useful list of Dorset place names and I suspect there are other counties with just as wonderfully named villages. What do you think – should I write the novel? No idea what kind of plot could encompass all those characters!