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Monday, 28 April 2014

My Writing Process...

I'm blogging today as part of the My Writing Process blog-hop. Thanks to the lovely (and very hardworking!) Erika, who juggles writing with life as a first-generation farmer, I've been introduced to #mywritingprocess via Twitter. This blog hop showcases as many different writing styles as it does ways of working. That's why it's so useful. It gives encouragement, ideas and inspiration to everybody, whether they're new writers or old hands, as there's always something more to learn. It's also a great chance to  spread the word about the work of great writers who are taking up the blog-hop baton next– Jean Bull, Cara Cooper, Jenny Haddon and Margaret Mayo.

So, down to blog-hop business...

1. What am I working on?
Right now I'm juggling two jobs: publicising my latest historical romance,  Jewel Under Siege and polishing the final draft of the The Survivors' Club, which is the first book in my new Brackenridge trilogy. The Survivors' Club is contemporary fiction, combining romance and mystery. It's set in and around a fictional town on the border between England and Wales. This is the countryside where I live and work. It's such a beautiful place, I want to share it with other people!

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
Jewel Under Siege developed from some non-fiction research I did about what "luxury" meant in the Middle Ages. At a time when most people didn't know where their next meal was coming from, travellers' tales of the temptations and excesses of Constantinople must have been intoxicating. I couldn't resist setting a romance in an exotic place like that.
The Survivors' Club brings together a downtrodden heroine and a man who lost everything because he worked for a corrupt firm. I wanted them to make a success of their lives and their love affair, despite their backstories. I believe no one should give up, no matter how many rotten choices and bad mistakes they make in life. There's always hope.

3. Why Do I Write What I do?
I live in the Wye Valley, on the border between England and Wales. It's a stunningly beautiful place, and by writing about it in both my fiction and non-fiction work I can try and capture the essence of the place so others can enjoy it, too. Adding fictional characters and stories to this incredible landscape is the ultimate in escapism.

4. How does my writing process work?
Like many writers, I keep close to office hours. Experience has taught me I do my best creative work first thing each day. After a half-hour session of thinking while I jog (I have a serious cake-habit to control) I do the school run, then start work around 8:15am. When I sit down to begin a new book I've already developed detailed studies of my central characters, together with a rough time-line. My first draft is a waterfall of ideas, and consists mainly of dialogue. I love the internet but find it a terrible distraction, so I do a lot of this initial work offline. Writing on paper with a pencil is  my favourite way of working, but as I hate typing up my notes it's a rare treat. I usually use an Alphasmart  Neo, which is a simple keyboard with a memory, but no internet connection. At the end of every writing session, I upload the work I've done straight onto my computer. Once my first draft is finished I then go back and add details, rewriting and editing as I go. When it's complete I hand it to one of my Beta readers (often my OH or DD), who then gives it a good working over.  Constructive criticism is always helpful, and time spent in refining written work is never wasted.

I've really enjoyed "hopping to it" today, and hope you'll bounce along with the authors who'll each be telling you about their own writing process next week...

Margaret Mayo Margaret has been writing since 1974 and has produced scores of top-selling romances for Harlequin Mils and Boon.

Jenny Haddon  has published a wealth of category fiction and short stories under the names Sophie Weston and Sophie Page, which have been translated into twenty-six languages. With Elizabeth Hawksley, she has also produced an invaluable non-fiction guide to punctuation.

Jean Bull has loved books all her life.  She has worked in everything from teaching to the hotel industry and lived all over the UK, which has inspired her writing.

Cara Cooper writes short stories for women's magazines, and novellas for People's Friend, My Weekly and Ulverscroft.