Filling the Empty Page – Lynne Shelby shares her top tips

As we brace ourselves for the last leg of NaNoWriMo, I’m utterly thrilled to have romance author Lynne Shelby guesting on my blog. There are many reasons to love Lynne. Here are three for starters: she writes fantastic romances set in the glitzy, heady world of showbiz, she’s a generous supporter of other writers and she shares a surname with Birmingham’s most (in)famous family, The Peaky Blinders. Today, she’s talking about the dreaded blank page and offering up some top tips. Take it away, Lynne.

Filling the Empty Page by Lynne Shelby

There must be few things as daunting for a writer as an empty page (or, more usually these days, a blank laptop screen), but every writer has their own writing process – the tricks and tools of their trade – that they use to fill the empty space with words, especially when they have a looming deadline! In fact, a deadline, whether it’s the date by which you have to send in your entry to a writing competition, or your edits back to your editor, or get your novel written for NaNoWriMo, is particularly effective for spurring a writer on to complete the first draft of their story. I’m a relatively slow writer, but I find that setting myself an arbitrary deadline – aiming to finish a book before going off on holiday or before Christmas – is one of the most effective ways to make me write faster!

My actual writing process hasn’t changed that much since I first started writing novels, but it has evolved as I’ve discovered which ‘tricks of the trade’ work best for me, especially when it comes to hitting a daily word count – as in NaNoWriMo. When I wrote my first novel, I edited it each day as I wrote, and also wrote the story in the order it would appear on the page, but with my second novel, on the advice of more experienced writers, I edited far less – and I found that I completed the first draft in less time, and that editing a whole manuscript resulted in less false starts and therefore less re-writing.

With my latest novel, There She Goes, I wrote the entire first draft without editing. If I came to a scene that wasn’t working, I made bullet points for the main events that needed to happen, and went on to the next chapter. Also, if I suddenly had a new and exciting idea about how an earlier chapter might be improved or thought of a scene that needed to be added, I resisted the temptation to go back and alter what I’d already written, but jotted down my new idea on a post-it note and added it in a later draft. The post-it notes spread from my noticeboard all around the walls of my writing room, but it meant that that I wrote the book more quickly!

Resisting the urge to edit until the whole story – or at least its outline – is written, is one of my most valuable writing tools. Every writer finds the tools and tricks that work best for them – and the way they do that is by writing. Don’t worry about finding the perfect word, sentence or paragraph. Write … and edit later.

Good luck to everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo.

Lynne Shelby

About Lynne

Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, ‘French Kissing’ won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition. Her latest novel, There She Goes, is set among the drama, hopes and dreams of aspiring actors in London’s Theatreland. She has worked at a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actor’s chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Seattle, Athens – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.

Social Media Links

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LynneShelbyWriter

Twitter: @LynneB1

Instagram: lynneshelbywriter

Website: http://www.lynneshelby.com

There She Goes – blurb:

When aspiring actress Julie Farrell meets actor Zac Diaz, she is instantly attracted to him, but he shows no interest in her. Julie, who has yet to land her first professional acting role, can’t help wishing that her life was more like a musical, and that she could meet a handsome man who’d sweep her into his arms and tap-dance her along the street…

After early success on the stage, Zac has spent the last three years in Hollywood, but has failed to forge a film career. Now back in London, he is determined to re-establish himself as a theatre actor. Focused solely on his work, he has no time for distractions, and certainly no intention of getting entangled in a committed relationship…

Auditioning for a new West End show, Julie and Zac act out a love scene, but will they ever share more than a stage kiss?

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/There-She-Goes-share-Theatreland-ebook/dp/B07PDZMMT2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1572031291&sr=1-1

 

 

 

 

Keep It In The Family: Guest post from Colette McCormick

Today, I’m welcoming a fellow Accent Press author to my blog to tell us all about her third novel, Not My Brother’s Keeper. Take it away, Colette.

Not My Brother’s Keeper, is not just a book about two brothers. it is a book about a whole family. Robert’s acts in his own best interest but those actions effect each member of the family in different ways.

As the mother of two sons I felt a lot of sympathy for their mother. I felt her pain when Robert left home and I could understand the way that she behaved. I am fully aware of the faults that my own son’s have but that wouldn’t stop me defending them and trying to excuse their behavior. When she says that Robert is scared, she is trying to justify something that she probably doesn’t agree with. I think that she is as disappointed in him as everyone else but it her job to defend him.

As a father, Keith isn’t able to hide his disappointment and I think in some way feels for what Robert does. Like he should have been a better father. When he says ‘I thought I’s brought my sons up better than that,’ it’s like he feels that he has let his son down, like his best wasn’t good enough.

For his brother Tom, things are more cut and dried. The brother that he idolised has fallen from grace and turns out not to be the hero that he thought he was. For years he had survived on the crumbs that Robert threw his way and was happy to live his brother’s shadow so when Robert leaves without a care for what he is leaving behind him Tom feels the disappointment acutely. However, is this Tom’s chance to finally live what could have been his brother’s life and subconsciously is that what he is doing? That is a question that he will ask himself many times over the years

For Michelle, Robert’s departure I her worst nightmare happening in front of her. She loved Robert and he deserts her when she needed him the most. Clearly, he isn’t the man that she thought he was. With Tom is she settling for second best?

Last but not least there is Robert himself. Like the rest of the family he has had to live with the consequences of the decisions that he made. At first it seemed like the right thing to do, the only thing that he can do if he is to live the life that he wants to but does he ultimately regret his choices and will it be too late to make amends?

Blurb

My brother. Not my responsibility.

Robert and Tom are practically identical – same height, same hair, equally good looking – but Tom never had the same confidence as his older brother, and for that reason, he is in awe of him.

When Robert’s girlfriend, Michelle, tells him that she’s pregnant, Robert disappears leaving Tom to clean up his mess. As Tom spends time with Michelle, reassuring her that she is not alone in this, they both begin to fall in love.

Sixteen years later, without warning, Robert comes home and Tom has to find the courage to stand against the brother he idolized.

Buy Not My Brother’s Keeper on Amazon

Facebook Author page

@colettemcauthor

Colette McCormick on Books and Life in General

About Colette

Originally a city girl, Colette has made her home in a one of the many former mining villages in County Durham. When not working as a retail manager for a large children’s charity she will more than likely be writing, even if it’s only a shopping list. She also enjoys cooking, gardening and taking the dog on long walks in the countryside near her home. She has been married for almost forty years and has two grown up sons.

Sounds fab! Thanks for popping by, Colette. And good luck with the book.

Follow the tour!

 

 

Dancing with love and death: guest post from Grace Lowrie

Before We FallGrace and I share more than a publisher – I am also a huge fan of Highgate Cemetery; Diana in Skin Deep grew up in a house bordering the West Cemetery. But less of me, let’s find out all about Grace’s latest novel – Before We Fall and the inspiration behind it. Over to you, Grace.

The Inspiration for Before We Fall 

I once, briefly, visited a strip club. It was unlike anywhere else I’d been – sort of artificially flirty and fun but with a serious business-like undertone – and that experience came in useful when writing Before We Fall. But I have never practised ballet and my main inspiration for Cally’s character actually came from a brief moment in my childhood that has always haunted me…

I was about ten years old, couldn’t sleep, and crept downstairs to where the end of a film was playing on the television. It involved an aspiring young ballet dancer (about my age at the time) who suddenly collapsed and died on a subway train on her way home. The shock of the little girl’s sudden and painful death was made worse for me by seeing her mother’s helpless inability to save her, while the other passengers on the train simply looked on. Needless to say as soon as my mum caught me watching it, she sent me back to bed, but the traumatic scene was already imprinted on my mind. I’ve only recently discovered that the film was ‘Six Weeks’ from 1982 and that the young ballerina’s death was caused by leukaemia (rather than by riding an underground train as I’d wrongly assumed at the time), but it was – and still is – an important reminder that life is short.

Highgate-Grace LowrieI wanted to set Before We Fall in some of my favourite London locations – the city’s oldest restaurant, Rules, for example – but there were also places I wanted to use that I’d never experienced first-hand, and writing this book gave me the perfect excuse to visit and research them. Highgate Cemetery, for example, seemed a fitting locale for a story with a mortality theme. The resting place of thousands of people (including some of my favourite writers; George Eliot, Christina Rossetti and Douglas Adams) is steeped in history and romance. By going there myself I could mentally conjure up my characters in situ – imagine what they might think or say, and picture how their body language might betray their feelings. My visit was nowhere near as illicit as Cally and Bay’s ended up being, but my hope is that some of the unique atmosphere of the place has seeped into my writing.

Having said all that Before We Fall is primarily a romance novel full of love, lust, friendship and humour… just watch out for that dark edge.

The blurb:

When Cally, an amateur ballet dancer, is suddenly diagnosed with cancer she runs away from her boyfriend, her job in a call centre and her safe life in Wildham in order to experience ‘real’ life in London. Taking a job as a stripper and flat-sitting in the top of an office tower she meets her obnoxious neighbour Bay; a tattooed, drug-taking, suicidal artist, haunted by the death of those close to him.

Despite their differences, the two strike up a friendship – Bay pushes Cally to try new things while Cally provides Bay with a muse – and they fall in love. But their secrets threaten to tear them apart and time is running out…

How to Buy:

 

 

About Grace:

Grace Lowrie+Having worked as a collage artist, sculptor, prop maker and garden designer, Grace has always been creative, but she is a romantic introvert at heart and writing was, and is, her first love.

A lover of rock music, art nouveau design, blue cheese and grumpy ginger tomcats, Grace is also an avid reader of fiction – preferring coffee and a sinister undercurrent, over tea and chick lit. When not making prop costumes or hanging out with her favourite nephews, she continues to write stories from her Hertfordshire home.

http://www.gracelowrie.com/blog

http://www.facebook.com/GraceLowrieWriter

 

https://www.instagram.com/grace_lowrie/

https://www.goodreads.com/Grace_Lowrie

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grace-Lowrie/e/B00UNCPYCY

 

 

 

 

Debut Novelist Tour: Ladies’ Day by Sarah Barton

Ladies' Day - Sarah Barton - Book Cover (002)I’m delighted to welcome novelist Sarah Barton to my blog today as part of the tour to launch her women’s fiction debut, Ladies’ Day. I was sent an ARC and you can read my review over on Amazon and Goodreads. In the meantime, here’s a little about the book.

Working in a fading Manchester department store, four women hide their dark secrets: abuse, an illicit affair, huge debts and an overwhelming desire to have a child at any cost. Will their secrets destroy their lives?

An unlikely bond is formed but will it suffice to solve their disparate problems?

Buy ‘Ladies’ Day’ at Amazon (universal link): http://getbook.at/LadiesDay

Ladies' Day Sarah Barton Quotes (002)

About Sarah

Sarah Barton Author Image (002)

Sarah Barton is a contemporary fiction writer who lives in South Manchester. While she spends her days running a property management company her nights are spent with her family and her literary work. Sarah is happiest with a G + T in one hand and a pen in the other.

Website: . https://www.sarahbartonauthor.com/
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SarahBartonAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/S_Barton_Author

Amazon Author Page: author.to/SarahBarton

 

Ladies' Day - Sarah BArton - Book Blog Tour Poster.png

 

 

Once upon a time… by Jenny Kane

Thank you ever so much for inviting me here today to kick off my five day blog tour to celebrate the re-release of my part modern/part medieval novel, Romancing Robin Hood.

Hey, it’s always lovely to have you here – and it’s been a while. Settle in for a smashing read, folks. Over to you, Jenny.

Once upon a time, when the world was young, I was a very shy teenager.

I was also a bit- shall we say unusual? I suspect the words ‘odd’ and ‘eccentric’ would be more accurate, but I’ll let you make your own mind up on that…

I never did the pop or film star crush thing. Never had pictures of Bryan Adams or Wham on my wall. Adam Ant didn’t look up at me from my pencil case, and I did not wake up to see a life sized poster of Morrissey’s backside complete with gladioli (or whatever flower it was) sticking out of his backside!

Nor was I into the Pac Man craze (I am so giving my age away here!), and the background music to Manic Minor drove me nuts! I didn’t buy Jackie, or indulge in spending my money on Cosmopolitan so I’d seem more grown up than I was.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like music or playing the odd game of tennis on the Atari- but I had a different sort of fascination.

Robin Hood!

It all started because I was ill for ages and ages when I was 14. I missed a lot of school. But as always in life, timing is everything- and I was saved by an instant and unshakeable love for the series of Robin of Sherwood that was being aired on ITV at the time. It was the third series- I hadn’t seen either of the first two. (I have now- loads of times!) As I was at home so much, my parents rented one of those new fangled video recorders so I could record stuff and watch it when I liked. (Thanks Mum and Dad- still very grateful for that.)

The VCR arrived the same day as the episode of Robin of Sherwood called Adam Bell was aired- I recorded it and watched it 8 times the next day- and then again, and again and again. Now- over 20 years later- I can still quote the script!! (Okay- that’s nothing to be proud of- see- I’m a bit odd.)

It wasn’t the tight tights that had captured my heart though- it was the story. The whole story. All of it. I wanted to know everything- EVERYTHING- that could possibly be known about Robin Hood. No film, book (nonfiction or fiction), was safe from me.

My bedroom walls disappeared under posters of Robin Hood- any posters- from Errol Flynn, to Richard Greene, to the statue up in Nottingham, to the gorgeous Ray Winstone who played Will Scarlet (Okay- you have me there- I still have a ‘thing’ for Ray Winstone- there is such a twinkle in those eyes!)

The interest became an obsession (In RH not Ray Winstone). When I was well again my parents took me to Sherwood for a short holiday- I learnt archery, I read medieval political poems and ballads- I wanted to know the truth- did he exist or didn’t he?

I did a project on Robin Hood for my A’ level History. Then I went to university and did a specialist course in Medieval Castle and Ecclesiastical Architecture…I was a medieval junky. It seemed only natural to do a PhD on the subject- and that is exactly what I did.

It was my PhD that taught me to write- (a tome of epic proportions that is still knocking around my old Uni library gathering dust, while e-versions of it are scattered around many American Universities). Rather than finish off my love of RH- my PhD polished it to perfection.

I guess it was only a matter of time before I decided to write a novel about a Robin Hood obsessed historian like Dr Grace Harper, the leading lady in Romancing Robin Hood.

Blurb

When you’re in love with a man of legend, how can anyone else match up?

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a teenager. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History—but Grace is stuck in a rut.

Grace is supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval criminal gang—the Folvilles—but instead she is captivated by a novel she’s secretly writing. A medieval mystery which entwines the story of Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood—and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford.

Just as she is trying to work out how Mathilda can survive being kidnapped by the Folvilles, Grace’s best friend Daisy announces she is getting married. After a whirlwind romance with a man she loves as much as the creatures in her animal shelter, Daisy has press-ganged Grace into being her bridesmaid.

Witnessing Daisy’s new-found happiness, Grace starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? Grace’s life doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks—a rival academic who she is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… If only he didn’t know quite so much about Robin Hood.

Suddenly, spending more time living in the past than the present doesn’t seem such a good idea…

If you would like to read more about Grace, then you can buy Romancing Robin Hood from all good retailers, including…

Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane/dp/1999855248/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517319761&sr=1-2&keywords=romancing+robin+hood+Jenny+Kane

Also- should you wish to revisit the heady days of 1980’s Robin of Sherwood– I (as Jennifer Ash) was lucky enough to be asked to write 2 episodes of the new audio series.

I’m sure you can appreciate how exciting it was for me to be asked to write for the very show that led me on the road that changed my life, gave me a career direction, and has given me so much joy over the past thirty years. Talk about lucky!

You can find the buy links for the Robin of Sherwood audio dramas here- https://spitefulpuppet.com/product-category/robin-of-sherwood/

Many thanks, Laura. Fantastic – here’s to many more merry men – and women.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Bio

With a background in history and archaeology, Jenny Kane should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, before writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jenny Kane writes stories with one hand, while designing creative writing workshops for ‘Imagine’ with the other.

Jenny spends a large part of her time in her local Costa, where she creates her stories, including the novels Romancing Robin Hood (LittWizz Press, 2018), Abi’s Neighbour (Accent Press, 2017), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent, 2016), Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), the best selling contemporary romance Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and the novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds, (Accent Press, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle, (Accent Press, 2015).

Jenny also writes medieval crime fiction as Jennifer Ash.

The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw will both be published by Littwitz Press in early 2018

Jenny Kane is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor   @JenAshHistory     @Imagine_Writing

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

Facebook for Jennifer Ash -https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/?ref=bookmarks

Facebook for Imagine – https://www.facebook.com/ImagineCreativeWriting/?ref=settings

Jenny Kane also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee. (www.kayjaybee.me.uk)

 

 

Out with the old, in with the new

Morocco: I fell in love

On this, the first day of 2018, like a great many people I’m thinking about my hopes, dreams and plans for the coming 12 months (as well as battling a hangover from hell). On the whole, 2017 could be characterised as disappointing, and I fell foul of low-level depression and a sense of hopelessness (I’m prone to it). There were highlights: two spectacular holidays; publication of Skin Deep and the fantastic reaction to it; another sell-out Beach Hut Writing Academy conference. But, while I’m not going to dwell on them, there have been a great many challenges and disappointments. Not one for resolutions – I always break them – instead I have a plan and I’m recording it here so that I might be held to account, by myself if no one else:

  • To pursue agent representation for my new novel – HIM, HER, US. I signed with Accent Press without an agent (they approached me directly) and while I’m grateful to the team at Accent for all their work on my books’ behalves, it’s time to move on.
  • Self-publish my romances. In December I got the rights back from the publisher of two romances I’ve penned under a pseudonym. After some rewriting, I will experiment with self-publishing and all being well I’ll write the third instalment, too. Here’s to becoming a hybrid author!
  • Write a middle-grade novel. I promised the children at the school where I work part-time that one day I’d write a novel that they might read. An idea has been germinating for some time and I believe I have the key to the story now.
  • Read more for pleasure (I do read a lot though it’s fair to say I lost my reading mojo for a few months in 2017) as well as the not-inconsiderable amount of reading I must do as part of my role as an editor and mentor.
  • Live healthier. I’m starting with a Dry January and plan to rein in the drinking over the rest of the year (and my life…) and exercise more: walking and swimming. Keep mentally healthier as well as physically.
  • Try new creative pursuits. I’m starting with sculpting thermo-plastic, curtesy of my good friends Matt and Ju of Blast Theory.

I have another idea for an adult novel too – more crime-y than anything I’ve tried before, but I suspect the above is enough to be getting on with for now.

Happy New Year beautiful people. Joy, kindness, hope.

Laura x

My Big Books of 2017

As the year draws to a close, it’s traditional for me to consider the books I’ve most enjoyed in the past twelve months. I don’t like using ‘best’, because this is a personal list and my preferred reading tends to reflect my emotional state as much as, if not more than, anything.

2017 has been a tough year, both personally and professionally – it’s been pretty shitty politically and economically, too, in my opinion. On the home front, to name but one challenge, there was a horrendous run-in with Southern Rail and Ginger1, my eldest boy. Professionally, while Skin Deep has been incredibly well-received (reviews were beyond my wildest hopes and dreams – thank you, dear readers) sales are, to coin a publishing cliché, disappointing.

So, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me – or you – that the majority of the books I’ve enjoyed the most this year are dark in tone and subject matter. The up-lit star might have been rising across the publishing landscape, but not in my house! Here’s my list of the novels (yes, they’re all novels this year) that have impressed me the most:

IMG_3650Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall – this isn’t out till Spring 2018 but I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy. A stunning exploration of obsessive love which delves deep into the twisted heart of a secretive, sexually charged relationship and the aftermath of its breakdown. One of the most compelling and psychologically complex thrillers I’ve read in a very long time – and its commentary on our current world is perceptive and terrifying in equal measure. I have no doubt this will be one of the most talked about psych thrillers of 2018. Breathtaking.

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins – a celebrated academic and TV presenter – a woman who ‘has it all’ writes a memoir about a long-lost heroine, reluctantly enlisting the aid of a socially inept housekeeper. It’s a novel about ambition, privilege, morality and dung beetles. Fabulous.

The Muse by Jessie Burton – I adored The Miniaturist and I’m fascinated by the Spanish civil war and art so this was near enough a sure thing. That said, I preferred Burton’s debut, but her second offering is wonderful story, set across two time-frames, about hidden treasures, faking it, love and identity.

IMG_3651Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield – another one not released until 2018 (February) which I read this year. A story of love and quantum physics, it’s beautiful, sad and clever. We meet the eponymous protagonists over the course of 70 years in 11 different realities, or universes. Fans of The Versions of Us (like me) and Life After Life should enjoy it. Gorgeous.

Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant – with a lying, narcissistic literary novelist at its heart and a supporting cast of unlikable metropolitan-elite types, this is a gripping and clever psychological thriller about a missing child and the dangers of little lies. Durrant’s brilliance lies in her ability to evoke sympathy for her male lead, Paul.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – it’s not a spoiler to reveal that this is a tale of incest (we know within the first 20 pages, if not earlier) set in the American mid-West. It’s a subject matter many will find distasteful, but Engel writes beautifully and sensitively. This incredible work has shades of Rebecca and reminded me in tone and in the portrayal of small town America and its inhabitants of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects – a much stronger book than her more successful Gone Girl, in my humble opinion.

That’s it. My to-read tower remains in danger of toppling and with lots of wonderful books scheduled for 2018 – including one by my good friend, Kate Helm (I can’t wait!) – I only hope I have enough time to write!

Merry Christmas one and all – here’s to the New Year!

IMG_3649

Laura x