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

 

 

 

 

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

Revenge: A dish best eaten cold? Guest Post by JA Corrigan

Final cover high resPlease welcome debut author JA Corrigan to the blog. JA’s novel, Falling Suns, is published on 14th July by award-winning press, Accent, and it is a cracking read. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Here, she talks about revenge and its links to tragedy tradition. Thank you, JA.

The Revenge Plot is one of the oldest in history and sits easily alongside The Tragedy Plot. In fact, as the most famous of revenge plots shows us – Shakespeare’s Hamlet of course – revenge and tragedy are inextricably linked.

I pondered on this for some time.

Are they linked because essentially revenge is an unethical act and so therefore the result of retribution will always be tragic or, is the desire for revenge a natural human instinct that through religious and spiritual teachings has been demonised? The ultimate act of revenge is murder; a sin within all the major religions of the world, and in all civilised societies, a crime.

The thirst for revenge is one of the oldest human compulsions, and so using it as a theme in a novel, play or poem, stands up there as a premise that will always be interesting, throw up questions and cause angst – for both the writer and the reader. Revenge is often the precursor to a tragedy, just as much as the love story. The outcome of the act of retribution, I decided, could never be a good one.

And yet, the need and desire to ‘put right’ a wrongdoing, a brutal act, is so strong, and so much built into the human psyche that it is a storyline that for me, was hard to resist.

There can be no revenge without its ramification – that of tragedy.

Alongside the theme of revenge sat the idea of the strongest of human emotions – that of maternal love – and this too emerged as part of the premise for my story. Rachel adores her son and yet … in the opening of the novel we sense that this is not enough for her, that she wants and needs to return to her job, and with this realisation the seed is sown that Joe’s disappearance is somehow her fault.

In the early stages of planning my story, and with the theme of uncompromising maternal love imprinted inside my mind, I began to have the thought of how I could turn the trope of maternal love upside down and push it inside out. How an emotion that is considered good and nurturing can become bad and parasitic.

I knew I had to explore both.

When I first began to outline the plot for Falling Suns I did wrestle with myself. Could I possibly have a protagonist, and maintain my readers’ sympathy for her, when she is planning revenge and cold-blooded murder?

In the comfort of our own home, sitting on the sofa, many of us have said: ‘If he/she did that to one of mine I’d kill them.’ Fortunately this scenario is rare; i.e. that the person saying the sentence will actually be placed within the tragic circumstances to carry out such a threat. But what if you are placed in that position? What if your child was brutally murdered by a person that in time you were able to confront … and take revenge by taking the murderer’s life? What if you possessed all the tools, the emotional and mental strength to do what others could only imagine? What if?

This is the premise for Falling Suns: that Rachel Dune, the distraught and grieving mother, plans her revenge on the man who has been placed in a psychiatric unit for the brutal murder of her son. But as the story unfolds and as Rachel begins to unearth from the depths of her consciousness her own past, she begins to question that perhaps revenge is not what will appease her grief. As with many revenge plots there are other variables at play for Rachel, and it is not until she is able to explore these other factors that she slowly recognises the flaws in her plan, and the defects within her own family.

Revenge for Rachel is a need; a need that could destroy her, a need that can only end in tragedy – but not the tragedy that she herself foresees.

It is the tragedy of her past and all that lives there.

Blurb:

faalling suns preA psychological thriller for fans of Belinda Bauer, Mark Edwards, Clare Mackintosh – a dark and brooding tale about the horrors that can lurk within a family.

Ex-DI Rachel Dune’s small son is missing. Then his body is discovered. Her cousin Michael is found guilty of his murder and incarcerated in a secure psychiatric unit.

Four years later, now divorced and back in the police force, Rachel discovers that Michael is being released to a less secure step-down unit, with his freedom a likely eventuality. Unable to cope with this, she decides upon revenge, assuming a new identity to hunt him down. However, as she closes in on her target, her friend Jonathan, a journalist, uncovers unnerving information about her mother and others in her family. Jonathan begins to suspect that Rachel’s perception of the truth might not be as accurate as she thinks.

About JA Corrigan

DSC_1184JA Corrigan is originally from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, but now lives in Berkshire and shares her life with a husband, a teenage daughter and a cute cockapoo.

When not writing she is either walking the dog, reading, or cooking. She also likes to run, and drink white wine infused with hints of vanilla or gooseberries.

Falling Suns is a great, tense read. You can check out my review here.

To buy Falling Suns:

https://www.waterstones.com/book/falling-suns/julie-ann-corrigan/j-a-corrigan/9781786152497

https://bookshop.theguardian.com/catalog/product/view/id/414323/

http://amzn.to/1YbkLHg (PB)

http://amzn.to/1OekOQZ (Kindle)

http://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/falling-suns/9781786152497

To like or not to like, that is the question

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Me, the pleaser, smiling for the camera (of course)

Commonly, we like to like our fictional heroes and heroines, and within some genres it is considered literary suicide to have a lead that isn’t very nice. Before I completed Redemption Song, had I been asked, I would have said I prefer stories with a likable protagonist: I adore Lou in Me Before You, Annie and Kate in The Day We Disappeared.

However, once the first draft was down and I knuckled down to the real business of writing – rewriting – I realised that while I love Saffron, my lead, her behaviour isn’t always likable, especially at the novel’s opening. I pondered whether to increase her nice factor but in the end decided that readers must see her warts and all. She is a good person; she just doesn’t always present that way!

And I began to dig a little deeper into my own likes and dislikes. Were my favourite literary heroines all lovely? No, as it turned out … Katniss Everdeen, Lisbeth Salander, Emma Bovary, Emma Woodhouse, Becky Sharp, the list goes on. These are women I find fascinating, but always nice? Definitely not. The more I thought about it, the more I acknowledged my penchant for difficult characters, difficult female characters in particular. Why is this?

Novels with some of my favourite kick-ass heroines

Novels with some of my favourite kick-ass heroines

It stems, I believe, from a dream to be the rebel, the feisty girl who does as she pleases, who kicks ass, metaphorically if not literally. Like a great many women – more than men, I believe – from childhood I have been a ‘pleaser’. Pleasing others equals likability and acceptance, and if you need proof that girls seek approval more than boys, spend some time in a primary school classroom! As a girl, I would often set aside my desires and ambitions rather than risk upsetting others. As the years have passed, I have become better at not always being selfless, but I still find it extremely difficult to say no. This is why I enjoy those heroines who don’t give a damn what others think (some of the time), who are unafraid to pursue their desires, who behave badly sometimes, who forge a new path, who are unafraid of unpopularity. And the irony is that it is precisely these types of women who often become role models and national treasures. In real life I’m thinking of the likes of Caitlin Moran and Suzanne Moore.

An author I respect, Lionel Shriver, said some years ago: ‘Goodness is not only boring but downright annoying… When fiction works, readers can develop the same nuanced, conflicted relationships to characters that they have to their own friends and family.’

Hear, hear.

And now that Saffron from Redemption Song is out here in the world, I must turn my attention to Diana, the protagonist in my next novel, Skin Deep. A former model and an artist, she is beautiful, talented, messed-up, thoughtless, selfish and needy. Another challenge, in essence!

Have a lovely weekend, people,

Laura x

mothers dayredsong

From place to place

Today I’ve been guesting at Lynne Shelby‘s blog on her regular A Sense of Place slot. Of course, I talk about the setting in Redemption Song, my latest, but I also talk about the locations in my other novels and in the one that is still to come … scheduled for publication in March next year. Skin Deep probably has the most unusual location – a sink estate in Manchester that was demolished in the mid-90s, way before the story of Diana and Cal arrived in my head. Pop over and find out more … HERE.

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Blog tour day 7: Location, location, location!

I’m on home turf for today’s guest blog – over at my publisher, Accent Press’s place, talking about the value of place, or setting if you prefer. Blog tour listingsFINAL

http://accenthub.com/place-value-by-laura-wilkinson/

And here are a few shots of Llandudno, the inspiration behind my fictional town, Coed Mawr.

A dilapidated pier ballustrade

A dilapidated pier ballustrade

Beautiful Llandudno in north Wales

Beautiful Llandudno in north Wales

Boots, bottoms and pants

2016-01-25 13.50.46Gosh, there are just three days to go before *Publication Day* of Redemption Song. Nervous and excited, I don’t know what to do with myself half the time. I have, however, chosen my footwear for the launch so that’s a relief. I always work from the bottom up, and I adore these old (shoe)boots, even if they do cripple me. I’ll need a hand staggering to the pub afterwards that’s for sure. And talking of bottoms…

Planner or Pantser? I’ve an article on process in the super-fabulous Nudge magazine (formely New Books) which you might find interesting, especially if you’re a writer. Here’s the link: http://www.nudge-book.com/blog/2016/01/im-a-writer-and-i-dont-know-whether-im-a-pantser-or-a-planner/

See you again soon!

Laura x

 

Guest post by Alice Raine: A serious case of second series nerves…

book cover posterAlice Raine is the best selling author of the Untwisted series and she’s also a fellow Accent Press-er *made-up word alert*, so I’m delighted to welcome her to my blog for the first time. Alice talks about the challenges of writing another series and the pressure that comes with success. Take it away, Alice!

Just getting a book published in the first place was a huge milestone to me, and one that I’d really never dreamed of actually achieving. But then amazingly, thanks to Accent Press, it happened, and to make it even more incredible, The Darkness Within Him become an amazon best seller, and somehow morphed into a four book series. It was (and still is) quite overwhelming. Putting the last dot on the final line of the Untwisted series was a big moment for me, and also a big relief; I’d finished the series, and what’s more, I was happy with the ending I’d come up with.

UnmaskedPhew. But then the email came from my publishers: “So, what do you want to write next?” I knew for sure that I wanted to continue my new career as an author, but they had asked a good question, what exactly did I want to write next? The characters I’d created in the first series, The Jackson brothers, still felt ingrained into my soul, and the idea of moving away from them was ridiculously difficult for me to consider.

If I’m truthful though, the main thing holding me back from diving in and starting on a new series was the fear of it flopping. The first series has done well, so now the second needs to be just as appealing, and that feels like a pretty big responsibility to carry. I have a truly amazing group of readers who follow me on Facebook, and have given constant support and encouragement throughout my writing journey (thank you all!), but as I started to receive messages like “I loved your first series, when’s the next one coming out?” I began to panic.

What if I let my readers down?

Will they hate the new series? Like it? Or love it? Funnily enough, I didn’t have any of these concerns when the first series came out, because I was unknown and had never put myself out there like that before. If people didn’t like it, so what? But now that I have written a series, which went on to sell relatively well, the idea that I might follow it up with something that disappoints people or causes them to yawn with indifference fills me with gut gnawing fear. Even worse would be if my fans wait with anticipation for the new series, and then find it disappointing. This is a very real fear to me, but I suppose as a writer we can never please everyone with our books, because reading tastes differ so much. What one person loves, another will chuck in the rubbish, as the varied (and occasionally cringe-worthy) reviews for my first series proved to me!all 4 books

So basically that is the crux of the issue – I’m terrified that people might dislike the new series. As I’m sure most authors do, I absolutely dread hearing the words ‘It’s not as good as the last one…’ But realistically, in this career, that’s something we just have to deal with, or quit, and I am no quitter, I’m way too stubborn for that!

Eventually I donned my thick skin, pushed my fears aside, and decided to just go for it. At first I took a few weeks away from actual writing to look through the piles of documents I have stored on my laptop. This varies from notes and ideas right through to almost complete books. It was in amongst this that I found my new inspiration – Sean Phillips. A character I had created years ago who I was still rather attached to. I won’t give away too much at this point as you can meet Sean for yourself when the book is released on the 21st, but needless to say, the idea of developing him and bringing the character into the light excited me.

And so it began. I started a little tentatively, it felt odd to be writing a new series with different characters, especially because although this next instalment definitely still classes as erotica, I’ve quite drastically, and deliberately, changed my style. Gone is the dark, brooding back drop of the Untwisted series, and in its place is a slightly lighter series. Don’t get me wrong, there are still the possessive alpha males, highly charged intimate liaisons, and a few back stories of trouble and angst thrown into the mix, but as a whole it’s a little more easy going and humorous. (For any fans reading this and thinking “Oh no! It was the dark stuff I liked!”, then do not fear, after this series I plan to go back to the Untwisted theme and write a linked series set in Club Twist.)

Planning and writing the new series obviously brought with it a whole host of challenges; creating new settings, new dilemmas, new relationships, and of course, new characters. With these different characters come new voices, and because I write in the first person, it is vitally important to me that my readers can relate to each character, but also differentiate between them too. I would hate for all my characters to blur into one similar sounding person. I think (hope) that in this new series I’ve become better at individualising my characters to make them more ‘real’. I spent a great deal of time (hours and hours…) planning the four main characters, metaphorically crawling inside their heads to extract their personal mannerisms, favourite curses, pet names, habits, hang-ups and quirks. I feel like I know them personally now, and I hope this helps the readers relate to them too.

So, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and cracked on with it, and you know what? It’s been great fun. I’ve made every effort to improve my writing, make the flow of my books smoother, and basically try to keep on getting better, and really, I guess that is all I can ask of myself. Come bad reviews or good, Unmasked, book one of my new Revealed series will be hitting Kindles on November the 21st 2015. I will no doubt wait with baited breath for the first reviews to roll in, but I may also hide away like a hermit that day with a large tub of ice-cream and an even larger bottle of red wine!

To summarise, writing a second series is an utterly terrifying and yet oddly wonderful journey of self-improvement. I’ve come through it unscathed (except for my chewed fingernails), and now all I can do is hope that you fabulous readers enjoy the new voyage of imagination that I have penned!

Thanks for reading,
Alice xx

Connect with Alice:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AliceRaineAuthor
Twitter: @AliceRaine1
Website: http://www.aliceraineauthor.com
Pre-order links for Unmasked:

Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unmasked-Revealed-Book-Alice-Raine-ebook/dp/B014FF81WY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Unmasked-Revealed-Book-Alice-Raine-ebook/dp/B014FF81WY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Blog Tour Poster Updated
About Alice…

IMG_6337 view contrastWhere to start? I’m really a lot more boring and normal than my books might suggest. It may disappoint some to know that I’ve never had an illicit affair with a domineering pianist, nor have I ever met or dated a man who frequented certain seedy clubs in London. I have however always had an overactive imagination, which may in part explain where my stories come from!
I was born and raised in London, and as such it holds a special place in my heart and is often used as a setting within my books. Some of my best times have been spent with friends wandering the markets of Camden or sipping beers in Covent Garden.
When I was eighteen I moved to Manchester to study, where I ended up living for over ten years. Originally I qualified as an archaeologist, but I soon realised that jobs in that sector were minimal and decided to put my enthusiasm to use by becoming a teacher. I taught for over seven years, but now I mostly spend my days engaging my wildly over active imagination by writing. I’ve lived in Manchester, Muscat (Oman) and briefly in France, but currently I’m in the process of moving back to London, a very exciting prospect for me. Where ever I find myself I live with my ever suffering, but hugely supportive husband, and our rescued street dog Ralph.