Mentoring 2018 - My Shortlist

As before, the response and quality of entries has been amazing. Thanks to everyone who took part. It takes a lot of bravery to put your work out there, pitching on social media and then sending to a total stranger. That's such an achievement, well done.

I know it's disappointing if you're not selected, but it's important to remember I can only choose one mentee and that my choices for the shortlist are entirely my own, subjective and based on the kind of work-in-progress I feel comfortable taking on. For that reason, some manuscripts, although wonderful, were still rejected. Not because they weren't 'good enough' but because I didn't feel I'd be able to add value.

Mentoring, as I've discovered working with Nikki Smith over the last few months, is a joy, but also a responsibility. I want to get it right, which means I've had to make some tough choices. Especially as the pitches and submissions were all so good. 

In no particular order, here is my shortlist. Many congratulations!

Standing Water - Anna Carr

The Forrest's End - Kate Galley

Shifting Sands - Asha North

I will now be reading these entries again in more depth to make my final choice of just one. 

If you're interested in reading my latest psychological drama

LYING TO YOU is currently 99p on Amazon

BUY HERE

Three Pics To Pub #4 - Charlotte Duckworth

I'm delighted to welcome Charlotte Duckworth, author of THE RIVAL to my irregular blog feature #3pics2pub 

Charlotte's book is a 'an addictive psychological suspense about ambition, female rivalry, and how far you'd go to get what you want'. #BringonTheRival - cannot wait!

The Rival is out this September and you can pre-order here

I think I should go right back to the start with this one.  So here I am, six days after my baby daughter was born, looking a lot more calm and collected than I was feeling. Just before I went on maternity leave, I sold the PR business I had set up, which left me with no job to return to after my baby was born. This was rather terrifying, but in hindsight, proved to be a huge blessing. I had wanted to be a published author since I was tiny, and had actually signed with my agent years before, when I was in my early twenties. Two books and no book deal later, I was pretty crushed, and I’d taken a break from writing to focus on journalism and PR. But having my daughter and the opportunity for a complete fresh start career-wise reawakened all my old ambitions, and so I decided to write a new novel. To try again, and to use my experience of new motherhood, pregnancy and the world of work as inspiration. There were so many stories out there of women who had struggled to adjust to life as a new mother after spending years as a successful career woman, and I wondered why no one had written about them before. So I sat down, without planning, and wrote every evening when my baby was asleep. I finished the first draft in ten weeks.

I think I should go right back to the start with this one.  So here I am, six days after my baby daughter was born, looking a lot more calm and collected than I was feeling. Just before I went on maternity leave, I sold the PR business I had set up, which left me with no job to return to after my baby was born. This was rather terrifying, but in hindsight, proved to be a huge blessing. I had wanted to be a published author since I was tiny, and had actually signed with my agent years before, when I was in my early twenties. Two books and no book deal later, I was pretty crushed, and I’d taken a break from writing to focus on journalism and PR. But having my daughter and the opportunity for a complete fresh start career-wise reawakened all my old ambitions, and so I decided to write a new novel. To try again, and to use my experience of new motherhood, pregnancy and the world of work as inspiration. There were so many stories out there of women who had struggled to adjust to life as a new mother after spending years as a successful career woman, and I wondered why no one had written about them before. So I sat down, without planning, and wrote every evening when my baby was asleep. I finished the first draft in ten weeks.

Here I am with my awesome Faber Academy group last year in the Welsh countryside. When I decided to ‘go for it’ again with the novel-writing madness, I thought it would be good to get out of the house and meet likeminded people. So I signed up to do the Faber Academy’s six-month Writing a Novel course. I loved every second of it. It was such a joy to get back to using my brain after a year of taking care of my daughter, and I relished the opportunity to learn more about writing. Despite the fact I’d finished novels before, I still had so much to learn. But more than anything else, being on the course made me unexpectedly disciplined. I was determined to finish my novel by the time the course ended, and thankfully I managed it. At the end of the Faber course, there’s an agents’ reading day, and by the time that day came around, my book was already on submission to publishers. It was the fastest I’d ever written anything, and a massive testament to my belief that mothers are the most motivated workers out there, despite what history and perceived ‘wisdom’ would try to make you believe.

Here I am with my awesome Faber Academy group last year in the Welsh countryside. When I decided to ‘go for it’ again with the novel-writing madness, I thought it would be good to get out of the house and meet likeminded people. So I signed up to do the Faber Academy’s six-month Writing a Novel course. I loved every second of it. It was such a joy to get back to using my brain after a year of taking care of my daughter, and I relished the opportunity to learn more about writing. Despite the fact I’d finished novels before, I still had so much to learn. But more than anything else, being on the course made me unexpectedly disciplined. I was determined to finish my novel by the time the course ended, and thankfully I managed it. At the end of the Faber course, there’s an agents’ reading day, and by the time that day came around, my book was already on submission to publishers. It was the fastest I’d ever written anything, and a massive testament to my belief that mothers are the most motivated workers out there, despite what history and perceived ‘wisdom’ would try to make you believe.

Having a book on submission is a tortuous process, and I was lucky that my experience this time was mercifully short. A couple of weeks after the book was sent to publishers, my agent received two offers on the same day. Having a choice of publisher was not a situation I had ever imagined being in! After much deliberation, we decided to accept Quercus’s offer. The book isn’t out until September 2018, so I can’t show you a picture of it yet. But here’s a photo of my beautiful proofs instead, which arrived a few weeks ago. I am in love with my cover – which was a huge relief given that not all authors feel that way. I think it looks so mysterious and chilling, and I really hope that readers will feel the same once it hits the shops! Being published by a major publishing house – and especially being edited by a professional at the top of their game – is a really privileged, humbling experience. After all the years it’s taken me to get here, I will never take it for granted.

Having a book on submission is a tortuous process, and I was lucky that my experience this time was mercifully short. A couple of weeks after the book was sent to publishers, my agent received two offers on the same day. Having a choice of publisher was not a situation I had ever imagined being in! After much deliberation, we decided to accept Quercus’s offer. The book isn’t out until September 2018, so I can’t show you a picture of it yet. But here’s a photo of my beautiful proofs instead, which arrived a few weeks ago. I am in love with my cover – which was a huge relief given that not all authors feel that way. I think it looks so mysterious and chilling, and I really hope that readers will feel the same once it hits the shops! Being published by a major publishing house – and especially being edited by a professional at the top of their game – is a really privileged, humbling experience. After all the years it’s taken me to get here, I will never take it for granted.

The Rival is published by Quercus on 6 September 2018.

You can find out more on Charlotte’s website, and chat to her on Twitter

The Tricky Second Book

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It's widely thought that second books, like second albums, are tricky things. I was certainly advised by more experienced authors to make sure I'd written the next book before my first book was published.

When CLOSE TO ME came out this time last year, I thought I understood what to expect. I'd wanted to be a published author for many years, had worked hard to get there, a few abandoned manuscripts behind me, so surely writing another book would be the same?

In some ways that was true, but second books have to compete with the first one. Not just in terms of reviews and sales, but also for the author's time : attending events, writing features and blog posts, keeping up with support on social media, and of course enjoying the launch.

I started writing my second book as soon as the edits were completed on book one. By paperback publication of CLOSE TO ME in July, I had a good first draft of LYING TO YOU. I attended my first Harrogate Crime Writers' Festival and anticipated a few edits after I got back. In fact, book two would go through two major rewrites in the following months. 

I'm very proud of LYING TO YOU, so even though it proved to be much trickier than I'd anticipated, I know that it's all been worth it. 

I hope you all enjoy reading it as much I loved writing it; every last 'tricksy' word.

LYING TO YOU - publishes in eBook & Audio April 1st 2018

Paperback 26th July 2018

You'd know if you were lying to yourself, wouldn't you?

When Jess Tidy was Mark Winter's student, she made an accusation that ultimately saw him sentenced to three years in prison. A jury found him guilty, but he always maintained his innocence. Now, Jess's mother's death has brought her back to the village where she grew up, and where Mark still lives with his wife. And the truth about that night ten years ago which nearly destroyed them both is finally going to come out.

 

 

Cover Reveal

Friday was an exciting day for me as the cover was revealed on social media for my second book, LYING TO YOU, publishing this April.

I love how the cover depicts the themes of the book...what goes on behind closed doors, and how we present an image to the world that may be very different than reality.

The eyes peeking out capture the inner domestic tensions perfectly and I love the colours. 

I hope you like it too.

Lying To You Darkened Cover Image.jpg

Looking Back on 2017

I'm ending this year as a published author in the UK, Italy and US. It's been quite a year, but mainly I've been sitting at my computer writing, just as I like it... 

Last night I was interviewed for US radio about CLOSE TO ME. The hardback US version has just published and Quercus have arranged lots of great promotion, despite the fact I'm thousands of miles away and in a different time zone! The interviewer - wonderful Pam Stack of Authors on the Air (who reads 400 books a year!!!) - asked me what's on my Bucket List, and it was really the only question I struggled to answer.

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The thing is...all I want is to carry on doing what I love. To perpetuate this constant ever-present desire to elucidate, resonate and create. Everything else, the signings, book events, travel, interviews, literary festivals...they're great fun, and I LOVE doing them, but they're not the main part of being a writer, which is turning up every day to write.

Before I go any further, I should temper my Pollyanna tendencies when I talk about writing with a few thoughts, because in life nothing is ever perfect, not in my experience, and it's important to add a note of realism. My life as a published writer is the fulfilment of a long-held dream, but of course there are good days and bad. When it's lonely, difficult, not happening. Writing is tough - not nursing or coal-mining tough - but it's intense, and esoteric and endlessly challenging. No one does it for you, not even your brilliant agent or editor. They suggest, critique, tease-out better ideas, but it's your book, and you are the one who will write it. 

So why is writing so special? Why keep going when you face rejection, get a bad review, or would prefer to scrub out the sink than write another word?

For me it's easy...utter escapism.

When I write I lose myself to a different world, one where my troubles have no place, where I build homes, backdrops, villages, towns, cities, and populate them with people I've never met, who become friends, or enemies, who embody emotions I've felt or observed in others, who say things I would never dare to say, who right wrongs, make mistakes, and live extraordinary lives.

What better job could there ever be? 

HAPPY 2018 EVERYONE! 

CHECK BACK SOON FOR EXCITING NEWS OF BOOK TWO INCLUDING A COVER REVEAL AND DETAILS OF REVIEW COPIES

CLOSE TO ME is available to buy  here

CLOSE TO ME is available to buy here

Three Pics To Pub #3 - Fiona Mitchell The Maid's Room

My third guest for #3PICS2PUB is Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid's Room, published last month by Hodder & Stoughton.

Fiona has kindly sent me a copy of her book, and I think it's one of the prettiest covers I've seen. I cannot wait to read it. I hope you enjoy Fiona's inspirational journey to publication. 

The First Draft   I wrote the first chapter of  The Maid’s Room  when I was on holiday in Sri Lanka in December 2010. I’d travelled there from Singapore where I was living at the time. Back then, women working long hours as live-in domestic helpers in Singapore had no legal right to a day off. Some of them were made to sleep in tiny windowless rooms, while others were forced to sleep outside. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could treat another human being so abominably, so I started to write as a way of trying to find some answers and venting my anger. Writing, researching then rewriting, meant that it took me seven years to complete that first draft.

The First Draft

I wrote the first chapter of The Maid’s Room when I was on holiday in Sri Lanka in December 2010. I’d travelled there from Singapore where I was living at the time. Back then, women working long hours as live-in domestic helpers in Singapore had no legal right to a day off. Some of them were made to sleep in tiny windowless rooms, while others were forced to sleep outside. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could treat another human being so abominably, so I started to write as a way of trying to find some answers and venting my anger. Writing, researching then rewriting, meant that it took me seven years to complete that first draft.

The Rejection Letters    It was only when I’d ‘finished’ writing my novel that I discovered I’d need a literary agent to get traditionally published. And so the submission process began – an experience otherwise known as HELL. The rejection letters flowed in, and my initial optimism crumbled away. After receiving thirty or so rejection letters (I gave up counting after 20), I decided to work on something new. My second novel was a literary love story set on a remote Scottish island. Not much happened in it, apart from lots of sex. I sent this book out to agents too, and all of them gave it the thumbs-down. (This is a picture of some its shredded pages.) A writer friend of mine persuaded me to return to my first book, so I took its core idea and wrote a new story around it, one punctuated with hope and humour.

The Rejection Letters

It was only when I’d ‘finished’ writing my novel that I discovered I’d need a literary agent to get traditionally published. And so the submission process began – an experience otherwise known as HELL. The rejection letters flowed in, and my initial optimism crumbled away. After receiving thirty or so rejection letters (I gave up counting after 20), I decided to work on something new. My second novel was a literary love story set on a remote Scottish island. Not much happened in it, apart from lots of sex. I sent this book out to agents too, and all of them gave it the thumbs-down. (This is a picture of some its shredded pages.) A writer friend of mine persuaded me to return to my first book, so I took its core idea and wrote a new story around it, one punctuated with hope and humour.

The Actual Book   I sent this new book out, and several agents asked to read the full manuscript. They all said no, but somehow I managed to scrape my shrivelled ego off the floor and kept going. I found an editor who helped me untangle my mess of a plot, then literary agent Rowan Lawton agreed to represent me (which still feels like a small miracle). Rowan and her team took my manuscript to Frankfurt book fair and got me my very first publishing deal in Denmark. I was sitting in a supermarket carpark when I read that email and whooped very loudly indeed. Later that evening, a publishing house in Norway offered on my book too. And the following week, I signed further contracts with Penguin in Spain and Mondadori in Italy. My book went to auction in the UK, and I signed with Hodder & Stoughton who published  The Maid’s Room  in hardback in November this year. At my launch party, I was elated to be holding my book in my hands. It felt like holding seven years of toil, grit and a refusal to give up, even when carrying on seemed like a fool’s errand. It just goes to show that no matter how many knock-backs you have, getting published is all about perseverance.

The Actual Book

I sent this new book out, and several agents asked to read the full manuscript. They all said no, but somehow I managed to scrape my shrivelled ego off the floor and kept going. I found an editor who helped me untangle my mess of a plot, then literary agent Rowan Lawton agreed to represent me (which still feels like a small miracle). Rowan and her team took my manuscript to Frankfurt book fair and got me my very first publishing deal in Denmark. I was sitting in a supermarket carpark when I read that email and whooped very loudly indeed. Later that evening, a publishing house in Norway offered on my book too. And the following week, I signed further contracts with Penguin in Spain and Mondadori in Italy. My book went to auction in the UK, and I signed with Hodder & Stoughton who published The Maid’s Room in hardback in November this year. At my launch party, I was elated to be holding my book in my hands. It felt like holding seven years of toil, grit and a refusal to give up, even when carrying on seemed like a fool’s errand. It just goes to show that no matter how many knock-backs you have, getting published is all about perseverance.

THE MAID’S ROOM IS PUBLISHED IN HARDBACK BY HODDER & STOUGHTON

A Worthy Winner!

After 140 Likes, 107 Retweets, 25 pitches, 4 short-listed entries, and 1 very tough decision, I have a winner!

I am very pleased to announce that I will be mentoring Nikki Smith, author of Falling Apart.

I loved Nikki's pitch, and when I read the synopsis and her first chapter I was blown away. 

Nikki writes domestic noir in First Person POV, so I think we're a great fit. I can't wait to start working with her. Her concept is unique, and I love her writing style. Watch this space!

Thanks again to all of you who took part: pitching, 'liking', or retweeting to spread the word.

Many congratulations also to those short-listed, the quality of submissions was very high, and I hope you are all encouraged by your short-list selection.

And thanks also to my wonderful agent, Sarah Williams at Sophie Hicks Agency who has agreed to place the winning entry at the top of her 'to-read' pile once it's ready for submission. A wonderful gesture, and an excellent opportunity.

If any other authors are considering mentoring an unpublished writer, I would urge you do so. It's been amazing to receive all the lovely emails thanking me for this opportunity, but it has also made me realise how many writers out there are waiting for a bit of guidance and encouragement to spur them on.

So let's pay it forward!

 

Mentoring - Short List

Some of the best things I've done have happened because I took a chance. So, last week, feeling a bit down-in-the-dumps, I thought I'd cheer myself up by hopefully cheering up someone else. 

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The response blew me away, not only the amount of people who responded, but also the quality of the pitches. The burden of choosing fell heavily on me as I had no idea I would receive so many fantastic submissions. BUT...I can only choose one person to mentor; time and commitment involved on both sides. 

I have now read all the submissions, and here is my short list of four from which I shall choose just ONE. Well done to everyone who took part, and please don't be disheartened if you're not on the short list, purely my subjective opinion based on my taste, and whether I think I'm the best fit to be your mentor. I'll announce my final choice from the shortlist in the coming days.

 

In no particular order...my shortlist

Somewhere In The Universe - Lia Louis

The Waves Crashed Down Upon Them - Lori Inglis Hall

Falling Apart - Nikki Smith

The Spaces Between Lies - Valerie Whelan

 

Well done to my final four, I am so impressed!

I'll be reading the above submissions in more detail in the coming days to decide on a winner. The prize will be an in-depth critique/ongoing mentoring partnership to help produce a submission package to send out to agents/publishers. 

 

Three Pics To Pub #2 - Lara Dearman The Devil's Claw

In the second in my occasional series, #3pics2pub, Lara Dearman, debut author of The Devil's Claw, shares  three pictures from her journey to publication.

Lara, like Will Dean (the first #3pics2pub author), currently lives outside the UK, in New York!  

It's fascinating to see how she found her agent and publisher whilst living overseas.

1. The Capitol, DC  I finished my MA in Creative Writing at St Mary’s University in the spring of 2015. It was an amazing experience, but a tough one. I had three small kids (one not yet at school), we were renovating our house and then, halfway through the course, my husband came home, nonchalantly wondering if we might all like to move to the USA? I can’t quite remember how that conversation went, only that I didn’t get to do much writing for a while and a few months later, we found ourselves living in a leafy suburb of Westchester, New York. I was three quarters of the way through The Devil’s Claw at this point, and while I was proud of it, I had little hope of finding an agent, let alone a publisher - it would have been difficult enough in the UK, but in a new country, where I had not the first idea about the industry, it was surely impossible. I kept working on the book though - one of the great things about the MA was that it had pushed me past the point where, with less support, I might have given up - and a few months later I had a life-changing call from my tutor. An agent had read the first three chapters. She loved it and had asked if I could send the rest. By the summer of 2016, a little less than a year after we moved to the States, I had a UK publishing deal. This is me, in front of the Capitol in Washington DC soon after I found out that The Devil’s Claw had sold in the US too! 

1. The Capitol, DC

I finished my MA in Creative Writing at St Mary’s University in the spring of 2015. It was an amazing experience, but a tough one. I had three small kids (one not yet at school), we were renovating our house and then, halfway through the course, my husband came home, nonchalantly wondering if we might all like to move to the USA? I can’t quite remember how that conversation went, only that I didn’t get to do much writing for a while and a few months later, we found ourselves living in a leafy suburb of Westchester, New York. I was three quarters of the way through The Devil’s Claw at this point, and while I was proud of it, I had little hope of finding an agent, let alone a publisher - it would have been difficult enough in the UK, but in a new country, where I had not the first idea about the industry, it was surely impossible. I kept working on the book though - one of the great things about the MA was that it had pushed me past the point where, with less support, I might have given up - and a few months later I had a life-changing call from my tutor. An agent had read the first three chapters. She loved it and had asked if I could send the rest. By the summer of 2016, a little less than a year after we moved to the States, I had a UK publishing deal. This is me, in front of the Capitol in Washington DC soon after I found out that The Devil’s Claw had sold in the US too! 

2. First Time in Print   After several years spent as a stay at home mum, to suddenly find myself thrown into the world of publishing was quite surreal. There were contract negotiations, talk about industry announcements and 'popping back' to the UK for this event or that, foreign rights conversations (foreign rights! How did I find myself deciding which German publisher was the best ‘home’ for The Devil’s Claw?) I think I received more emails in one month than I had in the previous five years. Possibly the best part was when my editor, Sam Eades at Trapeze, was contributing to a piece in the Guardian about female crime writers and asked me for a quote. I could not believe that only a few weeks after selling the book, I was going to be quoted in a national newspaper. As it happens, I wasn’t. My quote was cut (a good lesson in not getting too big for your boots!) But my name made it in - the first time ever in print, and right next to a picture of the lovely Ruth Ware. A proud moment indeed! 

2. First Time in Print

After several years spent as a stay at home mum, to suddenly find myself thrown into the world of publishing was quite surreal. There were contract negotiations, talk about industry announcements and 'popping back' to the UK for this event or that, foreign rights conversations (foreign rights! How did I find myself deciding which German publisher was the best ‘home’ for The Devil’s Claw?) I think I received more emails in one month than I had in the previous five years. Possibly the best part was when my editor, Sam Eades at Trapeze, was contributing to a piece in the Guardian about female crime writers and asked me for a quote. I could not believe that only a few weeks after selling the book, I was going to be quoted in a national newspaper. As it happens, I wasn’t. My quote was cut (a good lesson in not getting too big for your boots!) But my name made it in - the first time ever in print, and right next to a picture of the lovely Ruth Ware. A proud moment indeed! 

3. The Devil’s Claw Comes Home  The Devil’s Claw is set on Guernsey, the island where I was born and raised. I left in 2000 to go to University on ’the mainland' never expecting that over the following seventeen years I would live in London, Paris, Singapore and New York. I love to travel, and to experience new places, but will always be a Guernsey girl at heart. When I started to write, I had no set idea as to genre, or plot, but the location was always going to be Guernsey. And it is the perfect setting for a crime thriller - breathtaking scenery, a unique culture, an abundance of legends and folktales and a complicated history, including five years spent under Nazi Occupation during the Second World War - all of which I have tried to capture in The Devil’s Claw. I went back this summer (as I have every year since I left) armed with proof copies of the book and really felt like it was bringing it home. Here it is, in the shadows on my favourite beach, Petit Bot.

3. The Devil’s Claw Comes Home

The Devil’s Claw is set on Guernsey, the island where I was born and raised. I left in 2000 to go to University on ’the mainland' never expecting that over the following seventeen years I would live in London, Paris, Singapore and New York. I love to travel, and to experience new places, but will always be a Guernsey girl at heart. When I started to write, I had no set idea as to genre, or plot, but the location was always going to be Guernsey. And it is the perfect setting for a crime thriller - breathtaking scenery, a unique culture, an abundance of legends and folktales and a complicated history, including five years spent under Nazi Occupation during the Second World War - all of which I have tried to capture in The Devil’s Claw. I went back this summer (as I have every year since I left) armed with proof copies of the book and really felt like it was bringing it home. Here it is, in the shadows on my favourite beach, Petit Bot.

Many thanks to Lara for sharing her three pics to publication. 

The Devil's Claw is published by Trapeze in the UK

'An atmospheric crime series set in the Channel Islands, that will appeal to fans of Ann Cleeves, Peter May and Elly Griffiths.'

 

First Drafts

'The First draft of anything is shit', as Hemingway told us many moons ago.
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In the month when many of you will be writing 1,666 words a day for NaNoWriMo I thought it would be good to consider that most troublesome of beasts, the first draft.

I'm not a great planner, although I've tried - chapter plans, story and character arcs, even an unwieldy grid which involved multiple spreadsheets and lots of sellotape - but I've now accepted that I do have a process, and it works for me... 

 

A Strict Word Count

A thousand words a day for three months.

That means every day, weekends too, regardless of where I am or what's happening. For the last two books that has been a concentrated effort in the early months of the year, which fits well with my editing deadlines. I tend to get up very early, and I've learnt to be less precious about where and how I work: on trains, in snatches of time, even when the house is full.

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Editing-as-I-Go

I write every day, not only to build my word count, but also to keep everything in my head. Psychological suspense relies on a careful balance of reveal/conceal and I need to be aware of what goes where, even on a first draft, although all can be changed. So I begin by reading over the previous day's words, editing lightly or making notes, before I continue.

 

Notes

Although I don't have a definite plan, I will have a notebook beside me, and probably a rough synopsis, as well as lots of stuff held in my head from months of thinking-time. I also do lots of research before I start writing, so that's in my notes too. Any ideas, thoughts, dates, chronology issues, get jotted down as I write, so I can revisit them later. 

 

Tips (or how not to get in the kind of mess I do!)

Give every character a name and date of birth, saves so much time checking later.

Print out a calendar and keep a record of what happens when - including the weather.

Keep it simple - the simpler the better- actions not feelings.

 

The Finish is Only the Start

At the end of three months, roughly, I will have my 80-90K first draft.

But...all is not well. Far from it. What began as a shiny possibility, is now becoming a reality, and there will inevitably be a dissonance between initial expectation and results, and that's where doubts begin to creep in.

Three months ago, my ideas were unsullied by exposition. In my imagination, they were full of possibility, to be anything I wanted. To be...perfect. That's a hard act to follow. But first attempts are never about perfection.

As Terry Pratchett said, 'First drafts are about you telling yourself the story'.

What I do have at the end of those first three months is the bones of my story, with characters, and events; something I can work with. How else, for example, would I have discovered what happens on page three hundred, or even on page two? How would I have seen the opportunities to seed later events in earlier passages, and how would I have known that my characters would act as they did unless I placed them in those situations?

My next job is to sort the good from the bad, to polish what works, to eliminate sections that don't, and now I have a whole story, to decide on structure and points of view. Everything is still up for debate, even the ending. 

I suppose, now I come to think of it, my first draft is an elaboarate plan, so maybe...I do plan after all! If you're participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck! 

CLOSE TO ME my debut psychological suspense is out now in UK and available to pre-order in US for December. Please review if you enjoy - many thanks!