blog hop, Cara Cooper, Christina Hollis author, Creative Writing, historical romance, Jenny Haddon, Margaret Mayo, My writing process, Romantic Fiction, The Survivors' Club

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.

Creative Writing, Elizabeth Whiteside, Jenny Haddon, Lynne Truss

Three Top Tips To Help With Your Writing…

Power of Words by Antonio Litterio.jpg: Antonio Litterio derivative work: InverseHypercube
By Antonio Litterio

1. Get Hooked – expressing yourself in words is better for you than eating sugar, and just as addictive. Instead of eating cake at coffee-time, start keeping a diary or jot down ideas for your novel. Make writing your new regular, unbreakable daily habit. It doesn’t matter if you can only afford to spend a few minutes on it. Consistency is the key. Set aside some time every day to write. The amount of time you can spend has less to do with your results than your determination. Remember, the more you put into your work, the more you’ll get back in return. Nothing beats the satisfaction of finishing a project. If you can only schedule enough spare time to make notes, do it. Nothing you write will be wasted. When you finally sit down to enjoy a good, long writing session, you’ll never need to waste time waiting for inspiration. You’ll have loads of things down on paper already. The words will be ready to dance across that beautiful blank page for you. The feeling that gives is better than the icing on any cake!  

2. Get Organised – dedicate an area where you can write every day. It doesn’t have to be large. Just make sure there’s enough room to keep your books (see Tip Three) and paperwork to hand. A permanent space is best. If you have to share your writing refuge with other people or projects, keep your things in a cardboard box so you can stow them away easily at the end of each session. It’s amazing how fast paperwork builds up, so you’ll need some way of keeping track. Use large envelopes labelled with chapter headings or character names to keep everything in order.

3. Be Prepared – make sure your writing kingdom’s well stocked, and don’t let anyone borrow your stuff. They say they’ll give it back, but can you guarantee they will? It’s better not to weaken. Show them (nicely, of course!) how to be better organised and get their own supplies, like you. You’ll be giving them a lesson in responsibility. At the most basic level you’ll need plenty of pencils (pens run out, or leak), a sharpener, an eraser, and paper. Sometimes nothing beats that connection with words which appear from a sharp point onto a real surface under your hand. Get a good dictionary, a thesaurus and a book on punctuation such as Getting The Point by Jenny Haddon and Elizabeth Whiteside,  or Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Don’t rely on the library for  books you’ll need all the time. While you can use online resources, try looking for cheap second-hand copies of real books. They’ll help with your off-line sessions, or when your computer fails. That’s when the best ideas always arrive!

If you’ve enjoyed these tips, you can find more at Visit here and you can click to sign up for my newsletter, which will bring news about my next release and a whole lot more.