Cooking, Writing

Autumn Colour, Fast Food and Romance…

69727-acer_palmatum_bonnie_bergmanYesterday it felt like “St Luke’s Little Summer’ —the name given to mild days around St Luke’s Day (18th October)—had come a week early. Here in Gloucestershire, it was sunny enough to be almost hot. Walkers were out in the woods dressed in shorts and t shirts, collecting sweet chestnuts. It was still warm when I reached university at six-thirty last night.

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Today, we’re back in the ice age. It’s time to dig out the light-therapy lamp, and think about putting on the central heating. We’re having this brilliant, easy soup (using the last tomatoes from the greenhouse), and home-made bread for tea tonight. There are buds in the Christmas cacti, and the lemons are ripening. Despite the chill, there are lots of good things about autumn!

It was cold, wet weather like this when I wrote my short romantic comedy, My Dream Guy. What could be worse than sitting in my chilly office, looking out on pouring rain? Going camping, I thought—so that’s where I sent my heroine Emma. Her romance with Jack has lost its sparkle. He arranges a holiday in Wales during the wettest summer on record, and Emma can’t see how life in a tent is going to put the fizz back into her love-life… unless the bronzed farmer who bewitched her as a teenager is still running the campsite. He is, and Emma gets a picnic full of surprises!

Whatever the weather, find some summer sunshine with My Dream Guy


Blog, Writing

3 Top Tips For Writing With Scrivener

fountain-pen-447575_1920Scrivener is a word processing package—but it can do more than that. You can use it as a project management tool for your writing. Its developers, Literature and Latte, created Scrivener as a hub.  Open your Scrivener project, and you’re presented with separate areas for creating your manuscript, and storage for all your research, ideas, images and metadata. Everything is to hand while you’re writing.  Once your book is finished, Scrivener can convert it into all sorts of forms. This includes compiling your work ready for publishing online. It’s how I created my short romantic comedy, My Dream Guy.

The Scrivener system is so organised it can come as a bit of a shock to butterfly minds like mine, but now I’ve been working with Scrivener for a while I use it for most of my fiction, and almost all of my non-fiction work. Here are my three top tips:

1. Try before you buy. There’s a free trial facility available from Literature and Latte to get you started. You can take thirty days to become familiar with the whole Scrivener experience before you decide if it’s the system for you.  Experiment with all the forms of compilation. Create different types of document for publication, or upload. Customise the system with the fonts, sizing and formatting you use for your manuscripts (Times New Roman 12-point is a good place to start).  It’s a great feeling to open a new project and start typing straight away, without having to worry about setting everything up from scratch. 

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2. Don’t start with Scrivener if you’re working to a deadline. When I was writing My Dream Guy,  I created the first draft in a single document on my usual system (Pages for Mac) then imported it into Scrivener for publishing. To do this, instead of giving each chapter a title, I put a hashtag (#) at the end of each one instead. This formed a section break.  When I imported my completed manuscript into Scrivener, the system automatically created a new file for each chapter.  Then after editing my work in Scrivener, all I had to do to format it ready for publication was hit Scrivener’s “compile” button. Instantly, it became a ready-formatted manuscript, ready to publish.

3. RTFM—Read The Flaming* Manual. Scrivener gives you the option to do this, each time you open the package. Interactive and video tutorials are provided as well, in case you’re the type of person who needs to see things being done, rather than simply reading how-to manuals. If you need more help, Scrivener For Dummies, written by Gwen Hernandez is an invaluable book. When I started out, the only problem I had with this book was the same one I have with every other trouble-shooting system for computing. You need to know the exact questions to ask the index, and the terms to use. Tinkering (see Tip 1, above) and then looking up the effect I achieved in the index of this book got me there in the end. I’ve covered my own copy of Scrivener For Dummies with notes (and the two vital components of my writing life, tea and cake). Gwen Hernandez also has loads of useful tips in her online  Scrivener Corner (and you don’t have to peer past cake crumbs to see them). 

Have you tried working with Scrivener? What’s your favourite tip?

* other words beginning with F are available…

Blog, Extract, Writing

Summer Sunshine For A Wintry Day

Find out more at My Dream Guy

How is your weekend going? Will you be going back to work with a smile, or a scowl? If this cold snap makes your next holiday seem a long way off, treat yourself to my short summery romance, My Dream Guy.

It’s only £1.99 ($2.77) and you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Whatever your device, whether it’s desktop, laptop or handheld, Amazon has an app that will let you read My Dream Guy. It doesn’t matter whether you use Windows, Mac, iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 or BlackBerry.

My Dream Guy is a story of lost love, past and present. All the fizz has gone out of Emily’s romance with Jack. Will their holiday at Feinwen Farm save the day? Or will the bronzed farmer who bewitched her there when she was a teenager sweep her off her feet a second time?

In the little taster that follows, Emily has dragged herself into work after a terrible weekend. She’s not looking forward to her working week—but things are going to get a lot worse for Emily before they get better!

…As I talk, Grace looks more and more thoughtful. It’s obvious she wants to say something, so I go quiet. If you ever want someone to spill the beans, try the silent treatment. Most people can’t resist filling the void with the sound of their own voice. Grace is no exception. She picks up a pencil, and twiddles it between her fingers. All the time her brow is wrinkling.
‘Em…I never thought I’d say this about Jack, of all people…but you don’t suppose…’ she looks up at me from under her brows. It’s like she’s trying to get me to join the dots, but she’s the only one with a pencil.
‘You don’t think he’s got…’ she swallows, then purses her lips so her next words sidle out in a whisper, ‘another woman?’
‘Jack?’ I squeak. My Jack? My sweet, funny, gorgeous, guy? But he can’t be carrying on with somebody else-he’s my perfect man!
‘Don’t look like that. You’ll get frown lines.’ She says, as though all her fooling around (especially on Saturday nights) hasn’t been the cause of scars in the past.
If Jack is seeing someone else, that would explain all his recent “business trips”. During the week, if he’s not working late, he’s charging all over the country on site visits. I spend half my time missing him, and the other half wondering where the magic went as he nods off in the back row of the movies yet again. I mean, how can anyone get so tired they sleep straight through Fury Road? And when we’re together and Jack manages to stay awake, there’s the chirrup of his blasted phone coming between us whenever things are about to get interesting, if you know what I mean.
Yes…if Grace is right and Jack has got someone else, it would explain a lot…

Download My Dream Guy now, to find out what happens next!