Life Cycle of a Writer – The Battle and The Spoils

Life Cycle of a Writer – Sue Fortin

Well, it’s been something of a struggle the last couple of months on the writing front. I’ve been working on my structural edits for my next book, The Birthday Girl, which involved cutting out 40k words – very nearly half the book. I had taken a gamble on part of the plot where I introduced a police enquiry and to be blunt, it didn’t pay off. I couldn’t quite capture what I was trying to achieve. At several points, I wasn’t sure cutting so much out was doing the right thing and my confidence took something of a dip. I began to question my wisdom with the big changes I had made but, at the same time, knew not making those changes would produce a book that no-one would be happy with.

I did at one point wish I hadn’t started writing the book at all and that I could shove it in the bottom drawer and never look at it again. However, in reality, that wasn’t an option. I had to work out how I could rewrite it so it was more me and more the sort of book I like to write and read.

I had lots of support from my publishers, editor, agent and not least my family, who have all been very patient and understanding. I worked out how I could bring the focus back onto my main characters and with a certain amount of uncertainty I rewrote 40k words, the outcome being 94k words which I was much happier with. It felt like my book when I sent it back to my editor.

At this point, I’m still waiting for her feedback so I have my fingers crossed that she will like what I’ve done. I think there will be some more work needed on it before we move onto the next round of edits but nothing on the scale of the first round.

There have been lots of brighter moments, of course, not least seeing the Hungarian covers of Sister Sister and The Girl Who Lied and foreign rights for both books selling in six countries. Penguin Germany made an offer and wanted a response by midday, which happened to be the day I was out and about and hadn’t checked my emails. My agent had to text me and tell me to look at my emails – urgently!

I also saw a ‘shelfie’ of Sister Sister in Target stores in America. I knew it was going into the stores but actually seeing a picture made it seem real. So, thank you to the lovely book blogger who took the time to tag me on Instagram for that. Again, through Instagram, I was tagged in a post from a book club based in Houston who read my book and had a great discussion about sisters and families. It’s wonderful when you hear things like that and it’s the biggest thrill I get from writing.

I’m heading off to Italy next week with my lovely Romaniac pals, Laura and Catherine, for a writing retreat headed up by Sue Moorcroft at Arte Umbria. It was my intention to get the first draft of my next book completed but with the way things have gone with the edits, it’s not a realistic ambition but I’m hoping to get a good chunk of it written anyway. I’m very much looking forward to spending time with other writers, which always has a positive impact on my own output. The prosecco and location, well, I’ll have to suffer those for my art!

Sue

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Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage, Teresa Morgan’s New Novel

We’re delighted to welcome Teresa F Morgan onto the blog today, to talk about her latest novel Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage. Over to you, Teresa …

 

Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog today, and letting me talk about how Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage all started.

I was walking home one day, probably from dropping the boys off at school, when this scene just popped into my head. I envisaged a hysterical woman being thrown over a man’s shoulder into a fireman’s carry to calm her down or shut her up. (I have been put into a fireman’s carry, but that’s another story).

So then, I had to think about why she’d be hysterical, and why would a firefighter be there, or was it something he used to do…

I didn’t want Harry to be a firefighter, as had already pictured him as a landscape gardener, taking his shirt off frequently. But I liked the idea of him used to being one, troubled with PTSD he’d had to go into something less stressful.

I wanted Harry to be a reluctant hero, but his firefighter quality wouldn’t let that happen, and to be honest, when I came back to edit Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage, I loved Harry, so I hope you do, too.

In the past, I’ve been asked if my books are a series and I’ve answered that they are stand alone novels. However, while writing Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage I found a way to link them. I’ve featured the same areas, hence putting them into the same ‘universe’.  This idea was inspired by Sue Moorcroft, one of my favourite authors, who writes most of her novels in her made up area of Middledip.

Knowing this novel needed to be based in Cornwall, I decided to revisit Tinners Bay which I created for Plus One is a Lucky Number. Tinners Bay is based on the seaside town I holidayed frequently at; Polzeath. It enabled me to revisit old characters too, from Plus One is a Lucky Number, but I’ll let you work out who they are.

Enjoy the romance.

Meet Me at Wisteria Cottage

After her house is set on fire and her love life is left in tatters, Maddy Hart can’t believe her luck when a friend offers her the temporary haven of Wisteria Cottage. Overlooking the turquoise blue waters of the Cornish coast, the fresh air feels like a fresh start for her and her broken heart.

Peeking out of the cosy cottage windows, Maddy’s surprised to see her gorgeous but insufferable neighbour Harry Tudor has been employed to landscape the garden. But as the wisteria winding its way around the cottage begins to bloom, an unlikely friendship starts to blossom…

Click HERE for Teresa’s Amazon Author Page

Life Cycle of a Writer – Sue Fortin

I was just looking back at when I did my last update for Life Cycle of a Writer and can’t believe it was as far back as the end of November where I talked about feedback and had some great input from Sue Moorcroft and Louise Jensen, you can see the post here.

In that post I had recently gone through the editing process for my latest novel Sister Sister and now, by pure coincidence, I am going through the editing stage with my next book – currently untitled and no set release date yet.

In between these two editing stages, I’ve been pretty much occupied with writing my current wip. I must admit, I struggled for several weeks to settle on an idea. I had hoped it would just sort of come to me or that I would find inspiration in my folder marked ‘Book Ideas’. Sadly, this wasn’t to be, all the so-called book ideas either didn’t have enough story or no story whatsoever. I kept telling myself not to panic, that something was bound to occur to me but as the days and weeks rolled by, I started to question my wisdom. In the end I had to sit down and force myself to come up with at least one good idea.

I started by writing down themes I would like to explore and relationships that interested me. Then I wrote down some situations or circumstances that would put these ideas to the test, where there would be conflict and resolution needed. It took some time, but eventually I began to get the inkling of an idea. It wasn’t a clear idea and then took a few more weeks to develop into anything meaningful. By this time, I was up against the clock for my March deadline.

Towards the end of last year, myself and three other Romaniacs, Laura, Catherine and Lucie had planned a writing retreat weekend and this fell at the right time for me. It was the impetus I needed to kick-start some serious writing and to immerse myself in my story for three days without interruption. It was a lovely luxury and I benefitted hugely from it and went on to complete the first draft in just two months. I must admit, it was hard going with this one. Some books seem to flow and other books need rather more coaxing – this one was definitely a high maintenance one, but I got there in the end.

So now I’m about half-way through my structural edits, with several more rounds to go. Once the final proofed edits have been returned to my publisher, it will be back to plotting another novel, which hopefully will be more straight forward as I seem to have ignited my imagination again and already have three new ideas for books roughly plotted out.

Sue

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Publication Day for SISTER, SISTER #sistersister

I’m delighted that my latest book, SISTER, SISTER, is published today by HarperImpulse, HarperCollins. This one is more suspense and mystery than my previous books and I really enjoyed writing it.  To celebrate it’s release I’m running a competition over on my author Facebook page to win Afternoon Tea for Two, a Sister DVD and a book mark. If you fancy entering, pop over to my page by clicking this link.

ss-book-adss-book-coverTWO SISTERS, ONE TRUTH

Clare – Intelligent and loyal or paranoid and jealous?

Alice – Loving and kind or manipulative and devious?

Reunited after many years following the breakdown of the family unit, Clare and Alice reacquaint themselves in adulthood but as events take a sinister turn and nothing is at it seems, everyone must decide who to trust.

 

Amazon link

As ever, thank you so much for all your support, it’s is very much appreciated.

Sue

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Life Cycle of a Writer – Feedback

Hello, Sue here, it’s my turn on Life Cycle of a Writer. I’ve recently been going through the editing stages of my new novel, Sister, Sister which is due out 6 January and what I love about the writing process is that it’s constantly evolving and I’m learning new skills and ways to do things all the time.

sister-sister-newThis is my fifth full-length novel to be published and this time I enlisted the help of two writing buddies, or beta readers as they can sometimes be called, for their feedback. It’s the first time I’ve asked for feedback on a whole manuscript from someone other than the RNA NWS, my editor or agent and I have to say, I found their comments invaluable. Not only did they pick up on different points, but they both had issues with some of the same points. The latter being a big red flag to me that those particularly parts of the novel weren’t working as I had intended and definitely needed looking at again.

Every writer has different approaches to their novel writing process and I was interested to find out what works for others. Bestselling authors Sue Moorcroft and Louise Jensen were kind enough to talk about the way they gain feedback and use beta readers.

Sue Moorcroft

tcpI’ve used beta readers for ages. It began with being critique partners with Mark West, who writes chillers and gritty crime and was in the same writers’ group as I. We read all of each other’s stuff, in those days. (As I got a bit wussier and some of Mark’s stuff was scary, this arrangement became more one-sided but now his stuff is a bit less scary I’m sometimes reading for him again.)

I struck up a cyber-friendship with another writer, Roger, who wrote erotica and SF (sometimes in the same story) and we beta-read for each other until he sadly left the world.

I also ask for beta-reading help from anybody who has helped with a significant amount of the research for a particular book and I became friends in this way with Dominic via ‘Dream a Little Dream’. His feedback was so analytical and helpful that I asked if he’d fill Roger’s shoes for the next book, which he has done ever since.

It’s very useful for me to have male beta readers. I write partly from the male point of view and they can tell me when I’m not thinking like a man. I take a lot of notice, especially when they both have issues with the same aspect of a novel. Mark and Dominic send me such pithy, wise, and mickey-taking comments that I always look forward to receiving them.

Louise Jensen

the-giftWhen I decided to write The Sister I was lucky enough to apply for, and gain a place on, The WoMentoring Project, a scheme which provides free mentors for up and coming female authors. I was able to get the first few chapters of my novel looked at and some great feedback as to where I was going wrong. When I felt I had gone as far as I could go with my novel a friend read it for me and suggested some changes, but after I had done these I still didn’t have the confidence to submit my manuscript. I paid for a critique and that was a real turning point for me. Getting professional advice on the market I was entering was enormously helpful as well as an overall view of my plot.

Writing The Gift I have been up against a very tight deadline. The same friend has helped me out again but also a couple of readers who loved The Sister have been happy to give me their opinion on my new story.

Now I am in the infant stages of book 3 I regularly meet up with a couple of writer friends so we can all support each other. I have found that both being critiqued and providing critique have really helped me progress as a writer.

So, now the majority of my edits are complete for Sister, Sister, I’m waiting for the final proof-read and currently working on my next novel for which I shall definitely be calling on the help of my writing buddies and beta readers.

Sue

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Life Cycle of a Writer – Hopes and Fears

I have a post-it note on my laptop with a list of all the things I want to achieve with my writing career. I started making the list when I first began writing seriously, which would probably be when I joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme.

The list initially started off small and, I won’t say simple because at the time, whatever was on the list was something I wanted to achieve and couldn’t be done without a considerable amount of effort on my part. The first thing was ‘Finish writing a whole novel’. Then it was ‘Meet NWS deadline’ and ‘Work on feedback’.

As my writing career progressed the list became more focused and this time last year I had added to it:-

‘Find an agent’

‘This book better than the last book’

‘Top 500 Amazon’ etc.

tgwl-new-pbWith my fourth HarperImpulse novel. The Girl Who Lied, I was fortunate enough to exceed my post-it note expectations. It became an Amazon UK #1 bestseller, a USA Today bestseller, sold over 200k e-copies and is going to paperback in November.  Wow! Some of these things may have been on my list, but I hadn’t in my wildest dreams thought they would be ticked off quite so quickly, if at all. I am, of course, eternally thankful to everyone who has been behind the book and the fantastic readers. It really has been mind-blowing.

So, although The Girl Who Lied is still going strong, in the meantime, I’ve had to work on my next contracted book, The Cuckoo. With a September deadline, it meant taking the laptop on holiday with me and spending most mornings hammering away at the keyboard. My husband has been super supportive and really helped with all the things that need doing, including keeping our 8-year-old daughter busy. Having said that, she did tell me that I wasn’t allowed to take the laptop on holiday with me again. Point taken.

the-cuckooI already had an idea for The Cuckoo so I found it relatively easy to get the words down, however, with the second book of my latest contract due in spring, I found myself in a bit of a creative black hole and the doubts started to creep in.

I convinced myself it was okay and I’d be able to come up with a thoroughly decent idea any time soon.  As each day drew to a close, I realized that I hadn’t moved any of the ideas forward.  Gradually, the mild panic began to settle and grow. What if I didn’t have any more ideas, full stop? What if that was it – no more ideas and no more books, yet I still had a contract to fulfill? I think I spent two days properly panicking.

I then gave myself a good talking to and made myself sit down and thrash out some plot ideas. Forcing myself to do it,whiteboard rather than waiting for airy-fairy artistic inspiration to strike, I put together a brief synopsis and made some notes about the characters and how I saw things developing. It wasn’t perfect, but it was something tangible that I liked.  Fortunately, I met up with fellow Romaniac, Jan Brigden, at an event we both attended, and we started chatting about my book where I explained to Jan that although I liked what I had, I felt something was still missing.

 

It’s funny how someone on the outside can so easily put their finger on what might be missing. Jan patiently listening and chatted the plot over with me. She was able to pinpoint what was missing – the thing that would make it my own story, the sort of one I wanted to write and not the sort I thought I wanted to write.

Although I’m eager to get started on the new project, I’ve been thwarted by the first round of edits for The Cuckoo arriving yesterday. There’s a lot to take in and mull over, to discuss with my editor and agent to see how I can make it a much better story, so for now, I’ll have to put the next book on hold until these edits are sorted.

doodle

Not sure what I doodled during my phone conversation with my agent, but I did make some useful notes too!

Sue

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Roving Romaniacs, Wimborne, Lisa Jewell and Lucy Clarke

Lisa Jewell & Lucy Clarke

Lisa Jewell & Lucy Clarke

Roving Romaniacs, Sue and Laura, headed out to Wimborne Literary Festival last week to attend a talk given by Lisa Jewell and Lucy Clarke. Here’s a few words and pictures.

Sue : Despite the awful rain, it didn’t take me too long to get down to Wimborne and after an Anneka Rice moment, managed to find the library.  Both Lisa and Lucy were lovely to listen to, very natural and engaging. It was interesting hearing how different their approaches to writing were and how they carried out research.

booksI’m a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s books and having already stocked up on her books, took one with me for her to sign. I haven’t read any of Lisa’s at this point, but her latest novel ‘The Girls’ had been on my wish list for some time. I was delighted to be able to purchased a copy and get that signed too.

After the talk, Laura and I dodged more rain and headed for The Kings Head for lunch. I encountered more rain driving home, but it didn’t matter as I had a really good day out.

Laura: Wasn’t it a great day? Wimborne is a forty-five minute drive for me, which I consider local, so I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to meet and listen to Lisa Jewell and Lucy Clarke, both very lovely people. I met up in the first instance with another writing friend, Kathy Morgan, we found a quaint café in which we sheltered from the rain and chatted horses, cats and books. We then went onto to the library, where we met with Sue.

This was the first author talk I’ve attended where the two authors interview each other, and I loved it – what a great idea. It’s a format I would consider using the next time The Romaniacs go on tour. It worked so well; it was relaxed, humorous, interesting and warm, and Lisa and Lucy shared information about their books, writing processes and how they initially got into writing.

I had a lightbulb moment, courtesy of Lisa Jewell, who explained she takes herself away from distractions and writes a thousand words a day, no matter how long those words take to write. Due to recent health problems, I’ve returned to writing longhand, and I sit in my conservatory, away from technology, and it’s then when I am most productive. It dawned on me it’s probably because I am more than a click away from social media or Words For Friends. It’s not that I didn’t realise technology, housework or making coffee are distractions, but I think I was in denial and hearing an established, successful and very down to earth author telling it as it is, helped the message get through.

And I will sit in my conservatory until I write a thousand words, or in the case of the next fortnight, with a deadline looming, two thousand words.

Lunch with Sue was excellent. It’s amazing how many topics of conversation we can get through in an hour.

A wonderful day, well spent.

Laura, Lucy, Lisa & Sue

Laura, Lucy, Lisa & Sue