My latest vlog is here and it’s packed with new things!
There’s news about where I’m at with Book 11 (out later this year), my revamped newsletterand brand new Book Club, plus my online shop and exciting things coming later this year, which I’m very chuffed about…
Ask me a question for the next vlog! What would you like to know about writing, publishing, editing and books? Do you have a burning question about my novels, or a writing problem you’d like some help with? You can leave a comment below this post or contact me on Twitter @wurdsmyth, on Instagram @wurdsmyth, on Facebook at MirandaDickinsonAuthor, or via email: email@example.com If I answer your question, I’ll give you a shout out in my vlog.
Happy Christmas, lovelies! I wanted to give you all a little something to say thank you for your support in 2019, so read on for an EXCLUSIVE SHORT STORY…
Click the link below to read the story!
It’s been a bit of a year this year and there have been lots of challenges both personally and professionally. I celebrated a decade as a published author and saw the publication of my tenth novel, The Day We MeetAgain. I won an award from wonderful writing collective 26 – the first award of my career – and I wrote what I hope will be a career-defining novel that will publish in 2020. I also battled illness, faced scary money worries and had to re-evaluate how I see myself. I’m going into the next decade understanding where I am and believing for better.
So here’s a gift from me to you, to thank you for all of your wonderful messages, book love and support this year and throughout my writing career. I promise you so many more stories to come – and this is the first.
THE CHRISTMAS WINDOWis a short story with snow, love and just a little bit of Christmas magic and I hope you enjoy it. Click the link below to read it.
On my blog I love to bring you authors I love who I think you’ll love too. Today I’m thrilled to welcome the brilliant TOBY FROST into the Author Spotlight. Author of the utterly fab Space Captain Smith series, he is now writing a new, darker fantasy series, the first book of which – Up To The Throne – has just been published.
When did you first decide that you wanted to write?
I first started writing when I was about 12. I can’t remember why, or what it was that pushed me from reading novels to writing them. My first efforts were scribbled in a small blue notebook, along with illustrations. I don’t remember either the text or the story being especially good!
What interests you as a writer?
So many things! Firstly, there’s a sense of exploring and creating. You’re showing the reader people and places, but you’re also creating them, so in a way you’re discovering them as well. I often find myself thinking “What if this happened?” and then following the story from there.
And then there’s characters. People are just fascinating, whether your book is set now, in the past or in the distant future. You’ve got to have strong characters that the reader cares about. That means that, whoever they are, what they’re doing has to make sense. I love seeing what happens when two very different characters clash.
For me, concepts like theme and subtext take second place to the story and characters. Because I write fantastical stories, I’m often writing about something in the real world through a surreal, magical lens. But it’s always got to feel convincing. I find history fascinating, and I often steal bits and pieces to make my writing more believable. Whether you’re talking about a trip to the shops or a journey to Mars, the reader has to think, “Yes, that’s what it would be like.”
Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I never know how to answer this question! I think about what I’m going to write for a long time before I start. I’m often pondering a second book while I’m writing a first one. I think I’m probably more a plotter, but I do sometimes have moments where I stop and think “Hey! Wouldn’t it by better if I just did something completely different?”. So maybe 75% plotter.
Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?
I don’t, really. I don’t find it difficult to write, and I’m lucky in that. I don’t have to be in a particular mood or even a place. Having a day job, I tend to work in the lunchtimes and evenings, but I’d be just as happy writing at other times. Preferably on a luxury yacht or my own private spacecraft.
What inspires you as a writer?
Pretty much everything! I’ve come to think that writing is a way of interpreting and processing the things I experience, albeit in a metaphorical and indirect way. Also, I’m influenced by history, by places and by other fiction, written and visual. So I’m always soaking up ideas and influences, although a lot get discarded. I don’t think I can switch that off – not that I’d want to!
What are the best things about being a writer?
One of the best things must be seeing my own work in bookshops. To see your own novel for sale with a great cover is amazing. A few years ago, I did a reading at a steampunk event and a man came up to me afterwards. He said that a friend of his had got very depressed after a death in the family, and my books had helped cheer him up. That was a pretty excellent moment, too.
And the worst?
It’s hard to think of any. Maybe the expectation that some people have that you’re extremely wealthy? If I had to point to one moment, it would be a couple of years ago at a writing convention, where I was on a panel with another author who I was trying to impress with my literary knowledge. I climbed up onto the stage and whacked my head on a low-hanging beam. After I’d finished staggering around clutching my head, I went on to do the panel, but my aura of genius was gone (if it had ever been there!). Goodness only knows what I said after being hit on the head.
It’s a fantasy story set in an imaginary city in a magically-enhanced version of the Renaissance. Giulia, the lead character, returns to her home city after several years, to take revenge on the man who tried to kill her. She’s clever, skilled and still burning with anger, but the world has moved on, and her enemy is no longer a criminal but a rising politician with designs on the throne. Killing him could throw the principality into chaos. As she closes in on him, she starts to realise just what taking her revenge will do to the people she cares about, and has to make hard choices.
How have you found writing a darker fantasy series? Has it required a different approach to your Space Captain Smith books?
It is different, because it stresses different things. Usually, I worry if I’ve gone for very long without telling a joke. Here, it’s more that I’ve got to keep the atmosphere up, and keep the story moving. The same basics of character and storytelling are still there, but a more serious story needs a more engrossing plot. However, in terms of actually writing it, it’s been very similar. Things have inspired the writing in much the same way, and the characters and setting of Giulia’s fantastical Renaissance come together in much the same way as the Space Empire does in Space Captain Smith.
If you could have a dream cover quote from any author, living or dead, who would it be?
“It filled me with laughter, joy and hope for the future.” – George Orwell.
What are your top three tips for writers?
Well, first up, a disclaimer: the more I write, the less comfortable I am in telling other people how to do it. I don’t think there’s a set route to good writing, much less to getting published. But, since you asked…
1) Practice. Get used to the experience of turning thoughts into words. The main cause of books never getting into print is that they’re never finished. Practice not only improves your writing, but gets you into the habits of writing and editing. The task of putting words down becomes much less daunting once you’ve got accustomed to it.
2) Learn about writing. In the past, I would have said “Read more books” here, but it’s not just reading: it’s understanding and learning from books, TV shows, films, real life and anything else. You can learn a lot reading good-quality novels outside your usual genre. Personally, I get a lot out of reading how-to books (Stephen King’s On Writing is particularly good), but it varies from person to person. One very good way of learning is to go to events or join a writing group. My own writing improved vastly after joining the St Albans writing group.
3) Persist! It’s easy to be put off by your first few rejections, but you have to get used to it and carry on. If the first book you write isn’t a massive success, don’t give up. Start work on another project (but don’t throw the first one away! You never know, after all). Keep learning, keep going to events, making contacts, finding out new things. You might find that something you couldn’t get traditionally published works well as a self-published book, or vice versa. The important thing is to stay enthusiastic about your writing and always keep trying to improve and succeed.
Do you have a dream project you’d love to write?
I’ve got two! The first is a series of epic fantasy novels set in the same world as Up To The Throne. They’d have a wider setting and be about more powerful characters, but they’d tie into the Giulia stories and tell a grander, longer story. The other project is a set of linked novellas with an ensemble cast, about the futuristic secret service glimpsed in the Space Captain Smith books. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve started work on both…
Thanks so much for braving the Author Spotlight! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Only that Up To The Throne is available on Kindle and in paperback. Just click this link!
How fab was that?! I’m a huge fan of Toby’s writing and can’t wait to read Up To The Throne. You can find out more about Toby at his website, on Facebook at tobyfrostauthor and follow him on Twitter @isambardsmith. Watch out for more Author Spotlights coming soon!
It’s been quiet on here lately and that has been due to a couple of factors. Firstly, we finally moved house after lots of hard work, decorating, unpacking and late nights. But it’s fabulous to be in at last and my new office is wonderful to write in!
The light in my lovely new office is so inspiring – I love writing here already!
We’ve built bookshelves so I’m now surrounded by lovely book friends, which always makes a house feel like a home to me. I even managed a small book rainbow on one shelf – something I’ve wanted to do for ages…
A book rainbow – I need more yellow and green books…
The second reason for my web silence has been that I’ve been frantically writing Book 9, which at last has a title. I’m just waiting for the official okay from PanMacmillan and I’ll let you know as soon as I can. What I will say is that the title is absolutely perfect for the story and will also plant a song in your head that you’ll be humming for weeks!
I don’t know why I thought moving house during writing a novel would be a good idea, but oh my life it’s been a challenge. Packing and house stress aside, we also have no internet until almost the end of April, which is the deadline for the book. Lack of internet is good for writing (because no temptation to check Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook), but quite scarily bad for backing up files, so I have been enjoying the complimentary WiFi of coffee shops, friends and parents wherever I can. My office has been mostly on the road in my car, in cafes and grabbing bits of writing time whenever and wherever possible…
My mini writing mentors LegoElvis and LegoDollyP have been on hand to help…
When I can tell you the title, I’ll tell you where I’ve set my novel and what the story is about. I’m so excited about this one! What I can tell you for now is that it’s a properly romantic story, told from two people’s perspectives: Seren MacArthur and Jack Dixon. Writing in their voices, in present tense (which I haven’t used since Welcome to My World, so a bit of a departure for me) has been wonderful and it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen in love with them as I’ve been writing. I haven’t felt so invested in a pair of characters for a while and I think you’re going to love their story.
As I’m writing the book, I have a stack of Post-Its with reminders to keep me on track.
For now, here’s a sneaky-peek at a line from the book, which I shared for #onelinewednesday last week (I think it sums up the feeling of the whole book):
EEK! I have tingles!
It’s hard work and there’s a lot to write, but my family have been amazing. It’s true that they are a huge part of my writing career – without their support I simply couldn’t do this for a job. But it does mean writing as much as I can, every day. No Easter holidays for me! I’m writing early in the morning, bits throughout the day and through the night into the early hours of the next morning to get the book written. Yesterday (Easter Sunday), I was able to write for most of the day, thanks to my wonderful in-laws looking after Bob and Flo…
As always, I’ve created a playlist to give a sense of the atmosphere I want for the book.
As soon as I have internet, my vlogs will be back, too. I’ll post one each week to keep you updated on Book 9. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more sneaky-peeks and exclusives, too. There’ll also be news of an extra project I’ve just had the green-light on, so I’ll tell you all about that as soon as I can. All in all, it’s an exciting – if tiring and slightly nerve-wracking – time and I can’t wait to share all the juicy details with you very soon.
On my blog I like to bring you interviews and guest posts with authors I think you will like. Today I am delighted to welcome RACHAEL FEATHERSTONE to the Coffee & Roses Author Spotlight with a brilliant guest post to celebrate her very first novel, Puzzle Girl, which publishes today! Over to you, Rachael…
I never knew if this day would actually come. If my dream that had once felt so far away would become a reality. It’s been a long road to get here and I’ve had some amazing support along the way from my agent, publisher and family and friends. So many people ask me, ‘what does it feel like to have your first novel published?’ I answer, ‘Amazing!’ ‘Incredible!’ ‘A dream come true!’ It can be hard to put into words how much goes into publishing your debut. But the closer I came to publication, the more I began to realise that publishing Puzzle Girl has felt a lot like getting married.
It all started with the proposal: Accent popped the question and I said, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’
We set the date for the big day – 16th March 2017 – and it felt soooo far away. 15 months to wait! But it was probably a good thing because there were so many things to organise.
What was I most excited about? The wedding dress – aka the cover of the book. I was lucky that Accent’s designer took on board my ideas and I love the finished cover!
So many of us dream about having the perfect wedding, we want everything to be just right. And it was no different with publishing Puzzle Girl. We edited with a fine-toothed comb and planned out everything from the perfect wedding invite (aka the blurb of the book) to the perfect honeymoon (my two-week blog tour).
As for the hen night? Well that was my book launch. We celebrated on 2nd March, the event hosted by my best man – my literary agent, David Headley – at Goldsboro Books. It was such a fun evening and I got to sign copies of the limited edition hardback, which is exclusive to Goldsboro.
And of course, there had to be wedding cake!
And today the big day is finally here. My husband and I (my actual husband, not the book!) are having a celebratory lunch. Then this evening we invite all of you to join in for the publication day reception party on Twitter! There will be several Puzzle Girl party bags to be won as well as an hour and a half of Twitter chatter. I hope you can join us! x
Thanks so much to Rachael for a fantastic guest post – and happy P-Day!
Rachael lives in Hampshire with her husband Tim. Puzzle Girl is out today, published by Accent Press. You can follow Rachael on Twitter, on Facebook and visit her website.
Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor’s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious ‘puzzle-man’ behind it. Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?
Welcome to the fourth part of my exclusive #WurdyChristmas treat short story. Yesterday, I asked you to choose which door Lucy should walk through – gold-trimmed or green-trimmed. The lead swung between the two for a while, but you made a good choice!
Do the doors lead anywhere? Are Tony & Frank real or figments of Lucy’s imagination? And does she trust them enough to put her life in their slightly transparent hands? Find out below – and don’t forget to vote in the poll at the bottom to decide what I’ll write for the last part of the story tomorrow! Happy reading, lovelies!
Lucy stared at the two red doors that had materialised on the back wall of her manager’s office.
‘Time’s marching on, kid,’ Tony said, appearing by her side. ‘What’s it gonna be?’
Lucy glanced at the clock above the jumble of shelves, boxes and not-so-mythical Founders. It still read one minute to midnight. If time was marching on, it was doing it at a glacial pace.
Tony sighed. ‘Don’t think. Act. Follow your heart.’
Lucy turned from the doors to stare at him. ‘Why? Why is it so important that I choose?’
‘Because you want something to change.’
‘So tell me what’s behind each door so I can see if it’s the change I’m looking for.’
‘Nuh-uh. Can’t do. This has to be your decision. Ask your heart…’
‘Logic works better for me.’
Tony’s surprise registered immediately. ‘It does? That’s not the Lucy Smith I know.’
This was way past a joke now. ‘You don’t know me! I’m stuck in my workplace because my stupid boyfriend – ex-boyfriend – dumped me instead of proposing. I have no transport. I haven’t a hope of a taxi because it’s Christmas Eve. I’m hearing that song over and over again, I’m being asked to make decisions when I don’t even trust my own mind any more because I’m talking to someone who doesn’t exist and… and…’
‘…And you want something to change?’
‘So pick a door.’
It was impossible. Everything that had happened since she’d returned to Tony & Frank’s was impossible. And now she couldn’t even win an argument with a figment of her imagination.
But he was right, wasn’t he? Ever since Aaron had driven away instead of asking her to marry him, the only thing Lucy Smith had wanted was for things to be different. She might be staring at two doors that couldn’t possibly be there, invited to do so by a suave Italian-American restaurant owner who absolutely couldn’t be there either, but she did have a choice.
Gold. Or green.
‘How do I choose?’ She whispered, tears stealing her voice.
‘Just go through the one that feels right, kid. There’s no wrong answer.’
‘There aren’t any –’ Lucy could hardly believe she was about to ask this, ‘– monsters through there, are there?’
‘Not unless you want them to be. So go already.’
Lucy Smith closed her eyes and wished with all her heart. Then she walked towards the back wall of the office and pushed open the red door with the gold metal trim…
* * * *
Intense, blinding white light immediately burst into her vision and Lucy had to shield her eyes against it. She was also aware of an intensely cold air – as if she had stepped into a refrigerator. A flurry of soft, cold pinpricks batted against her face. It felt like – no, that was impossible. There was no way she could believe it was snowing inside Tony & Frank’s… Pulling her coat tightly around her body she blinked until faint outlines began to appear through the all-white light. What met her eyes stole her breath faster than the freezing atmosphere.
A vast, gently undulating snowscape stretched out before her. Rolling hills dotted with wind-bent trees and hardy dry-stone walls were visible from the left, while to the right snow-covered cliffs fell dramatically to a midnight blue, half-frozen sea. Between hills and ocean a tiny village huddled, its lights studding the view like a host of sparkling stars. And not very far from the natural snowdrift that now half-claimed her shoes stood a bandstand.
It was beautiful – like a perfect scene from a Christmas card – and Lucy turned back to look at Tony and Frank. But the Founders were nowhere to be seen, along with the red and gold door that had brought her here.
And just like that, Lucy Smith was alone.
She tried to rationalise it but could find no explanation that worked. This couldn’t be the car park on the out-of-town retail park where Tony & Frank’s stood alongside a cinema and other chain restaurants. There it was midnight, or thereabouts; here the midday sun reflected by the snow was dazzling. So where was she? And how on earth could she get back?
Silver Bells, Silver Bells…
That song again! But this time it sounded incredibly close and was playing at the right speed. As Lucy looked a couple appeared on the wooden platform of the bandstand, dancing together to the music. They looked happy and in love. Lucy was instantly drawn to them. She began to walk towards the bandstand, her shoes crunching and squeaking in the freshly fallen snow. Tiny lights began to appear along the white-painted cast iron sides of the bandstand, one at a time, like stars bursting into life in a marshmallow-white sky, until the whole structure was ablaze with twinkling light.
The song swelled and changed as Lucy neared the bandstand’s steps. It was no longer the familiar recording she had fallen in love with. It was now a tender, intimate duet between two people in love – the couple on the bandstand who hadn’t even noticed they were being watched. The man twirled his partner, momentarily breaking hold to perform a solo spin – and Lucy gasped as she recognised him.
The man stopped dancing and gave Lucy a little half-salute. ‘Hey there. Pleased to meet you, Miss–’
‘Lucy,’ said his partner. ‘Miss Lucy May Smith.’
Lucy knew that voice. It was unmistakable – a much-missed sound she still longed to hear three years since it disappeared from her life… ‘Gran?’
Gran gave a grin that was uniquely hers. ‘Hello poppet.’
‘What are doing here? You’re –’
Gran held up a hand. ‘Ooh, shh-shh, we don’t like to use the D-word around here. People get proper uppity. I had to be here, Lucybobs. I had to see you.’
‘But – what are you doing with Bing Crosby?’
Gran’s cheeks reddened like they always used to when she’d been found out. ‘Well, I assumed it was the foxtrot but it could have been the quickstep…’
‘He’s a friend,’ she beamed, mouthing, From the other side. ‘Lovely, isn’t he? We clicked right away. I think he might like me for more than my fancy footwork.’
For the last three years Lucy had dreamed of one more chance to see her grandmother. It made no sense whatsoever. So why try? ‘Oh Gran, I’ve missed you so much. I didn’t get chance to say goodbye before you…’ Lucy stopped as a horrible thought occurred. ‘Wait a minute – am I dead?’
‘Of course not, dear. But I am glad you chose our door.’
‘Me, too. So, where are we?’
‘I haven’t the foggiest, dearie. But it’s rather lovely, eh?’
‘Then why am I here?’
‘Didn’t Tony and Frank tell you?’ She rolled her eyes. ‘They really are forgetful, those two. You’re here because you want something to change. And I want that for you, too. So much.’
‘Hey, Edith, this your grandkid?’ Bing was leaning against one of the bandstand’s barriers, puffing on a tobacco-stuffed pipe.
‘It is, Bing. Isn’t she pretty?’
‘Beautiful,’ Bing replied, flashing a huge smile at Lucy. ‘So, you ready?’
Another choice? Lucy’s head hurt. How was any of this helping her, other than granting one secret wish to see her Gran again? ‘I don’t know.’
‘Edith, the kid needs some help,’ Bing said.
When Lucy looked up at him she saw a younger man standing beside the famous crooner. He had hair the colour of a clear midnight sky and winter-blue eyes that twinkled in the light from the bandstand. He smiled at her and the silver and diamond-star box she still held glowed again.
‘Lucy, this is Seth. Dance with him.’ Gran’s cheeks bloomed like roses. ‘He’s rather lovely. And he dances like a dream.’
Seth smiled – and Lucy felt the world spin a little. ‘Would you like to dance with me?’
‘Is this the choice?’ Lucy asked, thinking that it might just be the easiest one she’d faced lately. Could she dance? She’d never tried before. But even if it was her first and only attempt, dancing with the handsome stranger seemed the most perfect idea.
Seth shook his head. ‘No. But dancing helps to focus your mind.’ He held out his hand and it was warm and familiar when Lucy took it.
Soon it will be Christmas Day…
For the first time in her life, Lucy felt free. In Seth’s arms she moved effortlessly around the magically lit bandstand, the fairy lights blurring into twirling, swirling arcs of spun gold. She felt no fear, no pain from her newly broken heart. Just joy.
I could stay here forever, she thought, just as the music came to an abrupt halt. Seth gave a small bow and stepped away.
‘Time to choose, Lucybobs,’ Gran smiled, a wash of wistfulness passing across her face.
‘What’s my choice?’
‘You can stay here. Permanently. And you’d never want for anything, never feel lonely again.’ Gran looked up at the softly falling snowflakes. ‘Or you can go back. Make things different in the way you’d like them to be. It’s your choice.’
‘Would I see you? If I stay here?’
‘Maybe. Sometimes. Possibly more.’
‘And if I go home?’
Gran smiled, her eyes glistening. ‘I will always be with you.’
‘You have a beautiful heart,’ Seth said, stepping forward. Lucy felt her heart lurch. ‘I think wherever you are you’ll find happiness.’
‘Time to choose, kiddo,’ said Bing. ‘What’ll it be?’
Lucy took a breath of icy winter air and closed her eyes. It was time to ask herself the question she’d been too scared to consider.
Well, we’re at the beginning of another new year and all around me people are making resolutions. Personally, I love setting goals for the year ahead and I’m always surprised at the end of the year by how much I’ve achieved or how much my priorities have changed. For 2014, I have made only one resolution – to WRITE FOXY!
Lots of things are about to change in my life this year. Bob and I are going to welcome a new baby into our lives in March (ten weeks and counting – eek!), I have some major decisions to make about my writing career and there are certain things I’m working on that may or may not happen during 2014. It feels like a year of possibility – and, as anyone who reads my books knows, I love the allure of possibility…
After the challenges I faced with my writing last year – and the crisis of confidence that almost made me quit – I have decided to spend this year pursuing one thing: foxiness! By this I mean I want to write stories that thrill me; that I bounce out of bed in the morning to write; that make me happy. I want to be known as a writer who adores what she is doing. A writer who takes risks. A writer who appreciates the importance of fun in everything she does. Even if I’m the only person to read it, I want my words to exude foxiness: to be sassy and brave and unafraid.
I’ve learned the hard way that achieving a writing dream is just the beginning: the key to continuing to live the dream is to never lose sight of why you started dreaming about it in the first place. If you don’t love what you write – and constantly reconnect with that first love – you simply won’t survive.
I’m excited to see where my foxy writing resolution will take me and what stories will emerge from it, during this year and beyond. There could be zombies. Or thrills. Or quirky tales that make me smile. There will definitely be new characters who want to welcome you into whole new worlds. It could be crazy and some of it might lead nowhere at all – but it will definitely be one heck of an adventure!
So, there it is: in 2014 I’m starting as I mean to go on. No matter what else happens, I’m going to WRITE FOXY!
This year – for the first time in five years as a published author – I’m taking December off from writing. It’s a whole new experience for me and, to be honest, it’s taking some getting used to…
My treat – a Christmas jumper! This is also Bump’s first photo!
It seems like a daft thing to have to get used to resting, but after the crazy-exciting roller-coaster that has been the last five years of my life, I’ve become accustomed to being busy. Very busy. I’ve generally been writing the first draft of my next book as I’m promoting my most recent novel and that takes me over Christmas, ready to begin editing from January onwards.
This year, after my decision to start again with my fifth novel, Take A Look At Me Now, and having to write the new version in just over a month, I decided to complete the first draft of Book 6 by the end of November so that I could take December off. I needed a break – and also, with a certain Bump on board, I wanted to have some time to enjoy the thrill of expecting a baby.
But I have to say, not writing is weird…
I’ve always written. I wrote in the evenings after my day job and at weekends. I wrote in lunch-breaks and on train journeys. I even once wrote in a cinema during a particularly boring film (and was amazed that most of my notes were legible!) Having a ‘real job’ meant I worked writing around everything else and it’s a habit I’ve relied upon since becoming a published author.
But in September this year I was finally able to give up the day job and become a full-time writer. Which was amazing – and a complete ambition fulfilled. Suddenly my head had space to think and I could write at any time of day (or night, which is usually when my brain kicks into gear) and know I didn’t have an annoying alarm at 6am every day to drag me to work. Writing the first draft of Book 6 was a whole new experience because for the first time ever I was able to concentrate on one project, without a frustrating to-do list dangling like a Damoclean sword above my head. I handed it in and suddenly had a whole December to not think about it.
The problem is, writers’ brains don’t switch off so easily…
I never expected resting and not writing to be a challenge. But it has been. My brain, freed from the concerns of a day job, is like an overexcited kid in a fancy dress shop: Look! We could do this! Or This! Or THIS! – as feathers and sequins and cowboy hats and dragon tails are flung into the air. Instead of thanking me for the chance to not think of stories, my brain was adamant that this was the perfect opportunity to write anything and everything I could.
For a while there, it was a battle of wills between my writer brain and me. But then, I made a decision:
December is my dreaming month.
I’m not embarking on any big writing projects and I am resting (fully immersed in awful Christmas movies, twinkling fairy lights and festive tinsel), but I’m allowing my brain to dream. So, if a new sparkly idea happens to pop into my writer brain, I’m giving it space to bop around for a while. There’s no pressure to write it, or see it as a possible publishable object: I’m just enjoying the thrill of entertaining ideas. I’m not stressing over them and they may come to nothing, but I like that they feel free to arrive.
And the loveliest thing? It’s reconnecting me to that initial surge of adrenalin and creativity that made me fall in love with writing in the first place. That made me dream of, one day, writing books that would be read around the world and maybe, just maybe, being able to make a living from my stories. It’s too easy to forget – and I have forgotten over the last five years – what a gift it is to be doing what I’m doing now. Allowing myself time to dream has transformed the way I look at my writing and I’m confident that my future work will only benefit from it.
I would advise any writer – published or waiting-to-be-published – to allow yourself Dreaming Time. I think you’ll be amazed at how productive and enjoyable it will be!
All this year I will be documenting the writing, editing and publishing of my fifth novel, giving you a unique, behind-the-scenes look at my life as a writer. This week, I’m answering your questions on everything from whether to have an agent or not, my new book cover and how long it takes to write a book…
I asked for your questions and you responded with lots of great ones -so here they are! Ever wondered how many copies of a paperback book are printed in an edition? Or how many hours each writing session should be? Or how to take a basic plot outline and make it into a story structure that works? I answer all of these this week!
I’m always looking for your questions for my vlogs and asking one couldn’t be easier: just leave me a comment on this post, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled: ‘Catching some well-earned zzzzzzzzs’