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Sunday, 12 February 2017

28th of March. Put it in your diary. Go on...'s when my new book comes out.

Unless anything terrible happens between now and then titlewise, it's called The Little Teashop of Horrors, and I hope very soon to have a cover to show you and a blurb and all those conventional things.  Until then you are just going to have to take my word for it.

It is, of course, set in North Yorkshire, in a stately home called Monkpark Hall (loosely based on this house)...
No, it's not my house. My house has more cats than chimneys.  This is Nunnington Hall.

It's about Amy, who lives with the grandmother who brought her up in a cottage on the estate, and Josh, who gives demonstrations of flying with his birds of prey and lives in a caravan.  So it's not about landed gentry in an Upstairs Downstairs way, it's more about what happens if you live in a tied cottage and need to work on the estate to keep your house, when the person taking over the management of the place threatens your job...

One of the stars of the story is a barn owl called Skrillex, who looks a bit like this
..only scruffier.

It also contains many mentions of tea and scones, considerable amounts of baking, a hidden staircase and a large quantityof brussel sprouts.  There's a ghost-that-isn't-a-ghost, a motorcycle and gratuitous mentions of Whitby Abbey too.

Now. You were going to put 28th of March in your diary, weren't you?  Go on, I'll help.  E-book, out on 28th March, called Little Teashop of Horrors.  By Jane Lovering.

And hopefully I'll soon have a cover to tease you with!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

'To blog - or not to blog? That is the question...'

I was recently involved in a discussion about 'mummy blogs'. Well, when I say 'involved in', I mean I read the discussion and occasionally nodded. 'Mummy Blogs' are where (usually new) mothers blog about their experiences of parenthood and can vary hugely from 'this isn't what I expected, I want to go back to work, the baby's just eaten pooh and the dog's been sick on the carpet', to 'here are my little treasures enjoying an educational game before eating a home-cooked nutritional meal #feelingblessed'.

And it got me thinking... do you read blogs by your favourite authors? Are author blogs less or more interesting than Writing Blogs?

Really well known authors tend less towards blogs (and if they do have a blog, chances are they haven't written it, it's done by their Publicity People, because they have people. Most authors are barely on speaking terms with themselves, let alone people) and more towards newsletters. The 'here's my latest release, out on Tuesday, here's a competition.'  Which tells you a lot about the actual book, but not much about the author behind it.  So, here's my question... do you like reading author blogs? If you do, would you rather read about the author's experience with their grumpy neighbour and how everyone thinks 'working from home' means sitting around drinking coffee all day and running down to the shop in their slippers to buy more biscuits?  And how their hoover is broken and why the cat has that face on?  Or would you rather read purely about the books?

Or, again, would you rather read a Writing Blog, where authors write about the process of writing?
Do you want to read about the person behind the author? (I mean, the actual person, the real one, not someone standing behind the author with a whip and a stern expression muttering something about edits having been promised last week, because that is called a Publisher, and they have their own blogs, thank you).  And I know that reading my blogs is more like reading about the person behind that person, because I've got a lot of people in my head and it seems rude not to give them all a turn.  Or would you rather read about the writing processes of authors?

Or would you rather that we all just shut up and wrote books and didn't bother you with our biscuit preferences and our dog pictures?  Because, if you are going to be like that about it...

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Writing advice - A book doesn't just tell a story!

OK, I'm going to let you in on a little secret here - writing a book isn't just about telling a story.

Are you shocked? Well, don't be, just have a cup of tea and a sit, have a HobNob, it's all right the cat only licked the top one, the rest are fine, and I shall explain what I mean.  By the way, if you write books you will already know this, so please feel free to do some light dusting or clean down the back of the fridge while I explain it to the others, yes, you can take your tea and HobNob with you.  There's some dishcloths in...well, actually I have no idea where the dishcloths live. There might not even be any.  Just sort of waft, it will be fine...

Right. Everyone else. Now.  I know you want to tell your story.  You've got a very good story, say, for example, it's about a woman and a man who meet, and hate each other, then fall in love. Yep, that's a story, but it's not really, is it?

Think about it.  Two people meet and hate each other.  So, why do they ever have anything more to do with one another? I don't hang around with people I hate, it would be uncomfortable, and I only hate people who eat all the biscuits or are unkind to animals, so I wouldn't stay.  So you need an absolutely true and compelling reason for these two people to be together for long enough to fall in love.
Yes, I suppose trying to sabotage a race is a reason...
And then, because your reader wants to believe that their love will last long enough for at least a conversation, if not sex, to take place, then their 'falling in love' has be also be a believable conversion of feelings. One of them can't just see the other being approximately nice to an old lady and think 'oh, he/she's not so bad really, I must be completely and utterly in love with them! Gosh!' These characters must grow and change and become better people during the duration of the story; they must not act like puppets!  And, if at all possible, don't have one of them give up whatever it was that the other person didn't like them for - they both have to compromise (unless it's eating all the biscuits and being unkind to animals. No compromise there. In fact, kill them).

You know I do critiques, don't you?  I mean, in case you didn't know. And if you wanted some more and quite specific writing advice, just bear me in mind, because I've got loads more pictures of Dastardly and Mutley and I'm not afraid to use them...ahem. So. If you've written something and you'd like to have my advice on how to make it not feel like an episode of Wacky Races (I mean, I'm sure it isn't anything like that, but you might think it is and want a second opinion), then drop me an email and I will do my best to help you.

I'll even do the Mutley laugh, if you think it will help.

Right, after that little nugget of advice, I'm going to see if the others have cleaned behind that fridge yet. Keep it real (floats off, making little 'shruggy' motions and carrying a HobNob at a careful angle).