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Thursday, 26 July 2018


On Saturday 08 September, it will be the RNA York Afternoon Tea (1-5, Merchant Taylors' Hall, get your tickets now), and before that the delightful Rhoda Baxter and I will be holding a 'Plot Your Novel' workshop in Miller's Yard York. It will run from 9.30 to 12 (to give anyone wishing to time to dash across in time for the Afternoon Tea), and costs £30 per person.

Anyone who's been to one of our workshops before will know what to expect - tea, biscuits, a lot of laughs, and enough facts, charts and handouts to help you plan your next novel. We will cover character arcs, plot arcs, building your character, writing an eye-catching beginning - and basically anything else we are asked to cover!

This will all take place in the gorgeous, quiet little studio that is Miller's Yard, just off Gillygate in the middle(ish) of York. If you want to come but won't be attending the Afternoon Tea, there are lots of little cafes to explore afterwards. Plus, I think there are shops too, but I'm mostly interested in cafes, so.

People who've been to our workshops before and survived have found these helpful and generally quite amusing. Sometimes we even bake our own biscuits! Before the workshop, I mean, not during, because that would be odd.

So whether you are just setting out on your writing journey and want a few pointers, or are established and want a quick refresher to keep you on course, or are just ligging about in York at a loose end and fancy a giggle instead of hanging round the Marks and Spencer underwear department - do come along and join us!

You can email for further details through this website or find me on Facebook at or DM me on Twitter @JaneLovering, or even just shout very loudly through my letterbox.

In the meantime, here's a picture of a puppy.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Christmas. Cold, imagination only goes so far

This is torture and it happens to me every year.

I am writing a Christmas book. Now, I think the people of Britain should employ me to write Christmas books (although, I suppose, in a roundabout way, they actually are, because if they buy my book it's a bit like being employed by them. Just as long as they don't ask me to clean their windows or cook dinner or anything) because it seems that as soon as I start writing about Christmas the temperature climbs into the twenties and the sun is relentless.

Although I do have to admit I started this book (currently called The Discovery of Christmas, but that will no doubt change) it was November. It was cold.

It felt proper Christmassy. Although on Christmas day it was actually sunny and dry but we won't talk about that.
Now I am getting towards the end of the book. It's still Christmas in book world. Only a few weeks have passed booktimewise. However, here in the real world it's July, the sun is beaming down, even the dog won't go out in the garden and my butter has melted.
If you look closely, you can see my butter melting
So here I am, trying hard to conjure the image of storm lashed coastline, a bare house with sleet pelting the windows as two people huddle up against the cooker to keep warm. With all my windows open and the dog belly-up on my feet.

It's unfair. I spent the last seven months absolutely frozen and now I need to imagine 'absolutely frozen' it's bikini weather. I bet if I suddenly send my leading couple to a desert island, the rain will cascade down and not stop for a fortnight. So, if any farmers would like to sponsor my writing, I will gladly adjust my book settings in order to bring forth whatever weather they desire.

My next book is set back in Yorkshire in a damp spring. So, be prepared for next spring to be the driest on record, will you?

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Building yourself a hero

Do you have a constant procession of imaginary people walking through your life?

Annoying, isn't it? When you start to feel that they are better than your real friends (well, of course they are, they do everything they are told!), more amenable, probably richer and better looking too, unless your real friends are - I dunno - the Beckhams or something. Because imaginary people have to be like real people, only more so.

Now I'm here to talk about heroes in books, particularly in romantic fiction (because those are the books wot I write, and therefore I have a vague idea what goes into them).

The men can't just be normal men; ok most of the time, bit crap at helping with the housework, fairly clueless when you are upset but basically decent. No. They have to have hair of ebony, eyes like liquid chocolate, muscles that fill their clothes out and generally they smell of something luscious and exotic, like lemons and cold air. They are always empathic, touchy-feely, as full of hugs as a HobNob is full of crunch. They are, not to put too fine a point on it, sickening. If they have a flaw it will be one that makes them that little bit more attractive - they will be devoted to the memory of their dead wife, or single-minded in their pursuit of the life that they want (and the heroine).
Like this. Only with a puppy in one hand, a bunch of flowers for his mum in the other, and a tea towel over his shoulder.

If they have a physical flaw, like a scar or a missing limb, it will have been sustained rescuing orphans from a housefire, being caught in crossfire whilst serving in a military unit somewhere troubled or saving a puppy from a runaway vehicle. It won't, for example, have been sustained falling downstairs while catastrophically drunk. Because your average hero doesn't get drunk, unless he's drinking to forget his (equally picturesque) sorrows. He doesn't overdo it at a party, walk into a lampost, sustaining a nasty cut to the forehead which scars in an unpleasantly puckered way, and then spend the rest of his night with his head down the toilet. No! For he is a Romance Hero...

So. When you come to Build Yourself a Man (can I recommend putting the eyeballs in last?) consider not just the muscles, they way his thighs bulge in his jeans, his sparkling eyes, the way he loves his mother, his dog and his job and how fabulous he is at everything he does. Consider, instead, making sure that he feels REAL to your reader. Even readers who are reading for the pure escapism and want their heroes to be billionaire sex-gods with biceps of iron, designer suits and an orphaned niece who needs bringing up, want a hint of believability in this man. They want to think that they just might run into him (or his poorer, slightly less muscly and dressed in Top Man younger brother) down their High Street on a Saturday night. They need a thread of believability running through their general Weave of Perfection.

Give him something he's bad at. Whilst a man being good at something is ineffably sexy, a man who isn't afraid to admit his imperfections is just as sexy. Show him making mistakes (and putting them right). Yes, he can be attractive, but he has to feel attainable. 
Okay, maybe not THAT attainable.