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A Blogger’s Night with Jane Fallon

I said to someone this morning ‘I love my secret blogging life.’ It’s so true.

Last night I had the utter privilege to get on the invite list for Jane Fallon’s new novel (The Ugly Sister – brilliant – review to follow) blogger’s party.

It was basically a chance for book bloggers to get together, meet each other face to face (which we never do, we consider ourselves friends without even knowing what the others look and sound like!), chat and to meet Jane Fallon. It was so much fun. Oh, and did I mention it was at The Ivy?? Yeah… I know!

A few years ago I ‘met’  a girl called Laura who hosts an awesome site Novel Kicks I can’t remember how, maybe Twitter, maybe her blog, maybe mine? Last year we nearly met in the flesh at a Lisa Jewell event. I say nearly because although we sat next to each other, we had no idea who the other was, until the next day when we were both tweeting about it! Doh!

Laura emailed me last week and asked if I’d be interested in a Jane Fallon party (Jane Fallon as in the author of Getting Rid of Matthew, Got You Back and one of my all-time favourite books Foursome) because she’s releasing a new novel The Ugly Sister later in the week. Uh, wow, YEAH! She spoke to someone at Penguin who decided I was worthy of getting on the invite list. To THE IVY!

So I met up with Laura, who is just as wicked in real life as she is through Twitter and on her site. We had a quick drink (and dry off – it poured with rain just as I left work), then headed over to The Ivy. Luckily we managed to avoid getting drenched by passing taxi’s al la Bridget Jones and got there.

The people from Penguin were so friendly and welcoming, as were the canapes and champagne! After a while of chatting to Laura, Elle from Trashionista, and other fun people, I got introduced to Jane, and you know what? She’s lovely. Really nice, genuine, down to earth lady, who has read my blog (Hi Jane if you’re reading again *waves*).

Because it was more of a party than a book launch, there was no speech by Jane, no Q&A session and no reading from The Ugly Sister. I was a little disappointed when I found that out, but in actual fact it was better, because it gave everyone a chance to talk to Jane in person, rather than firing questions out of the audience and maybe having a three minute chat while she signed our books.

Jane was so encouraging and genuinely interested in my novel (novels actually) and what I write, and she said exactly the same as Lisa Jewell had, that she loves editing. There must be something in it if everyone keeps saying this. I need to get off my backside and edit Italian Infatuation. After I’ve finished ‘Holiday’ and done NaNo that is. Hmmm.

I can’t remember all the things we talked about, but I spent a lot of the night just chatting to her. The thing that I always take from events like this, is that authors are just like you and me, they just finished their novels and got them published. Once upon a time Jane was just a woman with an idea – just like me now.

Another great, really inspiring thing is that according to her bio, Jane is 20 years older than me (you wouldn’t think it to look at her), but her first novel wasn’t published until 2007. It’s quite a nice reminder that you don’t have to be in your early 20s to get your book published.

As I thought would happen, I’m now desperate to write my novel. Obviously a lot of chat last night was with non-published authors about writing etc, and it’s just made me want to write. Someone asked me when I find the time to write with a full-time job, and it made me realise that I never make time for writing. I just do it when I can (when I remember more like!). I think this is something I can improve on to become more productive. Maybe set aside 2 lunchtimes at work a week, and 2 hours 2 evenings a week. Maybe even a couple of hours each weekend. It’s not much is it? Not if it helps me achieve my dream!

All in all, I had a brilliant night. Thank you Laura for getting me on the invite, thanks everyone at penguin for hosting – it was great to meet you all, and all the other bloggers. And of course Jane – keep up the good work with the novels – I’m looking forward to the next party 🙂

The Ugly Sister is (brilliant) out 29th September. I’ll review very soon.

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It’s Friday Kids, But Not as We Know It!

I feel like I’m going to have some time to do some writing today. Ordinarily if this happened, I’d take part in Fiction Friday, but as I have this massive goal of finishing my novel by 31st October, I really think I should do that instead. Poo.

My excitement about Holiday at the weekend has carried on this week and I’ve been doing more on it.

On Tuesday, on the way home I thought about how a scene would work out. When I got in, I decided to write a few hundred words (500) before I got dinner. I got to 508 or something and knew I HAD to write more. So I gave myself another 15 minutes or so, and got another 500 words in (I think that’s right. I can’t work out if it’s actually possible to write that many in such a short time – it seems a crazy amount?).

I then made myself stop, or else I would have starved*, but once I’d turned the laptop off, I thought of something else, so made some notes on an envelope. Then I got into it and wrote another 100 words of actual story.

*As I’m a stone over weight, I seriously doubt I would have starved, but hey, I can tell myself that!

Yesterday (my next night in as I was out on Wednesday)  I got home early having had a hospital appointment which finished earlier than work. Yay! However at the appointment, they put some drops in my eyes that made EVERYTHING blurred. When I say blurred, distances just looked like I didn’t have my glasses on, but reading and looking at things close up, oh and being out in the SUN, really hurt and felt like it was going to give me a headache (the drops dilated my pupils so my irises were almost invisible).

I couldn’t write. But, I had this idea about a rewrite for one scene (I know I should wait until the first draft is finished, but I’m not going to be happy leaving it how it is, because the same thing is going to happen again. At the end actually. I found another envelope, and made some (very large) notes on that scene.

I feel like I’m getting somewhere.

Except, now I want to do some writing and I’ve left the envelopes at home. Which is probably a good thing, because, well you know, I’m at work and should really be working. Especially as I haven’t done much at all today.

Oh how things have changed from when I worked downstairs on reception. I think I had about 3 hours a day then to write/blog/trawl through the internet. I do get paid better now though, so that’s one thing. I probably do better writing now too. When I was writing on reception I was constantly interrupted by guests or the phone, so although I (sometimes) got a lot done, it didn’t feel it had the quality of the writing I’m doing now.

I wonder if that’s why I don’t seem to be able to edit Italian Infatuation. That was pretty much all written on reception so may be of a different standard of writing. I think I’m looking for excuses here.

Had a chat with my other half the other night (the first envelope night). He said I’m not a finisher. I tried to argue with him, but when I was thinking about it later, I hate to admit he’s probably right (and now I’m hoping this isn’t one of my blogs he reads – knowing my luck he will and I’ll get the ‘told you so’s all weekend!). I do start things, and I never seem to follow them through. Although, that’s not to say I’m not going to, just that I’ve be distracted by something else temporarily.

This weekend, I was cleaning up the flat, and trying to do about a million things at once – washing up, laundry, hanging clothes out, tidying the bedroom etc etc. I don’t know if I ever finished one because I kept doing a little of everything else too.

I’m the same with writing. I started a writing course, but didn’t get too far before I started writing Holiday. But then that didn’t get too far because I did NaNo. After NaNo though, I didn’t edit Italian Infatuation because I started writing Holiday again. Then it got to November and I HAD to do NaNo again, so The Dating Project was half written. Now that’s unfinished, Italian Infatuation is written but not edited, the writing course is maybe 4 modules in, and Holiday is maybe half way done.

Presently, I’m not a finisher, but I want to be. I want to edit Italian Infatuation. I totally think it’s got legs as a Mills & Boon book and I’ll like to sub it to them. I really really would like to. I also want to finish Holiday, think of a better title, and edit that too. Oh, and I totally want to finish the writing course. All this, and I want to do NaNo again in November.

I currently have a plan to finish Holiday before NaNo starts. In November, I’ll write a novel (or 50,000 words of one). I don’t know what about yet, and that is worrying me a little, but I’ll worry about it much more when Holiday is done and dusted.

In December, I need another plan.  I’m not going to decide what it is yet, but I’m going to make one. It’s going to include finishing one of these projects. All the way through. Next year, I’m going to submit a book. Or two. Wooh, that’s a plan. A plan I really like.

I think… I may have said that about Italian Infatuation this year. Ah. Well… Um… Yeah! Next year though. Definitely. It doesn’t matter how scary it is (I think it’s fear holding me back – what if I finish a novel and edit it? I’d have to submit it, and that’s mega scary!), I’m going to do it.

But this year. This year I’m going to finish draft one of Holiday. I’m so into this at the moment, I don’t think anything could stop me. I hope nothing will stop me anyway!

#ROW80 Check in – Sunday 12th June

My bedroom clock says 0.00 Monday, but my mobile says 11.57, so I’m not late, ha ha!

I’m not doing great, but I’m not doing too badly. Although that’s only because of today. This morning I managed 540 words – almost double my daily goal. However I’d done nothing since my last check in on Wednesday – the check where I realised if I hit my target of 300 words a day I’ll get 4k+ by the end of this round of ROW80.

Although on this mini goal I’m now 700 words behind, I’m determined I’m going to do it. I started a story for Fiction Friday last week, and I worked more on it earlier today, and I’m feeling quite into it, so I’m going to keep at it for a while. I don’t think it will go anywhere as there’s not really a good enough story line, but it’s an experiment in creating sexual tension, and a couple getting together for the first time. I know I need more of this in Italian Infatuation so I think this is really useful to do.

I also had a bit of a realisation today – I want to work more on ‘Holiday.’ ‘Holiday’ is another novel I’m working on, that I actually started writing well over 2 years ago – it’s just slow going. Having said that, I have high hopes for it, I love the story idea and think it will make a brilliant novel. When I get finish it. Oh, and change the title to something I actually like – ‘Holiday’ is definitely a working title!

The thing that has been putting me off it is that I’ve got so many bitty bits of it that I don’t know what to write, when. When I did Italian Infatuation and The Dating Project for NaNoWriMo 2009 and 2010 respectively I did them chronologically so I knew where I was at all times. ‘Holiday’ scares me because I don’t have a clue.

I really didn’t think this was a good way of writing, but at the time I was writing things as they came in my head, or later on when I knew how the story would shape up, as they interested me. When I met Chrissie Manby a few weeks ago at the Girl’s Night In at Brixton Library she said that she writes like that – in a random order. There’s something comforting knowing that someone has had success writing this way – it’s inspiring.

So, at some point in the very near future, I’m going to get out my old laptop and look at ‘Holiday,’ see where it is and where I need to go, and work on it a little more. I’m determined I’m going to get a pattern together in my life where I write and edit, oh, and work on my writing course.

It won’t be tomorrow though, tomorrow I’m going to make an appearance at the writing group I joined a few months ago, but that I have only been to twice. Go me!

TBR List

I’ve just done the funniest thing. At the top of my blog, I’ve got different pages. One of which is my To Read list. I’ve just updated it. Although, when I say updated, I mean I’ve deleted all the books I’ve actually read. Which was half the list. What’s funny is that there’s now only about 8 books on it. As if.

If I’ve only got 8 books I want to read, why is half my 4’x4′ book shelf at home taken up with books I’ve not yet read? Hmm.

I could… add all the books on my shelf to the list. But I don’t really think that’s a good idea. It would take me forever. I think at last count I had 70 odd. I’ve read loads of them since then (I believe that count was before I moved, the time before last, so pre December). However, I’ve also been given and bought many, many more since then. I feel like I should have another count. I’m a little scared of that idea though. What if I’ve got more than 100? That would be crazy. Especially when I’m only reading about 2/3  a month!

Especially when I know I’m going to buy more.

I’ve actually been really good recently. I’ve tried to stay away from bookshops (lets forget the author event I went to a week ago, where I bought three books!) and keep away from books in the supermarket etc. I know I’ve got a load that I want to read, so I don’t want to add to it.

I have a problem though. In the form of a boyfriend. He encourages me to buy books. He’s like a feeder, but for books! A few weeks ago we went to visit my family, and in the city they live there are like 5 charity shops. I tried to stay away, but he insisted we went in. 15 minutes later I walked out with 3 or 4 books (the up side is that he paid though, ha!). I honestly would have been happy staying away, because I never would have known what I was missing out on. But once I was in, I HAD to get some!

When we left my Mum’s house, I left the books there. Part of me is almost happy – I don’t have to find room for new books – but the other half of me is mad with myself. I left books. At my Mum’s. The problem is I don’t really want to get her to post them, because the chances are I won’t read them before I visit next time, and it would be silly to pay all that money on postage for no reason. But, I’ve forgotten what they are and am dying to know. I guess I could just ask my mum, but sometimes things are too easy, eh!

I can’t have a whole blog just about books, so I’ll add a little about writing/editing.

I’ve not done anything since my last blog. That’s only a day though, so that’s nothing. I’m planning on walking home after work (only 50 mins roughly -only 20 mins longer that getting the tube), getting dinner, then spending an hour or so editing. That’s the plan anyway 🙂

Enjoying Editing (#ROW80 Check-In Sun 29/5)

Thanks to A Round of Words in 80 Days (and Chrissie Manby and Lotte Daley), I started editing my novel a week ago. I’d been putting it off since December. 2009. Right now, I have no idea why! I’m really enjoying doing it. I know it’s going to take a huge amount of time and patience, but you know what, I’m ready and looking forward to it.

I’ve so far done an hour and a half, and that time has shown how incredibly long it is going to take – and how hard it’s going to be. I think my biggest problem is going to be deciding which idea to use. So far I’ve had a couple of things where I cross out what I’ve written and use something else, but then go back and think the first one was better. Sigh. I don’t know.

There are a couple of HUGE things I need to sort out. Like if the MCs are attracted to each other from the beginning (which I originally though they were) or it grows between them. Actually, writing that, I’ve realised I know the answer myself. This is why it’s great having a blog! Maybe if I can blog all my dilemmas, I can solve then as I go.

I’m not getting any further on the MC’s name. I did have an idea yesterday, but I’m not too sure if it’s right or not. I have this romantic idea that when I find her name I’ll KNOW. I don’t know if it happens like that though. I don’t think I’ve ever had this problem with a character before.

Oh, I’m having another character name problem. I thought I knew one of the bridesmaids name’s, but it’s listed as X in the first couple of chapters. I really feel like I need to know it before I carry on, I can’t leave X as a name on draft two! (And yet I can have no name for my MC – go figure!) It means searching through the pages for her name, but she has a really small part, so it’s going to be hard finding where she pops up. Sigh!

I’m sure I’ve got more to write, but I’m dying to get on and edit for a bit before I get ready for a wedding this afternoon (and to be honest, I’m really hungry!), so I must fly.

Hold up, can you believe I just wrote that – I’m dying to get on with my editing! It seems miracles do happen after all!

2011 Draft Goals

I feel like I need some goals for the year. I’ve not really had a chance to think about them though, so I thought I’d have a rambling blog thinking about it as I write.

Fiction Friday: This is something I really enjoyed doing most of last year. If you’ve not seen it before it’s over at Write Anything. Every week they give you a prompt and you write for at least five minutes from it. Last year, it was pretty much doing this every week that taught me how to write short stories. Honestly. Before I started ‘playing’ I couldn’t comprehend how to get a whole story in a few hundred/thousand words. My entries started as a snap shot of a much bigger story. After a while I found I was completing whole stories.

Fiction Friday used to make sure I wrote at least once a week. For half the year that was pretty much all I was writing, which is why I’m really keen to carry on with it this year. Although, I’d like to write a lot more than once a week this year.

Blogging: Last year I got so into blogging. I loved it. Then I got a new job where I couldn’t write during work time. Suddenly my blogging stopped. I miss it, but haven’t found a routine that gets it back in my life. I need to find that, whether it’s a couple of days a week during my lunch break, a couple of evenings a week which I dedicate to it, or a mix of both. Maybe even at weekends. I HAVE to get back into it. Hopefully if I do, it will be another thing to inspire me to write – I can’t write a writing blog if I’ve nothing to write about. Right?

Editing: I feel like this year should be the year I learn to love editing. Or if not love it, tolerate it. I think the only things I’ve ever edited are two stories I used for magazine submissions, and my writing course work. I’ve one finished novel that needs editing, and two half written that will, at some point, need editing.

Last year I had a plan to write a story each week (unedited) for Fiction Friday, then the following week, edit it and submit it to #FridayFlash (a Twitter thing where you post edited stories) on the Friday. I think that’s a good plan to get me into the editing frame of mind.

Writing Course: I had totally forgotten I was doing a writing course until Stephen King mentioned writing courses in On Writing. On the tube this morning I tried to remember how far I’ve got on it, but I can’t. At all. I need to work on this more this year. I’ve now been doing it for nearly 2 years, and I’m not even quarter of the way though. That is disgraceful. I HAVE to work on it this year!

Website: I happen to know someone who knows someone who creates websites for a living. And apparently would be quite happy to design a website for me. I like using WordPress, but I’m quite into the idea of having my own website – under my real name. There’s a way of linking WordPress to another website, so I’ll do that.

Get Published: Ok, so I’m cheating on this one, I am going to get something published on a website – a short story I wrote last year. It’s a first step, it’s quite  a new website, for chick lit short stories, but regardless of how new it is, I’m getting a story published. That’s cool. And a great start to the year. A great enough start that it’s going to push me to sub more stories.

Finish a novel or two: I’ve got two unfinished novels. Two unfinished novels that I want to do something with. I’ve been writing ‘Holiday’ for about two years (longer if you count the year or so it was floating round my head) and I started The Dating Project for NaNo last November. I can’t get to the end of next year and still have them unfinished. I feel this year is also the year I find a better name for ‘Holiday.’

Join a Writing Group: I’ve been wanting to do this since I started this blog and writing properly(nearly two years ago) but have always had a reason not to do it – fear, lack of time, working hours etc. THIS year I’m going to do it. No excuses or reasons not to.

Write another novel: I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo twice now, and ‘won’ twice. That means I’m going to have to do it again. 50,000 words, 30 days, November. Bring it on.

Read some books: I’m doing a Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2011. The challenge is to read 12 Mystery or suspense books in the year. So that’s 12. I want to read much, much more than that though. Last year I read 45. That’s so much better than the 17 the year before!

So there we have it. My ideas of what I could have as goals for the year. I’m going to have a think through about them then make some definitive goals by the end of the week.

I do have a problem though. I always only feel like I can only have one project on the go i.e. only work on my writing course, or only write a novel, or only edit a novel (the last one being hypothetical as I’ve never actually done that). Which means I need to decide what to do and when. And focus on that. I guess this goes back to setting writing time for myself.

Right, I’ll be back soon(ish) with some goals. Eek!

Books: Editing and Reading

I read through the second draft of chapter one of Italian Infatuation yesterday. It’s ok. There’s a couple of bits I really like, but then there’s some that suck. Badly. But that’s fine, I’ve got two days to edit it.!!

The thing that worries me, is that I don’t really have time to take time away from it then go back with fresh eyes. I wish I’d heard about the competition longer ago, although there’s always the fact I work better with a fast approaching deadline, so would I have started it even if I knew about it a while ago?

That aspect of my personality really annoys me. It’s like I can only do something if I know I have to do it – soon. I think that’s why NaNo worked so well for me last year, I had such a small time frame to write the novel in, that I couldn’t procrastinate, or put it off till later.

I finished one of the books I was reading over the weekend. The writing really annoyed me because there were a few sections where it got the name of the person it was referring to wrong. Seriously! At first I thought it was me getting it wrong, but I checked back and it was definitely the book that was wrong. It drove me mad. I almost wanted to stop reading it because of it, but, by that point I’d really got into the story, so HAD to finish it. I don’t think I’ll be reading another one of her books though.

So, with that book finished, it was time to start another. Well actually I had a debate with myself over this. On one hand, I have two books I’m desperate to read (Foursome by Jane Fallon and Husbands by Adele Parks), but on the other hand, if I’m  not reading a book, I’m much more likely to spend time editing Italian Infatuation. With this in mind, I chose Foursome to be my next book and put in my bag when I left the house this morning. I told myself that I’d think more about whether to read it now or start on Wednesday – after I’ve subbed by chapter.

I bet you can see where this is going. I sat down on the tube and had a look at it. Just a quick look to remind me what it’s about. Then I opened it, you know, just to look at page one. Actually no! It was to see which year it was published (this year). THEN I looked at page one. And the rest as they say, is history.

The whole of my morning and lunch breaks were spent reading it – I’m now on page 73 and worried how I’m going to edit this damn chapter ’cause the books so good. As I kind of thought it would be – I totally LOVED Getting Rid of Matthew.

Foursome is written 1st person which, like I’ve said  before, I love cause you really get to know the character, how she thinks and what makes her tick; but also discover things the same time as her so it’s like you’re going through the action yourself.

I found really interesting is that it took me until about page 30 to realise it’s in the present tense. The reason that’s interesting to me is I was reading a book ages ago (can’t for the life of me remember which one) and I struggled with it being present – sometimes things sounded a little stiff, or unnatural. So, here’s a lesson to me: If I’m writing in the present tense (Holiday) it has to be good, and flow naturally.

So me being naughty and starting the book has been useful. You know, for a project I’m not actually working on at the moment. Grrrrr!

This morning instead of editing, I went through my inbox and deleted about 10k emails. I’ll be using the same email address for my new job, so wanted to clear out some rubbish I’ve had for over a year. Obviously this took time. And HAD to be done when I’ve got a deadline looming!

I’ve also made a list of the things I really need to do. Funny how I find so much to do when I should be doing something else!

If I’m like this now, I’m going to be a nightmare if/when/if/when I get a publishing contract. 🙂

Ok. Project edit – draft three here we come…