Writer’s Block & Other Challenges

I’m a prolific writer! So, maybe I don’t suffer the dreaded ‘it shall not be named’. I do, though. It’s just I know how to get around it.

Writer’s block is a thing for every writer, even the biggest selling and most widely published, and I thought it might be helpful to other writers and my future self (when I hit a bad patch) to write about the dreaded BLOCK and other writerly challenges.

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I’ve already published ten books this year, some of which are novella-length, but trust me each book needs to make sense within itself and you don’t get away with half-done books, no matter what length. Some of the best novels of all time have been short in length and often a novella or short novel requires that extra bit of restraint to prevent yourself going off on a word spree/tangent.

You can imagine that after writing a few books as I have, it gets harder and harder to sound original, to achieve the same shock and awe in a reader after they’ve read a handful of your books. I don’t very often re-read my back catalogue, but I’m sure if I did, I’d discover a writer that doesn’t feel like the writer I am now. Because accepting the ever-changing thing that is life is the first rule of writing. The finished product can end up so different to how you imagined it in the beginning.

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Sometimes when I finish writing a book or series, I’ll get to the end and start to wonder how the hell I started writing this blessed/damned story in the first place. Inspirations can come from anywhere/everywhere. One of my biggest-selling series is Nightlong and I do wonder how the heck I came up with that story. Sometimes the origin harks back to a goal you wanted to achieve. With Nightlong, it was to write a femdom trilogy. Although it didn’t quite work out that Ciara was always in charge, are any of us? No matter how dominant we are, are any of us ever truly in control? Accepting there’s a lot in life we cannot control is a skill invaluable when it comes to novel-writing. Especially in overcoming the Block.

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Getting past writer’s block should be simple, right? It’s the ability to be able to recognise that we’re not always in charge. Right? Many writers will tell you the blank first page is their nightmare. That it taunts them. It represents to many that scary possibility that anything they put down might end up being absolute crap. The heightened sensitivity of a writer is what makes them so good at it but also undoes them. The blank page, empty and pale and fruitless, beckons us to fail? Or does it? What if the blank page scares us so much because it taunts the writer of the journey ahead . . . the hours you’ll spend hunched over a computer. It spells all the work you’ve yet to do . . . and humans are self-preserving creatures, after all. Every time I finish writing a novel I know I’ve done something many will never accomplish because the war against your own mind is EPIC.

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I’ve never quite been a subscriber to self-help, self-improvement, regimented living . . . I am an extreme creative who doesn’t like any rules or regulations. Some days I just don’t feel the urge to write. Other days, I’ll be typing until my fingers go numb and my eyes are about to give up on me. I don’t ever force myself to write unless there’s a pressing deadline.

Therein, lies my cure to writer’s block: don’t write according to rules. Or just wait until the urge to write comes back again, and once it does, prioritise the shit out of that over everything else. I can only liken it to this: it’s like a car with the wheels spinning out of control but the back end is still on bricks and you’re not moving anywhere. I’ve found my most productive writing sessions are after I’ve got the car off the bricks, having got to the point where the tyres are going to set on fire otherwise!

I often think back to my journalistic days when, present day, I’m faced with difficult literary hurdles. I could bash out 4,000-5,000 easily in a day back then, but that was different. That was copy designed for a customer. It was technical and regurgitative. It wasn’t me as I am now, facing the blank page, knowing it all has to come from me and nobody else can complete this singularly unique and individual task. With creative writing, anything can happen, and only in the rule-breaking can a writer achieve that thing they haven’t quite achieved yet. I also remind myself that as a journalist, I never turned up to work drunk and drink has never made me a more productive writer or more uninhibited. Over the years I’ve begun to shake my head a little when I see writers posting a picture of a bottle of scotch and the words: ‘writer fuel’. My writing is much better off for no alcohol involved, nor loud music in the background (husband differs on this). There’s meant to be all this glamour surrounding what it’s like to be a writer, but it couldn’t be different in reality. If you ever find yourself rolling up to the school run in mismatched clothes like you’re colour-blind, you’re wearing sunglasses even though it’s snowing and you have no tolerance for any other human being whatsoever, then it’s fairly safe to say you’re a writer.

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While there will always be slightly familiar patterns to my work (to be expected), I still try to find new stories. They say every story ever told derives from a handful of core plots that, over time, have been embellished to look different but are essentially the same. The mechanics are often the least important thing in the first draft – they can be sorted later – it’s the heart of the story you have to master first and foremost.

The Bad Series was published this year and it is the first series I didn’t go to town on editing. I wrote it straight through and hardly did any major re-writes. If it reads quite punchy, and light, that’s because I wanted it to come across that way – to give readers a chance to make up their own minds without the stories being too heavy on detail and the characters too fixed in place. I didn’t want anything so final about it all. The characters are incredibly real, almost to the point of exacerbation – but that’s what I wanted! I grew up on those types of stories.

The danger (or positive) of being so well written as I am is that you do tend to become extremely opinionated on the writing process and on the industry, because you’ve seen and done A LOT. What works for someone else does not always work for you – but what works for me IS LAW.

I personally don’t want to live on social media (I already give SO MUCH to my books, everything I want to say is in those). I also don’t believe social media is necessary to sell books. SM helps if people want to connect with you, it gives your readers access to the person behind the words, but what if you’re not interested in building a brand or being consistent or predictable to serve a commercial purpose? When you’re a writer who just writes and wants to reach the shy people who love to read books and don’t make an awful lot of fuss about it all (as I do), then you’re probably more likely to reach those readers through email marketing and ads that are delivered store-front.

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There have been a few stories I’ve written where I’ve felt certain only one or two people would really get it, and then I’ve been surprised, and vice versa I’ve written stories that I thought were for mass market and people didn’t like those as much. They started reading me because I’m different and they want to keep reading my work because it’s different. It is an absolute minefield out there, so what are you best off doing? You can only write what you feel you must write. If what you feel you must write is a story your publisher can get onboard with and you need sales to put food on the table, do that.

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All stories matter. I’ve written stories about some truly inexplicable people but at the end of the day, their stories mattered because they felt real to me and my readers. I don’t want to sugar-coat a story to make it seem more palatable, that would never be genuine or very writerly of me. Similarly, if you make a character too unlikeable, you might make a reader want to straight away unplug. But everyone always gets their reckoning . . . one way or another.

It’s been a rollercoaster this year for everyone out there, writers and non-writers included. My writing has felt a lot like a rollercoaster on more than one occasion. Some days I’ve been straight out of the blocks, other days I’ve just not had the impetus. During lockdown I largely buried myself in the stories, lay awake at night plotting and forming scenes before typing them up the next day. I would indulge in long lie-ins and write till late at night because the house was quiet and my mind in a more relaxed state. I’m no longer able to indulge now my husband and daughter are back at school and work. Sometimes I pine for those late nights and late mornings, while some days I am thankful for the routine of normal working hours again. While a lot of my stories are predominantly planned, I’ve also written some stuff completely by the seat of my pants. Sometimes you’ll do that and come back to it and be like WTF, other times you’ll realise you did need to pants it. It’s all about going with the flow, that’s it. It’s just that it is the damnedest thing.

I’ve often found that notebooks full of ideas haven’t always come to fruition. When you’re actually in the story, it takes you in another direction more often than not. Something in the plotting stage may have seemed like a totally great idea, but once you’re arcing and forming something more tangible, it just gets thrown out of the window and you end up writing something much more in line with the narrative. I had this terrible problem early on in my career where I really struggled to write things unless they were entirely factual and accurate (journo brain) and that took so long to shake off – to remind myself fiction is fiction and anything is possible. I also feel like the writer I am today is much more mature than the one I started out as and that, as before mentioned, some of the books I wrote seven or eight years ago would seem foreign to me now. The things that happen in our lives shape us. They can make us more tolerant or the opposite; bitter or accepting; honest or even more dishonest. Life shapes us and the writer changes. But what has always been evergreen about my stories is that the characters never needed to be reshaped. I always give them to you how they present themselves to me. Within the 40+ books I’ve written is a plethora of different people. But I never ever tried to promote my books on the diversity within. The unique stories are always what I hope people will remember. Stories are universal. The people I write about are real people, sometimes subversions of people I’ve known or know, sometimes they’re ugly people I try to make seem better, until there’s no denying they aren’t better. Strong characters can be kind or cruel, witty or dour, evil or good or plain and dark, beneath. The way they talk or treat people, love people, is the most important aspect of any heroine or hero.

Any good writer can convince themselves and others of anything. You just have to have a narrative that is watertight. But imperfections are the parts of us that allow other people in, so should that go for literature, too?

I know lockdown and everything going on in the world has made sitting down to concentrate so hard for so many people. I recognise the energy it takes for someone to sit down and really give themselves up to a story and let it take over and it’s not easy. It’s so HARD. The brain is a muscle, it needs to be exercised, but if you allow it to burn-out, what do you think is going to happen? It’s going to rebel.

The point of this blog is that, even I, Sarah Michelle, with all my techniques and tried-and-tested mantras have still found it hard this year (at times) to write. I think after I finished writing the Bad Series, I thought I might never write again. I wasn’t exhausted physically, but emotionally and mentally. I had to take a few weeks before I could even think about promoting it. It is the single most challenging piece of work I ever undertook and somehow, lockdown helped me complete it. I had somewhere to venture, to escape. I allowed myself the luxury to write when I wanted. It just seemed to work. A few months have passed and I’ve had to readjust my settings all over again – and will probably have to once more if Lockdown 2.0 happens!

All I know is that everything – and I mean everything – that has ever happened in my life has led me right up to now. To enable me to pull off a piece of work like this nine-book series. In the past I did used to force myself to write and maybe that was the best thing for me, then. If I hadn’t have forced myself, might I not have got further down the line, to the more mature, wiser and experienced writer I am now?

When I get writer’s block, what do you think I always say to myself? “This is leading somewhere, this is my journey . . . it’s taking me somewhere.”

And boy, is it . . .

Stay tuned,

S x

P.s. I won’t re-read this blog – https://sarahmichellelynch.com/2013/02/04/the-loneliness-of-the-long-distance-writer/ – but you might be interested what I said on writing years ago… and how it compares to now! 😉

Summer Sale!

Looking for something to binge on the beach? In your garden? On the commute? This could well be the series for you. Packed with steamy scenes, complex friendships, drama and a few BIG surprises, the Bad Series is an epic saga following the lives of eight friends and the people they love.

The first two box sets can be downloaded for a limited time at a bargain price! Six books for 99 pennies! Read on for info on each individual instalment. Enjoy!

Box Set #1 . . .

Bad Friends

Lily is in denial about her relationship with Ian, a university lecturer who was sexy three years ago but has become progressively more boring. Her friends try to tell her what she already knows but it’s an illicit Christmas encounter that finally makes her see sense.

Is life about to get better, or will it only get worse?

The path to true love never runs smooth.

Bad Actor

Theo Richards is a very bad actor. He’s told lie after lie, kept secrets so deep and dark . . . and yet, his heart has always been in the right place.

The kind of love most people can only dream of is about to drop into his life. At the same time, his career is about to take off and everything is going to change.

Will he survive the rollercoaster, and does anyone ever really get everything they want?

Bad Wife

Susan has always known exactly what she wants and how to get it. So being told she can’t have something is very hard to take.

Now a year since Adam walked her down the aisle, things are becoming complicated.

They visit a fertility clinic for help once it becomes clear things might not happen naturally. The results are unexpected and send Adam into a tailspin.

Were his friends always right about her?

Or didn’t they give her enough of a chance?

Box Set #2 . . .

Bad Girl

Chloe is travelling around Australia with her boyfriend when she hears some unexpected news from home. Having spent two years dodging reality and living like a nomad, she decides it’s time to quit messing around and finally go after what she wants.

Leaving Cole behind, she heads home to figure out what her future holds – and why things never worked out with Adam.

As with most love stories, nothing is ever as it might first seem . . .

Bad Guys

Saskia is one cool customer, unreadable and off limits. She has her boundaries and lets everyone know so, just without telling them exactly why she has built up this huge wall of protection around herself.

Married men end up becoming a major factor in her love life, but is that a proactive choice, or just bad luck?

The man she finally falls in love with is a shocker . . . and perhaps she’ll end up becoming ostracized because of it.

Bad Lover

Anabel has known Susan since school but their friendship has been so intermittent, she’s always wondered why Susan sometimes disappears and then comes back.

After years of barely any contact, she’s shocked when Susan arrives in London with a story that doesn’t seem to add up.

Susan has been something of a mystery to Anabel all these years and it feels like she may be on the cusp of discovering just what drives her enigmatic friend.

Box Set #3 . . .

Bad Exes

Marie’s marriage is on the rocks. She and Ade haven’t been on the same page for quite a while and when she discovers her ex is single, she decides she has to see him.

Her relationship with Anthony was painful, complicated and passionate. She would have stayed with him forever if she’d had it her own way.

Now she has three kids. A career she loves. A husband who has been there for her, though they haven’t always shared the same connection she had with Anthony.

She will have a difficult choice to make, but there are truths in this story which reveal just how much Marie’s friends influenced her – for better and for worse.

Bad Night

Paul is alone in the world but feels safer this way, with no responsibilities, no temptations. He’s working towards a goal: to get out of the country and never come back.

Then Tom shows up unexpectedly and what starts out as two friends catching up quickly becomes a nightmare.

Evil strikes . . . and one of the friends will lose their life.

Bad Endings

Three love stories round off the epic saga . . .

They say it’s rare that people meet in school, marry AND stay together.

Well, it’s true. Only one couple who met in school and married will stay together in this story.

As the tale draws to a close, everything comes out. Scores will be settled. Truths will be unmasked. No question will go unanswered.

Even if they go their separate ways, it’s clear they will always carry with them the impact they have had on one another.

They’ve influenced each other’s lives, left marks in some cases . . . burned bridges in others.

In the end, they will lament the loss of all they shared.

But everything happens for a reason.

Download Bad Friends FREE: click here

Download Box Set One FREE: click here

NEW SERIES – OUT NOW! First book #free

It’s strange that, for a few months now, I have been writing a new series of books in secret. . . with the intention of releasing them all at once. Now feels like no better time to release it! If you’re on lockdown or self-isolating, you can read this brand-new series at a bargain.

The Bad Series is an epic series of 6+ books (TBC) and charts the lives and loves of a massive friendship group whose lives intertwine. The actions of one often cause many pain, and vice versa. This is a series of epic character building and friendships that have lasted the test of time. While reading you may wonder if these people are actually real. . . but my intention with these books is certainly to give you a healthy dose of drama and twists and turns!

Bad Friends is where you need to start and she’s FREE today only! Scroll for more details…

Bad Friends

A brand-new series of interconnected stories . . .

Lily is in denial about her relationship with Ian, a university lecturer who was sexy three years ago but has become progressively more boring. Her friends try to tell her what she already knows but it’s an illicit Christmas encounter that finally makes her see sense.

Is life about to get better, or will it only get worse?

The path to true love never runs smooth.

AUTHOR NOTE:

The Bad Series saga charts the lives and loves of a group of friends hailing from Yorkshire, England. Their experiences take them all over the world and each character has a BIG story to tell. Sit back, enjoy the ride, and binge until your heart is content!

Download Book One free here

Bad Actor

Theo Richards is a very bad actor. He’s told lie after lie, kept secrets so deep and dark . . . and yet, his heart has always been in the right place.

The kind of love most people can only dream of is about to drop into his life. At the same time, his career is about to take off and everything is going to change.

Will he survive the rollercoaster, and does anyone ever really get everything they want?

Download Theo’s story for 99p or read free in Kindle Unlimited here

Bad Wife

Susan has always known exactly what she wants and how to get it. So being told she can’t have something is very hard to take.

Now a year since Adam walked her down the aisle, things are becoming complicated.

They visit a fertility clinic for help once it becomes clear things might not happen naturally. The results are unexpected and send Adam into a tailspin.

Were his friends always right about her?

Or didn’t they give her enough of a chance?

Download Adam and Susan’s tale for 99p or read free in Kindle Unlimited here

Bad Girl

SPECIAL PRE-ORDER PRICE!

Chloe is travelling around Australia with her boyfriend when she hears some unexpected news from home. Having spent two years dodging reality and living like a nomad, she decides it’s time to quit messing around and finally go after what she wants.

Leaving Cole behind, she heads home to figure out what her future holds – and why things never worked out with Adam.

As with most love stories, nothing is ever as it might first seem . . .

Pre-order Chloe’s story for 99p here – releasing in TWO WEEKS!

MORE TITLES COMING VERY SOON!!!

Save the Date – New Book Coming Soon!

Kismet will release on November 26th, 2019 and here are all the details…

BLURB:

“Survival makes animals of us, Ruben. Animals.”

Ruben and Freya have been friends for two years and still don’t know one another very well. Whenever they meet up for a drink, sex with other people is something they openly discuss, but fooling around with each other is out of the question.

Then right out of the blue, everything changes. Freya can’t stand to have him in her life anymore and Ruben is shocked into action, forced to confess his true feelings.

Endless nights of pure, unbridled passion between two people seemingly destined to be together follow. Freya and Ruben are equally closed books, but as their passion unfolds, so do the pages of their chequered pasts.

There is however, one secret so dark and devastating, it could wreck their lives. As their pasts converge, kismet will play a big part in whether they survive or die.

BLOGGERS sign up here to receive your advance review copy: CLICK ME

Readers, pre-order your copy here: mybook.to/kismet

Add to Goodreads:

Kismet

Kismet by Sarah Michelle Lynch




5 Year Publiversary…!

I published Unbind exactly five years ago and it’s unbelievable that one of my readers’ favourites is THAT old.

The seven-book Sub Rosa Series became so lengthy, telling the stories of multiple characters and their interwoven lives, all because of this one book in which plucky journalist Chloe chases the man she loves and winds up invested in a deadly, destruction mystery you would never imagine possible. Described by many as their favourite romance, you can read it for FREE today. It’s an epic journey that once you start, you won’t be able to get off.

Enjoy x

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

AMAZON CA

So long, farewell . . .

I remember six years ago, while we were driving up to Scotland and navigating our way around several lochs and mountains, I had my phone in my hand and I was staring at this cover I’d found on a premade site – wondering if it would be a fitting cover for A Fine Profession. A lady dressed in red lingerie just seemed to fit and that image became synonymous with Lottie. When we got home from that trip, buying that cover was the first thing I did. 20+ novels later, it does and it doesn’t feel like a long time ago.

However, there comes a time when you realise a book cannot be defined by just one image – and maybe it’s time to change it up. Not only do I find it particularly hard to source covers for all my books (being they are pretty complex novels and I could never give an insight into my stories with just one picture), but sourcing a new cover for Lottie has been a total headache because, as I say, people have come to me at book signings and bought that book with the words, “Love this cover!” Also, Lottie was my first romance novel so there’s a lot of history attached. Plus, A Fine Pursuit had grown men crying, so I can’t wish for more than that! LOL.

Rather than dwell on the old, let’s focus on the new. I have two new covers for the Chambermaid duet which I really love and do suit this series to a T. I love this series because of the way people reacted to it, but also because Lottie required me to flex my writing muscles and I don’t think I’ve written such a hard-hitting book since.

Please take time to enjoy these new babies, and hopefully purchase the new paperbacks which have been reformatted, resized and with completely new wraparound covers – available on Amazon very soon! The Chambermaid has come a long way in six years!

#31Days31BooksSummerSale

HUGE SUMMER SALE

This is your chance to grab one of my books for an absolute bargain this summer! Each day in August, I will have one book on sale for 99 pennies or free. If you are looking to expand your SML Kindle library, this is the time! You can grab the entire collection of 30+ books for an incredible, marked-down price. 

First Seven Days

 Save this link SML Amazon Store to favourites and check back every day to see what’s on offer.

Other Books On Sale

  • The Fix
  • The Risk
  • A Fine Profession
  • A Fine Pursuit
  • Punctures
  • Angel Avenue
  • Beyond Angel Avenue
  • Hetty
  • Guilt
  • Chimera
  • Panacea
  • The Radical
  • The Informant
  • The Sentient
  • Unscripted
  • Undeniable
  • Unending
  • Fabien
  • Leticia
  • Christmas Lovers
  • The Chambermaid’s Tales
  • Worth It
  • His Deadly Rose
  • Crimson Series Box Set

Click the button below so you don’t miss out on any of these discounts, or follow me on Instagram where I will be posting about all the books on offer!


Available to Pre-Order Now!

Blurb

Through Lynch’s words, embark on a journey of lost innocence, reality bites and how old-fashioned sentiment doesn’t seem to translate – not anymore.

This poetry collection features the disappointments we can all share in, including opening your heart only to be shot down, trying and failing, encounters of bigotry and misogyny – not to mention navigating a world in which everyone is hurting in their own way.

Pervading this work is the sense that people will always be people, but perhaps punctures are actually what force us to decompress.

Excerpts

Pre-Order now: mybook.to/Punctures

Add to Goodreads and read the reviews as they come in: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44165336-punctures

New Release – Crimson Book One

 

Release Dates:

Unscripted, out now

Undeniable, out August 30th

Unending, out September 13th

Genre: BDSM Erotica

 

The first book in the smoking hot Crimson Trilogy

Kitty Bright is always in charge and nobody tells her what to do. Favouring casual hook-ups instead of intimate relationships, this is who she is. She has decided she will never love again.

Ryan West is a former professional rugby player with a story of his own. Dropped into Kitty’s world, he immediately sees her for who she really is. Determined, competitive, ruthless when required, he will stop at nothing to secure Kitty’s heart.

The ghost of Kitty’s past—Tristan Hunt, the enigmatic nightclub boss who once owned her—lingers in the background.

Will Kitty ever be able to let go and love again?

Or is her heart irreparably damaged?

PURCHASE ON AMAZON at the special price of 99 pennies

 

smut1

The second book in the smoking hot Crimson Trilogy

Kitty’s former flame Tristan is back in her life, but can she trust anything he says? Why has he chosen to come back now? Just when she’s happy again . . .

A dark, hidden truth about Ryan is about to be uncovered and Kitty doesn’t know where to turn once she finds out he’s not who he said he was.

After leaving her job, a trip to Italy seems like a great idea, but will she be embarking on this next adventure with her new love, or her old?

PREORDER BOOK TWO AT THE SPECIAL PRICE OF 99 PENNIES

Details of book three, coming soon . . .

ebook3

How I Wrote a Book in 20 Days: A Diary – Part Four (Final Part)

Please make sure you read parts one to three before reading this concluding part! You can find them by visiting sarahmichellelynch.com/blog and scrolling through.

Note: I only wrote diary entries on days where I actually completed some writing. There are only 20 entries in this diary but the twenty writing days were spread over the space of a month and a bit. This diary does not include my notes on editing (I don’t want to give away all my secrets!)

***

Day #14

Another chapter down. Would have liked to have written more today but I’ve had admin to do. Social media to catch up on. An event to prepare for. Fridays are always difficult days because you’re preparing for the weekend. Still, I’m gonna try get some bits and pieces of writing done tomorrow and Sunday. We’ll see anyway!!

Two major emotional breakthroughs were made in this chapter. Now I’m halfway, I can take this story down a deeper, much more direct route. I’m excited to get to the WOW moment in this book, where everything I set out to achieve becomes much more achievable.

Exciting times ahead…

Word count so far: 49,686 (I’m classing this as half done).

Day #15

I snatched moments of time today to write. I had this one idea I just had to get out in case I forgot it later. So I ignored the Saturday TV for an hour or so, and just did it. Half a chapter down. Not bad, considering it’s been a manic day.

Word count so far: 52,043

Day #16

It’s been Monday. Monday, bloody, Monday. Gah. The clocks have changed and it’s a bloody nightmare!

However, I am starting to taste the end of this book. I want to know what happens next as much as you, the reader will want to. I fear a race is on now. A race to the finish line, to explore all this book has to offer again, with the next stage of development – editing.

Some days you truly have used up your word count, that you have very little else to say at the end of it.

Word count so far: 56,856

Day #17

A really good writing day. I’ve turned some corners and extracted some secrets.

When I look back to the beginning of the story, it feels like a hundred years ago now. I’ve just got to make sure it continues to appear that way, reflecting the manner in which the heroine changes dramatically within this story.

I feel like I’m ever-drawing closer to the denouement.

Word count so far: 64,512

Day #18

It’s 11am and I’m not done for the day by a long shot, but I need to write this entry right now. This morning, this book made me cry for the first time, and that’s huge. Because I don’t always cry when I’m writing a book. But the pain and the poignancy of a particular scene had me flowing today. And I’m not the sort of person to cry easily. Only like really, really bad shit makes me cry, or people with sob stories singing on Britain’s Got Talent, but I think that’s because I love music as much as I love any art form that provokes an emotional response.

Up to now I’ve been writing with a sense of tension and it feels as though that’s broken finally, now I’ve written this difficult scene today. It’s finally broken and the heroine is free to move onto the next chapter. (I’m hoping so anyway, I’ve still got a few thousand words left to write.)

***

I wrote 5,000 words today and it wasn’t an effort; it was one of those rare instances of forgetting time exists and just going with the flow. Words just came and I’m stepping ever-closer to the end. This might even turn into one of those rare novels where less is so much more because I’ve said most of what I wanted to already, so whatever else comes next will be a big adieu.

Word count so far: 69,500

Day #19

I haven’t written yet today. It’s the morning. I’m just trying to muster up some energy right now to write some more. I’m feeling a bit puffed out.

I finished yesterday’s writing session with absolutely no idea or inclination as to how I would continue this story. Overnight some ideas have come to me and I’m fairly certain how I’m going to end the tale now. Sometimes you can feel as though nothing’s coming and when you go about your other business and take a few moments out, suddenly an idea will strike and you realise there is still more, even if the day before, ideas felt all used up. In the past I may have mistakenly forced ideas but this isn’t how I like to write anymore. Each day, I strive for new ideas and those make a story. The devil is in the detail. Having written so many books now, I’ve played with various forms of writing but sometimes simple is best. It just depends upon the character you’re conveying. I find it so difficult sometimes to not repeat myself, using a saying I’ve maybe used in a previous novel. The two main characters in this book, actually – resemble very closely two minor characters of a previous series I wrote a long time ago. But they were minor then, they’re major now, and function in a much different way in this book. I know some authors have strange family trees where all the characters they’ve ever written are somehow connected, even if that’s not evident to the reader. To the writer, they see those characters as part of a wider family, maybe because they are. They’re the author’s family in some respects. So even though it’s very difficult for me to keep my material fresh and new, it all is, and the more difficult it is for me to explore new avenues, I think the better my work is overall. I write for my own pleasure first and foremost which is how it should be. Don’t get me wrong it’s lovely when someone else likes what you’ve done, too. But the only person I’m ever competing against is myself and the past me has an awfully big back catalogue now. And that spurs me on greatly. I feel like these days, the engines are fully operational and ready to burn. It’s all those previous books that got me where I am now. It’s the books I’m writing now that will get me where I want to be. And I’ll have enjoyed every moment of getting to wherever it is I end up. Because I love writing and that’s what I was born to do. Write. It’s easy for me now, where it used to be hard. Because each book has broken me in and taught me something. And writing’s as easy as breathing now. It’s just the thought of it which is sometimes hard.

So now I’ve given myself this little pep talk (I am slightly deranged, comes with the territory), I will bloody well put the kettle on and settle down to some fictional writing once more. Until later…

(peaks and troughs, peaks and troughs…)

***

Wow, just look at that word count below. I can taste the end now.

Word count so far: 76120

Day #20

Wow, I wrote THE END today. I didn’t think I’d be writing that so soon. But I’m reminded that I decided to make this a new adult romance (or it shaped itself into a NA romance), which means readers in this genre generally prefer shorter reads anyway.

But, wait…

Editing has yet to take place. And editing will involve me going over the book six, seven, maybe even eight times. The way I edit is where the magic really happens.

Writing a book (as I’ve proven), is relatively easy when you know how. It’s what comes next that’s hard.

I know that throughout the editing process, I may add another 5 to 10,000 words or so. With one book (A Fine Pursuit), editing added 10 to 20,000 words in fact, because the story shot out of me so fast, I had to go over it plenty after the first draft, so it wasn’t a bony carcass anymore!

Still, I might comb it back again after the second draft.

Or add more?

But, dear reader, I won’t be telling you the secrets of my editing process. I don’t want to put myself out of business.

It’s been real.

Word count of my first (skeleton draft): 77,659

Afterword

The novel this WRITING DIARY relates to is called Hetty: An Angel Avenue Spin-Off. I am writing this afterword on the day of its release.

Hetty is a character I knew inside and out before I even put fingers to keys which is why this book was so easy in terms of development.

Sometimes, as a reader, I read books and I can tell when an author has taken a large timeout in the middle of writing their book because the style or the feel of the prose changes dramatically between one chapter and the next. Maybe that’s sometimes intentional. Maybe it’s because during time off from writing, the author has developed a different viewpoint of the story and it shows.

Writing a book in the space of a month is not something I recommend for everyone. It’s exhausting, it takes incredible discipline and an iron will. I do not manage to complete every story I write within 20 days, trust me! I know my limits. I stop when I need to. I take self care very seriously. I’m lucky that I can pick and choose my projects and my family are very supportive of what I do, both in giving me time and knowing what I need when I come away from writing a book.

What I hoped to show with this writing diary was the highs and lows a writer goes through, and the behind-the-scenes effort that no reader ever usually hears about. (The gory details so to speak.)

Hetty is my 17th novel and when someone recently asked me, “Doesn’t your heart just squeeze when you look at all you’ve achieved?” – I had to tell them, no! I am the long-distance writer with a 1,000 stories to tell and I cannot allow myself to wallow too long in saying goodbye to characters I have so lovingly created. I cannot allow myself to wrap myself up in the myriad emotions I go through while writing a story. To a certain extent, I do look back at my library of work and feel proud – feel blessed I’m doing this – but the books I put out into the world are but a physical representation of the stories I tell. I cannot always explain how a story I’ve written has made me feel (personally) because the feeling is like no other on earth and it’s obviously why I find storytelling so addictive. I know that each reader will bring their own set of life experiences with them when they’re reading a book, and I accept that’s why books engage (often) such different reactions from different readers. For instance, whenever I think back to writing my first novel, I think of changing nappies and my daughter’s big firsts. My first novel is wrapped up in everything that was going on in my own life at the time I was writing it – and the book on the shelf will never explain to readers about the night I was up late typing and the unfortunate effect of my footsteps squeaking on the stairs as I crept up, thus waking my daughter and setting up a chain of events that gave me a terrible, sleepless night. Real life goes on all around us and books are just… books. And yet… they have such potential to change people’s lives. I love, love, love what I do with every fibre of my being and anyone else who loves my books is an absolute and complete bonus.

I write, because, simply – I am a writer. I’m pretty happy with that label, even if I never achieve any other label.

The editing process brought Hetty up to a more rounded 90,000 words, one of the shortest novels I have ever written. After a bit of time away from the book (a bit of distance), I saw what needed embellishing. I didn’t want to over-write this tale, I only wanted to make sure that readers walked away from this book in no doubt of the person Hetty is and what she is capable of achieving. Getting her character right in this work was all that mattered to me. I didn’t water her down, edit out her quirks or her flaws, I kept them all in there. I wanted this woman to be real and from the sounds of it, that’s how my readers see her.

She’s real.

And that’s the most you can hope to achieve from writing – making tiny black letters on a page seem real. And the more real the story, the more satisfied you feel – and another job well done can be ticked off.

***PLEASE READ ON FOR AN EXCERPT OF HETTY AND HOW YOU CAN DOWNLOAD HER STORY***

I LEAVE THE car and him to get a good look at the place from a distance. He’s slept more or less the whole way here. I haven’t minded. Driving helps me switch off and vacate. This is just a stop in the road before reaching Robin Hood’s Bay but I always stop first, breathe in the air, taking in the place from a distance. One of the first places Liza and my foster parents brought me was here after they took me on. John and Carol have been really good to me, too good, considering I was once their daughter’s bully. But that’s Liza – always helping wounded birds, even ones that have tried to peck her in defence. John and Carol are in their sixties now and tried to conceive for years before finally having Liza in their early forties. She was an only child and had always wanted a sister. She persuaded them. And I was added to her broken-winged club.

The car door shuts and I watch him stretch, his midriff revealed as his shirt rides up. He’s got a solid rack of muscles under there – just gorgeous.

He swings his arms around me, clutching me tight, so tight I’m enveloped in his warmth against the cold of this high-topped cliff upon which we’re standing. I love the heather-topped moors around here, I love the views, the cleanness, the clarity – the mangled city jungle seeming far away.

He nuzzles my throat and kisses me, purring, seeking. A rush of love washes over me and I turn in his arms, throw my arms around his neck and kiss him. I find no resistance, his mouth opening, his tongue tangling with mine.

“I missed you,” he says, his eyes glistening against the strong wind.

“I was right next to you.”

“But I was in my dreams.”

“Do you like it?” I ask him, pointing to the sleepy fishing village below. There are not many visitors this time of year.

“What’s not to like?” he says.

I lead him back to the car and we head for The Grange, a place I usually stay, just a little way up from the village.

After parking up, we scope it out.

“Will they have any rooms?” he asks, and from the look of his face I can tell he’s never done this before. I expect any hotels he usually stays in have been booked by Warrick!

“Let’s hope so.”

We enter the reception and I spot Derek, the owner, who recognises me. “Henrietta, long time no see!”

Smiling, I return, “Been so busy, you know how it is. We’ve been gallivanting and wondered… maybe you might have a room for the night…?”

He holds his finger up. “Let me check.”

While Derek checks his computer, I grip Joe’s hand and smile. He smiles back, still a little sleepy.

“Ah, Marge had a cancellation last night. You’re in luck. The Grange Suite is available.”

“We’ll take it,” I snap, almost snapping his hand off too!

“Okay, it’s not ready…” He’s sucking his thumb, thinking as he peruses the screen. “But I’ve put you in, come back at four and it’s yours.”

“Do you need a deposit?”

He winks. “Not from a good customer.”

“Thank you, Derek. Thanks so much.”

He guffaws, a little shy. “No problem.”

I catch him giving Joe a little side glance but he doesn’t say anything, or question us. Leaving the property, Joe says, “He seems a little fond of you.”

“I stay here often, in the summer months.”

“What do you do when you’re here?”

We get back into my Citroen and I turn towards him. “I drive up to Whitby, fill my boots and then sleep it off here. A Sunday morning stroll on the beach is heaven, too.”

“I never would’ve pictured it,” he says, pulling me towards him, reaching across the handbrake to put his arms around me. “You seem so badass, and here you are, a lovely Yorkshire rose spending her weekends by a beach nobody’s even really heard of.”

I tug his hair gently in my hands, murmuring, “All the best people have heard of it, Joseph.”

It takes a few moments for me to realise my breaths are laboured and heavy. This is what he does to me.

“But it’s so quiet and quaint…” He looks bemused.

“In therapy I was taught to like my own company. I’ve got used to it.”

“Not too used to it, I hope?” He’s grinning devilishly.

“Scenery’s not too shabby from where I’m sitting,” I remark, trying to seize my own grin before it breaks my face, I feel so happy.

He cups my bottom lip with his and kisses me torturously slowly. The perpetual molten vat of lava in my lower stomach churns and I could curse that hotel for not having any rooms available right now. Joe moves his kisses to my cheeks and my neck.

“Save it for later…” I mumble.

“You smell divine, like honeysuckle or something.” He pulls back, searching my eyes, endlessly trying to figure me out.

“Come on, I’m hungry, you sexy beast.”

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