I am completely giddy with excitement. I have to confess that I’ve been into bookshops and tried to imagine how it’ll look to see Sealed with a Kiss sitting there and I can’t quite imagine it. I got a copy of Cruise International magazine through the post the other day complete with a review on the back page (my book on the same page as Twiggy – probably the only time I’ll be on the same page as a supermodel…)

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I’ve got loads of exciting stuff happening this week – I had two interviews today with journalists who are doing articles on the book, and I’m going to be popping up all over the place featuring on blogs chatting about books, and my favourite films, and all sorts of things. I’ve also leapt into YouTube having had a really good chat about it at yesterday’s Blog On conference at the Museum of Science and Industry and discovered (rather later than my children, who are permanently glued to Stampy Longnose videos) that there’s a whole world of people out there who like watching people talking about stuff. And I like talking about stuff. So you can find me there, again, talking about stuff – Pinterest, this time. Excuse the slightly bonkers unbrushed hair. It’s a holiday.

The paperbacks are here! D’you want to have a look? My favourite bit about this is the “is this on” moment where I don’t say a word. Technology is not my friend.

Sealed with a Kiss, my romantic comedy set on a Scottish island is released by Pan Macmillan on May 8th. Keep up to date with my writing, get extracts from my next books and be first to hear about signings, free book giveaways and more –  Just sign up for my newsletter here

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Living in a Victorian seaside resort has benefits for Doctor Who fans. We sneaked off to the huge Victorian cemetery to take some photographs of weeping angels. (We didn’t blink.)

weeping angels doctor who

It was gorgeous sunshine when we took the pictures but that doesn’t stop them being eerie. We’re all massive Doctor Who geeks in this house, so having a collection of angels here in town is a bit unnerving.

weeping angel

victorian graveyard angels

weeping angels doctor who

weeping angel victorian

victorian graveyard

weeping angel on grass

 

I don’t know which of the last two Weeping Angels we found the spookiest. All I know is we won’t be watching Doctor Who again for a while until our imaginations have calmed down a bit. And don’t even think of creeping up behind me while I’m sitting here in this chair…

Sealed with a Kiss, my romantic comedy set on a Scottish island is released by Pan Macmillan on May 8th. Keep up to date with my writing, get extracts from my next books and be first to hear about signings, free book giveaways and more –  Just sign up for my newsletter here

Or you can join me on Facebook or chat to me on Twitter

I found myself on YouTube this morning helping my 12 year old with his plans for world domination, and got sidetracked looking at writing videos (it’s research, so it’s not procrastination, right?). I thought I’d share them here for those moments when you’re feeling a bit stuck and need a boost, or in the case of the Nora Roberts interview, a laugh.

five videos for writing inspiration

“Harry Potter gave me freedom”
JK Rowling talks about writing for grown ups.

“Create, through writing, the person you want to be as a writer”
Anne Rice answers the questions she’s most often asked

Ian McEwan’s Advice for Writers:

“By the time I get the first words on the first page, half of the novel is done”
Philippa Gregory on research.

“Discpline, guilt and guilt are really excellent tools for the writer’s toolbox”
A very funny Q&A with Nora Roberts. This is brilliant.

Sealed with a Kiss, my romantic comedy set on a Scottish island is released by Pan Macmillan on May 8th. Keep up to date with my writing, get extracts from my next books and be first to hear about signings, free book giveaways and more –  Just sign up for my newsletter here

Or you can join me on Facebook or chat to me on Twitter

chicken soup

 

The most popular post on my blog is my Immune Boosting Chicken Soup recipe written one day whilst I was struggling to finish a book I was writing and I had a horrible cold. I’ve gathered together a few of my other favourites, for those of you who come here looking for inspiration.

 

swack christmas

Or you can join me on Facebook or chat to me on Twitter

writing retreat

With the deadline for my next book looming, I headed to Somerset for a writing retreat at Book Camp. It was a spur of the moment decision, taken when I looked up from the words “The End” on my Christmas sequel to Sealed with a Kiss. It dawned on me why people were giving me That Look when I said airily “oh yes, I’ve ages until the next one’s due, and I’ve written loads already”.

The reality was with 10,000 words done (curse the three chapters and a synopsis method of securing a book deal) and nothing more than a Pinterest board and a theme song in my head, I was a bit lacking in book. So off I went. And here are the five things I learned on writing retreat:

1. Silence is a bit surprising. If you’ve got a busy life/lots of children/lots of children and a busy life (I dunno, some people might have staff or something) you’ll find the sudden drop into the silence of a writing retreat quite disconcerting. I found myself walking around for a bit when I first arrived, saying to myself in a hearty tone of voice “Gosh, well, this is nice, isn’t it?” and “Why don’t we take a walk down here to the end of this field” like I was talking to my seven year old.  By the end of the first evening I’d started to settle into the idea of spending a large amount of time alone with only my thoughts for company.

2. Planning helps. I got there with a synopsis, a set of pretty well-developed (in my head, in any case) characters, and a copy of Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris. We had dinner and a good chat and I headed upstairs, thinking I was off for an early night so I could get straight to writing in the morning. Instead (still not quite knowing what to do with myself) I stayed up until 2am doing this.

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That’s a beat sheet, a basic character development chart for each main character, and the whole novel measured out in post-it notes. And a lot of stationery. Oh, how I love stationery.

3. You have to sit down and write. We were in a beautiful farmhouse, complete with a swimming pool and a sauna, surrounded by the Somerset countryside. The first morning, a bit exhausted from staying up until 2, I ended up ambling around, having a swim, and then finally sitting down to write 1500 words or so before lunch. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my fellow book campers had all got a substantial number of words down already. I felt like a bit of a slacker so I got down to work in the afternoon and hit 4500 words by dinner time – my least productive day. The other days I reached 5000 words. I ended up each day feeling like my brain was a sponge that had been squeezed dry, my eyeballs spinning in my head and my ability to string a sentence together seriously impaired.

But what I did realise was this: setting a one hour timer on the clock and telling myself to just write actually works. And “I only write in the afternoon/when I’m listening to music/when the wind is blowing in the west and the corn is high” and all the other things I’ve told myself over the years – they’re crap. And for that alone, Book Camp was invaluable.

4. When in doubt, insert comedy animal. Talking tactics over one of the gorgeous dinners, we established that the secret to getting the first draft down is to just keep swimming. So my first draft has things like this:

and meaningful phrases like this:

 

and technical detail like this:

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If I hadn’t put the Self-Control app on my laptop, I’d have disappeared down a Google vortex looking for meaningful gardening quotes I can half-remember, or finding out what the technical name for LANDGRAB THINGOLOGY was. Instead I just kept going and realised that at the end of this first draft, once I’ve told the story, I can fill in the details. And insert monkeys.

5. Spending time with other writers is essential. It felt a bit self-indulgent disappearing off into the countryside on a writing retreat, armed with my laptop and a mountain of stationery, but it has left me inspired and far more productive than I was previously. We gossiped about publishing, we cried (over Saving Mr Banks) and laughed (over Crazy Stupid Love), we told ghost stories and talked politics and thanks to Basia, we ate the most amazing food (and I had no idea that writing huge amounts made you so hungry, but I was permanently ravenous).

book camp

 

Thanks to my new friends Lisa, Julie, Annette, Emily,  Cesca, Kat and Basia for a brilliant week. See you all next time (I’ll definitely be back).

 

I’m writing madly on my Book Camp writing retreat and hopefully getting lots done, but meanwhile I wanted to grab a moment (and one of the scraps of internet access which are few and far between here, which is a blessing and a curse) to pop up a guest post by my writing friend Cathy, who has a book out today which looks fab.

IvyLane Spring Cathy Bramley

Last summer on a flight back to the UK after our summer holiday I fastened my safety belt, turned on my Kindle and gave a contented sigh. It was hubby’s turn to sit with our daughters; the three of them were in the row on the other side of the aisle and I sat alone. Hurrah.

For two and a half largely uninterrupted hours I read. For those of you who love reading and for those of you who love reading AND have children you will feel my bliss. The book I read was Sealed With A Kiss by Rachael Lucas.

Oh my word! I loved that story so much. I wanted to be on that island, in that cottage with that dog, building those holiday cottages…

Anyway, the flight ended, the holiday ended and it was back to work. I stalked googled Rachael, followed her on Twitter, read her blog etc. Because Rachael was living my dream.

She was following the same path that I hoped to follow and I was desperately keen for her to succeed. Because if she did, then there was a chance I could do the same. Since then obviously Rachael has secured agency representation and signed a book deal with Pan Macmillan and I couldn’t be more pleased for her. She has works incredibly hard and deserves her success.

Meanwhile, I’ve had a pretty decent few months myself. I self-published my first novel Conditional Love in October and it became an Amazon best seller. I now have an agent and most excitingly, a book deal with Transworld.

 

Cathy Bramley MarshAgency

And today Thursday 3rd April is publication day for my new novel Ivy Lane!

Ivy Lane, will be comprised of four individual parts – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter – which Transworld will publish as ebooks in their respective seasons (April, July, September, October). Ivy Lane tells the story of Tilly Parker, a young woman who moves to a new town for a fresh start. Tilly signs up for a plot at the local allotment on Ivy Lane and is drawn into the kind-hearted, funny and quirky cast of characters she meets there.

The paperback will follow next year, but the ebook is available from Amazon, iBooks and Kobo today!

Normally I would spend the day checking the Amazon charts, but I’m actually going to be on an aeroplane for six hours. With my Kindle fully-loaded, of course.

A massive thanks to you, Rachael for inviting me onto your blog today!

 

I’m in Somerset on a writing retreat with very wonky wifi. I’m working on the next book (yes, I only finished the novella sequel last week and no, I don’t know who I am or what day it is).

Outside my cell window bedroom it looks like this.

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It’s all lambs and daffodils and chirpy birds. But instead of that I’m surrounded by this:

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And I’ve turned that into a big heap of plans and beaten the synopsis into some kind of order and now I’m making all these post it notes into a book. See you in a few days (and a lot of words).

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