Writing the “unlikeable” character

LB
Initially unlikable, but utterly loveable―Elle from Legally Blonde

I’m currently writing my fifth book and my sixth main character―the maths doesn’t add up, because one book has three main characters and two books have the same main character. Anyway …

I am hyper aware that my current main character is, based on her role as a supporting character in another book, “unlikeable”―so much so, that when I mentioned to a friend who I was writing about, she cringed.

So, why write this character? Why give her a whole book?

In short, it’s because I love her.

I love the hard, prickly exterior she uses to mask a lifetime of being terrified of vulnerability. I love that, once she does care about someone, she is fiercely loyal and generous. I love that she is feisty and bold, independent and resourceful.

I love that, just like the rest of us, she is complex and a mass of contradictions, and that there are clear reasons why she is like she is.

I am about 80% into the book, and I’m enjoying watching her grow. There are moments she has, where she realises something about herself, or where her heart fills, and I am proud of her―this imaginary person.

And I’m realising as I write, that the through-line of this book is compassion―for oneself, for others. She may not be likeable to every reader right away, but as the layers strip away, she is/becomes a beautiful human being. How many times have we met someone who irked us, and through compassion, we’ve realised that there is more going on than their exterior, that we could love them or let them into our lives?

I’ve said before that I know my books won’t be for every reader. My first three books are about the Parsons sisters, Sarah and Cat. For some readers, these characters read as “immature”―”how can these women be in their thirties?”―and for those readers, Sarah and Cat are unlikeable because of their immaturity. But I stand by them as believable, because in many ways, Sarah is a lot like a thirty-something Sandy―sometimes whiny, often witty, confused about love, and trying to find her way.

But what’s important to me as a writer, is that these realistic, perhaps unlikeable women, transform. I want my books to be about growing, learning, opening the heart, and transformation.

And in real life, imagine how dull it would be if every person we met was instantly likeable, if no one rubbed us up the wrong way, or disagreed with us, or challenged us to see ourselves in a new light. How would we grow? How would we develop compassion and understanding? I posit that we wouldn’t.

So, even if you initially find a character unlikeable, give them a chance to reveal themselves, to become their true, loveable selves―just like Elle.

 

 

#CoverReveal Love Me Like You Do by Aimee Brown

It is an absolute pleasure to be part of the cover reveal for the incredible author Aimee Brown’s next book, Love Me Like You Do!

AimeeBrown_LoveMeLikeYouDo

About the book

A runaway bride. A handsome stranger. Two pasts to put behind them.

Parker is ready to marry the man of her dreams. But he isn’t ready to marry her. It would be helpful if he didn’t choose their wedding day to tell her this. But as she flees from the travesty behind her, she literally runs into the arms of a handsome stranger. The southern drawl, the dreamy eyes, she can’t fall for another man after being left at the altar – can she?

When Liam agreed to go to go on a date he didn’t expect to leave with the bride. Nor did he expect to take her the emergency room. Immediately he’s drawn to her fiery spirit, her kind heart and beautiful smile. Liam’s got a whole host of problems and a past that keeps coming back, now can’t be the time to fall in love, but Parker might just be the one to break down his barriers and let him live a little – if she’ll let him in.

Will these two strangers allow serendipity to put them together, or will their fears keep them apart?

Buy links: 

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon AU | Kobo | Google Play

About Aimee Brown

Aimee Brown is a writer of romantic comedies set in Portland, Oregon, and an avid reader. She spends much of her time writing, raising three teenagers, binge-watching shows on Netflix and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house. She’s fluent in sarcasm and has been known to utter profanities like she’s competing for a medal. Aimee grew up in Oregon, but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and far too many pets. She is a lot older than she looks and yes, that is a tattoo across her chest. (“In the Portlandia spirit, yes, I lived many years in PDX and I do indeed have a bird tattooed on me – 2!”) Aimee is very active on social media. You can find her at any of the networks below. Stop by and say hello!

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Follow Aria

www.ariafiction.com | Twitter | InstagramFacebook

 

Catching up with Author Katie Ginger

It is a pleasure to welcome the wonderful author, Katie Ginger, who is here to talk about her latest book Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay and all things writing.

Tell us what inspired you to write Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay?

I really love writing books set in the summer and had originally pitched this to my editor as being set at a music festival. We have a chat about what fitted better with the genre and decided that a food festival would be better and much more on trend. As a result, Swallowtail Bay’s strawberry festival was born with a main character who wanted to turn it into a food festival. Though the setting changed a little, the characters all remained as I’d envisaged them with Hetty being strong and feisty and John being grouchy in his crumbling country home!

When did you start writing seriously?

I took redundancy from my job in 2014, and decided to do something completely different from working as a manager in the museums sector. I signed up for a distance learning novel writing course as I’d always loved writing but had never felt confident about it, and it all went from there! I decided to really try and get a book deal after my cousin passed away from cancer and was lucky enough to be offered a two-book deal with HQ Digital in January 2018. It’s kind of just snowballed from there!

What do you love most about being an author?

Everything! Can I say everything?! But I really do love everything about it. I love thinking and plotting stories, figuring out who my characters are and what they do and what their emotional scars are. I love the excitement of the first draft and discovering the story and then editing. Editing is, I think the hardest thing but a necessary evil! Weirdly, the stage I love most is copy editing. I am so in awe of copy editors who know all the technical rules about dangling participles and all that stuff. That’s when a manuscript really gets shined up, I think!

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on edits for the Christmas novel: the final book in the Swallowtail Bay series! I’ll be kind of sad to say goodbye to that little town! Then I’ll be working on some ideas for romantic comedies for next year (very excited about those!). I’m also venturing into a bit of historical cozy mystery writing under the pen name K E Coburn. It’s pretty full on, but I love it!

What do you hope readers will take away from Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay?

I really just want to give readers a little bit of respite from this crazy world we’re in right now. I hope I manage to make them laugh and smile and enjoy being somewhere else, away from the day-to-day worries. If I can do that, then I’ve hit the jackpot!

More about Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay

Grab your strawberries and cream and get ready to return to the beautiful Swallowtail Bay!

Summer is in full swing and the locals are getting excited for the launch of the Swallowtail Bay strawberry food festival. But will all run smoothly when festival organiser Hetty’s heart is torn between lord of the manor John Thornhill and successful bakery owner Ben?

Buy Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon CA 

More about Katie Ginger

Katie lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and she really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay is her fifth novel. The first, Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay is available now. Her debut novel The Little Theatre on the Seafront was shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and her stand- alone Christmas novel Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage was a US Amazon bestseller.

When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive their two children, Ellie and Sam. And there’s also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).

Follow Katie

www.keginger.com | Facebook|Twitter | Instagram

 

What’s in a (character) name?

writer-1421099_1280

As an author, choosing names can be one of the most fun aspects of writing or one of the trickiest.

An author can spend hours on baby name generators, or genealogy and history sites to come up with the perfect names―not only for their main characters, but every supporting character, the names of towns, and even fabricated company names. As an author, I’ve even ‘borrowed’ names from my friends, family and former students.

But why is naming so hard? For me, there are a few reasons.

Names are subjective and (often) have personal connotations for the reader

As a former schoolteacher, there are some names that I won’t touch with a barge pole, simply because they elicit memories of difficult students. Those names may be completely innocuous to most readers, but as I’ll spend the most time with my characters, they make the ‘no go’ list.

The same goes for names with varying ‘heat levels’. If I’m naming a sexy love interest, are some names off limits? Is Milo a hot guy’s name or a hot drink from Australia? Where will my readers land on Rupert (no for me) or Henry (yes for me―but only because of Cavill)?

And while I am a huge Keanu fan―and of course there are quite a few Keanu’s out there in the world, especially ones born after The Matrix came out in ‘99―it’s just too evocative of the Keanu that it’s on the ‘no go’ list too.

Names are ‘fashionable’ and ‘unfashionable’

As we know, names go in and out of fashion, with some names circling back onto the ‘fashionable’ list every other decade or so.

After the film, Splash, came out in the mid-80s, the most popular girls’ name for years was ‘Madison’―simply because a mermaid named herself after Madison Avenue in New York. Until then it was just a last name, but it might be perfect for a character born in the 80s.

And writers of historical fiction are limited even further. There probably weren’t (m)any Kylies or Kylos in the 1800s. As an aside, I have so much respect for historical fiction authors―all that research!

Names have to ‘fit’ the character

I’ve heard this from other authors, so I know I’m not the only one to do it, but sometimes I will choose a name for a character and as I am writing, I realise it doesn’t ‘fit’―that they are not an ‘Eleanor’, but more of a ‘Susan’. Of course, this ties back to my first point about names having connotations, but the name must suit the personality of the character, as it is one of the tools an author uses to evoke their characteristics.

In my 4th book, one of the characters is an actor and I’ve given him a stage name―his mother’s maiden name as his first name. And I got her maiden name from researching last names from Oxfordshire. I tried combinations of last names until I got one that just evoked ‘international film star’.

And many authors I know will name the villain or the antagonist after someone they’ve encountered in real life. It makes me wonder if there really was a ‘Hannibal’ in Thomas Harris’s life, when he penned The Silence of the Lambs.

When naming comes easily

Sometimes naming isn’t hard, like when a character arrives in my head (almost) fully formed, including their name. And some names are an homage to someone special.

In my 4th book, there are three main characters―best friends―and all their names begin with ‘L’, Lauren, Lisa, and Lucy. I have special friends with those names and writing their names into a book is a lovely way of honouring them. Even naming minor characters after people I know can a fun way to include them in my work.

So, next time a character’s name lands with you perfectly, or rubs you the wrong way, just know that the author may have agonised over that choice. And ask yourself if it hit or missed the mark because one of the reasons I’ve mentioned here.

Originally posted on Portable Magic as a stop on my blog tour for That Night in Paris.

Catching up with Author Fiona Leitch

I am very excited to welcome fellow author, Fiona Leitch to my blog. Her debut book, Dead in Venice, is hands-down the funniest book I’ve read in years―I was laughing out loud on page one. It is also one of the sexiest and most gruesome! yes, you read that correctly. Dead in Venice is a romcom meets crime thriller. You can read more about the book below, but first, let’s chat to Fiona!

Tell us what inspired you to write Dead in Venice?

I’ve always been fascinated by Venice, even before I went there. I’ve always loved the sea, and the thought of a city surrounded by water just really appealed to me. When I finally visited in 2015, I fell madly in love with it. It was like every picture, every movie, every painting you’ve ever seen of Venice, only more so. Beautiful. But what really got to me was the atmosphere. It’s a city of contrasts. You’ve got the touristy areas that are absolutely rammed with people, it’s complete madness – but take a few back streets and you can soon be absolutely, utterly on your own. It’s really easy to get lost in the little passages and alleyways – even the locals get lost, because not all the streets are signposted, or the name was changed 200 years ago but everyone still uses the original name, and the house numbering is eccentric to say the least. I loved the idea of losing yourself there, not just physically but emotionally. And at night, take a wrong turn and you’ll find yourself in a dead end, with a deep dark canal blocking your way. It was easy to imagine nefarious shit going down!

When did you start writing seriously?

I first started to take it seriously 20 years ago. I wrote a sitcom pilot and sent it off to a few TV production companies in the UK – this was in the days when you could do that and they’d actually read it! I had a few meetings and phone calls, with Tiger Aspect, Hat Trick and Anne Mensah at Noel Gay (she’s now a Very Big Cheese at Sky). It all seemed to be on the verge of happening for me…and then it just didn’t. Then real life took over. I met my husband, got married and became a mum, and I didn’t write seriously again for about 14 years. I got back into it after seeing (of all things) a Marvel movie with my daughter. I’d started writing sitcoms again, low budget TV stuff, but my heart wasn’t really in it. I watched Thor and Avengers Assemble and decided I would write my own blockbuster superhero movie, just to see if I could write 90 minutes of material. And I could! I decided I was going to write movies. Dead in Venice started life as a screenplay, then a friend of mine told me they thought it would work really well as a novel. The thought of having to write all those words was terrifying, but she nagged me until I started the book and that was it – I’m hooked on writing novels now! Then Audible picked it up as one of their Crime Grant finalists and the rest, as they say…

What do you love most about being an author?

I love being able to escape, not just to different places but into different peoples’ heads. I like setting my books in exotic locations – Paris, Barcelona and Berlin to name a few – and I always like an excuse to travel. I also love writing funny female characters and getting them to say all the witty, sassy comebacks that in real life I only ever come up with two hours too late.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished novel number 4, which is the follow up to Dead in Venice, and am hoping novels 2 and 3 find a home soon! I’ve also got an ideas list as long as your arm, which I am slowly working my way through.

What do you hope readers will take away from Dead in Venice?

Without giving away any spoilers – I hope it will surprise people (I think the end twist is definitely unexpected!) and I hope it will maybe make readers ask themselves what they would do in that situation.

Here’s the blurb for Dead in Venice

AUDIBLE CRIME GRANT FINALIST 2018

Award-winning crime novelist Bella Tyson has it all: a successful career, devoted fans – and a bad case of writer’s block. So when a fan sends her a book of Venetian ghost stories and offers her the use of an apartment near Piazza San Marco, Bella jumps at the chance to get her Eat Pray Love on, consume her bodyweight in gelato and explore the atmospheric canals of Venice.

She meets Will, a mild-mannered, middle class Interpol agent working in the city, and is swept away by him. And when a series of gruesome murders occur he’s on the case – with Bella in tow.

Her writer’s block is well and truly cured, her new novel is under way, and she’s madly in love. But Bella realises that not everything in Venice is as it seems…

Praise for Dead in Venice

“Absolutely stonking book. Rom-com meets crime in such a fresh and refreshing way. Dirty laughed through half of the book and cried at the end. Amazing book.”

“Bella is the kind of heroine most women would love to be and Will the kind of man we’d love to meet. Funny, loud-mouthed, mature protagonists with flaws, curves and the kind of wit that makes Fiona Leitch’s writing reminiscent of Richard Curtis’ films.”

“Oh what fun! Hilarious and witty protagonist in one of the best cities in the world. Suspenseful and kept me hooked.”

“Ms Leitch’s light tone contrasts with the very serious subject matter, which makes it all the more emotional and powerful. It is in turn horrifying, funny, tender, hopeful, or sad. This is a courageous book, devoid of sentimentality but full of sentiment.”

“A combination of gritty crime thriller, hilarious romcom, with a splash of the heart-wrenching emotions. And it works.”

“An entertaining mash-up of romcom and crime.”

“DEAD IN VENICE made me fall in love with fiction again.”

Buy Dead in Venice 

Amazon AU | Amazon UK | Amazon US | mybook.to/DeadInVenice

Follow Fiona on socials (she’s just as much fun online as she is on the page)

Twitter | Instagram | fionaleitch.com

 

Love in the Time of C̶h̶o̶l̶e̶r̶a̶ COVID-19

Ahhh, love…

It truly is a magical thing, so much so that I’m building a career out of writing about it.

And of course, true love is for better or worse, for richer or poorer, and in sickness and in health―whether or not you’ve stood before witnesses and said those words out loud.

My partner of fourteen years, Ben, has been by my side through shoulder surgery, foot surgery, two visits to the emergency room (both in the US and both at ridiculous cost to my respective insurance companies, but that’s another post), anxiety attacks, bouts of depression, the worst flu I’ve ever had, inexplicable dizzy spells, migraines, that weird rash I got in Bali that lasted the better part of a year, and various maladies that have visited me from time to time just because I am a human who lives in the world.

When it comes to being unwell, he’s my person.

But I’m starting to see social media populated with THE BIG QUESTION from fellow romance authors: Do we write COVID-19 into our contemporary romances?

My short answer―and this is me speaking for myself―is ‘no’.

The longer answer―again, just me speaking for myself―is ‘definitely not’.

I’ll tell you why.

We’re already living in a world that’s post-911, post-Brexit, post-GFC, post-Aussie Bushfire Crisis, post-Trump and mid-Climate Change Crisis. There are likely others, but this list was as much as my hopefully romantic brain could summon.

And those global events do permeate contemporary fiction, including romance, even if it’s just a line about getting a work visa, the winery being lucky to escape the bushfires, admiring Greta Thunberg, popping a bottle into the recycling, or what can and can’t be taken onto a plane.

Of course, with the #MeToo movement, contemporary romance authors are (more openly) addressing consent, and as a genre, we’ve been writing about safe sex for years.

So, why add COVID-19 to the mix?

There are some clever (and fast-writing) contemporary romance authors who have already published stories where the ‘meet cute’ is having to isolate with the best friend/long lost love/biggest nemesis/ex/soon-to-be ex/taboo love interest/the one that got away.

But, I can’t…

I write travel romances―stories about finding love when you travel. And in a mid-COVID-19 world, I am struggling to find the romance in lockdown love.

And as we sit amid yet another lockdown, having to isolate and forego hugs, travel, live performances, dinner parties, and a myriad of other (close-human-contact) joys, our time to read has increased exponentially. Some will want to read about people finding love during a pandemic, and others will want to avoid it altogether, escaping into a book the way we used to escape to somewhere new in a car or a plane.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What are your writing or reading during the pandemic?

Catching up with Author Sasha Greene

Today, I am thrilled to welcome author, Sasha Greene.

Sasha Greene

She is a writer and computer programmer who lives in Glasgow, and struggles to stop the books in her house from multiplying mysteriously and overflowing on the bookshelves. (I think many of us can relate to that). Sasha is also an adaptive snowboard instructor, in which she passes on her love of mountains and racing down a hill to people with physical and mental challenges.

I asked Sasha about her debut novel, Something like Happy, and being an author.

Please note that some of the content in this post talks about mental health and suicide.

Tell us what inspired you to write Something Like Happy? 

I’ve always wanted to set a book in Glasgow, because it’s such an amazing city and it tends to get passed over in favour of more glamorous locations. I also really wanted to write a book which touched on the theme of mental health in a positive way, because there is still so much stigma regarding the topic, especially around suicide. There are so many people who seem to be fine at first glance but are actually really struggling with their mental health on a daily basis. All these people inspired me to create my characters, Jade and Nick, who are just doing their best to navigate their way through the issues they’re facing. 

When did you start writing seriously? 

When I was a child, I was very serious about my writing. I wrote fairy tales about witches and talking houses and illustrated them too. I still have copies of them somewhere. I think I was about 15 when I tried to write a historical crime romance story. It wasn’t very good (I know, because I still have a copy of it!) and I think I got a bit disheartened and gave up on writing. I didn’t start writing seriously again until about eight years ago, when I found a course run by Kate Walker on writing romance. She encouraged me to apply to the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme, and the rest is history. 

What do you love most about being an author?

There are so many things it’s hard to pick! Seeing my book and being able to physically turn the pages was so exciting. Getting my first five-star review was exhilarating. But I think the most amazing experience was when someone told me that they had given the book to a friend who never reads books and they loved it and now they want to read more. Knowing that I’ve helped someone to find a joy in reading is something I really treasure.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a follow-up to Something Like Happy, where one of the supporting characters gets his own story. It’s about two people who have both been through traumatic experiences and need to figure out if they can trust each other. PTSD is quite a challenging topic to write about, so it’s taking a lot of work and research but I’m really excited by how it’s all finally starting to come together. It’s going to be another great story.

What do you hope readers will take away from Something Like Happy?

I really like the title of the book because it’s a good reminder that life will not always be happy, but as long as it’s something like happy, then that’s enough. Most of all, it’s just a good story that I hope people will love reading, but if it also gets people talking about mental health then that would be great. I went through a period where I had some serious issues with my mental health, and reading positive stories was what kept me going. Everyone deserves a happy ending.

You can follow Sasha on her website and on Twitter.

More about the book:

something_like_happy_cover-SG

Something Like Happy is an emotional and thought-provoking novel about friendship, love and day-to-day struggles with mental health. Jade is just trying to get by. She doesn’t want to talk about it. She doesn’t want a fuss. But one day she meets Nick and everything changes.

Out of the most difficult of situations, Nick and Jade’s friendship grows into something neither never knew they needed. Jade used to be sure that she was better off alone. But could it be that together, with Nick by her side, she can start to feel something like happy again?

Where can you get it?

Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo | Waterstones | WHSmith | Booktopia | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson

 

#CoverReveal Summer in the City by Emma Jackson

I am thrilled to participate in the cover reveal for Emma Jackson’s Summer in the City,  the heartwarming new holiday read from the bestselling author of A Mistletoe Miracle.

Summer in the City_cover

About the book…
Sometimes the one thing you’re looking for is right in front of you…Stephen is on a very personal mission to find his father as per the wishes in their mother’s will. But he has no idea where to start, not that he’s going to tell anyone that… When Noelle, native New Yorker, daughter of a detective and desperate for a distraction from the novel she’s been struggling to write, offers to help, it feels like the perfect solution.

Except the last time she spoke to Stephen he thought they’d be seeing the New Year in together and instead she stood him up and sold him out! Stephen’s big enough and been around the block enough times to understand that all is fair in love and war, isn’t he? But when Stephen accepts her offer and they begin their search across the city, it soon becomes clear that the weather isn’t the only thing that’s heating up.

A heartwarming summer romance perfect for fans of Heidi Swain, Sarah Morgan and Holly Martin.

About Emma Jackson…
Author of the Best Selling A Mistletoe Miracle, published in 2019 by Orion Dash, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. Her next romantic comedy, Summer in the City, is due for release in June 2020.

Emma also writes historical and speculative romantic fiction as Emma S Jackson. The Devil’s Bride will be published by DarkStroke in February 2020.

You can find out news about Emma via her website www.esjackson.co.uk or on:
Twitter @ESJackson1
Facebook @EmmaJacksonAuthor
Instagram @emma_s_jackson

Catching my breath

I am making time this afternoon to write a post, which I have (as you can see above) entitled ‘Catching my breath’. It’s a ‘fake it ’til you make it’ type strategy as I am professionally breathless.

I am still working fulltime and getting up every day to put in an hour or two of writing/editing/author biz before work. But soon I will be paring back to .9 (woo hoo), giving me every other Friday off to write like a little writing fiend.

When asked about my WIP (work in progress) I currently respond with, ‘which one?’ ’cause there is a little bit going on in my author world.

Status update:

  • My travel romcom series recently got a name: The Holiday Romance series
  • My third book got a name – not officially shouted out on social media yet, but it will be A Sunset in Sydney
  • The same cover artist who created the covers for Books 1 and 2 is – as you read this – creating a gorgeous depiction of Sydney (squee)
  • In January, I finished the first draft of my Christmas novel (coming in October), called The Christmas Swap
  • I am completing structural edits for A Sunset in Sydney right now (well, not right right now, as I am writing this post)
  • When structural edits are handed over, I go back to a re-write of The Christmas Swap which is due at the end of March
  • Once that’s handed over, I will get copy edits back for A Sunset in Sydney
  • In the midst of all this, I am working on the launch of Book 2, That Night in Paris (April 15 – pre-order now!)
  • In June, I go to the UK to attend the HarperCollins author party, the RNA Conference, and to meet my editor and agent in the personage
  • While in the UK, I will go up to Edinburgh for research, as it is the setting for the second half of my 5th book, the 4th book in The Holiday Romance series, which is about a supporting character from Book 2 (did you get all that?)
  • Also while in the UK, A Sunset in Sydney will be published, so lots to do in the lead up to that!
  • And once back from that trip, in early August, I will be finishing Book 5 and will receive structural edits for The Christmas Swap

Actual picture of me when I’m killing it:

pop-art-multitasking-busy-business-woman-at-office-vector-11222980

And sometimes me:

exhausted

But also me:

Jennifer-Aniston-gets-excited-after-winning-her-first-SAG-award

I really, really, really, love being an author and I am still pinching myself.

 

NoNo NaNo, WhyNo FOMO?

NSW Oct 2019

Next month is National Novel Writing Month, or as it’s called in the (writing) biz, NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for short. Yes, I know it sounds like something Mork would chant right after he called Orson, but NaNo is serious.

The goal is to write (at least) 50,000 words of your WIP (work-in-progress) in the month of November, an average of 1666.66 words a day, give or take a decimal point.

I did my first (and only) NaNo in 2018 while we lived in Porto during our sabbatical. I had written 30,000 words of my (then) WIP, and I set myself the goal of finishing the manuscript during NaNo. As we were on sabbatical and I didn’t have any contract work in November, I could dedicate myself to full-time writing. I smashed it. 75,000 words in three weeks.

I had an online support group — NaNo encourages community — and a group of young Portuguese writers who I got together with once.

Only once, because the in-person group weren’t really working towards getting published. One of the gals I met was doing her 12th NaNo. She looked so young , I jokingly asked her if she’d done her first one when she was ten years old. No, she’d been eleven. She’d written eleven manuscripts eleven years and none had seen the light of day since. The others in the group were the same — for them, NaNo was about the community, putting pen to paper, or fingers to keys, and letting the stream of consciousness flow.

For me, NaNo was about writing a novel I could get published. (The novel I finished last November, That Night in Paris, is being published in March by One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins. Watch this space — literally.) I gave these young writers online support for the rest of the month, but as we had very different goals, they weren’t really my writing tribe.

Flash forward to July this year. July is ‘Camp NaNo’ with the more achievable goal of 30,000 words in 31 days. I had an idea for a Christmas book and got 35 000 words in. The biggest difference between NaNo 2018 and Camp NaNo 2019 was that this year, I have a full-time job. I was happy with my Camp NaNo word count, and the manuscript — another ‘watch this space’ for Christmas 2020.

The intensive NaNo approach seems to work for me, so surely I am doing NaNo 2019?

No. NoNo NaNo for me this year.

And, as soon as I made that decision, I felt like I could breathe again.

Because, I’ve got enough to get on with in the next few months. Finalising edits for That Night in Paris, then handing over structural edits for the third book in my travel romcom series, then finishing my Christmas book.

I am already at capacity, and I already have the motivation I need to get the work done.

So this year, I will be championing my writer friends from the sidelines. You got this. You’re amazing. Practice self-care. And write, write, write.