Monday, 8 November 2021

 Why No NaNoWriMo This Year

This year will be the first time I'm not taking part in NaNoWriMo since 2014 and November 1st had a very different feel for me. Seven years ago, I was retired and had just started writing fiction when someone told me about November being National Novel Writing Month. Writers are challenged to write 50,000 words in a month. Back then, if anyone had told me I could write a total of 50,000 words let alone complete a full-length novel I would not have believed them. Yet, I did it and wrote over 54,000 words that first time. My first ever novel was just over half-written; I had totally immersed myself in the story and went on to finish the first draft. It needed a lot of work but I had a complete story to work with. Along the way, I made friends with NaNo buddies who encouraged me and I loved the buzz of seeing the graph of my word counts each evening. Nano is not for everyone and for me the hardest thing is to keep writing without stopping to edit or research but I know getting the words down during Nano worked for me. 

So why not this year? Quite simply, novel four is not ready to be written. Because all my novels have dual timelines, I've learned that it's better for me to plan each story in some detail before starting to write. That doesn't mean that when I'm writing, the story doesn't change or that characters don't act in a way I wasn't expecting - they do - but I prefer to start with a clear idea of the story before starting to write. 

So let me tell you what I've decided about my next story so far and let you into some of the answers to questions I've asked myself.

What is the novel about?
The story explores themes of family relationships especially between siblings, duty, secrets, and forbidden love against a background of the social constraints of the time.

When and where is it set?
As with my other novels, there are two narratives set in different eras, in 1942 and 1964. I want to show how decisions and actions made in the past can have an impact on future generations, this time on the relationship between sisters. The 1940s story is set in mid-Wales but part of the 1960s story takes the reader to Sicily again, where some of my second novel is set. 

Who is it about?
© George Lancett
The main male character is an Italian prisoner of war, as Marco was, based at the Greenfield Farm Camp in Presteigne. For now, I have called him Carlo after one of the early prisoners who arrived in the new camp when the huts were still under construction. As a former builder, his skills were used to complete the buildings used to house the prisoners. It was 1942 and he had been captured in North Africa.

Sara is a young widow living locally on a mid-Wales farm, not far from the POW camp. Her
husband, Alwyn, has been recently killed in active service. She is estranged from everyone in her own family apart from her older sister, Carys, and is struggling to make ends meet for her and her six-year-old son, Gareth. Living with her in-laws is very difficult but it enables her to find work in the village. How will Sara's and Carlo's paths cross?

In 1964, one of the characters will be faced with scenes like this when she visits Sicily for the first time. She'll find the climate, the culture and the food so different from her homeland. Will she find the people mentioned in the strange documents she found in a locked writing case when she cleared the attic in her parents' house? 

My next task is to map out the events in the novel and to undertake some more research. The more I'm getting to know my characters and delve into their stories, the more I'm itching to start writing. Wish me luck!

Do you find the idea of novel four interesting? I hope so. Call back in a week or so to find out how things are progressing. Thanks.

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer page.

For all my books, please visit my Amazon Author page. 

HOT OFF THE PRESS:

Her Nanny's Secret is published in audio tomorrow. It's published by Soundings and again, is read by Deryn Edwards. 


Monday, 25 October 2021

Guest Post With Kirsty Ferry

This week, I'm very pleased to welcome author, Kirsty Ferry, onto the blog to answer some questions about her writing and her latest novel, Christmas of New Beginnings. It was published by Ruby Fiction on October 19th.


Kirsty, welcome! Please tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
Thank you for having me on your blog Jan! I’m Kirsty and I live in the northeast of England with my husband, son and aged Yorkie. I write for Choc Lit and, as of Christmas of New Beginnings, Ruby Fiction as well. Christmas of New Beginnings is a contemporary romantic comedy, all told in the heroine’s voice, and that’s why it’s a Ruby book.
 

I believe Christmas of New Beginnings 
is your sixth Christmas novel. Why do you think Christmas books are so popular with readers?

I think they are quite nice to escape with when you’re getting all stressed about Christmas. Also, they are a lovely way of beginning to feel festive and a good excuse to start on the mince pies early… I do think Christmas books which are part of a series are a nice way of reconnecting with the characters as well, and I’ve really enjoyed writing them too and seeing what my characters are getting up to in the festive period.
 
What was the inspiration for this book?
I wanted to do a fun, romantic comedy and I had already invented the village for my summer 2022 book – as I was writing that one, I realised a couple of characters might need a story of their own and I hadn’t got anything planned for Christmas 2021; so I went away and thought about it, and a Christmas book seemed like a really good way to introduce Padcock village and its inhabitants. I must apologise to the Tasting Panel – I’m sure I completely confused you all by submitting book number one in the series second. I hope you can forgive me!
 
Can you summarise your new novel in just a few sentences?
I can indeed. Cerys has relocated to Padcock and meets Edie and Sam on more or less her first day there. Edie and Cerys soon become great friends, and we find out more about Cerys’ budding relationship with Sam as she tells her story over five Christmases. Five years might seem a long time for them to get together, but as you will see, a few complications arise in the shape of Awful Belinda, who has her hooks well and truly into Lovely Sam for all the wrong reasons.

Do any of your family’s Christmas traditions appear in your novel?
Yes, the fact that there is a Christmas Eve carol service and Cerys goes there with her family and friends. We love to do that – we have a photograph of all our children over several years in the same spot outside the church and it was one of the things we very much missed doing in the non-Christmas of 2020. Also, that one of the things on Cerys and Edie’s agenda for having a fun Christmas is to eat their combined body weight in chocolate and drink a lot of fizzy wine. I can  - and do – do that!
 
When do you write best – are you a lark or an owl?
I am definitely more productive writing-wise in an afternoon or evening. I can certainly be a night owl if I’m really getting into it, and will often work quite late into the night. This feels like a great idea at the time, but it’s never such a great idea when I have to get up for work the next day.
 
Which is more important for you - plot or character?
Character, I think. The characters seem to drive the plot because they all develop their own personalities, and you just can’t put them in a situation they wouldn’t ‘work’ in. It helps that I don’t plot my books. They grow organically from a concept, so I’m quite flexible really when my characters take over and demand things. As a reader, I really have to like the characters I’m reading about as well. I’ve read some books which people have raved about, from some of my favourite authors – and have given up as I don’t like the characters and can’t root for them, no matter how hard I try.
 
Do you have a particular writing routine?

Not really. If I’m trying to finish something and have a deadline of sorts, the TV goes off at 9.00pm and I make a cup of tea and just crack on with it. It helps a bit if my husband is at work and my son is away at uni, because I can just type like a madwoman and nobody can distract me. Apart from the dog, who will try his utmost. I try to get a bit of time in during an afternoon if I’m not at my day job, but it doesn’t always work, and I’ve learned not to let it stress me out like it used to. The only person I’m putting pressure on is myself and I so don’t advocate that.
 
I’m amazed at how many novels you’ve written. What are you working on at present?
Nothing! I’ve just submitted the Christmas 2022 book, and I know I have two other books due out next year – the final one in the Schubert series (which I submitted a while ago), the summer book, which is the second in the Padcock series for Ruby, and the third will hopefully be the Christmas one if the panel pass it. I did quite a bit in lockdown. Although I worked from home all the way through, I’m part-time, so had four days a week to fill. I’m taking some downtime now to decide what I want to work on next, and am concentrating instead on getting a qualification in art. I failed my O level at school, and have always wanted to get an equivalent qualification, so I’m working towards my Level 2 NCFE in Arts. I’m doing it through the local Council’s Learning Skills, and have a lovely group I’m working with and a fab teacher. I’m also doing it at the same school I failed it at, which is rather surreal!
 
What would a reader expect when they pick up a Kirsty Ferry novel?

Ooooh – now you’re asking. I’d hope that they’d pick up a book where they invest in the characters and want to follow the series through to see what happens next. I usually pick a different pair to concentrate on romance-wise for each book, but do include the other characters in some way. A lot of my books are timeslip or dual timeline, but some are contemporary and some are simply quirky and fun. Something to appeal to lots of different readers, I hope! There’s often a mystery or secret to unravel, and a little bit of suspension of your disbelief is required as well. If you’re after Booker Prize-worthy stuff, or deep and meaningful literary fiction, you won’t get it from me. Rather, my hope is that you get a nice, feel-good story that leaves you feeling like a friend of the characters rather than simply just a reader.

A feel-good story that pulls you into the characters' world sounds really good to me. Thank you, Kirsty. I wish you good luck with Christmas of New Beginnings I and hope it flies. 

BLURB:

Not all festive wishes come true right away - sometimes it takes five Christmases...

Folk singer Cerys Davies left Wales for the South Downs village of Padcock at Christmas, desperate for a new beginning. And she ends up having plenty of those: opening a new craft shop-tea room, helping set up the village's first festive craft fair, and, of course, falling desperately in love with Lovely Sam, the owner of the local pub. It's too bad he's firmly in the clutches of Awful Brenda...

Perhaps Cerys has to learn that some beginnings take a while to... well, begin! But with a bit of patience, some mild espionage, a generous sprinkling of festive magic and a flock of pub-crashing sheep, could her fifth Christmas in Padcock lead to her best beginning yet?

BIO:

Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 and has articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that's even better. 

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting. 

For more information on Kirsty, you may visit:

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Website: www.rosethornpress.co.uk

Blog: www.rosethornramblings.wordpress.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kirsty_ferry

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kirsty.ferry.author/

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/kirstyferry/?hl=en

BUYING LINKS for Christmas of New Beginnings

Amazon: Christmas of New Beginnings: A heart warming and uplifting Christmas romance eBook : Ferry, Kirsty: AmazonSmile: Books

To see all of Kirsty's books please visit:  Kirsty Ferry (choc-lit.com)

Thank you for reading. Do you agree with Kirsty about why Christmas novels are so popular? Do they help you escape from the stress of Christmas preparations? I'd love to know what you look for in a Christmas novel. Thanks.

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

To find out about all my books, please visit Jan Baynham Amazon Author page 

Monday, 18 October 2021

 Guest Post with Anni Rose


This week I'm delighted to welcome another Choc Lit author onto the blog, Anni Rose. Anni's second book, A Recipe for Mr Perfect, was published on September 28th.

Anni, welcome!

Thank you, Jan, for inviting me onto your blog today as part of my blog tour for Recipe for Mr Perfect.

Please tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I have always loved both reading and writing. As a child, I was always happiest losing myself in fictional worlds. I turned out numerous stories and recently when we were clearing out my mother’s house some of my earlier works made a reappearance. On leaving school, the need to earn a living sort of got in the way of any creative ambitions and I became an accountant where my only published work apart from regular financial reports was the employees’ handbook.

A local writing course and an encouraging group of writing friends re-ignited the fiction flame many years later and I went on to win or be short listed in a number of writing competitions and had short stories published in Writers Forum, My Weekly and Sophie King’s ‘How to Write your Life Story’.

These days I would describe my writing as modern romantic stories with a healthy dollop of humour thrown in and was delighted to be signed by Choc Lit this year. It really was a dream come true.

What inspired you to write Recipe for Mr Perfect?

Usually, I get an idea for a character first, but in this case, I used to take wedding photographs and the idea for Recipe for Mr Perfect started with an incident I witnessed while waiting at one Register Office for “my couple” to arrive. The wedding before was being photographed on a patch of grass next to the building. Believe me, compared to that, Darren and Leanne’s wedding was a very toned-down affair- what is it that’s said about truth being stranger than fiction.

Can you summarise your new novel in just a few sentences?

A romantic comedy about the friendship between three women who work together. Outside the office, they may each have a life of their own, but when each woman suffers a personal catastrophe, they can’t help but bring their problems to work. Are office relationships strong enough to help each other through their own crises? and who all find love when they least expect it.

Plotter or pantser?

I’d like to say I was a plotter. I like to have the beginning and the ending sorted out in my head before I start, but what normally happens is that once I start writing I go off at a tangent and end up somewhere quite different to where I expected.

Which is more important - plot or character?

I need to know who my characters are before I can start writing, once I know who they are, I find it easier to figure out how they will cope with whatever the plot throws at them. My plots are generally sparked by an idea, that can come from anything. Quite often it is a snatch of overheard conversation or even a misunderstanding.

On a more general note, do you have a particular writing routine?

Mornings normally start with a dog walk. I love that time and need it to get my head round the day ahead, what needs to be done, in terms of writing and life in general, once back, a cup of tea and I’m ready to get going. I am most productive in the mornings, sometimes I will get so involved in a storyline that I’ll keep going all day, but sometimes I just feel relieved when some words appear on the page.

What is the biggest compliment a reader could pay you after reading Recipe for Mr Perfect?

It’s still early days for me, so I’m always amazed when anyone says they’ve read my book. But I’ve had some lovely reviews; it’s so lovely to hear what readers think of books, I’m always happy when they say they enjoyed reading it, especially when it cheered them up or made them laugh. 

This is your second published novel and I know there are others on the way. What should readers expect when they pick up an Anni Rose book?

I am definitely a Happy-Ever-After writer, so hopefully readers will always be reasonably happy with the ending, in that everyone ends up where they should be! I like humour and try and make sure I include some in every novel.

What are you currently working on?

Now you’re asking! I have so many ideas at various stages of development. All my books are set around the fictional town of Redford but are standalone books, although some of the characters reappear in more than one. My third combines the heady world of probate research with the equestrian community and the one I am currently working on is about a registrar. Surely if you marry people every day then your own happiness must be guaranteed, mustn’t it? 

I know you are also a photographer. Do your pictures inspire scenes or plots in your writing or do you keep the two areas of expertise separate?

Not exactly and if I see something that I think will be useful, be that a landscape or an outfit, then quite often I take a quick picture. It’s so easy these days with a phone and I do take a huge amount of pictures, but the images I enjoy creating most at the moment are more abstract, something with multiple images, or slow exposure, that you can’t always see with the naked eye.

Thank you, Anni. I wish you lots of success with your new novel.

BLURB FOR Recipe for Mr Perfect: 

How do you know if you’ve found Mr Perfect or Mr Perfectly Useless? 

Jess Willersey realised things with Martin weren’t perfect, but it’s still a shock when he leaves. Is she destined to a singleton lifestyle with only her cat for company, or could a certain hat-astrophic encounter with a handsome stranger at a rather unusual wedding signal a turning point?

At the same time, Jess’s best friends and work colleagues, Maggie and Sarah, are going through their own personal disasters – from shocking family revelations to dodgy dating app-related drama.

To top it all off, it seems that the handsome stranger won’t remain a stranger – and when Neil Jackson turns up at the friends’ offices with yet another bombshell, how long will he stay ‘Mr Perfect’ in Jess’s eyes?

BIO:

Born and raised in Berkshire, Anni emigrated to Wiltshire six years ago, where she lives with her husband, sister, two dogs, a cat and Midge, the grey speckled hen.

Away from writing, Anni can usually be found behind a camera, walking the dogs, enjoying one of her husband's curries or sister's bakery treats.

Links on Amazon/other platforms:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3lqwepf

Apple: https://apple.co/3BpysL9

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3iM3p4H

Google Books: https://bit.ly/3uVCGYv

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3AmzplN

Website: https://bit.ly/3AsYFHc


Author Links:

Twitter: @AnniRoseAuthor

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnniRoseAuthor

Website: https://anniroseauthor.co.uk

Instagram: anniroseauthor

Thank you for reading. Do you keep hobbies or your other job separate or do you include them in your fictional writing in any way? I'd love it if you left a comment. Thank you. 

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

To find out about all my books, please visit Jan Baynham Amazon Author Page

 

Monday, 11 October 2021

 Guest Post with Evonne Wareham


Today, I'm delighted to welcome writing friend, Evonne Wareham back to the blog. Evonne is an established author published by Choc Lit of which my publisher, Ruby Fiction, is an imprint. We are both members of the local Cariad Chapter of the RNA and she lives not far from me. Her latest novel, A Villa in Portofino, was published on September 21st.

Welcome, Evonne! Congratulations on the publication of your novel last month. I'm looking forward to hearing more of 'the story behind the story'. Over to you.

Many thanks to Jan for inviting me on to the blog today as part of the blog tour for the third in my romantic suspense series set on the Riviera – A Villa in Portofino.

Writing the Perfect book.

Is there such a thing as a perfect book?

Of course there is, it’s the one in your head when you first sit down with an almost blank piece of paper with two magic words at the top “Chapter One”

If any author has ever managed to get beyond this delightful mirage and write the thing, I’ve never yet met them. If they do exist it would be wonderful to know the secret.

For the rest of us, well, there’s the story you think you are writing and the story you actually get. Not at all the same thing. Once you have begun to write, the book has its own ideas, and as for the characters ... These are people you have created. Surely you should be able to make them behave? Well – all I can say is – Good luck with that.

I’m not claiming that my latest book, A Villa in Portofino, was ever going to come close to the perfect book. I hope it’s the best book that I and my editor can make it, but I have enough experience now to know that the thing will change in the making. And actually this one did, quite a bit.

First off it was going to have a distinctly gothic tone – neglected villa, overgrown garden, mysterious legacy from unknown relative. That lasted about five minutes when I realised that all that darkness and gloom was not going to survive an encounter with the Italian sunshine. And I do like my sunshine. The gothic idea is still in there. Maybe it will emerge one day as a Halloween novella? 

Along with the gothic setting the book was going to have an element of gas-lighting. The term refers to psychological manipulation attempting to make a person think they are insane – a classic creepy horror device. I was going to lean a little more heavily towards unexpected accidents and disturbing vandalism – designed to make Megan want to give up her legacy. This would allow the villainess to buy the villa from her. It didn’t take long for that one to bite the dust either. Organising all that mayhem was going to require a henchman or two and the persona I had in mind for the villainess was of a fastidious and snooty woman who just wouldn’t play into that setup. Gabriella was already taking shape on the page and she would operate in a much more devious way. She has her henchmen, but not the kind who organise accidents - far too unsubtle and quite beyond her to arrange with the domestic setup I had created for her.

In the first plan too the reader would see the villainess but not know who she was. For that I had to create three or four possible female candidates, one of whom would be revealed at the end. That hung on for about the first 10,000 words, by which time I realised that creating even three women with any depth was going to take far too much attention away from the villa and from Megan and Gideon. Back to the drawing board. The other women survived and thrived though, in supporting roles, as Bianca and Alcinda, who became Megan’s friends and Signora Bertolo, Gideon’s landlady. Gabriella reigned supreme as villainess and developed in ways that I had never foreseen.

The perfect book? Or even the book I intended to write? I don’t think so. The restoration of the villa and its garden and Megan and Gideon’s love affair were constants, but the story had its own way in quite a lot of the rest. It doesn’t really matter, as long as the readers enjoy it.

Thank you, Evonne. That's made me want to read your book even more. It's already downloaded onto my Kindle and I can't wait to escape to Italy and immerse myself in Megan and Gideon's story.

Evonne is an award winning Welsh author of romantic suspense - more crime and dead bodies than your average romance. She likes to set her book in her native Wales, or for a touch of glamorous escapism, in favourite holiday destinations in Europe. She is a Doctor of Philosophy and an historian, and a member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association.

Twitter  https://twitter.com/evonnewareham

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/evonnewarehamauthor/

Website  www.evonnewareham.com

Blog  www.evonneonwednesday.blogspot.com

 A Villa in Portofino

Third in the ‘Riviera’ Series of romantic suspense: love and mayhem in the sunshine of the French and Italian Riviera

From chambermaid to "got it made"...

When hotel cleaning temp and poetry academic Megan Morrison finds out she's inherited an Italian villa and small fortune from her estranged great-great-aunt Olwen, she doesn't quite know how to react. That is, until she travels to Portofino to see Il Guardino delle Rose for herself. Then she knows exactly what she has to do: live there!

Enchanted by the beauty of the house and gardens, fascinated by the history, and more than a little intrigued by handsome hired landscape gardener Gideon West, Megan can immediately see the villa's potential as a dream home.

But having long-lost relatives sometimes means long-lost secrets - and it seems that Olwen had plenty of those. Could these secrets and a jealous obsession be powerful enough to drive Megan out of the house she's already fallen in love with?

Available as an e-book from

Kindle https://www.amazon.co.uk/Villa-Portofino-Evonne-Wareham-ebook/dp/B09CDPWB98/r?tag=smarturl-gb-21

Apple https://books.apple.com/gb/book/a-villa-in-portofino/id1580723491?id=1580723491&ign-itsct=books_box_link&ign-itscg=30200

Barnes and Noble/Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-villa-in-portofino-evonne-wareham/1139997714?ean=2940162375562

Kobo  https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/a-villa-in-portofino

Google playbooks  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Evonne_Wareham_A_Villa_in_Portofino?id=JylAEAAAQBAJ&gl=GB

Goodreads Reviews  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58773338-a-villa-in-portofino?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=1t6hnjlD7p&rank=6

Thank you for reading. Have your stories changed from the initial idea to the one that readers find behind the cover of the published book? Is there a constant that was there from the very beginning? I'd love it if you commented. Thank you.

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

To find about all my books, please visit Jan Baynham Amazon Author Page

 

Monday, 4 October 2021

 Guest Post with Sarah Edghill


This week I am delighted to welcome onto the blog author, Sarah Edghill, whose debut novel, A Thousand Tiny Disappointments, has just been published by Bloodhound books. 

Welcome to the blog, Sarah. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your writing.

My name is Sarah Edghill and I have been making up stories since I was old enough to hold a pencil. When I was seven, my parents bought me a mustard-coloured Petite Junior typewriter and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Luckily none of my works of fiction from those early days remain in public circulation. Having finished a politics degree at university, I spent the summer doing work experience on four different women’s magazines, after which one of the editors offered me a job. I spent my career working as a journalist for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, before turning my hand to fiction about seven years ago.

Can you summarise your novel in just a few sentences?

It’s the story of Martha, whose mother dies unexpectedly and leaves her home to a stranger.
Juggling a difficult home life and getting no support from her uninterested husband or arrogant brother,
Martha is left facing the ultimate moral dilemma: should she carry out her mother’s last wishes, or destroy the evidence so no one will ever know?

Perhaps, you’d like to tell us about the journey to publication. 

It’s been a long one! About seven years ago, my husband enrolled me on a weekend Guardian Masterclass on fiction writing, which was inspirational. In just two days, the tutor gave us a lightning-fast overview of everything from plot development and characterisation, to dialogue and point of view – I came away with reams of useful notes. A year later I got a place on the six-month Faber Academy Novel Writing course, and by that time I was working on my second book (the first was truly dire). After the course ended, I began submitting that book to agents, with no success, and started writing something else. That third book got some interest from agents, but no offers, so then I wrote something else! By the time a publisher picked up A Thousand Tiny Disappointments, earlier this year, I had six previous novels tucked away in a drawer, three of which had been out on submission. Over the years I’d got quite knowledgeable about the submission process: I’d done a lot of research into literary agencies and which authors they had on their books. I usually started by going out to about a dozen agents, then – as the rejections trickled in – I’d send out to a few more. I had many requests for full manuscripts, and plenty of kind, personal rejections, but never made it any further than that. The breakthrough came when I started submitting directly to publishers. I’d had positive feedback from editors at Bookouture and Avon, then saw a tweet by a writer who was published by Bloodhound Books, saying how fantastic they’d been. I rattled off a submission and less than a fortnight later they got back to me and said they wanted to publish A Thousand Tiny Disappointments.

The characters in your novel appear very real and you successfully get into their heads, especially Martha’s. Did they come first or the story you wanted to tell? 

The idea came first: how would a daughter react, if her mother – to whom she’d always been close - effectively disinherited her? I then thought a lot about Martha and her relationship with her mother, Judith, and began to jot down notes. I would tap out a few hundred words on my laptop, then go away and mull on it, coming back to write some more the next day. So, from that initial starting point, I guess the plot and characters developed in tandem. Once I had Martha and Judith, the other characters began to fit in around them. I knew I had to throw an awful lot at Martha: make her life as difficult as possible and put her in a really tricky position. So, her husband and brother were important because they needed to make her life hard. Joe, her son, has a small part - in that he can’t personally influence events - but actually he was a vital character, because he shows us so much about Martha – what she’s been through, what she’s struggling with, how her life may pan out.

How would you like your readers to feel when they’ve finished reading your book?

I hope they’ll feel I’ve given them a satisfying ending. Some readers may think Martha lets herself be pushed around by her brother and her husband – and even by her mother. But she goes on a traumatic journey, and she emerges from it stronger, wiser and happier. She finds out who her friends are, and she discovers a lot about herself in the process. So, although this isn’t a typical ‘happy ending’ book – I hope readers will ultimately find it uplifting.

How much planning did you do for the novel?

I always used to be a pantser – flying by the seat of your pants – so I’d come up with an idea and feel so excited by it that I’d start writing with no real idea where I was going. That meant I got stuck regularly, not knowing what should happen, although invariably the next bit of the plot would eventually occur to me and I’d be off again. I wrote three books that way, and didn’t have much success with any of them. Probably because they needed a serious structural edit! But with A Thousand Tiny Disappointments, I planned the whole novel first, starting by writing a general ramble (which included character information, plot points and even snippets of dialogue). I then went through that and extended it. By the time I started writing, I had a detailed chapter breakdown. I still made changes as I went along, but the general plot was there for me to follow.

© Victoria Strauss

On a more general note, do you have a particular writing routine?

Sadly not. When I’m immersed in a particular project, I slip away and write whenever I have a spare moment and can escape from the domestic chaos. But some days there is no spare time. My youngest child is 17, so there isn’t endless parenting to be done, but I still do some journalism and work on an art magazine, plus we have two holiday cottages, and I do the cleaning and admin for those. So, there are days when no writing gets done, and other days when I have several empty hours stretching ahead of me – which I love!

What can readers look forward to next?

I started writing a new book at the end of 2020 and finished it early this year. I sent it out on submission a few months ago and was delighted when I was offered representation by Hannah Todd at the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency. This new book, Last Orders, is very different to A Thousand Tiny Disappointments – much lighter, possibly ‘cosy’, although I’m not sure I really like that description. But I’m currently working on the novel with Hannah and we’re hoping to submit it to publishers in the next couple of months.

What is the best piece of advice you’d like to give to a new writer?

Develop the skin of a rhino. Writing is full of disappointments – but that doesn’t mean you haven’t got talent and will never succeed. But it’s hard to keep believing in yourself when you get a stream of rejections, and it’s soul-destroying when you don’t even hear back from many of the agents or publishers you approach. But resilience is essential in this business, so pick yourself up again, brush yourself off and keep going.

Congratulations on getting an agent! What does that mean to you as a debut writer?

It means so much! It’s what I’ve been working towards for the last few years and I’ve been close on so many occasions, with agents sending me kind, personal rejections for books I’ve submitted, but saying they weren’t quite right for their lists, or they weren’t sure they could sell the book in the current climate. I’d long got past the stage of being excited when I saw an agent’s name appear in my email inbox – I was conditioned to expect it would be another rejection. When Hannah contacted me, things moved quickly: she emailed me on the Tuesday to say she’d just started at the agency and Madeleine had passed my book to her. We had a phone conversation on the Wednesday and I signed the contract the next morning. It was extraordinary, and almost surreal after I’d been waiting for exactly this, for such a long time. I was high as a kite for days and I’m now hugely looking forward to working with Hannah on my book. She is so positive and enthusiastic and has some great ideas for how we move forward.

If you were asked to tell us one thing about ‘the other me’, what would that be?

I drink too much wine and eat too much chocolate, but – to make all that possible – I do loads of exercise: tennis, netball, cycling, plus dog walking. There is nothing to beat the buzz you get from cardiovascular exercise. And afterwards, all the alcohol and chocolate can be guilt-free!


Thank you, Sarah. It's been fascinating to learn more about you and your writing. As you know, I loved A Thousand Tiny Disappointments and I hope the novel flies!

 

BLURB FOR ‘A Thousand Tiny Disappointments’:

Life is never perfect, but sometimes it’s just not fair.

Martha is being pulled in too many directions, trying to be a good mother, a loving wife and a dutiful daughter. Despite it all, she’s coping.

But then her elderly mother is rushed to hospital and dies unexpectedly, and it exposes the cracks in the life Martha is struggling to hold together. When she discovers her mother has left her house to a stranger, she’s overwhelmed by grief and hurt.

Getting no support from her disinterested husband or arrogant brother, Martha makes some bad decisions.

If she was a good daughter, she would abide by her mother’s final wishes. If she was a good daughter, she wouldn’t destroy the evidence.

BIO:  

Sarah Edghill worked as a journalist for many years, before turning to fiction. She attended the Faber Academy Novel Writing course, then went on to write two mediocre novels before a third (much better one) caught the eye of the judges and won the Katie Fforde Contemporary Fiction Award at Stroud Literary Festival. Since then she has written more novels and has been long- and short-listed in several short story and novel competitions and won 1st prize in the National Association of Writers’ Groups Short Story Competition. She lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, three (mostly grown-up) children and far too many animals. Her debut novel, A Thousand Tiny Disappointments was published by Bloodhound Books in September 2021. 

Links on Amazon/other platforms:   mybook.to/tinydisappointments

Blog and website: www.sarahedghill.com

FB Author page: Sarah Edghill Author

Twitter: @EdghillSarah

Instagram: Sarah.Edghill

Thank you for reading. Do you agree with Sarah's advice for a new writer? What would you add? 

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

See my books on Jan Baynham Author Page on Amazon.

Friday, 17 September 2021

 Her Nanny's Secret Is Published

Last Tuesday, September 7th, my third novel about family secrets entered the world. After all the build-up and nervous anticipation, Her Nanny's Secret was out there. Readers were meeting Annie and Clara, Edmund and Odile, Ted, Frank, Diana and others for the first time. What would they think? Would they warm to them? How would they judge Annie? 

How did I prepare for the big day?

As with the other two novels, I started counting down the days by posting a snippet of text from the book accompanied by an appropriate image. One of the most popular posts was this one:

8 Days to go until Her Nanny's Secret is published 

'Le Vieux Moulin was situated down a narrow lane with fields on either side where brown and white cattle grazed. The main farm building was close to a stream, and the old mill from which the farm's name must have derived was at one end with a now silent water-wheel testament to its past history.'

I hoped that the posts would create interest for potential readers. I don't know whether it had any bearing on sales but it was good to receive messages from people saying how much they were enjoying them.

My lovely publishers, Ruby Fiction, organised a Hop-On-Tour of blog appearances and I was busy writing guest blog posts. They ranged from questions and answers about books, sharing what I liked about my garden, the inspiration for the story, ten things people may not know about me as well as talking about the Welsh and French locations in the novel. I interviewed Annie Beynon, the main character in the book and discussed the opportunities the war setting gave to make my story more poignant. In another, I talk about escaping to France and then I tell readers why the cover of Her Nanny's Secret is perfect for what they'll read inside. A sincere thank you to all the bloggers who allowed me to be a guest on their blogs.


How did I celebrate publication day? 


The day coincided with the first face-to-face meeting of Cariad Chapter and it was good to share it with other writers, especially the cake.

In the evening, my husband and I went out for a meal at Cote Brasserie in Cardiff Bay. As we enjoyed the French-inspired food, I remembered Annie and Clara eating at restaurants in France in the 1963 part of the novel. We toasted them with a Kir Royale to start!

Since then, the week has been amazing. Very generous five-star reviews are appearing every day - thank you readers! Getting messages from people saying how much they are enjoying the story is very rewarding, too. 


For one day, Her Nanny's Secret even had a little orange flag for being a number 1 Amazon Hot Release For Equestrian and Animal Sports and is now sitting at number 2.




Buying Links for Her Nanny's Secret:





All three of my novels are now available in paperback on Amazon.




Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham https://twitter.com/JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer page https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

 Novel Three

Today was the cover reveal of my third novel, Her Nanny's Secret. It will be published on Tuesday 7th September, five weeks today. 

I'm delighted that the images on the front of the book give a hint of the era and what lies between its pages. As with my first two novels, it's another dual narrative. Annie and Clara's stories will take you from the heart of beautiful rural mid-Wales to Normandy in Northern France. 

I imagined Mary-Ann, known as Annie, to look exactly like the image on the cover. She is the only daughter of Ted and the late Nell Beynon. 

She had auburn wavy hair and hazel eyes that appeared to change from green to nut-brown depending on whatever colour she was wearing.

After her youngest brother, Reggie, enlists to fight for King and country in 1941, Annie applies to replace him as a groom at Cefn Court, a large country house very much like the one on the cover of the book. Her brother was responsible for Kenna, an elegant chestnut mare belonging to Mr Edmund, the son of Sir Charles and Lady Delia Pryce.

She had been born in one of the stables there at Cefn Court on one of the most magnificent red sunsets Radnor had ever known, so Reggie said, and it was right that they had given her a name meaning “born of fire”.

Will Annie get the position of groom in spite of the fact she's a girl? Why and how does she become a nanny? I'd love to think you'll read the novel to find out, discover the secrets that were kept for over twenty years and why she travels to France in 1963.

In the weeks before publication day, I shall be posting images and snippets of the novel to hopefully whet your appetite for a story that I enjoyed writing. 

From today, you can pre-order Her Nanny's Secret on:
Thank you if you do. 

Thank you, too, for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page. 

 

Monday, 19 July 2021

 Guest Post with Eva Glyn

This week on the blog, I am delighted to welcome friend and author, Eva Glyn, to talk about her novel, The Missing Pieces of Us, which will be published by One More Chapter on July 21st.

Eva, welcome. Please tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
Although Welsh by birth, and having grown up in Cardiff, not a million miles from where you live, Jan, I moved to Cornwall four years ago. The idea was to downsize to a place my husband and I could lock up and leave to travel, although of course there hasn’t been a great deal of that going on in the last fifteen months. There has been a lot of writing though.

The Missing Pieces of Us is your debut novel writing as Eva Glyn. Can you tell us a little about the story behind the story?
The story was inspired by a tree. A very special tree in the woods above the River Hamble, exactly as it is described in the book. I was taken there by a friend back in 2009 and instantly knew it had stories to tell:
‘The oak stood on the rise above the path, not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings – pieces of ribbon, a daisy chain, a shell necklace…’
Children also leave letters for the fairies who look after the tree and guess what? The fairies reply. 

Before I’d even read a word of your novel, I knew it would be a book for me because of the wonderful cover design. Can you tell us about that and the intriguing title?
The book was originally indie published as The Faerie Tree in 2015 with quite a dark cover, because I didn’t want it to look like a children’s book. Over time, I realised the title wasn’t doing it any favours so I dreamt up one that would say more about the story, and felt quite modern. The cover is all down to the wonderful design team at One More Chapter – I can take no credit. 

the fairy tree
Your characters, Izzie and Robin, are very credible and you explore a whole range of human emotions through them. Can you say which came first, the characters or the story you wanted to tell?
Robin came first. It was some months after I’d first seen the fairy tree and I was sitting in Caffe Nero in Winchester watching homeless men gather at the Buttercross outside, and I started to wonder what it would be like to recognise one of them. A friend had suffered a pretty cataclysmic breakdown the year before and I wanted to write a story to show that recovery and happiness were possible. 

How much planning did you do for The Missing Pieces of Us?
Absolutely none. I just started to write and kept writing. These days I need to be more organised, because I have an outline agreed by my publisher beforehand so I need to have the whole story laid out in my head, as well as character sketches and settings. It’s better that way because everyone knows what they’re working towards. As readers, we all recognise that sinking feeling when we pick up a book that just isn’t how it’s described in the blurb. 

How much research did you have to do? How did you set about it? 
I wrote what I knew, set in places I knew. But I had one major problem and I didn’t know the answer until the book was almost finished; how on earth could Robin and Izzie’s memories of the past be so different? In the indie book it was left a little ambiguous, although there were strong pointers, but in the new version it’s far clearer, and that’s the one change my editor at One More Chapter wanted me to make. 

How would you like your readers to feel when they’ve finished reading your book?
Optimistic and hopeful. Because if Robin and Izzie, who in their own ways have suffered so much, can move beyond that, then perhaps most people can. 

On a more general note, do you have a particular writing routine?
When I’m writing a first draft I do, and it’s first thing in the morning, with a latte at my side. I read through what I wrote the day before and make corrections, then it’s at least a thousand new words. Sometimes more if it’s really flowing. Once I’ve finished we’ll go for a walk – often quite a long one – and then I’ll get on with the rest of the business of the day; often social media and marketing, or research. 

What, for you, is the very hardest part of writing? And what is the most rewarding?
Writing endings is both the hardest and the most rewarding. As a writer, you want the readers to be completely satisfied when they close the book and I still find it really hard to say goodbye to the characters in the right way.

I know that 2021 is a very busy year for you. What can readers look forward to next?
At the beginning of August my first dual timeline, written as Jane Cable, will be published. It’s called The Forgotten Maid and it’s a romantic mystery set in Cornwall during the Poldark era and the present day. I’m very excited because I’ve wanted to set a book here since I moved and I loved researching it so much it’s going to be the first of a series of standalone novels going back to the same period. Then in early September, my second Eva Glyn book comes out. I was inspired to write The Olive Grove by an incredibly moving story I heard about growing up during the Balkan war in the 1990s. We were on holiday in Croatia at the time and it was our tour director’s personal experience, and he has helped me no end with the book. 

If you were asked to tell us one thing about ‘the other me’, what would that be? 
I’ve always loved cricket and I was so inspired by the 2005 Ashes win I blagged my way into becoming a freelance cricket writer. I think knowing I was in the media centre at Lord’s covering a test match was my father’s proudest moment!

Thank you, Jane, for giving us a look behind the scenes of The Missing Pieces of Us. Readers are in for a treat. 

Buy links for The Missing Pieces of Us can be found here:

Personal links:

Website: www.evaglynauthor.com
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/evaglynauthor/?hl=en
Facebook:EvaGlynAuthor
Twitter: @EvaGlyn

Thank you for reading. I'm sure, like me, you will have been fascinated to hear about the inspiration behind Eva's novel. Writers, have you been inspired to write by something you found or witnessed unexpectedly in nature? 

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.