Monday 27 February 2023

 Me and My Lists

I'm most definitely a list person. There's nothing I like more than ticking off a list or striking a line through something that's been done. After getting fed up of finding random pieces of paper on which, to him, were a series of unrelated words, my husband found the ideal book for me. 

Mrs Hinch -The Little Book of Lists is listed as a best seller on Amazon so it makes me think that maybe I'm not alone in relying on lists. Each week and in one place, I can list what to buy, when to post birthday cards, keep track of dates of appointments, and when to meet someone. So could this little book help me with my writing?

I read somewhere that finding a shopping list could be a great way into writing a story. Who does the list belong to? Can you tell from the items on the list the lifestyle of that person? How many others are in the family or do they live alone? Does the person have any pets? Have any of you tried this?

When I was still at the querying stage and received a rejection for my novel, I would highlight all the positive comments in one colour to give me the motivation to carry on submitting and the suggestions for improvement and why the manuscript wasn't accepted in another. I would then list all the ideas I agreed with and enjoy ticking them off one by one as each was addressed. It must have worked because I was thrilled when my debut novel, My Mother's Secret was published by Ruby Fiction as part of a three-book contract.

When starting a new novel, I list my characters and where they may fit in the story. What are they like in appearance, what are their personalities, do they have any particular traits, what are their backstories? The list of questions is endless. (See what I did there.) In that way, I get to know my characters really well from the outset.

Perhaps the main use of lists for me in the writing process is in editing. Before submitting to my publisher, I spend considerable time self-editing and polishing the novel until it is as good as I can make it myself. First, I start with a complete read-through to see if the story flows without any plot holes, noting anything I find in the form of a list to refer back to and hopefully tick off. I do this on my Kindle and make notes as I read. Next, I ask myself a series of questions including these important ones:

- does that scene move the story on?

- does the reader need to know that?

- is there anything that was set up in the novel that was not resolved by the end of the story?

When it comes to line editing where I try to sharpen and tighten the writing, that is where lists come into their own. I look at whether I could have used a better word, expression, or sentence. Everyone is guilty of repetition; I certainly am. In novel four, my characters 'beamed' a lot and 'hearts raced' too many times.  By making lists of the words I overuse and other 'weak' words, I was able to use the 'Find and Replace' function on Word and hopefully improve my writing.  Often, I needed more dialogue rather than reported speech which slowed the pace and to get inside the characters' heads to know what they were feeling.

I submitted novel four with its working title, A Tale of Two Sisters, last week after I'd done as thorough an edit as I could. If the publisher likes it, I will then receive edits from my editor and work through those in the same methodical way that works best for me using lists. I'm really hoping I can share Claudia and Giulietta's story with you. 

Thank you for reading. Are you a list person like me? If you're a writer, do you find lists help you when writing, and at what stage? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

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

For more about me and my writing, please go to my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGEThank you.

Monday 6 February 2023

Guest Post with Victoria Cornwall

I'm very pleased to welcome author Victoria Cornwall to the blog. Her latest novel, Waiting for our Rainbow, was published by Choc Lit Publishing UK last week.

Victoria, welcome. Your new book looks and sounds wonderful. I can't wait to hear about the inspiration for the story so it's over to you!

Thank you. Sometimes historical facts can be all the inspiration you need for a story. It leads to questions like what must it have been like to be there at the time? What would I have felt and done in the same situation?

Try to imagine you’ve just reached adulthood. Dances, boyfriends and a little independence from your parents are finally on the cards. Suddenly all that is put on hold when war is declared. The horror of war affects every aspect of your life during the years that follow. It’s no wonder you begin to feel war-weary and despondent.

Suddenly a truck full of American soldiers arrives and park-ups in the village square, turning the quiet village into a hive of activity and excitement. Their accents and white, broad smiles remind you of handsome movie stars and for a moment it feels as if Hollywood glamour has arrived in your provincial life. Unlike your own British soldiers, who wear cheap serge wool, these foreign soldiers wear expensive and combatively stylish uniforms. These young men have a surprisingly laid-back attitude and you watch, intrigued, as they climb down from their trucks with cigarettes casually held between their lips. No standing to attention for them, instead they chew gum as they wait to be told what to do.

You soon discover these men are very different to any male family member or neighbour you have met before. These men are extrovertly confident, with money in their pockets and unique chat-up lines. Even the music and language they use are very different to what you have ever known before. It's all very alluring to you, a war-weary young woman starved of fun.

You don’t yet know that despite their outward confidence, these men have never known the terror of war and shot a gun in combat before. They don’t even know why they have arrived in your village. But you soon learn that they want to have fun in their time off and so do you. There is almost a tangible air of excitement around you as you soak in the organised chaos with your eyes.

A lone soldier’s gaze meets yours across the crowd. The connection sends a pleasant shiver through your body, a feeling you have never felt before. If he asks you on a date, could you resist him?

As I researched the arrival of American troops in Cornwall preparing for D Day, I had to ask myself the same question. Inspired by numerous relationships between British women and American soldiers during the preparations for D Day, this novel is about Joe and Anne’s blossoming love story, the hurdles they face and the inevitable goodbye they would one day have to say. Find out if Anne can resist Joe in Waiting For Our Rainbow as he prepared for the greatest amphibious assault in military history – an operation that would become the turning point in the war that killed and maimed so many.

Thank you, Victoria. I want to read your novel even more now. I can't wait to read Joe and Anne's love story.

Waiting For Our Rainbow was released as an Ebook on 31st January, 2023. A paperback and audio version will follow shortly afterwards.

Social media links


Twitter: @VickieCornwall



YouTube Channel:


About the book

Waiting For Our Rainbow is a WW2 romance between an American soldier and a young Cornish woman during the preparations for D Day.

 Would you give your heart away if you knew it could only end in goodbye?

It should have been a time of romance and excitement for Anne – but it’s 1941 and the war is raging. So instead, she spends her days repairing spitfire wings and reminding herself that the real sacrifice is going on far away from her Cornish village. 

When the news breaks that America has entered the war, it brings cautious hope to Anne and her family. And eventually, as the Jeeps filled with GIs roll in, it seems their little community is to play a pivotal role in the next stage of the fight.

But the Americans don’t just bring Hollywood glamour and optimism, they also bring something more tantalising – so when Anne meets handsome Joe Mallory, she has to remind herself of exactly why he’s there; that any relationship between them could only end in goodbye.

But is the inevitability of ‘goodbye’ powerful enough to stop what has already begun to blossom?

Buying Links

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:




Google Play:


Victoria grew up on a farm in Cornwall and is married with two grown up children and three grandchildren. She likes to read and write historical romance with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

Her books have subsequently reached the finals of the NEW TALENT AWARD at the Festival of Romantic Fiction, the RNA's JOAN HESSAYON AWARD, the 2021 RNA's Goldsboro Books HISTORICAL ROMANTIC NOVEL AWARD. Her books have also been twice nominated for the RONE Best Indie or Small Published Book Award by InD'tale magazine.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Thank you for reading. As a writer, has a historical event inspired you in your writing? As a reader, what history-inspired novel would you be drawn to? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thank you.

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

For more about me and my writing, please visit my AMAZON page.