It was bright sunshine and 32 degrees about five minutes ago, but now the fairy lights are untangled and on the tree, the gifts are bought and (not quite) wrapped and we've been stockpiling mince pies for weeks.
It's also the time of year I start writing a summer-themed book, which means thinking about sun, sand and ice-creams, which isn't easy when Christmas carols are playing on a loop on the TV and radio, it's frosty outside, and I'm dipping into a tin of Quality Street to keep my strength up.
I'm not complaining though. Three years ago, I couldn't have imagined that I would be writing my eighth novel for Bookouture and making a living, doing something I love so much.
I'd like to thank you for continuing to read my blog, and hopefully my books, and to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
See you on the other side!
Friday, November 2, 2018
(It sounded like the start of a poem, but I ran out of steam.)
After completing the the last book in my Seashell Cove series, I was lucky enough to be offered a new contract with Bookouture to write 3 more novels, this time set in France - ooh la la! Do the French ever say that? (I've just looked it up and they do, but it has 'very strong sexual connotations' so I won't be using it again.)
I've not been to France since my honeymoon in Paris, seventeen years ago, so some research was obviously needed. I wanted an area with sun, sea, sand...and preferably somewhere it would snow, for the Christmas book. Not so easy to get all the elements and I spent many hours online, to the point where I felt like a native - though sadly, I didn't learn to speak French by osmosis.
In the end, I turned to the good folk of Facebook for inspiration and received some wonderful suggestions (and holiday ideas), but in the end settled for the Ile de Re (image above) an island off the west coast of France, not far from La Rochelle, as it was the closest to the setting I'd had in mind.
Meanwhile the first draft of Escape to The Little French Cafe is now written and with my editor, and I'm planning the next book, which will be set during summer - perfect now the weather's turned colder and the mornings are white and frosty.
In the meantime, if you've got a good second line for my almost poem at the top, I'd love to hear it!
Monday, July 2, 2018
Talking of which, I'm currently editing my Christmas book, the third and final novel in my Seashell Cove series. It's not easy to picture tinsel, Santa, fairy lights and carol-singers when the mercury's hit 31 degrees, I'm mainlining Magnum ice-creams and fake-tanning my shins after every shower. I was in a similar situation last year, and once again have resorted to listening to Christmas songs, which messes with your head a bit when the sun is beating down.
Once this book is done, I'll be out of contract, so am looking forward to a chat with my editor to see what's next - if anything. So far, my books have sold over 80,000 copies, which is a figure I could only have dreamed about a couple of years ago, so I'm hopeful. But, if a new contract isn't forthcoming, I've plenty more ideas up my sleeve - if I were wearing sleeves at the moment - and it certainly won't be the end of my writing career.
In the meantime, I'd better go and bring in the washing I hung out ten minutes ago.
Friday, January 26, 2018
I'm thrilled to welcome Amanda Brittany to my blog today, to talk about her debut thriller Her Last Lie.
It's been described as 'gripping with a shocking twist' and I can confirm that it is!
(It also has an amazing cover)
Which character in Her Last Lie would you like to meet?
Hi Karen, thank you for inviting me to your blog.
I suppose feisty Roxanne is the character I’d most like to meet. She’s so determined to get to the bottom of things, and appears to be a good friend to Isla.
There are definitely a couple of characters in the book I would hope never to meet.
I know the book has several settings, which did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing the second part of the book set in Abisko in Sweden. I visited Abisko a couple of years back, and it was great fun bringing the cold, bleak landscape to life, and describing the way The Northern Lights swoop across the night skies.
Are any of your characters based on people you know?
No, not at all, they all sprang from my imagination.
A couple of reviewers have mentioned there are humorous bits in the novel...
Yes, there are a couple of lighter bits, which I felt fitted with certain characters. My thoughts were that there are amusing people everywhere, so why not in a psychological thriller? And I liked the thought of the contrast of humour with the awful things that are happening to Isla has in the book.
How long did it take to write ‘Her Last Lie’?
I worked flat out on the first draft for six weeks, writing 2,000 words a day, but it took a lot, lot longer than that in total with the re-drafts and edits.
Have you got any ideas for your next book?
I have got an idea for my next psychological thriller, which I’m about to send over to my editor, and I’ve got everything crossed she’ll like it.
All of Amanda’s ebook royalties are going to Cancer Research UK, in memory of her sister. Her Last Lie can be downloaded here http://amzn.to/2AIvFw7
I can't wait to read the next one...
I can't wait to read the next one...
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
I'd love to have a better writing routine, and a shedload more discipline, but seem to write the bulk of my books in the three weeks before deadline. It's good to have that motivation, but not the healthiest way to write, so I'm going to try really hard to develop a better system.
It's not as if I NEED to be on Facebook and Twitter, or to look for cake recipes (except in the name of writing research) or hoover the curtains, or chop down the overgrown hedge in the back garden, or start a new exercise routine - well, maybe the latter (trying out all those cake recipes) - but they're irresistible activities when faced with having to write 90,000 words that will make sense and entertain.
It's a funny old job. When I worked at the library, I didn't say, 'Ooh, I'll just check social media for puppies in baskets', or 'Hang on, I need to research paint colours, the walls are looking a bit jaded', or 'Let me just style my hair a different way, and I'll be right with you' (honestly, I didn't, I'd have been sacked on the spot). But, then again, my jobs were clearly defined. I didn't have to make them up, and dealing with the public is a leveller. They'd never have let me get away with faffing about.
Maybe I need them to come round to my house and look at me disapprovingly until I've written at least 1000 words before I get out of bed. Better still, cut the WiFi so I can't get online, as that's where the biggest distractions lie.
Now, if I can just find a nice image to accompany this post, I can get on with writing that chapter I was supposed to have started this morning, before I alphabetised the books in the living room, and looked up something nice to cook for dinner...
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
So, now the season to be jolly is almost upon us, which means another year is almost over and, as usual, I'm left wondering how on earth it's happened. (Has anyone else noticed the tendency for people to start their sentences with 'So' these days? It drives me mad, which probably means I'm incredibly old and grumpy, and it won't be long before I'm moaning about music being too loud and tuneless, and young women wearing too much make-up).
I'm about to start writing my 5th book for Bookouture, which sounds impossible, but is true. Maybe that's why the year's sped by - it's been so full of words, and thoughts about words, and writing words, that there hasn't been much time for anything else, but I don't mind because I'm doing something I love, and that's a reward in itself.
Apart from writing, I've had some nice trips away this year, and spent time with friends and loved ones. We haven't travelled the globe or won the lottery, and I still haven't been approached to model clothes for M & S, or met anyone famous, but nothing awful has happened either, so I count myself very lucky. (Note to self: start buying lottery tickets.)
In the spirit of trying to move away from the festive season being about buying presents (it didn't go down well, so I've had to abandon the notion) I haven't even started Christmas shopping. It's hard when the children are adults, and don't know what they want, but still like to open gifts on Christmas Day.
Maybe I'll do some writing in the meantime, to take my mind off it.
If I don't see you again this year, thank you for all your support, have a wonderful Christmas, and here's to a happy, healthy and peaceful 2018.
Friday, September 29, 2017
I know it's only September, but my new book THE BEACHSIDE CHRISTMAS is out today. It's the final in the Beachside series and writing three books in a year means I've been pretty immersed in this world.
10 things that stand out about writing this series are...
1. The Beachside Sweet Shop gave me the perfect opportunity to make some coconut ice. I used to help make it with my grandmother growing up, and it tasted exactly as I remembered
2. Also, in the course of research, I tried eating pear-drops to see whether I’d grown to enjoy them – I haven’t. I always preferred chocolate and still do.
3. Shipley, the setting for the series, is based on Swanage in Dorset, one of my favourite places to visit, but I changed the name so I could use some fictional license when it came to naming and placing pubs and shops.
4. I don’t have green fingers so there was plenty of research involved in writing The Beachside Flower Stall. I loved learning the meanings and symbolism of various flowers and was inspired to be more active in the garden this summer!
5. Ruby, who runs the flower stall in the book, is based on a neighbour I remembered from my childhood, who grew the most beautiful roses and would let my sister and me gather fallen petals to make perfume.
6. Writing the series reminded me how much I took for granted growing up in a seaside town, and how rarely I even went on the beach. Though I now love living in the countryside, holidays and breaks tend to be by the sea.
7. I wrote a lot of The Beachside Christmas during a heatwave, so played a lot of Christmas songs to get in a festive mood. Right now, I don't ever want to listen to them again.
8. I watched a bit of ‘structured reality’ television to get a feel for the character of Ollie in the Christmas book, but it only confirmed that it’s not my cup of tea. I love a good drama, and I like some reality TV, but I don’t like them combined.
9. Although Shipley and its characters don’t exist outside my own head, I became so engrossed in their stories while writing that I kept accidentally calling people by their names.
10. I’ve learnt some fascinating facts from writing each book: in the 1800s physicians advised broken-hearted patients to eat chocolate to ‘calm their pining’; tulip bulbs were once more valuable than gold; the world record for the amount of Christmas lights on a house is 331,038. That’s some electricity bill!
(Sorry for mentioning the 'C' word when it's still three months away).
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