I haven’t really got any excuses – for the last month or so, I’ve been meaning to crack on with my next novel, which will be my fourth. It’s all mapped out in my head, ready to spill out onto the page, and with my final edits for Warwick’s Mermaid all done, the way has been clear for me to put fingers to the keyboard. Except, I haven’t, not really. I’ve done a little bit, 13 pages worth, but that’s it, a pathetic attempt, I know.
So, why haven’t I been able to knuckle down and get a good start? Because I’ve allowed myself to get side-tracked on a number of things.
Great-grandmother’s travel chest
I’ve always been interested in family history and have dabbled a bit on genealogy websites but having recently helped my mum to de-clutter as she is moving to a smaller house, I came across a…
This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to contribute to the Hull Freedom Festival, which is quite possibly one of the most excellent things that can happen to any writer with connections to the city. I was asked to write a short story to accompany a series of sculptures placed around the Festival, to the prompt “Knowledge Is Freedom”, and to facilitate a Creative Writing workshop for local people to create their own work to the same prompt. The work we created would then be displayed at Hull Central Library, and visitors would be invited to add their own contributions.
That’s me, trying to describe in words this astoundingly cool piece of sculpture:
My story was called “The Girl Who Grew Books From Her Head”. And there she is! In the flesh! And growing from her head are the poems and short stories we all created in the workshops.
My lovely publishers, Tirgearr Publishing, are celebrating their birthday with a Birthday Bash and, instead of receiving presents, they’re giving them away!
Prizes include a Kindle Fire HD, autographed print books by Tirgearr authors, and our brand new House of Tirgearryen T-shirts. All you have to do is visit their website and enter via the Rafflecopter link – simple!
As part of the celebrations, many Tirgearr books, including Love on the Nile, have been reduced to just 99p/99c so it’s the perfect chance to grab yourself a bargain.
My debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published a year ago today. In some ways it seems only yesterday and in other ways, such a long time ago. All those years of hoping and dreaming that, one day, I would be a published author. And those dreams came true last February. I’m not sure what I thought would suddenly happen or change once I could truly say I was published, but in reality, it certainly wasn’t anything really dramatic.
This last year has been exciting, scary, exhausting, eye-opening, confidence building, confidence draining… all those things and more. I think maybe I had seen being published as an end point, rather than what it actually is, which is just the beginning. I had worked so hard, focussed so hard on getting published, I hadn’t really thought about what came next. I certainly didn’t think it would mean instant success, huge…
What do you do on your writing weekends away, how does it work? What is it you actually do?
Hmmm, quite a difficult question to answer really, as no two weekends are ever the same and there’s no real agenda to follow, just a few ideas I know I want to spend some time on.
The reason I think it works is the fact I manage to escape the everyday stresses and strains of life and just have the time to clear my head, think about my stories and write! It also helps that I go away with Ellie, a great writer friend of mine who is also my star beta reader, taskmaster and probably the main reason I’m still ploughing on with my novels after all these years of numerous rejection letters and emails, (I can safely say, I now have skin that is thicker than a rhino’s)!
Planning our getaway, we usually make sure we’re at least a good hour or so away, hopefully in another county so there’s no temptation to just pop home and see to the cat, the kids, the washing, the cleaning, the day job…. Our writerley (this is how we like to spell it) weekend has to be just for us and our laptops.
Of course we don’t actually do any writing on the first night, most of that is spent settling into our new home for the next two days, before getting down to the important business of discussing our work over a chilled glass or two or three. Plotlines, characters, bits we can’t quite work out, are we really any good (self-doubt takes up a lot of this time), agents, publishers, lack of agents and publishers (that’s me), competitions, books we’ve read, literary events and numerous other things that are related to our writing. By the end of the evening however, we’ve usually managed to convince ourselves that we are fairly good at what we do and that our writing weekend was a good idea after all!
On the second day we usually flip open our laptops feeling all inspired and motivated, quickly churning out some of the ideas we had from the night before, in case we forget. After a few hours of this, it’s time to venture outside into the fresh air and mix a spot of research with some shopping and lunch. Our last writerley weekend was in Filey during November, however Filey itself was covered in a fog of sea fret, so we headed over to Whitby, which is where Ellie’s latest work in progress is set. After an enjoyable hour checking out the gorgeous little shops for Christmas presents we hiked up the 199 steps to the impressive Abbey, which if you haven’t seen, is definitely worth a look.
Afterwards it’s back to our lovely little cottage for more writing, eating, drinking and discussing.
The third day is spent packing and cleaning up for our lovely Airbnb hosts (we don’t want a bad review) and then more walking. This time the mist had cleared and we could stroll along the beautiful Filey beach before a final coffee in a fab little café that played nothing but 80’s tunes, going over some of the things we’d decided to do with our work. Chapters to finish, plotlines to change, characters to work on and giving each other strict deadlines to meet.
One of the more interesting things to have come out of our last writerley weekend to Filey was Ellie and I deciding it was time for us to go into business together. This is so we can support other writers to get away from it all and spend some quality time out to develop their work and meet up with like-minded people. And so, two months later, Ellie and I are now Directors of TylerGray Associates Ltd, with our first venture being Writer’s Escapes. Our first planned Writer’s Escape to the Country takes place between 24th and 26th May 2017 in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire, however we are planning to run many more escapes across the UK and possibly abroad in the future, staying in inspirational settings such as castle hotels, country house hotels and beachside locations. So, if you’re interested in receiving future information about our venture, please keep in touch with us via our website and social media, which can be found here: Writer’s Escapes
So, I suppose the answer to the question…what do you do on your writing weekends, how does it work? What do you do? … has to be, I don’t really know. You just have to pack your bags, get in the car or on the train/bus and see what happens, but I’m sure something will be achieved by the chats, the support, the change of scene, the lack of everyday worries and routine and a few treats of course.
From my point of view I think it’s safe to say that our writerley weekend was indeed a success and I am very much looking forward to our next one and whatever that will bring.
Hearing from you…
I’d be really interested in hearing about what you like to do on a writing break, what works for you and any suggestions you may have for future writing escapes, either topics to cover, places to stay, inspirational settings. You can comment in the space below or via the following Twitter Facebook PinterestInstagram or Writer’s Escapes
This month saw me hosting my first ever author stand at a literary event. Well, to be fair, it was a mini literary event set within a rather large fantasy convention. This year’s FantastiCon event, a sci-fi and fantasy convention, was held in the city of Hull, just a stone’s throw away from me. Within the convention was also a LitFest, for authors of all genres to attend and promote their work.
This was a first for me but, fresh from an author reading last month at East Riding Theatre and which seemed to go down pretty well, I thought, why not? The author package included a full day’s pass to the FantastiCon event, an author table and a video trailer for your book. You can see my trailer for Love on the Nile here.
Now, the first sticking point for me was how best to promote by two…
Good morning Ellie and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself? Hi Jo, thanks for inviting me on to your Tuesday Talk Interview! So, a little bit about myself – I live in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire in the UK, with my partner, David, and two children, Joe and Abbie. Well, I say children, but they’re 21 and 18 now… where did the time go? I currently work full-time in local government and have just, as we speak, completed a Master’s Degree in Public Management. It’s something of a relief as it has impacted on my ability to concentrate on my writing so I’m looking forward to really being able to crack on with my WIP. I write contemporary romance novels, erring on the sweet/sensual side but with an emphasis on the emerging relationship between the hero and heroine. I hope I…