Uncategorized

A Hero Like No Other…

I love romance. 

I love the thrill of it, the indulgence. I love the “oooo will they get together? (I know they do, obviously… they’re kissing each other on the front cover but aaaaa)” tension.

I love happily ever afters.

And I especially love the rise in body positivity and diversity of romance characters. The message is simple: everyone deserves love. 

BUT there aren’t enough! I’m insatiable.

I was desperate for a romance set in a fantasy world, where the hero isn’t your average Adonis with chiseled, washboard abs. I wanted to write a story with swords, castles and knights in armor, and about falling in love with a big, handsome man.

That’s how I came up with Brandon; big, hairy, lovely, squishy Brandon.

Brandon the Bear is the most titled champion in all of Aldland. Back in his glory days, Brandon won the Grand Tourney six years in a row. Handsome, burly, towering above all others, and unwilling to ever leave his lover unsatisfied, he was the darling of the Guild, and a consummate ladies’ man.

As his list of victories grew, he became known for his prowess in the arena and with women. But in his own words, “they tend to come and go with the rankings.” 

When his performance in the Tourney began to dwindle, so did his self-esteem. He found comfort in food and drink, and lost his toned physique. 

That’s where our heroine, Natalie, finds him; staring into a pint, lamenting his defeats. His once dark hair is silver at the temples, and his body, though still strong, is softer and rounder.

He’s a gentleman, a badass, a sweetheart, a show off, and an outrageous flirt after a bottle of honeyed wine, and he needs to be loved. He needs to feel handsome and wanted, and he is.

I can’t wait to share Natalie and Brandon’s story.

I’m so beyond excited to share the cover of The Lady’s Champion with you. Najla and Najla Qamber Designs did an incredible job bringing Brandon to life for the cover, and I’ve been swooning over it for about the past six months.  So, here it is…

Isn’t he glorious?

The Lady’s Champion is available for pre-order now!

Uncategorized

Oh no… we’re going to have to snuggle up real close…

It is a truth universally accepted, that the “only one bed” trope is top tier.

It certainly is in my universe. I was so excited when publisher, Violet Gaze Press announced they were accepting short story submissions for their two-part anthology themed around that most wonderful of inconveniences. 

I can’t get enough of it, which is why I’m so looking forward to reading both volumes of the Only One Bed anthology, featuring fifteen amazing stories… and also one written by ME!

My story, Only You (Can Prevent Forest Fires) was accepted for publication in the anthology, and I’m so excited! This is my first story to be published through Violet Gaze Press (more on that in coming months!)

So, what is it about?

Lost in the woods in the middle of a storm, Vanessa seeks refuge in a fire lookout’s tower, but finds much more than shelter. Simon is gruff, burly, and distractingly handsome, if the Smokey Bear aesthetic is your thing (and it totally is).

Only You (Can Prevent Forest Fires) is sweet, sexy, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Another truth accepted by everyone who knows me, is that when it comes to heroes, I have a definite type. Simon is big, hairy, rocking a dad-bod, and I love him so much. Beneath his grouchy exterior, is a sweet, smooshy cinnamon roll.

Only One Bed Vol 2 will be released on September 16th 2020 and can be pre-ordered here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08FYR2XMK?pf_rd_r=7QW2WVH3CPJJ5N2G5GTJ&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee

And in the meantime, Only One Bed Vol 1 is available here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08CGBH7LV?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_0&storeType=ebooks


Uncategorized

Just an Update

It feels like about two weeks since I wrote my last blog post and said that I’d try to update this at least once per month.

Welp… That was February.

I think most of us have had our worlds altered in some way or another since then. There have definitely been some difficult moments over the past few months, but I feel so lucky to have been able to use writing as an escape.

The last time I wrote, I had just finished my first romance novel (way back then, it was titled The Lady of Blackmere… more on that in coming months) and had just begun the second book.

As of today, I’ve finished the second book, am about a third of the way into the third book, and have written a novella. Turns out, existential dread and a fear of the outside world does wonders for my creativity.

In all seriousness, things have been hard, and while my coping mechanism has been to keep working, it’s completely normal to freeze up in these situations. If you haven’t felt inspired or motivated lately, you’re not alone. I see tons of writers on twitter, talking about how their muse has left them, or how they just can’t find the energy to tell stories. It’s normal, and I assure you it’s temporary. When the time is right, and you have the mental energy to spare, your creativity will come back to you.

I don’t have a whole lot else I can report just yet, but hopefully in the next few months, I can share some exciting news.

Hang in there, people.

Romance, Uncategorized, Writing

I’ve Been Hiding and Writing Smoochin’ Stories

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Writing (and life) took a few unexpected turns in 2019. I learned some valuable lessons, and a lot about the publishing industry. To put it short, I had my heart broken by it.

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a new project; a fresh start, an attempt to reclaim my love for telling stories.

On about October 29th last year, I decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month, and write something purely for my own enjoyment.

That project was a fantasy romance novel, The Lady of Blackmere.

As it turns out, I adore it. (Who’d’ve thought following the advice “write for yourself” would produce something you actually like). And, incredibly, people other than me also adore it!

I wanted to write a romance with a love interest I could see myself falling for. Brandon is a big, squishy cinnamon roll, strong enough to carry anyone off into the sunset, and gentlemanly enough to ask first.

He’s hairy, he’s sweet, he’s rockin’ a dad-bod, and I’m absolutely besotted with him.

I can’t wait to bring you more updates as the year goes on. I’m currently working the second book, and I’m having a blast.

I’m hoping to start using this blog a lot more frequently, so stay tuned for more news!

Thanks for sticking with me!

 

 

 

Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice

How to write three-dimensional characters

Characters are arguably the most important aspect of any story, and they’re annoyingly easy to get wrong. Flat, uninteresting characters can ruin a book, no matter how great your plot is. Your readers aren’t going to feel fully immersed in the story if they’re seeing it though the eyes of a cardboard cutout. However, great characters will keep your readers invested in the story, and ensure it sticks with them long after the end. Few things in life are better than experiencing every joy and heartache with a well-written character.

Here are 11 things to think about when developing your characters.

  1.  The basics. Character profiles are the best way to begin filling in the basics of who your character is. They cover things like physical description, home life, work life, beliefs, backgrounds. This character profile template from Reedsy is great. Once you have the basic details of your character down, you can really start to add the finer details which bring them to life. Remember that when assigning traits to your characters, you want them to mesh together. Our upbringing influences our personality, our environment impacts who we are as people. And please, I beg you, don’t make all your characters the same. People come in endless combinations of race, ethnicity, gender, body types, abilities, disabilities, personalities, etc. and your cast of characters should be no different.
  2. A goal. A character’s goal forms the basis of their story. This is particularly important for your main character as it will drive the narrative. Your character’s goal should come from the desire to improve their life in some way. Are they lonely and seeking companionship? Bored and craving adventure? What is holding them back from achieving that goal? What is their motivation? What is the catalyst that will push them towards pursuing it? That’s your story.
  3. Purpose. Every character in your story must serve a purpose. This is often easy to achieve with your protagonist, antagonist, and love interest, but what about the best friend? What about those random encounters with minor characters? If you have no idea why you wrote them, cut them. If the story would still pan out the same way without them, chuck them out. Save them for a story where they serve a purpose.
  4. Flaws. I will die on this hill. Flawed characters are the best characters. I wrote a post about this a year ago. I read so many books where the main character and the love interest are beautiful mannequins, and their biggest flaws are that they’re just too humble, or too selfless, or they just don’t realize that literally everyone they meet is instantly in love with them. NO! Give them a big nose, or crows feet around their eyes. Make their bodies soft, or angular, or give them a bad posture. Make them snap, and sulk and embarrass themselves in front of their love interest. I hate to break it to you, but your main character, no matter how strong or beautiful or wonderful they are, farts. You don’t have to show that, but we do need to feel like they’re a real person.
  5. A unique voice. It should be easy to identify which character is speaking in your story, even without dialogue tags. Give your characters a vocabulary. Do you have characters that swear a lot? Do they invoke deities in times of frustration or relief? Even something as simple as the word “Yes” could be “Yeah,” “aye,” “yep,” “affirmative,” “as you wish,” and so on. Each of those invokes a different voice, a different tone. A character’s vocabulary should fit in with their background, their upbringing, social status and how educated they are. If your character has received no education, hangs around with people of a similar social status and has never picked up a book in their life, then they are unlikely to have a large vocabulary. However, if your character has no formal education, but is an avid reader, then that would make sense for them to have a wider vocabulary than is expected of them.
  6. Conflicting traits. No one is pure good or pure evil. Even the most odious, cruel, malicious person will have some redeeming quality. Let us see it, even if just a glimpse. We need to see a shred of humanity in villains, and we need to see the threat of darkness in heroes. Everyone has differing opinions on morality, and not everyone will agree on everything. Make your characters disagree, give them a personal code of right and wrong, and have them question it now and again.
  7. Something to lose. They may believe they have nothing, but that’s rarely true. We all have something we care about; family, friends, pets, house plants, careers, talents, our senses, limbs, teeth. The threat of losing those things can be a powerful driving force for your characters, and a devastating turning point if they fail to save them.
  8. Failures and mistakes. No one has ever gone through life without making a single mistake. Make your characters suffer, have them run headlong into a trap, or choose the wrong path. Make them say the wrong thing and jeopardize relationships through their own foolishness. Have people be annoyed at them, or tell them they won’t follow them anymore. Readers love to see characters at their lowest, because it makes it all the more satisfying when they crawl out of that pit.
  9. Desires, interests and attractions. Not everyone feels physical desire for other people, but most people want something. Of course, there are big, important things like acceptance, friendship, adventure, knowledge, but often we see something we just have to have. Maybe your brave hero is also an artist, and when all this is over they just want to sit down with some oil paints and lose themselves in a new project? Perhaps your spaceship captain wants to bring about universal peace, and then take their navigator to get one of those golden glazed donuts they saw while fighting back the xenomorphs on B deck? Desires often lead to subplots, and help make our characters more human.
  10. An arc. Some of the most compelling stories are so impactful because of the character arcs. Sometimes that arc is transformative, taking the character from one end of a spectrum to the other (eg. a selfish character becomes selfless by the end of the story.) Other times the character matures, or has their perspective on the world altered, or the character realizes that they are the best person for the job from the beginning, and follows what is known as a “flat arc”. Their are stories, like Hamlet, which center around a declining or negative arc, where a character gradually fails and falls into tragedy. All of these have their merits, and all of them have their pit falls. A a writer you need to figure out your characters’ point A and point B, and fill in the line between those with story.
  11. A life beyond the story. Unless you’re writing a life story, your characters lives shouldn’t begin and end within the pages of your book. If we first meet your main character at the age of 21, then they need to have lived for those previous 21 years. They need to have experiences, memories, things they are embarrassed or proud of, regrets, fears, hobbies, phobias, loves, friendships, dreams and ambitions. If they survive til the end of the book, then we need to believe that they have a future. This is not to say that you need pages of exposition, recounting every memory and life experience of your characters, but they need to feel as though they belong in their world, and that they are “worn-in”.  Let your characters draw from their own life experiences when searching for answers, let them form conclusions based on what they believe about their world.

 

I hope this helps. Thank you so much for reading.

Instagram

Uncategorized, Writing

It’s been a while

So, what’s going on with my stories?

I am currently working on a trilogy of stories, set in the same world but revolving around different characters. The trilogy’s title is The Unbound Saga.

Book 1: The Thief’s Pardon

TTP is going off to an editor really soon. I’m already so proud of this story, and I can’t wait until it’s all polished and wonderful. I think I must’ve read it 1000 times and it still makes me feel so many things. I can’t wait until I can release her into the world. I have a playlist of songs which inspired The Thief’s Pardon, so If you’d like to listen to that the link is right here

Book 2: The Ash Prince

TAP is currently going through the first round of self-editing. It’s so much fun to delve back into this story, because I haven’t touched it for months (whilst I’ve been working on the other two books). This is definitely my longest and most ambitious story so far, and I know that when it’s finished up people are going to enjoy it. It’s an epic fantasy with an enormous heart.

Book 3: The Shepherd’s Watch

This book will tie everything together. I have big plans for TSW, but I need to make sure that all the pieces are in place throughout TTP and TAP. I will say that I’ve had a lot of fun (and headaches) designing a hard magic system for this story. Right now I’m just in the planning stages of this book, but I’m so excited to begin work on it.

 

So, there’s a lot going on, and hopefully in the next few months I’ll have some announcements to make in terms of release dates, newsletters, giveaways etc.

I’m also teaching a creative writing course at my local community center starting in June, which is extremely exciting and absolutely terrifying.

Thank you for sticking around.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Just… keep… writing…

Writing a novel- whether it takes a month, a year or a decade- is a grueling, daunting task. At times it’s exhilarating! You’re typing at a million words per minute, creating worlds, people, conflicts. But then

sometimes

it’s like

um…

you can’t even remember

how to                 write?

I spend a lot of my free time reading advice to writers and watching authors on YouTube talking about productivity and how they stay focused.  At times it can feel as though you’re the only writer who spends all day with their fingers hovering over the keyboard waiting for the words to come. You’re definitely not alone.

I’ll be straight with you- I can be a lazy, easily distracted, procrastinating mess. But, I have written an entire novel, and I’m working on another two, so there is hope for everyone.

There are countless tips and tricks for productivity, but I’m going to share my techniques to try and get myself in the right mindset to write.

  1. Get dressed: I’d love to spend the entire day in my pj’s, but sadly, it just puts me in full-blown Netflix binge mode. If I go to all the effort of getting dressed to work on my project, then I’m more likely to actually show up to the writing desk.
  2. Music: I create playlists for each of my stories, and listening to them really puts me in the mood to write. Some songs will be the “soundtrack” for certain scenes, others will be mood-setters for the story as a whole, or anthems for characters and places. Music always gets me pumped to write.
  3. If sitting at a desk all day is draining, go for a walk: I’d go so far as to say that all my best ideas come to me while I’m walking with my headphones in, blaring out the songs that I’ve come to associate with my story. I don’t know if it’s the blood pumping or just the act of engaging different parts of your brain, but it really works. And it’s good for you! Also (and this is embarrassing to admit) if I’m in a quiet area, I’ll sometimes (I can’t believe I’m typing this) try to walk the way I imagine my protagonist walking, while their “theme song” is playing. It seems to help me get into their heads and see the world through their eyes. (Actually, that was kind of cathartic.)
  4. Write whatever makes you happy: let me tell you from experience; if you try to appeal to everyone’s tastes you will drive yourself insane, strip all the life out of your novel, get miserable and eat an entire packet of shortbread biscuits. If writing “cheesy” romances makes you happy, then fill your boots. If all your fantasy stories seem to be based in a pseudo-medieval Europe, then have a blast. Writing should be fun for at least 78% of the process… the rest of it will be torture though.
  5. Find joy in research: This kind of links to the previous point. I love writing stories set in a similar climate to England, because it’s where I lived for the first three decades of my life. It’s home to me. I know how the air feels just before it starts to rain, I know the red streaked sunsets and the seemingly endless, dark, wet winters. I enjoy writing about it and it makes me feel comfortable, but I also adore discovering other climates and Eco-systems. I wish I could travel to them in person, but until that happens, we’re lucky enough to live in an age where we can summon information in moments. Take pleasure in researching new places and people, and it’ll show in the diversity of your written worlds.
  6. Set manageable goals, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit them: unless you’re set a deadline by a publisher or agent, it’s all in your own time, at your own pace. Push yourself, yes, but don’t try to go beyond your limits.
  7. Set a break time (and stick to it!!) Tell yourself that you will write until, say, lunch time, and then take an hour off to eat, watch something, read, listen to music… whatever you want. You have to switch off sometimes, and allowing your brain to relax will make you less stressed, which equals more productivity. Yay! But at the end of that hour have the discipline to get back to work. Treat your writing like any other job.
  8. If you absolutely can’t think of anything to write, then read instead: One of the absolute best things about being a writer, is that reading counts as working! I could go on for hours about how reading improves your writing, but you most likely already know it. Just read, analyze, critique and enjoy. See what works and what doesn’t. Look at how you would have done it differently. Look at how they did it in a way you would have never thought. Read.

So there you go. I hope some of this helps!

The main thing is to enjoy yourself, and just keep writing. A crappy first draft is infinitely better than a perfectly blank page.