I’ve been busy sorting out my office. This room gets so messy when other things in life are going on – and even worse when the ‘other things’ are writing the next book.
Or planning a course that I’m teaching.
So today has had a bit of both – I’m mapping out the next novel I’m writing - and the one that goes with it. This book is planned as a duet, part of two linked books – because my editor asked for that. So really I have two stories to work on and plan out. Two heroes, two heroines, two stories – ones that are connected and interlinked.
Good thing then that the course I’m currently planning out is - Beginning Middle and End - Planning Your Novel
(This one takes place on 15 - 17 APRIL 2016 at THE ROYAL AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY CIRENCESTER)
I’ll be looking at things like beginning well, ending so that the reader wants to pick up another of your stories, avoiding the sagging middle!
So hopefully that will get me started well as I plan out the sessions for the workshops. And then if I get into a muddle and find that I have hit a wall, or , worse, writer’s block , or all my confidence has seeped away, driven away by those dangerous enemies to writers The Crows of Doubt, then hopefully my workshops for the next course - The Writer's Repair Shop (at Swanwick in Derbyshire )– will give me some help and boosts to my confidence to put things right.
(It's a course for those with work in progress. We've all been there - getting that nasty feeling that some things are not quite right with the book we're working on - but what's the caused it? And even more important, how to fix it? Problems that we will look at: Where to begin your story. Writers' Block and ways to break through it. Characters who don't come alive - how to sustain them as 3 dimensional beings. The sagging middle. Letting your story slip away from you/ lack of belief in what you're writing. Tropes or Clichés - it's all been written before)
So it’s been a busy and concentrated time. But today I received a package that reminded me of just why I love running these courses so much. Apart from the enjoyment of meeting up with students, some of whom have now become close friends and some are newcomers, hopefully destined to join that group in the future, there are the moments when discovering that one of my students is now a past-pupil and has achieved her dream of becoming a published author and is launched on her own successful writing career.
One of these successes is Rachael Thomas who, as most of you will know, was a regular at my Fishguard Bay courses for some years and who had her first book A Deal Before the Altar was published in published in October 2014. Since then there have been four more with several lined up to appear on the bookshop shelves very soon.
Which brings me back to the package that arrived today. The Sheikh’s Last Mistress will be Rachael’s newest title – published in May this year and I’ve been lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy. So, I have to acknowledge that this book isn’t new to me. I first read the opening of it when Rachael brought it for a one-to-one at Fishguard and then I read the early version of the full story in 2012. So I recognise it and the essential elements of it very well. But those earlier versions didn’t succeed and, wisely Rachael put the book away until she could look at it with clearer and more objective eyes. (One of the things I often recommend when a writer gets really stuck and just can’t see where the book is going wrong.) Then, when your head is clearer, you can take it out and look at it afresh. (Yes – that will be one of the points I’ll make in the Swanwick course.)
Another point I always make is not to throw anything away – what doesn’t work now can always be reworked when you know more, have a clearer idea of where you’re going and what editors want. So I’m extra delighted to get my hands on an advance copy of The Sheikh’s Last Mistress. I’m so looking forward to reading about Rachael’s heroine Destiny and the hero Sheikh Zafir in these new reincarnations, reworked, revised – but built on the same foundations as that first version I read in 2012.
It’s so great that my courses and my advice have helped other writers move from student to published author – and to read their works as printed books rather than in manuscript.
So guess what my weekend reading will be - a lovely relaxation after the work on the next couple of courses coming up.
And hopefully Rachael’s never give up approach will inspire my next group of students . .and he next.
Thank you so much for the copy if Destiny and Zafir’s story, Rachael – I’m so looking forward to reading it.