I’ve been toiling over the last month, working on book two of my young adult paranormal romantic adventure. I had a good month of camp nano, I ‘won’ it, if that is really a thing and managed to exceed my word goal very quickly, which I kind of knew I would. Except that after I had done that I went totally off track and ended up working on a special secret project, all will be revealed soon.
But for now I wanted to share something special that I have been working on for the interior of my book. I first came across the idea of hand drawn sketches, after reading Pistol Daisy by Natalia Leigh. It was a great addition to the story and for us visual storytellers having imagery in the book, also it was related to the character, the MC drew as a hobby and it gave a further insight into her character.
So when writing one of the heroes in my book, he was also a sketcher and I have commissioned the most beautiful designs for the interior of my book. I’m so excited to be able to share one with you, I’ve cropped out the name below as I don’t want to give anything too much away, but I’m blown away and some steps closer to getting this published. To see a sneak peak of two of the sketches I have had commissioned so far please visit my instagram www.instagram.com/victoriawrenauthor
When the entire world went to shit in March and we were all put under house arrest, my work and life as I knew it crumbled before my eyes. For the last eight years I’ve worked solidly as a Makeup artist in the wedding industry and have cultivated a lovely little business. It was a great way to do a job I loved around my family as well and it helps that I also love it! A week before lock down kicked in, emails began to slip into my inbox, cancellations, brides panicking about their big day and postponements. Slowly I watched my incredibly busy diary dwindle into a blank void. Suddenly I had something I had not had since my eldest daughter was born. Time. And permission to be idol.
When has that ever happened before? In a fast paced world, living life to its fullest, we were all given the gift of time. And massive anxiety. I wont forget about that. Its been, basically horrendous. Parted from our families, people dying, holidays lost, weddings cancelled and schools closed. All of a sudden I became a home schooler, something I’d never imagined I’d ever do.
So with my life on hold, I had my ‘Ah ha’ moment. Now was the time to write that novel I’ve been meaning to get to for years. Yes now was MY time! But how to begin…
Now I’m not going to lie, I write quite fast. I don’t know how exactly, I don’t have a secret formula but its just something I can do. I’m also not saying that what I write is pure gold, but getting a first draft complete and getting my head down seems to be a talent I have. I have a lot of editing to do, I’m under no illusions that what I have written doesn’t need perfecting and I’m here for that. If you are a slower writer, there is no shame in that at all, speed doesn’t equal quality. I’m just lucky in this way and I wanted to blog about how I time managed writing a 80,000 novel in a few weeks, with children at home.
Please note this isn’t a ‘How To’, its just some ideas and things that I did!
I hope you might find some of these tips useful. Firstly I’m probably what you’d consider to be a panster, I start writing and the plot unfolds as I go, but I always know how I will end the book, or at least I know the direction its headed. Once I’ve gotten so far I pause and have a break and I start planning. I delve a little deeper into my characters’ and really sketch out their history, their families, physical attributes etc. I also had a look into the setting of the story, picking out little details to make the story more realistic and tangible. I create a map of how I will reach that ending, so even if ideas do pop up along the way, my endgame is clear. My ending can change, my brain does often throw in curve balls, but generally that is how it goes.
For me, with children at home I got up every day at six am and tried to get a good solid hour in before they woke up. This was great as the house was quiet. I know this doesn’t always work for everyone but even if I only met half my word count it still mattered. I aimed to do this every day and then at the weekend I would take myself off for two hours everyday and work through solidly (thanks husband).
I did allow myself to have down days, its important. If you feel you cannot face that keyboard, then don’t. Having a rest is really worth it.
Something I also did was have little writing sprints when I could fit them in. Mostly when home school was done for the day, I’d take myself off for half and hour and write as much as I could muster in that time. When you have children or other responsibilities in the house, writing a novel can feel incredibly indulgent. But when I reached about 50,000 I realised that I was in love with the whole process and I could see me doing this forever. It was hard to ask for help or to pass the responsibilities over to my husband, but he could see how hooked I was and he understood, which was amazing. So really what I’m saying is seek support when you can.
I never usually went into the wee hours. I would have written garbage at that point, but for you that might be your best time if you are a night owl. If you have a young baby at home, then take it even slower. They do say nap when baby naps but that never panned out for me either. It might be that you can do a quick sprint while your little one sleeps. But usually I’d have been knocked out on the sofa! Whatever works for you.
Take some inspiration from authortube. When it clicked for me that I wanted to do this for reals, I followed some amazing authors. There is so much information out there, you cant fail to find someone you love. I’ve linked some amazing ladies I follow below.
The biggest thing I think which really should go without saying, is enjoy it. This is your story and your life and you should love every bit of it. Its ok to have moments where you tear your hair out about a plot hole you’ve fallen into head first, but you will dig your way out of it!
I hope you find some of these hints useful. It was what worked for me. My debut novel ‘The Tail of Win Adler’ a Young adult, paranormal fantasy will be coming out later this year. Please do like and subscribe for more news on when this is happening or if you want to hear more from me.
I was the little girl at the back of the class. Staring longingly out of the window. Bored. Mostly confused. I would always earn concerned looks from the teacher, they’d ask me if I had joined them for the lesson today. And don’t get me started on high school maths lessons! That is another very long, painful story I wont go into now. Lets just say I had a really crappy time, and it took a long while to heal!
I was the only member of my family who really read. My Mum didn’t apart from ‘Hello’ magazine. My Dad was always too knackered and my brother was too busy playing computer games. I was the bookworm and I was the writer. I wrote a short story called ‘The Runaway’ when I was about eleven, my family thought I was a genius and I wrote more shorter stories all kept in a spiral binder, my pride and joy. I wish I still had it! I was a very happy teen, so don’t take the title of my runaway story as an indication of my mental well being. I was really happy and cherished at home, but I had a vivid imagination and never, ever felt like I fit in. Anywhere.
My writing or scribbles were a sweet little secret of mine, a way to escape and create romantic heroes and beautiful leading ladies (I was eleven so don’t be too harsh!) I wrote a diary and I do look back and admire the simplicity of that life.
I wrote my first novel at around thirteen, it was a tragic beauty and the beast retelling based off the late 80s TV show with Linda Hamilton (yeah remember that one! TV gold) and Ron Perlman. My mum found me crying on my bed after I had finished killing off my beast, something she still reminds me of today. But I have to give myself credit for being brave enough to kill off a MC at such a young age. When my mum asked me why I’d killed him it was a simple answer.
“There was just no other way!” Sob, sob. How melodramatic.
I think from there I knew that writing was something I loved to do. And I knew my genre. Romantic, tragic, paranormal, fantasy, it all appealed to me. I remember the very day I picked up a book called ‘Trick or Treat’ by Richie Tankersley Cusick, my first ever point horror. I was mesmerised by the eerie cover, the story was deliciously creepy, I followed her writing , bought most of her books and in turn completely fell in love with that genre. That was the genre I wanted to write in, mainly because I knew how much of an impression that book gave me and I would love the chance to give that experience to someone else. I did move on to adult fiction! Horrors, thrillers and so on.
In school, I remember being around fourteen, when we studied ‘To kill a mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. It took me a couple of attempts to get into it, I found it quite slow for my vampire loving tastes, but then something happened in the book. The children try to make Boo Radley come out. And that was it. I was completely sucked in. I was drawn to the macabre, tragic back story of this shadowy character who was never physically seen but always somehow present. There is more to the story than just this aspect, it is my favorite book of all time, I’ve read it over ten times, it never gets tired and somehow it seems more relevant than ever before.
But it was the mysterious hook of Boo, a tragic hero that grabbed me and I’ve only just now realised, even as I write this that Boo is kind of my WHY. This is why I write the stories I love. His lonely, sad existence, a urban legend to the Finch children, but a hero who turns up when he is most needed. This spoke to my heart.
I’ve since been inspired by events rooted deeply in childhood, this is where the really juicy stuff comes from, the angst, the heartbreak and the pain. It totally inspires me. Its shaped me as a writer so much and its what I try to bring to the literary table. Darkness, redemption and bravery. Being brave is especially important with storytelling and when it comes to writing what we love. Go that bit darker. Push a bit harder. Impossible romances, bitter feuds and shadowy forests.
Now that I’ve chosen to write properly, to give myself the time and actually get this book published, I’m terribly excited. I cannot wait to get it out there, even if no one reads it! For the first time in my life I’m allowed to live in my own head for a while.
I’m still a kid sitting on her bed crying about killing her beast. But I will kill him.
When the schools in the UK officially closed their doors on the 23rd March this year, Facebook went berserk with tips, tricks and downloads to get us all through the grueling homeschooling period. Suddenly businesses that had been operating after-school clubs were offering online alternatives, free talks at the natural history museum, all the mums went gaga for Joe Wicks who did online PE. Side note, we stopped after one week, sorry Joe! It seemed that there was no reason-or no excuse for your child not being able to learn at home effectively. I bought into all of it. I went to the works and bought tons of home-learning workbooks, new pens, notebooks, highlighters…vodka….anything to support my worrier of a eight year old and flighty six year old.
We got all set up, they could chat with their friends. My girls quickly got used to a bit of a routine, we did some cosmic yoga, followed by some online maths, an hour latre they claimed it was their ‘snack time’ seriously low stamina. We battled on and then after the two week easter break the school began to set proper work, they could tune in to their online assemblies. We were made to feel guilty via social media of what other super parents were getting up to. We had good days and bad days.
Its week thirteen. Week, fucking thirteen. I am DYING! At this point I have no words left, only to say to those who home-school through choice, I salute you. You are brave and good. You have the heart of a soldier and the temperament of a warrior Queen. Or King!
Today my six year old has broken me. I actually cried and I’m nearly 40 years old. I simply cannot continue to do this anymore. Of course I will. I will get up with renewed hope everyday, telling myself to ease back, today will be a good day. But today has been a major low point. I sit with my littlest, helping her copy up her main piece of work, her master peice of the week and it takes an hour. To write about six sentances. I tell myself she is six. She refuses to read. Downright refuses!! I bite back my frustration, try to make my voice light and airy. I try so very hard.
Today we argued because I’d hidden the sweets. Thats another thing about schooling at home, the many mnay snack breaks they claim to need. We ended in a stalemate and I cried.
But this is all sounding very selfish. I cant complain when there are so many people who have lost loved ones. All this is for the greater good, to support our beloved NHS and keep our loved ones safe. Its just another tough day.
I’m so sorry that I’m ranting. This is NOT why you came here. You came for writing tips and news on my book, a young adult paranormal thriller that will hopefully be published very soon. I’m going to let you in on my plan for publishing and also if you’re interested all the tips and tricks I used along the way, like how I actually wrote the damn thing while homeschooling.
I hope you’ll come to enjoy my little rantings and my new found knowledge into the world of wsrtiing, authoring and publishing. I’m new to all this, so this is kind of a docublog, you’ll be learning aloing with me.
So in the words of the annoying kids you-tubers that I have the misfortune to have to listen to in the background everyday, hit the follow button and I’ll keep you up to date and subscribe, subscribe, subscribe!