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  1. tired woman


    Today is "My Writing Process" blog tour day, when writers answer questions about their writing process. Last week, fellow Astraea romance author Sherry Gloag, posted hers. You can read it at http://sherrygloagtheheartofromance.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/my-writing-process-mywritingprocess.html Thank you Sherry for inviting me to join in the blog tour.

    1) What are you currently working on?

    I'm working on four books at the moment. I like to work on a few different projects as I find it keeps the creativity flowing  and is great for curing writer's block. If I get stuck on how to proceed with one story I can move onto another one for a while. This helps me return to the other one with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

    One of my projects is a YA, called Sapphire Blue. It's an after-life romance adventure, and I've mentioned a bit about it in my previous blog so scroll down if you want to find out more. Two of the other books are romance novels and the fourth book is a picture book. They are all at various stages of development.

    2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

    I hope it's because I like to write about tough subjects in a light way, with every day characters that readers can relate to. I want to make people think 'what would I do?' in that situation. Sapphire Blue is essentially a love story, but both the hero and heroine die in the first chapter. The theme of the story is can true love survive anything even death? Sapphire and Will, my hero and heroine, are separated in the after-life and have to go through a lot of tough stuff if they want to be together. Is their love strong enough? It's written from both Sapphire's and Will's point of view as Will insisted on telling his story too (again this is mentioned in the previous blog).

    I like my female characters to be strong and sassy, not afraid to kick butt if they have too, and a bit quirky. And my male characters to have a caring side. In Perfect Summer, my previous YA, Morgan has to make some tough choices to save her brother and Jamie will do anything for his little sister.

    Someone who read Perfect Summer said,'I’m just so glad Karen wrote this book and that I got to read it because its really made me stop and think about my life'. And one reviewer for my romance novel, The Millionaire Plan, said 'Jed was totally endearing to me and I felt his relationship with his sister made him an even better man.'

    3) Why do you write like you do?

    I’ve always written in different genres and for different markets. I first started writing for the teenage magazine, Jackie, then romance stories for Patches, Loving and Blue Jeans. I wrote children’s  books for a long time, writing anything from comic strips, fiction, non-fiction even plays. I had my first romance, Never Say Forever, published in 2007, Perfect Summer was published in 2012, then  my second romance,The Millionaire Plan, and I now write for all three markets.

    4) How does your writing process work?

    I usually get my character first. She/he pops into my head and starts telling me their story. I really like to get to know what makes my character tick before I start writing. I work out a character profile for them, filling in all sorts of information  not just their appearance but their character traits, their family, their background, what they want most, what they fear most, the worst thing that happened to them ever. Anything really.

    Next, I work out a basic plot. I make lots of notes at this time, in notebooks, on scraps of paper, in the margins of newspapers, even on the back of my hand if something occurs to me when I’m out and have no pen and paper. When I’m comfortable with my character and where the plot is going I start writing. This is where the fun starts because things don’t always go to plan and sometimes a character takes over or the story goes off on a tangent.

    I write my first draft first, then go back and edit it, rewriting and revising until I’m satisfied with it. Not that I’m ever satisfied but there has to be some point when you tell yourself to stop editing before you lose the original spark. :)


    Next week the following three authors will be telling you about their writing process:

    Ann Evans - http://annsawriter.blogspot.co.uk/

    Ann is a good friend of mine, we often run writing workshops together. She writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults.

    Susan Price  http://susanpricesblog.blogspot.co.uk/

    Susan is a former Carnegie medal winner. She writes for children and Young Adults, mostly fantasy tinged if not outright fantasy.

    Bill Kirton. http://bill-kirton.co.uk/?page_id=402.

    Bill writes crime, historicals and satire/humour for adults and stories for children.



  2. musings 3

    I've been working on my second YA novel for a while now. It's called Sapphire Blue and is an after-life romance adventure. I don't want to give away the plot but above and below are a few pictures from my Pinterest musings board, which I use for inspiration for the story.

    Musings1                       musings 4           musings2

    You can check out my Pinterest musing board to see more pictures that I'm using as a muse for this book.

    One of the reasons this story is taking a bit longer to write than I hoped is because I've had to change my plan. I'm a great believer in plotting, so that I have some kind of outline to work with. I think that this helps to make sure that the story has a solid construction, the plot is realistic and credible, and that I tie up all the loose ends at the end. So far so good. When I wrote my YA Perfect Summer, that worked fine.


    But this isn't the case with Sapphire Blue. It started off well. I had the heroine, the hero, the theme and the plot all sorted out so I settled down to write. The first chapter flowed okay, the second chapter started to stumble, by the time I got to the third chapter I knew I was in trouble. The hero was hijacking the story and turning it into his story. Not only that the heroine was changing the viewpoint. I started off in third person viewpoint but suddenly the heroine was talking in first person and first present at that! This was a surprise because I do sometimes write in first person but never in first person present. As for the hero, he was really taking over. It was all about him. Me, me, me. I tried to control him but he wasn't having it - but, and here's the tricky bit - he wanted to tell me his story in third person present. So there was nothing else for it but go back, change the first three chapters and give my hero alternative chapters so that he could tell his version of events too.

    A change like that alters the whole dynamics of a story and it can be tempting to stick to the Plan and carry on writing the story how you intended to but I've learnt from experience that if you feel something needs changing then do it.

    How about you? Do you ever find that a character takes over your story or the plot goes off on a tangent? Do your stories always go to plan?

    Karen x

  3. A warm welcome today to popular children's author and fellow Sassie, Diana Kimpton. Diana's latest book, There Must Be Horses is now out.



    Sasha’s love of horses has been the only constant during her turbulent life in care. When a failed adoption placement results in yet another move, she ends up at Kingfishers – a farm where Joe and Beth train troubled horses. To Sasha, this seems like the perfect place to live. But she can’t stay. Joe and Beth are adamant about that. They have only agreed to take her for a little while, and they only did that reluctantly.

     Can Sasha persuade them to change their minds and let her stay forever? And can she do it before her social worker finds her another home – one without horses?

    Buy Links



    I asked Diana to tell us a bit about herself: 

    How did you get started writing?

    I've made up stories since I was very young, but I didn't start to write them down until I was much older. At school, I gave up English as soon as I could because I hated writing essays about teapots and dissecting other people's books. Instead, I concentrated on maths and science, gained a maths degree, became a maths teacher. It was only after I'd given up work to be a full - time mum that I went back to writing.

    I started with articles for various magazines, wrote a full-length non-fiction book for adults (A Special Child in the Family) and then switched to writing for children which I love.  My first success was a picture book called The Bear Father Christmas Forgot but after that I concentrated on non-fiction for quite a while I taught myself how to plot.

    My big breakthrough came when the editor who had bought that first picture book phoned me up and asked if I'd like to write a series of books about a princess with four ponies. That became my Pony-Mad Princess series which is still popular almost 10 years after it was still published.  I'm not surprised, it's a lovely series. :)

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
    I like larping - that's live action role play which is like playing dungeons and dragons for real. Chasing through a wood fighting goblins is great fun and surprisingly relaxing. It sounds fun!

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers?
    In fiction, everything you write should build character, add humour or move the story forward.  (I wish I could remember who told me that originally - it's made such a difference to my writing)

    Excellent tips, Diana.


    Author Bio

    Diana Kimpton is the author of more than forty books for children, including The Pony-Mad Princess series. 
    She has always loved horses and finds that writing about them gives her the perfect excuse to spend time at the stables.

    Author website


    Diana's self publishing site


    Twitter handle: @dianakimpton


    Thanks so much for dropping by and telling us about your book, Diana!



  4. A big welcome today to my Guest Author, Dawn Finch. Her latest book, Brotherhood of Shades, was published by HarperCollins in September.



    You don’t have to be dead to work here, but it helps.


    Growing up on the streets of London, Adam knows nothing of the dark and precarious world that exists just beyond his reality – until he dies, cold and alone, aged 14. Now, after years of abandonment and living rough, Adam discovers he is important: an Order that was formed many centuries ago to protect the world of the living from the world of the dead needs him – an Order of ghosts.

    Adam finds himself thrown into the spectral world of Toby D’Scover, head of Section One of the Brotherhood of Shades, a mysterious character who believes Adam to be a foretold savior, The Sentinel. Together, Adam and the Brotherhood must battle unseen forces and deadly Elemental spirits to find a coded manuscript and save the world.


    Will you join the Brotherhood?




     ‘With Brotherhood of Shades, Finch has proven herself to be an author to watch’The British Fantasy Society


    ‘A wonderful new fantasy’Jonathan Stroud, author of the Bartimaeus Sequence


    It sounds fantastic, Dawn!

    Buy Links



     I asked Dawn to tell us a bit about herself.

     How did you get started writing?

    Well, first I learned to write, and then I never stopped! I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I have always loved it and have filled many notebooks in my life. When I was small I used to write little plays with my sister and we’d perform them with puppets in our back garden puppet theatre. I did once get into trouble at school because I went through a phase where all of my stories were ghost stories – I think the teacher got a bit fed up with me.

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    Oh dear… I think I should ask my daughter on this one! I think the fact that I am constantly embarrassing her in public would be one of those. I do accidentally talk to strangers a lot thinking it’s my daughter. I sing a lot too. I grew up in a house where we all sung all the time and I’ve never lost the habit and often catch myself singing with my headphones on. Eden is embarrassed, but I’m usually not!

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

    My number one tip would be to finish it. I know lots of people who would love to be writers but have never actually finished a manuscript. It is incredibly rare these days to sell a manuscript on synopsis alone so a lot of agents and publishers will only look at finished manuscripts. It also proves to you that you can do it, and that is great for your self-esteem.



    A brief Author bio.

    I have worked in libraries (both public and school) for over twenty-five years. I am passionate about books and reading and spend most of my time working in reader development and training teachers, as well as visiting schools and trying to write.   I grew up on a London overspill council estate and spent much of my time in libraries. Books were very important in my family I became an obsessive reader. The careers officer asked me, aged twelve, what I would like to be when I grew up and I said that I wanted to work as a writer and a librarian. She told me to "stop pointless dreaming or you'll only live to regret it" and she sent me off to learn how to type.

    I stuck at it and my typing speed got me a job working for an academic publishers in central London. While sorting the unsolicited submissions, I learnt something about how not to prepare a manuscript. Later I worked at St Albans Cathedral as a Research Assistant for the Education Office. This essentially involved taking school children for tours of the Abbey whilst dressed as a Benedictine monk. After that I began working in public libraries and helped to establish a large library at my daughter's school...soon the headteacher convinced me to leave public libraries to run the school library… and I wrote a lot of children’s stories and shared them…and the rest is the future!

    I do not believe in regrets, and I’m glad that I never stopped my pointless dreaming.

     Good for you! :)

    My website is www.dawnfinch.com

    My twitter is @dawnafinch

    My blog is www.deefinch.wordpress.com – and on here I post lots of things about book, writing, libraries and reading – including my Ask A Librarian posts.

    And schools can find out more details about my school visits on Contact An Author here



    Lovely to meet you, Dawn!




  5. PICT1084


    I spent last Sunday putting up a Christmas Tree just outside my husband’s shop. Here’s a picture of it, as you can see it’s a big tree and it took us ages to put up. You might think it’s a bit early to put up a Christmas Tree but the reason we had to do it this weekend is because on Thursday the Victorian Fayre came to Worcester, where we live, so everyone is busy the week beforehand putting up the Christmas lights and Christmas trees to give the town a festive air.

    I love the Victorian Fayre, it lasts for four days from 28th November to 1st December and traders come from all over the country to it. Lots of market stalls are put up in the streets selling everything from hand-made goods, scented candles, Christmas decorations, hot chocolate, tasty cheeses, mulled wine and sweets. A lot of the traders dress up in Victorian clothes and it’s a really festive atmosphere. There’s carol singers too and even a funfair with rides to go on. To me, it’s the start of Christmas. 

    What’s the start of Christmas for you?

    Karen x