Camp Nano · Italy · romantic comedy · women's fiction · writing

It’s Camp NaNo time …

This Spring, I’m venturing outside my comfort zone to try my hand at a new genre: Romantic Comedy.

Now, this might be an absolute DIS – AS – TER, but even so I’m looking forward to treading a new path.

So, I’m taking my story to Italy. As a proud, confirmed European, I couldn’t resist such a glorious setting. After many childhood holidays to the Adriatic coast, followed by city breaks and cruises to Florence, Milan, Pisa and Rome, I always thought Italy would be my final destination in life. (I know! Shock, horror – and you thought I’d never leave Spain!)

Well, Italy still holds a place in my heart, so never say never. The memory of pizza at Lake Garda gets my mouth a watering just thinking about it, as does the idea of spooning lashings of parmesan over penne al’arrabiata … mmm, truly scrumptious …and then there’s the gelato. Need I say more?

Anyway, back to writing … say hello to


After years of putting up with her mother’s manipulative behaviour, controlling manner and constant put-downs, 36-year-old Penny has had enough. She books a long-awaited trip to Italy in the hope of finally breaking free.

But when Mother finds out, she invites herself along. She doesn’t mean to ruin Penny’s plans really, but worries her daughter cannot cope without her. (Or it may be just the other way around)

However, after an unexpected visit to the police station, a fellow Brit, Seb – now a long-term resident in Rome – offers to help them out.

Seb and Penny chat by text messages as she continues her tour to other Italian cities. His kindness and thoughtful words make Penny realise there is more to life than being her mother’s daughter.

I’ve even created a cover mock-up, since the good people at NaNoWriMo reckon having a cover image will make me more likely to finish. We shall see 😉

To be honest, that’s just an excuse. I will finish this story as it’s been promised for an anthology later this year. I just like having a play in Canva – and no, it’s really not procrastination 😉

So, I’m off to see the sights with Penny. There will be history and art, museums and monuments, lots of great scenery, wonderful food, and a whole lot of enlightenment.

Join me?

I’ll be back with an update next week. Until then,


challenge · short story · The Writer's Games · The Writer's Workout · writers · writing

Revisiting The Writer’s Games

Do you like to write short stories?

You do … but can you follow a prompt and write a story in 72 hours?

No, it’s not a trick question.

Because for the next six weekends, that’s what I (and a fair few other writers) will be doing.

All courtesy of the wonderful people over at The Writer’s Workout

It is definitely not your average writing competition.

Not only is it free to enter (you do have to register well in advance, though), but all submitted entries get feedback from multiple judges.

That’s pretty AWESOME.

And, you know what is even 

The top five entries in each Event are published in an anthology. 

So, you get writing practice, guidance on submitting professional entries, and the chance to be published. (I’m playing down the side-effects of binge-eating chocolate and drinking your body weight in coffee, because that’s just a typical weekend. Isn’t it?)

This is my third time as a participant, and I’ve had three stories published in the anthologies. I’ve since gone on to develop a couple of stories that were spawned during previous Events too.

You can see why I love it.

There’s so much more to The Writer’s Workout than this competition. You’d be hard-pressed to find such a range of writing-related activities, ideas and support anywhere.

Be sure to check them out if you’re up for the challenge.

You won’t regret it. I certainly don’t.

To my fellow writers:

 “May the words flow to your victory.”

To the organisers: a huge “Thank You”

See you in a few hours!


mystery · NaNo · original plot · outlining · pantser · writing

Outlining – can it work for me?

Having been a pantser all these years of writing (all 5 of them!) and an unproductive one at that, I decided enough was enough.
I have more unfinished stories than I’ll ever be able to complete. All of them seemed like ‘a great idea’ at the start, and I threw myself into writing them with abandon. Who needed outlines? Not me. My characters would show me the way … wouldn’t they?
Oh, yeah! Right into that big black hole of no escape (for the story, I mean, not me).
I rewritten, restructured and revised. Yet, while that germ of an idea still excites me, I’ve lost control.
It’s a mess!

Soooooo, I’m having a last bash at outlining a short series of novellas.
Despite not sticking to any given method (surprise, surprise), I have what could loosely be called ‘an outline’ – for all four books in the series.

Yay! Go me.

This is not the story I began with – it’s way better.

It has a start, middle … and, get this, an ENDING!

It features a mystery wrapped up in a winding river of European travel (naturally), grand architecture, heavenly skies, and classical music.

I’m excited to write this, but I’m not rushing into it just yet.

The plan (yes, I have a PLAN) is to fully outline everything – plot, characters, setting etc – in time for NaNoWriMo, at which point this story will set sail, its destination will be the port of “First Draft Completed”, a little-known place (to me anyway), just on the outskirts of “Revise, Edit & Publish”.

Writing an outline has transformed my original idea into something stronger, it has depth and substance, and – I can’t say this enough – an ENDING!

If this works out as well as I hope it will, then maybe there’s a future for those dusty manuscripts in the bottom drawer of the cabinet – the one that sticks whenever I try to open it because it knows I’m not ready – YET!

Thanks for reading, and wish me luck 😉

badges · critique · editing · write daily · writing

365 days of writing – Feb update

At the end of January, I crowed (let’s be honest, I was smug!) about achieving my goal to write daily. I posted a few badges to show my progress, and then vowed to keep going through February.

Here are the stats for FEB

  1. My daily target is to write 250 words a day – my daily average was 341.25 (earning THE CLASSIFIEDS badge)
  2. 86 hours of editing (badges are set at specific milestones, so this month I get the 50 hours badge)
  3. 27.5 hours of critiquing (badges are set at specific milestones, so this month I get the 25 hours badge)
  4. Quarterly goal passed (based on writing 90k in 2018 and earning INTERN REPORTER badge)
  5. 9555 words written (making at YTD total of 29,474 words) – No badge, just a few numbers 😉

So, you know what this means …

Not so smug this time, as I missed out on the CONSISTENCY badge. But, overall, I’m happy with the progress.

Yes, I do realise I’m like a little kid who needs a sticker after going to the dentist … 🙂

So far, March is looking better still … (whoops, reining in the smugness 😉 – for now!)

Thanks for reading 🙂

mystery · women's fiction · writing

Mixing things up a little … or a lot

I love this post.

It speaks to me on so many levels, but initially because I’m in exactly the same boat: mixing Women’s Fiction with Mystery.

I’m starting the new year with two truths about my writing: (1) I finished the first draft Ride to the Altar in late December 2017, and (2) it’s a mess. A colossal mess. One of the reasons it’s so messy is that it’s two unlikely genres mixed together, Women’s Fiction with a hint of Mystery. I know, […]

via 2 Tips for Genre Mash-ups — Linda W. Yezak

doubt · editing · new book · revision time · traumatic · writing

It’s great … REALLY!

So, how’s the book going? 

Okay, yep, it’s going well.

That’s great.

Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.


Heck, no, it’s an out-and-out lie.


It’s not great – not in the slightest. There’s nothing great about it.

Aww, what’s up? 

Too many inconsistencies, says she with the red pen.   It adds depth … and mystery, say I.

Too much exposition, she says.   It’s Story-TELLING, I say.

Too slow for a thriller, she adds.  Well, I can agree on that point.

There you go. A silver lining.

Yeah, because it’s not meant to be a thriller – so why does she think it is one?

Ah! Point taken.

It’s only one opinion anyway.


No-one that matters, really.  Not any more.

Hmm, are you sure?

Yes, I am.

Well, okay then. 

I’m plodding on regardless.

Good for you.

She knows nothing.

So, it’s going great, then?



Such is life!

Thanks for reading 🙂

writers · writing · writing craft

Reading a Stephen King book

Those who know me will be shocked by that title. I’m not a horror fan and have never (really) never read a book by Stephen King.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have any of his books – I do have one: On Writing.

Problem is, I can’t bring myself to read that either – I have Kingphobia …. Thing is, I don’t even have the print book – just the ebook version, so my reasoning gets weaker by the minute. Still, reviews like this take me a step closer. Maybe I’ll move it up the list a little; perhaps add it to my 2018 must-read list.

If you’ve read it, tell me what you thought of it. Is it as good as they say?

If you didn’t enjoy it / find it useful, please tell me … every excuse or bit of ammo will help 🙂

Something a little different today! Theresa review’s “Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” from the Master of Horror himself. (Genre: Non-Fiction/ Memoir)

via #Review: King on Writing by Stephen King @TBraun_Author #Writers #StephenKing #Memoir — Reads & Reels