Hello! How are you? Seriously, how are you? Hasn’t it been the strangest summer ever? Autumn has to be better, right? Although, I’m a tad confused since my pomegranate tree has decide to flower … when it should be filled with fruit! (First world problems, I know!)
Are you ready for Autumn? It’s still very much summer here, and I’m dreaming of hot chocolate already. Chocolate con churros, to be precise. Yum! Can I tempt you? Here’s a super easy recipe – so easy even I can do it.
That aside, I’ve got so much to tell you, so settle back in your favourite chair. Go on, curl your feet up beneath you, get really comfortable. I’ve got a book bonanza coming your way.
First of all, let me thank so many of you for sticking around and also give a warm Spanish welcome to those of you here for the first time. ¡Bienvenidos! This month marks my 17th year living in Spain. Where did the time go? ¡No lo sé! I like to think I’ve been productive in teaching and translating over the years, but getting bitten by the writing bug back in 2013 kind of brought that to a screeching halt. And, no, it had absolutely nothing to do with me lacking the patience to teach any longer. Really, it didn’t! Okay, so maybe a little. Teachers are saints, right?
Anyway, speaking of writing ...I got there eventually 😉 … there’s lots of news to share.
I’ve finished not one, but two stories since last we spoke and plan to send them off to beta readers for a final polish when I get them back from my editor. The two stories concerned are very different.
One is quite cosy in style about two rookie Private Investigators and their first serious case which just so happens to send them to The Netherlands.
It includes art fraud, an unknown WWII heroine, and a stalker/kidnapper, not to mention a serious amount of Bitterballen (Dutch meatballs).
The other features a young woman out to avenge her child’s death by killing the medical team she accused of negligence.
After lashing out at them, she is sectioned.
Time in isolation only fuels her desire for revenge and when she’s finally released she trains as a nurse to infiltrate their world. Let me tell you, she knows how to kill and stay under the radar.
This is part of a collaborative project with another author and is expected to be a 3- or 4-book series.
Coming up next will be book two in my cold case series: “Stranger Danger”, and my women’s crime fiction story: “They Called Me Susan” Both are making healthy progress for a 2021 release. I have a feeling next year is going to be busy!
If you’re interested in joining my readers’ group where you can get advance copies of my books, then let me know by filling in this form. I’d love to hear from you.
In a blast from the past recently, I’ve been revisiting a former pastime – conquering the Rubik’s cube! Now, you might wonder why, and rightly so, but I do have a valid reason: after typing so much lately, my hands tend to stiffen up. So, the Rubik’s cube is a form of physiotherapy actually recommended to me by a medical professional. I have my doubts as to whether they were really testing my gullibility and/or sanity, but hey …it’s been fun. That said, it didn’t take long for me to resort to YouTube tutorials to learn the methods – yep, I know, I’m impatient.
Who knows, maybe next month I’ll master the Spacehopper! (Joking!!!) What toys and games would you love to revisit from your childhood? Let me know …
Well, that’s enough from me … here’s that book bonanza I promised. I’ve got a couple of bundles that are simply oozing with great stories.
The “Breaking News” bundle is chock-a-block with books of every genre. Click here for details.
If you’re looking for a nice, easy read. Maybe some women’s or contemporary fiction or even some light-hearted chick-lit, then this selection is for you. Click here and treat yourself to some “me” time.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to buy a lot of books. Please don’t ever ask me how many because it’s become a habit, especially during these last few months. That’s where Kindle Unlimited has been a blessing in disguise. Over here, Amazon Spain extended the usual 30 day free trial to 90. Since lockdown has supposedly eased ( I’m not even going there!) the latest offer is for a 60 day trial before Dec 31st. Hopefully, your local Amazon is running a similar deal. If you fancy checking it out, then here are a few books that might pique your interest to start you off. What have you got to lose?
It’s also Hispanic Heritage Month (from September 15 to October 15th) so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recommend a couple of my favourite books by Hispanic authors.
“A long Petal of the Sea” by Isabel Allende follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.
“The Fruit of the Drunken Tree” by Ingrid Rojas Contreras is set against the backdrop of Pablo Escobar’s Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both.
Both are truly fascinating reads – I can recommend them both.
Are you all booked out? Can I squeeze in one more? This one is by a good friend of mine who just so happens to be a fantastic author too. And, it’s perfect for the Autumn season, Halloween in particular.
Ghouls’ Night Out by Amy M. Reade is a brand new release. How can you resist?
That really is all from me on the book front. The Tubster and I are going to enjoy the rest of the warm weather here …and we’re making plans for a new arrival next year. It’s going to be just “pawfect”. I hope to have more news next time.
Drop me a line if you have any recommendations – books, childhood games, or recipes involving chocolate! Until then, stay safe and take care of those around you.
Are you ready to become the writer you were always meant to be?
52 Weeks of Writing will get you cracking by making you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and goals an entire year long.
52 Weeks of Writing will help you dig deep by offering questions and writing prompts designed to unravel whatever truths about your writing you’re ready for.
52 Weeks of Writing will keep you inspired by delivering a thought-provoking writing quote every week.
Do you struggle with setting goals that reflect your daily reality?
Do you want to practise breaking goals down into manageable chunks?
Would you like more insight into your writing habit(s) and figure out why you keep getting in your own way?
And do you want to create a sustainable writing practice that honours your needs and desires as a writer?
52 Weeks of Writing brings together every lesson Mariëlle S. Smith has learned as a writing coach and writer. Wary as she is of comparisonitis and unhealthy competition, this author journal and planner was designed to help writers develop and fine-tune a practice that works for them.
If you’re ready to get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be, pick up your copy of 52 Weeks of Writing today.
Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, (ghost) writer, and custom retreat organiser. In 2019, she moved to Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.
Giveaway to win….
- THREE paperback copies of the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner,
- TWO paperback copies of Tarot for Creatives: 21 Tarot Spreads to (Re)Connect to Your Intuition and Ignite That Creative Spark, and
- ONE coaching session.
Not only is this a beautiful item to look at, it’s jam-packed with tips, inspiration, and a “you can do this” attitude.
Who is it for? Well, in the author’s own words:
Not for the faint of heart!
and by that she means this is for the writer who isn’t looking for someone to hold their hand and tell them it’s all going to be just fine. Instead, it’s for those who feel their writing isn’t progressing, at least not in the
way or at the pace they want it to, and they need someone to ask the right questions—which are never the easy ones —while providing them with a safe space where they can chew on their answers.
This feels more like a workbook to me, with an easy-to-read font and an elegant design. It’s like having your own writing coach in book form. This is more than a simple notebook or to-do planner – because we all know how easy it is to write that list, but it’s just as easy to move the goalposts and get nothing done.
The beauty of this is that you can start it anytime – you’re not restricted to a regular calendar year, and so day 1 really is the day you start to use it fully.
From the very first week, the reader/writer is challenged to think about how writing makes them feel. Usually, I’d skip these “feel-good” sections and move on to the nitty-gritty, but then I realised that this is just as important as getting words on paper (or screen 😉 ) I love the idea of setting long-terms goals, not just in my head, but actually thinking about them and committing those goals by writing them down – in permanent ink, not pencil cos that’d be too easy to erase. Yeah, I know that trick too well 😉 You might think writing these things down could lead to disappointment if the deadline passes without you, but for me it actually focuses my mind on the goal. Throughout this planner there are opportunities to look back and see how you’ve done, to work out why things didn’t go to plan, and also to celebrate those milestones that you hit. With inspirational quotes to spur you on, this is a resource every writer should have.
I’ll be recommending this to all my writer friends.
Finally, I’d like to thank Mariëlle for also offering her other books for free during this month. Be sure to check out her giveaway page for details. You’ll be glad you did.
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.
I’ll be back with an update next week. Until then,
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.
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!
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 😉
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
- My daily target is to write 250 words a day – my daily average was 341.25 (earning THE CLASSIFIEDS badge)
- 86 hours of editing (badges are set at specific milestones, so this month I get the 50 hours badge)
- 27.5 hours of critiquing (badges are set at specific milestones, so this month I get the 25 hours badge)
- Quarterly goal passed (based on writing 90k in 2018 and earning INTERN REPORTER badge)
- 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 🙂
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, […]
So, how’s the book going?
Okay, yep, it’s going well.
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 🙂
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)
Sometimes, all it takes is time. While hammering away at my keyboard for NaNoWriMo, a momentary lapse in concentration had me hunting through old files for my very first Nano effort.
I think it comes to mind at least once a month, and especially during Nano prep or writing.
There has to be a reason for this, don’t you think?
I’ve never been one for muses, and am rather envious of those who suffer at the hands of an attention-grabbing muse. So, why will this story not just sit back and let me get on with my writing? Maybe, this is its time to shine.
I’ve restructured this story a gazillion times, taking it from a single novel to a series of novellas, but nothing has ever felt right. When I wrote this back in 2011/12, it drew me into the world of fiction as a writer, rather than the avid reader I was and still am.
Problem was, I was rubbish at it. I had no idea about POVs, or voice, or exposition – I was a victim of my reading material and spewed out some particularly purple prose. in my mind it was a case of putting words onto the screen and telling a story.
Okay, so shoot me. I made the ultimate error, assuming anyone could write a book. (Although, that is true, anyone can write, but whether they should is a different matter. I shouldn’t have … then)
Hopefully, I’ve learnt a thing or two since then. So with that in mind, I am bringing The Nasrid Charm back out of the darkness, blowing away the cobwebs and re-writing it as it was originally meant to be – but with a tad more knowledge and – fingers crossed – a little more skill than I had back then.
I know I’ve said this before – in fact, only a few months ago (or was it only weeks?) I posted that I was rekindling the story in series format.
But, hey, a girl (ahem – artistic licence, ok?) can change her mind, can’t she?
I loved his style – still do – and admired his interpretation of those white-washed Spanish villages. (I’ve learnt a bit about what makes a good cover too!! – heck, we all make mistakes, don’t we?)
Can you tell the genre from this? Ha ha! I have to laugh myself – it’s pretty dire, isn’t it? Oh well, things can only get better, right?
Bubbling with enthusiasm, I posted excerpts for critique and … hmm, you can guess the rest. Suffice to say, I discovered there’s more to writing a good story than just putting words on paper.
This time, I’ll do the story justice – while maintaining the essence of the original story though – and it’ll likely involve a complete re-write – but I reckon I can do it now.
In the meantime, I’ll get back to my Nano draft which, I’m pleased to report, is looking quite healthy.
Like I said, sometimes it just takes time … and work, lots of work.
Look out for more news on my progress with The Nasrid Charm in 2018.
Thanks for reading 🙂