Saturday, 28 July 2018


Who could forget this scene from All About Eve, when Margo, played by Bette Davis, delivered this stark warning that the evening was not going to be a calm one. Strangely, I always remembered it to be a "bumpy ride" which is why I searched it out for this blog post. The warning, "Fasten your seat belts - it's going to be a bumpy ride" would have been very appropriate if she was addressing a roomful of people about to embark on a writing career.

The career path of a writer is extremely bumpy, with extraordinary highs, gut wrenching lows and somewhere between a mixed bag of drudgery, waiting, hard work, new experiences and .... more hard work. Why? Doesn't a writer just sit at a desk and write all day? If only, I hear my fellow writers say under their breath.

I will try to explain why a career in writing is so bumpy by starting at the birth of a novel. With each phase, I have added the first three words that immediately spring to mind. I hasten to add that all writers experience the different stages differently, so much of what follows is heavily influenced by my own experience.

The idea for a plot.
Excited. Enthusiastic. Creative
This is what being a writer is all about. The book is desperate to get on the page and it has chosen me to bring it into the big wide world. Ideas are flowing thick and fast.
Starting to write
Resolute. Adventurous. Driven
This is going to be the best book yet! The best seller label is going to be mine!
Half way through a book
Unmotivated. Uncertain. Bored.
This is the worst book ever. Why did I think this plot would work? Was I drunk at the time?
Finishing the novel
Relieved. Satisfied. Excited
At last! Writing THE END, taking a photo of the two words and sending the image to all my friends and fellow writers is a must!
Self-editing phase
Ambivalent. Excited. Depressed.
This doesn't even make sense and this chapter has to go. Hold on ... this chapter is quite good! Heart starts to race. Maybe ... just maybe ... this book is not so bad after all.
Submission to agents and publishers
Anxious. Frustrated. Impatient.
Frantic internet search on how to write a synopsis and an accompanying letter that will not get deleted or thrown in the bin. Click the send button. Spend the next week worrying that I did it wrong.
 A week later, with no acknowledgement, I am convinced I have.
Weeks go by and the dilemma of whether to follow it up raises its ugly head.
Family and friends are showing signs of boredom when I ask, for the umpteenth time, their opinion on what I should do.
Rejection by agents and publishers
Depressed. Worthless. Angry
They hate my writing. They hate my genre. They hate my hair colour and me as a person.
The publishing world is conspiring against me. Bet they didn't even read it.
Confident. Ecstatic. Bewildered
This agent/publisher is my kindred spirit. They "get me". I am on my way at last.
Preparing book for publication
Focused. Exhausted. Isolated.
Working with a professional editor makes me realise this writing lark is a serious business.
This is where they will discover I am a fraud and not a proper writer with an office.
Must concentrate and be businesslike.
Publication day
Excited. Anxious. Dazed
Oh my! I have made it. I am a published author! It doesn't seem real ... as I don't feel any different inside. No magical glow is radiating from me and I still have to get the dinner in the oven.
Thrilled. Gutted. Humbled.
People I don't know are reading my book and telling me what they think!
Note to self ... grow a thicker skin and wear weighted shoes.
The former will protect me from harsh reviews, the latter will keep me grounded and stop the good reviews going to my head.
Overwhelmed. Inadequate. Motivated
Learning about plugins/widgets and the alternative universe of social media.
Learning how to be a successful presenter, guest speaker and a charming interviewee.
Valuable experience gained from a frantic search on the internet on "How to ...".
Apprehensive. Thrilled. Downhearted
Now I am a writer, I get to see behind the curtain of the mystical publishing world.
I still don't understand why some books "take off" and become best sellers, whilst others (which are equally good, if not better) don't. However, I do now know I am not alone in my ignorance.
And now what?
Can I write a second book? Will it be as good as my first? Is it all worth it?
Shall I take up hand-gliding instead?
The idea for a plot.
Excited. Enthusiastic. Creative
Phew! I can do this! Lets go ...
And so it begins all over again ...

An experienced writer will be going through several of these phases at the same time, i.e. writing book 3, whilst preparing book 2 for publication and promoting book 1, which can result in a cacophony of emotions all in one day. Understanding friends and family are so important as after a long day they bear the brunt of the ups and downs. If it has been a good day, they celebrate with us, if it has been a bad day ... they might just think about running for cover. Perhaps Margo's quote, in All About Eve, was the right one to use after all ...

To find out more about Victoria's books, click HERE.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

WHIPPING THE WIP INTO SHAPE ..... Linda Mitchelmore

It's been a funny old year for me, so far, writing wise. For the first six months I've lived off my Blue Peter moments - you know, the ones I wrote earlier. I've seen two novellas go to large print with Ulverscroft and come out in paperback. And HarperCollins have just published my first novel with them, SUMMER AT 23 THE STRAND.
There have also been half a dozen or so short stories published in various magazines, some of which I wrote and submitted well over a year ago.
Stuff happened here which meant my mind wasn't as creative as it usually is so while that was going on I didn't beat myself up about it. But I had this itch I just had to scratch and I kept my writing hand in putting - hopefully - witty and pithy posts on Facebook and a blogpost now and then. But as I said, it's been a funny old year and now I have a new book to write and a very short deadline in which to do it. The problem is I've had six months of mental slobbing about, as it were. I wasn't sure if I could actually do it and dithered before committing. And then I heard my dear old dad's voice in my head saying, 'You can do it kid,' whenever I voiced fears that things were, perhaps, too much for me. So I put on my self-discipline hat - it's the only way because no one else is going to do it for me. I get up an hour earlier, shower and dress, have breakfast and I'm at my desk by 8.30 a.m. I'm refusing all invites to meet for coffee or lunch until the 80,000 words I need are in the can, as it were. I write until midday, or thereabouts, go for a short walk of twenty minutes or so and then get lunch. The afternoons are for catching up with the necessary - housework, washing, buying and sending birthday cards and presents. Oh, and getting in the wine for wind-down time. There was an interesting thread on Facebook recently about whether or not one should drink wine while editing. The consensus of opinion is that no, one shouldn't, but that it's perfectly all right to drink wine while working on one's wip. So that's all right, then, and I now have supplies in.
Part of my new regime was not to write at weekends as I always have my grandchildren here. But wips have a mind of their own, and snatches of dialogue and little 'scenes' keep coming to me and I have to nip to my desk and make notes. My grandchildren are building complex Lego models with their grandad at the moment. Time then to get a few more paragraphs in the can. Back to the typeface!

Monday, 16 July 2018

A Wild Weekend in Leeds...

I’m a relatively newbie when it comes to the Romantic Novelists’ Association events. It isn’t that I’m not gregarious, although I am a little bit backwards at coming forward. It’s that RNA events are usually in London and, as I have no real reason to be in London at any other time, it isn’t worth it to trek all the way down to the Big Smoke for a couple of hours.

The conference is different, for two reasons. Firstly, with events scheduled from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Secondly, it’s almost always held somewhere a lot more accessible. My first year it was in Lancaster, my second in Telford and my third, from which I’ve just returned, in Leeds.

I don’t want to give a blow by blow account of the conference, because if you’re that interested in the details of who I met and why I heard you were probably there, but I do want to pick out a few reasons why I think these conferences are worthwhile.

Writing can be a lonely business. You can surround yourself with friends who don’t write and even the best of them, while nodding and sympathising over your successes and failures, won’t quite “get” what you’re talking about, how you’re feeling and why the kindest rejection can feel like the worst in the world (so near and yet so far).

So the you walk into a room of strangers you know one thing. They’re all writers. You can tell them about the rave rejection and they’ll say: “yeah, that’s rubbish” and understand.

Then there are the conference sessions. Inevitably they don’t all fall out perfectly, and you end up having to choose between three you really want to go to and three you really don’t have any interest in, or which aren’t really relevant to what you do. My favourite of the talks was one on writing sex, which featured a whole load of double entendres and a practical (writing) session set to a soundtrack of Jane Birkin singing Je t’Aime, and which left a lecture theatre full of people in fits of laughter. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I learned a lot.

There are the industry one-to-one appointments, at which writers get a chance to pitch their work to agents, editors and publishers — an invaluable opportunity which has seen many a writer get their break.

But probably my favourite, and I suspect the most lasting, memory of this week will, I think, be that of sitting around a table with friends old and new, under the stars (and the wings of the planes coming in to land at Leeds-Bradford) downing a glass or three of sauvignon blanc. We began with books and we ended up putting the word to rights.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

FILM PRODUCERS ... WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU! by the Novel Points of View team.

I think it is every writer's dream to have their novel made into a movie. I suspect many have an idea who they would like to play the lead roles. The Novel Points of View team certainly have! So ... if there are any producers out there considering adapting some fiction, whether you are from Hollywood or one of the amazing UK studios, look no further. We are ready for your call and can help you visualise how our main characters should look.
When I wrote The Daughter of River Valley, I used images of certain celebrities to represent the main characters. It was only when I came to write this post did I do a little research to find out who they were. At the time it was their looks that was important, not who they were. Shallow, me? Not normally, but on this occasion I hold up my hands.

This image represented my troubled hero who is suffering from amnesia. He cannot recall his past, why he was in the heroine's cottage, or even his own name. Add to this he suffers from murderous nightmares leading him to question what sort of man he really is. This week, to my shame, I discovered this image is of Gerard Butler, who I think is an amazing actor, especially when he played the phantom in The Phantom of the Opera. I feel a little foolish now that I did not recognise him before, but he certainly has my vote for his brilliant acting skills.

Megan Fox, with her long black hair and sapphire blue eyes, is the perfect fit for my heroine, Beth Jago. She is also rather feisty which is perfect for my spirited heroine who, through her impetuous actions, caused the hero to lose his memory. The only problem is her American accent. If she can master the soft Cornish drawl, she would be perfect.

I am a big believer in visualizing what my characters look like. I actually do a very detailed storyboard, with pictures of setting, characters, and any nuggets of research that help me with my book. The visual just keeps me honest. So without further ado, I introduce pictures of the actors I would like to see cast should my book, The Silent Woman, be made into a movie.

Eloise Webb as Annie Havers. This young lady just personifies what I see Annie looking like, especially as she blossoms into a young woman. Keep in mind that Annie came from humble beginnings, and by virtue of luck and timing became the ward of Cat Carlisle.

Jason Hughes as Thomas Charles. For those of you who loved Midsomer Murders — and who doesn’t? — Jason Hughes will resonate with you. He just reminds me of Thomas Charles. It’s who I see during the dialogue and during all the scenes in the book.

Finally, Nancy Carroll as Cat Carlisle. For those of you who watch the Father Brown mysteries, you will have seen Nancy Carroll in costume similar to that which she would wear in my Cat Carlisle series.

These three characters have storylines in all of the series, so I’ll stop here.

Haven’t most authors had a daydream or two that one (or more!) of their books would be filmed? I know I have. My latest book – Summer at 23 The Strand, published by HarperCollins HQDigital – is a collection of themed short stories. There are many main characters so I’ve picked the first – Martha, and the man she meets while stopping at Number 23 The Strand, Hugh.

Martha is a film star who has run out on a US film after she got dangerously close to having an affair with her married leading man. She has questioned the ethics and isn’t at all sure she wants to be part of what can be a very fickle world. Into her life at the Devon seaside chalet comes Hugh, stopping just a few chalets away. To her distress she discovers Hugh is a journalist, and it isn’t long before she sees the similarity between her situation and Audrey Hepburn’s – playing the Princess Ann – in Roman Holiday. She discovers that Hugh knows that film well, too. So there isn’t anyone else I can choose to take the parts, although it will have to be some sort of time slip for Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck to take the leads.

Jennifer Y
I am tearing my hair out in the face of a terrible problem, and it’s all my own fault. I was the one who suggested that the next joint blog here on Novel Points of View should be about the actor/actors we’d like to play our protagonists in a future film version of our books, and now I wish I’d suggested we pool our tips on how to fold a fitted sheet. It would have been easier. 

Subconsciously I may have suggested it because I want to force myself into seeing characters as a reader might, but I’ve discovered I can’t do this. I never have done. My many writer friends often post pictures of random photographs they’ve seen of someone, stranger or celebrity, who is the model for their characters. Some of them collect such images as a part of their research. 

I have never done this. And it’s dawned on me that I struggle to describe my characters in terms of their looks. When I stopped to look at people in the street this morning I realised that I couldn't describe any one of them in a way that would distinguish them from half a dozen others who passed me by. Because short dark hair is short dark hair, and that’s all there is to it. 

I begin inside my characters’ heads, which is fine, but I never come far enough out of them to see themselves as others do. Marcus, the policeman in my Dangerous Friends series, looks like a composite of two people I once saw in the street. Bronte, my heroine, looks vaguely like a modern version of a picture I once saw of a Land Girl on a history website. Beyond that, I can’t help you.

If I can’t see my characters in my head, how can I expect my readers to see them? I think the next step in my writing journey is to rethink descriptive writing…

Jennifer B.
My latest book, A Year of Taking Chances, is set in both France and London and tells the story of Tina and Jodie over the course of a year.  When the story opens Jodie is already married to Ben and living in the south of France, while Tina is still single in London and hoping her life is about to change.

If the novel was to ever make it on to the big screen, the real life couple of Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz would be my dream casting. I fell in love with Javier when I saw him in ‘Eat,Pray and Love’ and Penelope is just beautiful as well as being a brilliant actress. Together they exude a happy chemistry - perfect for Tina and Luc.

Javier Bardem and his wife Penelope Cruz arrive at the 74th annual Venice International Film Festival, Italy, Wednesday 6th September 2017.
(Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)

Like Victoria and Terry, I create a collage for each writing project, collecting images of main characters using a private Pinterest board, which is useful, as well as fun. I pin portraits of characters, location, clothing, funky apartments (my home is fairly traditional, so I love looking at funky apartments) and more…

My work in progress is a tale of trust between two sisters. I see Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre, who played Victoria Sutherland, the evil vampire in the Twilight series based on the novels written by Stephanie Meyer, as my health conscious protagonist, Clarrie. In real life Rachelle tweets selfies bare of make-up and is concerned about the impact of body image in the media. Someone who has had problems with her relationship with food in the past, and is now determined to put her experience to good use by encouraging others to celebrate who they are, whilst eating healthily. Themes that also crop up in my novel.

A pussy cat plays a tiny but important role in my work in progress, so if a producer came calling I’d offer my own cat, Boston, to play the part. I’m not entirely confident in Boston’s acting ability, or even the ability to stay very long (he’s still young) but he probably would be willing to put on an Oscar-winning performance for cat treats!


Do you have trouble visualising the characters in a book?
If you are a writer, who would you like to see cast in an adaptation of your latest novel?
We would love to know.