I don’t know about you, but I feel I’ve trudged through January. Lockdown seems never ending. I’ve enjoyed some fantastic walks, albeit very muddy, but I have to admit to feeling a little muddy in my brain, dragging the words out to write a new book.
But, it’s never too late to kickstart, so I’m inviting fellow authors to chat about how they go about writing their new books. I hope we can pick up a few ideas along the way.
This week, I’m welcoming fellow RNA author, Caroline James.
Angela, thank you for inviting me to chat about writing. I am thrilled to join you and your readers.
You’re very welcome. I hope we get to meet each other soon in real life at the next RNA Conference. Tell me, how do you begin your books?
When beginning a new book, I buy a big A4 notebook, with tabs and plastic folders. This is my ‘book bible.’ At the back, I list the chapter page numbers and word count, which helps me see a rhythm. My chapters tend to have similar word counts, which isn’t deliberate, it just seems to happen. Any research quotes, notes, pictures or information go in the folders in sections. At the front is a chapter-by-chapter analysis, then the characters and their backgrounds. Finally, as I write, I list by page number and brief detail, any points that need picking up further on in the book.
I use a journal for each novel
I have tried to use writing aides such as Scrivener, but I much prefer a hard copy version of my own. It’s tactile and useful for research if writing a series.
Where do you get your ideas from?
From life and people watching. If you were to sit down and write a bucket list of things that you have done, I am sure you will have experiences that can be the framework for a story. For example, a holiday may create a destination scene. You know it well, so why not write about it? Change the names and fill the picture with words and your story has begun.
How do the ideas arrive in your head?
My ideas begin set in stone, but as I write they shoot off, like the branches on a tree and I very often have no idea where they are taking me. Which is fun, like telling myself a story. I plot initially then let my imagination have free fall and by the time I’m halfway I know exactly where the book is going and it tends to gain momentum and write itself.
What is your routine?
In Lockdown my routine has changed to fit in with my new working life. I am at my desk by 7.30 am to work on client’s social media accounts and whatever projects need my attention in my husband’s business. I mentor several authors through www.thepublishhub.com so spend time with them. Next, I work on my own social media and admin, which can be anything from writing food and recipes, or book related articles, to arranging bookings and content for online talks, which have replaced my public speaking engagements during lockdown.
Wow, Caroline! Such a tidy desk. I wish…
Ideally, at lunch time, I cycle or walk Fred, our Westie, then settle down to continue work on my current novel. Nothing is set in stone though and this routine often changes.
How long does it take you to complete a book?
My first novels were written and edited in a year, that seemed to be the way I liked to work, fitting writing in between my day-to-day consultancy work. Last year I wrote and edited two books and would like to think that I am speedier now but won’t hold my breath. Life has an unexpected way of throwing irons in the fire that can upset the writing flow.
Happy reading and writing everyone xx
Caroline, many thanks for dropping by. I admire your work ethic. We all know that a book does not write itself. Good luck with whatever you are doing next.
Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can.
A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. Caroline also runs writing workshops.
In her spare time, Caroline can be found walking up a mountain with her two Westie dogs, sipping raspberry gin or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.
Books by Caroline James:
Facebook: Caroline James Author
See you next Monday, everyone, for another motivational chat.