Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Tools For Success



Writing requires discipline, commitment, energy, and above all, self-belief. So how do you manage to keep all those elements positive, which in turn will keep you moving forward with your writing?

Connect

Keep connected with other authors, who are, after all, like-minded people who understand! It could be a simple as a chat on social media or as in-depth as brainstorming plot ideas. Just connecting with other authors will fuel your positivity and belief in yourself as a writer. As well as your enthusiasm. The act of writing entails hours sat alone, in front of your screen or notebook, and being alone when you hit a sticky patch in your writing can be soul-destroying.

Go Out

This might seem strange but get away from your screen or notebook. Take time to allow thoughts and ideas to percolate. After all, you don’t have to be putting words on a page to be writing. Thinking time is as important as writing time. If I get stuck, I find a good walk with the dog can unblock things. When that happens, dictate into your phone so you can retrieve that breakthrough when you get back to your desk.


Create Goals

Set achievable goals that fit in with your everyday life and commitments. If you can only manage one afternoon a week to work on your novel because of your work and family commitments that is perfectly fine. As is daily writing. Whatever you set as your goal make sure it is achievable otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure and misery. It’s so much more satisfying to surpass a goal!

I set myself a weekly goal and then break it down into smaller daily ones. Sometimes I don’t meet the daily one, but an achievable weekly goal helps to lessen the impact on my confidence of a day when the words didn’t come or couldn’t be written because daily life got in the way. And that means I usually hit my weekly goal.

Get Help

Work with a professional to get the most out of you, the writer. Don’t wait until you get that agent or publishing deal. You and your writing deserve the best right now.

During lockdown, I worked with Joanne Grant Editorial Coach, who has a fantastic new Facebook group Motivation for Writers! to join as well as a weekly newsletter to subscribe to. 

Over the last few years, life has hurled quite a few curve balls my way, and my confidence and belief in myself as a writer was at an all-time low. Working with Joanne got me back on track and was the best investment in myself as a writer I have ever made and I’m writing in a more productive and positive way than I have done for some time.

Read and Watch


Image - Pezibear Pixabay

Reading is as important as writing. If you aren’t comfortable with reading the genre you are currently working on, then try something new. It’s a great way of discovering authors new to you as well as sparking your imagination.

I also find movies or a binge-watch of a series a great go-to when I need to stir up my creative juices too.

 

Happy Writing

Rachael

xx

Friday, 4 September 2020

Beyond the Happy Ever After

 

Today my husband and I are celebrating twenty-seven years of marriage. As confetti was thrown at me after our wedding in the local chapel, it was definitely my happy ever after moment.



But the story continues...

Which got me thinking, how would life be for the characters of my stories twenty-seven years on?

So, I delved back into one of my favourite books to write, Di Marcello’s Secret Son.

Italian tycoon Antonio Di Marcello relishes a challenge – but running into Sadie Parker while working undercover as a mechanic rocks him to the core. Four years after their fevered fling stripped away his iron guard, he’s confronted with the shocking consequences…

Sadie has given up hope in her desperate attempts to contact Antonio. Now she has to face the day she’d both dreaded and longed for! And Antonio’s claim over her and her son is hard to resist – especially as he’ll use a sensual onslaught to get what he wants!


Twenty-seven years later…

‘You look as beautiful as your mother did on our wedding day.’ Antonio held his emotions in check as he danced with his daughter, now married to Dante Carvella. She might be twenty-six, but to him, Mia was still his baby girl.

She laughed, her eyes sparkling with happiness. At least her road to true love hadn’t been blighted by all he and Sadie had gone through. It still broke his heart to think of missing those first four years of Leo’s life – and that time with the Sadie.

‘And if Dante and I are as happy and in love as you and Mamma, then that will be a dream come true.’ Mia said, blushing prettily. ‘You two are my inspiration.’

Antonio glanced around the magnificence of the ballroom as he danced, searching for the woman who’d captured his heart from the very first moment he’d set eyes on her. It was an honour to be dancing with his daughter in all her bridal finery, but it was Sadie he wanted in his arms.

‘Mind if I cut in.’ Leo’s deep voice halted their practiced steps. ‘I want a dance with my little sister on her wedding day.’

Antonio stepped back and allowed his son to whisk Mia away. If someone had told him the day he’d gone undercover as part of Sebastien’s challenge that it would change his life forever – and in the most unexpected way – he’d never have believed them. But Sebastien was a wise man. He’d known exactly what he’d been doing the night he’d laid down the gauntlet to Stavros, Alejandro, and himself to go two weeks without their wealth and family names to support them.

For Antonio, accepting that challenge had been a turning point.

It had changed him forever. Brought Sadie back into his life as well as love and happiness.

‘Penny for your thoughts,’ Sadie’s soft voice broke through the memories.

‘I was just remembering those two weeks when I worked at Centro Auto Barzetti. Who’d have thought being a mechanic would change my life forever.’

Sadie blushed, looking as gorgeous as she’d done that weekend they’d first met. The weekend that had resulted in their son, Leo. Antonio pushed back the anger that his mother’s pride and need to keep up appearances within Milan’s society had prevented him from ever being told about his son. Dio, he’d found out by chance. Because of the challenge.

‘But you don’t regret it, do you.’ Sadie’s voice was a purr as she moved into his embrace, that sexy and very suggestive look twinkling in her eyes.

‘Never.’ He brushed his lips lightly over hers. ‘Twenty-seven years of marriage and two children later, there is only one thing I’d change. That it was four years longer.’

‘Don’t go there Antonio,’ Sadie said as they began to dance. ‘We agreed never to look back. Especially as we are still enjoying our happy ever after.’

‘Always the wise one,’ he teased her with a smile. ‘What would I do without you.’

‘Probably still be doing wild and reckless things with Alejandro and Stavros.’ Sadie laughed as he guided them towards the open doors and onto the terrace. ‘What are you doing?’

He moved them into the shadows of the evening and drew her tight against him. ‘What I’ve done for the last twenty-seven years.’

‘Oh?’ The husky question stirred up his senses.

‘Doing wild and reckless things with the woman I love.’

She wrapped her arms around his neck, lifting herself onto her tiptoes and reaching up to whisper against his lips. ‘Then I don’t want it ever to stop.'

Antonio brushed a stray lock of hair from Sadie's face, love overflowing inside him. 'I'm never going to stop enjoying our happy ever after. Ti amo, mia bella. Ti amo.'



Di Marcello's Secret Son, the first in the Secret Billionaires trilogy with Dani Collins and Jennifer Hayward, is available on Amazon right now for 99p. Get your copy here!


Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Her Exotic Prince


About thirteen years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Liz Fielding when she attended an afternoon at my local writing group to talk about writing romance. I’d known since I was nine years old, that I wanted to write and the discovery of Mills and Boon in my local library when I was a teenager made sure that whatever I wrote would be romance. So, I hung on every word Liz said, desperate to find the key to writing a romance novel.


Inspired and determined to write more than yet another false beginning, I set myself a deadline a year ahead and started to write. That book has not been published, nor will it ever be! But it does form part of the long road and the many words written, as for many years, I chased the dream of becoming published.



So, seeing my name on the cover of a book, with Liz Fielding is a bit special. This three in one book, Her Exotic Prince, also featuring a great read by Tessa Radley, will be available on 6th February and you can order your copy here. It features one of my favourite books to write, The Sheikh’s Last Mistress.


If you are wanting to write romance, then Liz’s Little Book of Romance is full of great advice and my copy is always on my desk!


Happy reading and writing!


Rachael
Xx

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

From One Decade to Another

It's another New Year's Eve and it is as much a time of reflection, as one of excitement and looking forward. Only this year, it's a chance to look back over a decade and welcome another. A whole new set of pages!


As 2009 clicked over to 2010, I was still dreaming of becoming a published author and had just embarked on a road of discovery that took me to wonderful places, like Tuscany, and brought me many friendships. In January 2014 my dream came true when I got 'the call' from Mills and Boon and later that year, my first book, A Deal Before the Altar, was in my hands and on the shelves!


I'm taking the opportunity now to remind myself of that dream as 2019 has been a challenging year on many fronts, which forced my creativity into hiding and gave me limited time to do the one thing I love doing - writing.

However, I am not prepared to let go of my dream. I love writing and still have many characters and their stories, either scribbled down in notebooks or racing through my mind, and my latest book, A Shocking Proposal in Sicily, is out in all formats in January 2020.




So, whatever your dreams are for the next decade, big or small, I wish you every happiness and success as you reach for them!



COMPETITION!
Leave a comment, sharing your dreams for the next decade, to be in with a chance to win copies of A Shocking Proposal in Sicily and tell me your preference for either the US or UK cover.

Closing Date: 5pm GMT Sunday 5th January 2020

Happy New Year
Rachael
xx


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

From Rachael's Desk - Characters


Creating Characters You and Your Readers Will Love



This post is later than I had anticipated because I was buried deep in revisions on my latest book. Actually, I was buried deep in rewrites because my characters didn’t leap off the page. The didn’t bring their story to life. The reason why. I couldn’t envisage them as real people. They weren’t alive in my mind, so how were they going to be anything other than cardboard cut-outs or just silhouettes in your story?


This post is all about creating your characters. Characters you love. So that your readers can love them too, go on a journey with them and more importantly, believe in them, empathise with them.

How to get to know your characters
The best way I’ve found to do this, is to ask them questions by completing an interview. You could even design your own character sheets with all the questions you think you will need to ask and all those you’d love to know the answer to.  It’s a method I returned to during the rewrite and I discovered some astonishing things about my characters. These are the sorts of questions you should be answering. Here's a photo of the many sheets I used for the rewrite.



      Know the basics
Find an image of your character, something you can focus on as you write. Then fill in the basics of what your character looks like. I find Pinterest really useful for this, as well as good fun! This is from my board - complete with its working title - for the book I've just sent into my editor.


You also need other information, like birthday and star sign. Find out what their hobbies are what music they love to listen to, what type of food they absolutely love or hate. Do they have a pet? What is the most precious thing they own and why? Some very leading questions there. A fabulous book from which to learn more about creating a character questionnaire, among other things, is Kate Walker’s 12Point Guide to Writing Romance. A constant on my desk!


        Know your characters’ likes and dislikes
Once you’ve got the basics filled in, it’s time to delve deeper into your new character and find out what makes them tick.  You may not need to put in the story the fact that that your heroine is a country girl at heart, but you will certainly know how she will react when faced with the buzz of a big city and confident alpha male who is so unlike any man in her hometown. Ask as many questions as you can, even if they seem incidental at the time. Treat your characters as a new friend you want to find out more about.


It’s also important to know how your character reacts to situations. What do they do if they are stressed? What makes them laugh? How they deal with bad news? What makes them angry and how they handle that? The list is endless!

 Know their back story
This is what will give your story emotional depth and is a must.  Knowing their back story in detail will create characters that are true to themselves. Every character will come to the blank page of a new book with a past that has unresolved issues and personal conflicts to overcome. You as the writer need to know these from the beginning, even if the reader doesn’t discover this until much later in the story.


Finally the most important question you can ask your characters as they tell you what has happened to them prior to your story starting is ‘why?’ For instance if your hero lets you know he will never be able to go to a certain part of the city, you want to know why not. What happened to him? When? How does it affect him now? What would he do if a situation forced him to do just that?

         Know what they want in the story and why
Your characters must have inner conflicts to resolve and problems to deal with as they progress through your story. At the start of the story you need to know what your characters want and where they want or need to be both physically and emotionally as the story ends. It may be that the hero wants one thing, when really, deep down he wants something completely different and through the course of the story and interaction with the heroine, he will discover what it is he really wants – and needs.



It is vital to get to know your characters even before you start writing chapter one, as you will then have characters that are alive and living in your story from the very first paragraph. This is the type of character you, the writer, can connect with as well as the reader who will be transported into the world of your story. It’s also great fun meeting new characters and part of the writing process I’m definitely making sure I do this as I begin my new book!

Happy Writing

Rachael
xx

Images from Pixabay


Tuesday, 4 December 2018

From Rachael's Desk - After the First Draft


Welcome to my brand new monthly post From Rachael's Desk! This month it's all about what to do once you've written your first draft.


Congratulations! You’ve written a book and added those magical words ‘the end’ and that achievement alone deserves celebration. Whether you have just taken part in NaNoWriMo or have been writing for many months, the fact that you have finished the first draft is amazing. 

So, go celebrate. Then come back – because even though you’ve written ‘the end’ you’re not finished yet!

Before I became published, this is something it took me a long time to accept. That, and the fact that first drafts are not perfect. I would tie myself in knots, deleting words I’d typed because they were not good enough instead of moving forward with the story. I was convinced I was a rubbish writer because I couldn’t create the perfect paragraph, let alone the perfect story, first time. My first drafts were a garbled mess. 

Now I know better. I know and accept that first drafts aren’t meant to brilliantly crafted pieces of writing. They are simply the process of getting everything from within you, the writer, onto the page. The first draft is merely an assembly of words with which you will create your story later, during the editing and revising process ahead of submission.

Once you’ve accepted that a first draft is not carved in stone, that the words within it can be changed, deleted, added to or moved, it’s time to look at how to deal with that jumble of ramblings which make up your first draft. Here are my tips for turning that first draft into a submission ready piece of writing. All of them apply to whatever genre you write and no matter how long or short.



1.           The first thing you need to do is to step away from the manuscript. Yes, that’s right. Step away. Walk away and don’t look at it. I would suggest at least two weeks, more if you have the time.
Why? Doing this gives you space from the story, from the words that are drafted on you page. It will give you thinking time. When you return to your first draft your mind will be refreshed and the story will appear either new to you.
The time you have given yourself to create distance from the jumble of words that poured on the page will also allow you to see those glaring plot holes you happily skipped over in the first draft.
Whatever you think of it now, good or bad, you must remind yourself it’s still a first draft, or a dirty draft as it’s sometimes called.

2.           Once you’ve taken time away from your story, print out the manuscript. This is something I find really useful as reading the story on the computer screen is so very different to reading it on a printed page. It’s amazing how you can read something on the screen, yet it appears completely different when it’s on a piece of paper. For me it also allows anything from silly spelling mistakes to massive continuity issues to show up.
For best results ensure your printed copy is double spaced so there is plenty of room for notes. It’s also a good idea to have a note book for exploring things you will need to include in the story. If you are anything like me, that note book will have to meet specific criteria! If you have made notes whilst writing your first draft, like time lines, character studies, gather these up. Arm yourself with coloured pens, sticky notes and anything else which will help you pull together the threads within the first draft. This is a time when my desk becomes strewn, even very messy, with colourful sticky notes and pens!

3.           Armed with your printed copy, start reading. Read the full manuscript, jotting down any issues you stumble across either in your notebook or in the margin of the manuscript. Once this is done you can go back and read scene by scene, chapter by chapter, using your earlier notes as reference.
Here are some of the things you need to ask yourself. Does each scene move the story forward? Do your characters achieve their goal? Are there any glaring plot holes – major inconsistency in the story which is totally out of place? Is it possible that you have not made the most of a scene or even missed it out completely? Are there moments when you’ve told the story, now shown it to the reader?
All of these are things to consider when you are reading the manuscript and a notebook comes in very useful.

4.           All those notes made, either on the manuscript or in a notebook will now offer you all the prompts you need as you begin to work on that manuscript. Take it a scene at a time. Ensure that scene counts and above all, moves the story forward.
Do this stage as many times as you feel necessary. Starting each time with a revised print out of the manuscript. There isn’t a right or wrong number of times required to do this. It will depend on you and your story.



5.           Once you are happy you have made the necessary revisions to the manuscript it’s time to read it again. For this stage I find it useful to send the manuscript to my kindle, offering me a new reading experience for the story. Whilst reading it I will check for smaller inconsistencies.
Inconsistencies such as your character suddenly having a change of eye colour. Or a minor character finding themselves with a new name. They sound silly things, but they are so easy to do when you are in the throes of creating your first draft!
Also look again for spelling and grammar errors. They really are the hardest things to find!
One final thing to watch for as you read the end of this reading session, is that all minor threads are stitched up neatly. For instance, the reader will want to know what happened to that minor character which flitted into one of your scenes. You know, the one you had completely forgotten about by the time you reached the end of your story!



6.           Now it’s time to send your manuscript to your critique partner or beta reader if you are lucky enough to have one. Collate your reader’s notes so that you can make any final changes as you once more revise the manuscript.

By now, you will have a well-polished story. A submission that is ready to go to land on an editor’s desk. An editor’s job is to be that magical fresh pair of eyes who will help you make your words into the very best story they can be – which means yet more revisions! This isn’t bad at all. If you are striving for publication and get any kind of feedback from an editor, it is like striking gold. And if you are published, it’s the invaluable advice to ensure your readers will enjoy your new book as much, or even more, than the last book.

It’s also worth remembering that there is not a right or wrong way to revise your first draft, just as there is not a correct number of times to do it. Each writer is different and certain techniques work for some and not for others. This is the way I approach turning my first draft into a manuscript ready for submission, but I always love to hear how other do it!

I’ll be back early in January with another post From Rachael’s Desk, so if there is a writing craft you want advice on, let me in the comments and I will schedule it for 2019.

Rachael
xx

Friday, 3 November 2017

Walking The Wall

This time two weeks ago I was walking - make that slipping and sliding down the Great Wall of China for the final time. And at the end of it we were all presented with a medal.


The whole week was amazing from start to finish. My fellow trekkers were brilliant and we had such fun getting to know one another as we took on the Great Wall. The trek was run by Charity Challenge and the both the UK team members and the local guides made the week, ensuring we were challenged but safe.


 Here we all are - full of laughter on the first morning and that laughter continued all week!


We trekked along overgrown sections of the wall that had us battling to stay on our feet as we went down hill.

Climbed endless and very steep steps up.


Negotiated tricky parts which tested anyone's fear of heights.


Took on the Stairway to Heaven and it's notoriously steep steps which was shrouded in mist - probably a good thing!


Enjoyed fantastic views.


Even being on the wall as the sun began to set.


But most important of all, as a group of twenty eight we raised over £52,000 for British Heart Foundation and I made some fantastic new friends. If only we could do it all over again!

There's still time to support our efforts on my Just Giving page.

Now I'm back to reality and at my desk working on revisions.

Rachael
xx

Thanks to British Heart Foundation's Flicker page of the trip and the use of the photos.