NaNoWriMo 2017 – I did it!


Taking part in this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) hadn’t even crossed my mind – until the author Susanna Bavin suggested it.

Susanna, who has appeared in my Behind The Book series, wrote a blog post featuring quotes from her writer friends about their experiences of NaNo. Having completed it in 2015 (just), I added a comment and thought that was the end of it.

It wasn’t until a Twitter conversation later where Susanna invited me to be her buddy this year – and some of her friends and mine encouraged me – that I first thought ‘maybe I should do this?’ I talked it through with Mark because I knew from last time that I would need his support if I was going to manage it. He was all for it (I moan about him but he’s a good one really), so I signed up.

Did I mention it was already October 22nd and NaNo starts on November 1st? Not only that but I was just about to head off on holiday for half term week so not much time for prep. I decided to continue with the book I’ve been working on for Friday 500 – and luckily I convinced my writing buddy, Kate, to join in.

We began our Friday 500 project in September 2016 (the idea was that we would email each other a minimum of 500 words each week of our respective novels). It’s worked really well. I’ve had a lot of fun trying out different things. I’m writing third person but alternate between characters. I started with two main characters, went up to three, went back down again and then tried writing first person. I also realised that I really REALLY needed to have some sort of plan. So I stopped and spent a solid couple of weeks plotting and then I started again, almost from scratch.

By October, I had two chapters and a really quite detailed idea of where my story was going but I would have happily continued to plod along had Susanna not offered to be my buddy for NaNo.

I was really excited to get started. I didn’t include any of the words I had already written but, because I had spent so long thinking about the story (even dreaming scenes some nights), the words really flowed. I was still getting up at 5am and writing some days so I could get my word count up but, unsurprisingly, having Freya at school all day this time was a big help.

Nano stats

As you can see, some days were better than others. I realised at the start that I really needed to get some words in the bank because there were days, particularly weekends, where it would be a struggle. Once I had that safety net it pretty much sailed along. I even managed to finish a couple of days early – unlike last time when I was almost still typing up to deadline.

I actually found it quite emotional writing the final chapter, maybe because I had actually written all the chapters before it (I only had six and an ending last time and the rest were scenes).

What’s also been really great this time is having a supportive group of writing buddies to talk to via Twitter DM every day. Writing can be a lonely pursuit but they always gave me something to smile about.

And here it is, my certificate (isn’t it nice that it goes with my blog colours). I think even those who didn’t reach the 50k are winners. We all had our own goals but more importantly we all wanted to write – and that’s what we’ve done.

NaNo-2017-Winner-Certificate 2

Thank you very much to everyone who has supported me – and especially Susanna. I’m very excited to have an actual draft. Now on to editing.

Did you take part in NaNoWriMo this year (or in the past)? How did you get on?





New Series Alert: Behind The Book – Meet The Author.

I love to read (as you can probably tell by the number of reviews I post) but quite often when a book is finished I am left with questions – not about plot or character development, necessarily, more about the author and their path to print.

Sometimes I itch to send them a tweet or an email but, for some reason, they feel a bit unreachable – probably because they have done the thing I aspire to and not only written but published a book. It’s like on publication day they are transported to a hall of fame where they stand on a pedestal with a plaque stating “author” underneath. While you are invited to admire them from a distance, a strict no touching rule is in force. Not that I want to touch the authors, just to be clear, but I would really like to talk to them.

After I started posting reviews at the beginning of last year I found myself chatting with some of the writers and I discovered they are actually quite open to communicating with readers, maybe even enjoy it, in some cases. I tentatively asked a couple whether they would be willing to let me pick their brains about the writing process and post about it here. I’m delighted to say the responses have been positive. See, they are just like us, after all.

So amid posts about my parenting fails, photography, my rubbish attempts at crafting (and cooking, for that matter), book reviews and general nonsense, I’m going to occasionally feature Behind The Book interviews.

I already have a couple of lovely people lined up but I thought I’d throw open the floor and see if anyone else is willing to share their story.

If you are a published author (any genre and self-published more than welcome) I’d love to interview you about your journey into print (or ebook). I will email you 10 tailored questions and will require the answers along with a photo of you and an image of your book cover. In return you will have my heartfelt thanks and I will, of course, provide a link to your work and your social media details (I promise there is no touching involved).

If you’re a reader/writer with a burning question about publishing a book please let me know and I’ll add it in when the time is right. When I use your question I’ll link to your blog or Twitter etc.

Fancy joining in? Please drop me an email at

Friday 500 Writing Challenge – Update Four.


We are all human and we all make mistakes but that hasn’t stopped me being quietly scathing when I have found errors in books – at least until I started writing my own.

The thing that used to make me cross was when the name of the character pitched as the hero was accidentally swapped for that of the villain, usually towards the end of the book. “There is no excuse for that,” I used to think – and it’s happened on several occasions, including with experienced authors signed with big publishing houses.

One tiny slip could ruin the entire novel for me, no matter how much I told myself to ignore it or give the author/editor/publisher a break. It just seemed to alter the flow and I found it hard to get back into it (maybe that’s just me?).

While I haven’t got any names mixed up, yet, four chapters into my book (you can read an intro to the Friday 500 Challenge here) and I’m already struggling to remember some of the details I’ve included earlier on. While I’m sure I will still flinch when I find a mistake in someone else’s book, I will at least have some sympathy now.

It’s got even worse since I went back over the first three chapters and added bits in here and there. I have to think to myself: “Wait, did I say that already?” Another thing I dislike in books is repetition of the facts or certain phrases but I can sort of see how it happens.

My problem is partly down to the fact that I might get an hour to work on it one day and then not be able to pick it up again until several evenings later. I struggle to remember where I’ve put my keys most days (usually still in the front door, occasionally in the fridge) so working out whether I’ve already alluded to the fact that someone’s mother died or mentioned the colour of the heroine’s eyes (did I say blue or green?) is often hopeless.

Having said all that, I’m surprised by how enthusiastic I still am about writing my story and having the deadline of sending 500 words to Kate each week is brilliant. I’ve had a couple of weeks where I’ve started something else as the idea has come to me (and Kate has been great at reading and giving feedback on whatever I send her) and I think that’s helped keep things fresh (though probably not helped with remembering the details of my main story).

We are having an Easter break while the children are off school but I’m looking forward to getting back into it. I have several blog posts planned too, including a look at our recent mother/daughter holiday (one word: disaster).

How do you feel about mistakes in books? Can you overlook them? Do you struggle to remember details when you’re writing? How do you get around it?