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How to Overcome Writer’s Block by Sophie Jenkins

“SophieToday on the book tour for Sophie Jenkins’ new book ‘The Forgotten Guide To Happiness’, Sophie talks about the struggle that most authors face and that’s writers block.

In the ‘Forgotten Guide to Happiness’, the jilted heroine Lana Green writes a depressing sequel to her first novel, a love story, and when she is forced to come up with a new idea she gets writer’s block.

The original idea was like a bigger take on Facebook posts; the first novel had all the stages of a romantic relationship, the happy photographs, the beautiful settings – and then the next thing you know, it’s all over except for the unanswerable question – what just happened? The darker side of life is always more interesting to write about than happiness and I also liked the idea of the romance from her point of view as opposed to the way her boyfriend sees it – to him, her fantasised version of him is difficult to live up to, whereas for her, portraying him in a idealised way was a sign of how much she loved him.

Because of this she loses all sense of focus when she comes to write the next book and she only becomes unblocked because of the influence of Nancy Ellis Hall, a feminist writer with dementia who fell in love with a younger man.

The character of Nancy is based on my mother who has always been a larger-than-life character and for a long time I wasn’t able to write even though I only saw her two days a week. I live in London and she lived in Wales. But I thought about her all the time and it felt as if I didn’t have any room left in my head for being creative; in the scheme of things it really wasn’t a priority. Real-life sometimes doesn’t leave much room for anything else and that’s how it should be.

To help my creativity I went on a Commando Survival Course in Buckinghamshire in November, when the snow was on the ground. I creatively built a shelter but I was more focused on surviving the cold than writing.

The Forgotten Guide To Happiness

Then I went to a Romantic Novelists’ meeting with friends and they were talking about when they write, and what they usually wear when they’re writing. It’s almost like a superstition, swapping writing tips, and I’m always on the lookout for brilliant ideas that might be helpful. One of my friends said she stays in bed and with her laptop and she doesn’t get up until she’s finished her thousand words target. That method was very appealing, until another friend told us she doesn’t start writing until she’s showered, dressed and put make-up on, because she says it’s only then that she feels ready to do a day’s work, and I got on board with that as well.

For Christmas, my sister came up with a solution. She gave me a Mint Velvet gift wrapped box and inside she had put dark grey tracksuit bottoms and a pale grey top and told me it was my new writing suit.

Wake up, shower, put on the writing suit and I’m good to go.

You can buy The Forgotten Guide to Happiness from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

How Brexit Affected My Book By Sue Moorcroft

Sue MoorcroftToday on the book tour for Sue Moorcroft’s brand new book called ‘One Summer In Italy’, Sue talks about how Brexit affected her story.

Sometimes an idea for a novel comes to me – shazam! It’s a euphoric moment as I realise that the idea has enough depth to sustain a novel and I can give the characters conflict or missions that work with the initial idea.

Sadly, hard on the heels of this moment of euphoria comes the jarring moment I fall to earth. I see A SNAG.

The idea to write about seasonal workers living in Italy came to me when I was visiting Italy to run a writing course for Arte Umbria and was speaking to their English chef who’d come out to run their kitchen for the summer. It could be a shazam! idea, I realised. We chatted about the issues attendant on living-in versus living-out, the way days were structured, how the chef got her work, how she was paid, what her work entailed and a host of other details. I should have written the book there and then, before …

… Brexit.

The referendum (June 2016) hadn’t even taken place when I decided to write about seasonal workers living in Europe. It wasn’t until I got down to work in early 2017 that I realised the significance of the freedom to work in Europe not necessarily exist in the future. SNAG. I set about solving the problem as best I could.

One Summer In Italy

I gave my heroine an Italian dad. A member of my street team, Team Sue Moorcroft, lives in Italy and gave me a list of popular Italian names for 30-something females, from which I chose Sofia. Opinion seemed pretty fixed that entitlement to a European passport would open borders for its bearer. I know quite a few people in Northamptonshire with an Italian parent or parents so I’m familiar with the enduring love for Italy that never seems entirely overlaid by decades of living in England. Aldo asking Sofia to promise to visit his hometown of Montelibertà was born from this, and her story began to take shape. Why hadn’t Aldo been back? Why wasn’t he in touch with his brother? Why should Sofia go on his behalf and what would she find there? Why was she so keen to travel?

I didn’t want to repeat the device for Amy, the young friend Sofia makes in Casa Felice, the hotel where they work, but had to similarly Brexit-proof it. I saw that Amy could come from a family of ex-pats, and I situated them in Germany, partly because it’s my birth country (we were an army family) and partly because my brother’s family were ex-pats in Munich for years, so I knew something of the life. Why Amy had left home was clear in my mind. What became pivotal to the plot was why she couldn’t go back.

Levi, in comparison, was easy. To support various hotels, Montelibertà had to be a tourist town. I made him a tourist. One day a man I met eulogised about the joys of riding a motor cycle around Europe and I thought, ‘There you go, Levi. You can do that.’

One Summer in Italy has turned out to have a lot to say about freedom, in various forms. And what’s worth giving up.

You can buy One Summer in Italy from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Caroline England Reveals New Book – My Husband Lies

My Husband LiesJust ahead of the book tour next week, I’m delighted to be revealing the cover to Caroline England’s new book called ‘My Husband Lies’.

What the back cover says –

Do you really know your friends?

On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.

As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think

And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.

Tense, disturbing and clever, ‘My Husband’s Lies’ is a breath-taking read, perfect for fans of Lucy Clarke and Erin Kelly.

Check out Tuesday, 29th May, which is my spot on the tour next week, where Caroline will talk about why she enjoys writing domestic noir.

You can buy My Husband’s Lies from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Trisha Ashley Writers Tips

“TrishaTrisha Ashley shares her writing tips with budding writers.

Read very widely, but especially current bestsellers in the genre you’re writing for. Ask yourself what their novels are giving the reader that yours doesn’t.

The Girl Who Got Revenge Book Tour – Extract

The Girl Who Got RevengeToday I’m hosting the book tour for Marnie Riches new book called ‘The Girl Who Got Revenge’ which is the fifth book in her George McKenzie series, and I’ve an extract to share. So make a cup of tea, sit down, relax and enjoy this short taster.

The ferry heaved violently on the waves. Feeling nausea sweep over her, George swallowed down a lump of ginflavoured regurgitation. She was about to climb the perilous steps back up when she heard whimpering from the car deck. What the hell was that? An abandoned dog? Surely not. But then she heard a child’s voice quite clearly above the tinnitus hum of the ferry’s bowels, crying and shouting in a small voice. Speaking a language she didn’t at first recognise, but then realised was an Arabic dialect.

‘Hello! Who’s there?’ she called out in Arabic. She wasn’t fluent, but she’d picked up enough to get by over the years – always handy in the wilds of multi-ethnic South East London, and especially so now that her life revolved around research into trafficking, where a good proportion of the victims, often from the Middle East and Central Asia, spoke little English, if any.

From between the gleaming bonnets of the BMWs and Audis and Citroëns, a small child crawled towards her. He couldn’t have been more than six or seven, George assessed, though she was fairly hopeless as far as children were concerned.

‘What’s your name?’ she asked, extending a hand to him whilst clinging to the bottom of the handrail. ‘Come on. Don’t be scared.’

The little boy was dressed in filthy jeans and a hoodie. Tears poured from huge, sorrowful brown eyes, streaking his dusty skin with clean furrows. His lip trembled.

George didn’t understand much of his response, but she did pick out the word ‘Ummi’. He was looking for his mother. Where the hell had he come from?

‘What are you doing on the car deck, kiddo?’ she asked, knowing the child couldn’t understand her. But, of course, she was fairly certain she knew what a dishevelled, lost kid on the lower decks of the Stena Line ferry from the Netherlands to Harwich might feasibly be doing.

Enveloping the small sobbing boy in her arms, she stroked his thick black hair and shushed him until he began to calm.

Two broken hearts in one day on one ferry. But George suspected there were rather more, hidden somewhere among the stationary vehicles on some lower deck. This boy’s mother, for one, no doubt anguished at the disappearance of her son.

She had a decision to make: alert the authorities now, or let the boy lead her to the vehicle in question and then raise the alarm? Her common sense screamed at her to find a steward.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

You can buy The Girl Who Got Revenge from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.