From straight pantser to ever so slightly plotting along.

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I used to be a straight pantser.  (Someone who writes by the seat of their pants instead of plotting with an outline, etc.)

Never did anything, not even writing down character notes, before starting a novel. My mind liked it, but my manuscripts became a bit of a nightmare to edit. It’s hard to keep track of characters, plots, and timelines when NOTHING is written down.

And your memory is a bit shit.

Now, I do better.

I plot a little. I’ll never be a true plotter. Outlines bore me to tears. So, I’ve found a compromise that works.

Stage One: Faces, Names and Places

Three things I usually do before anything else is to pick the location of a story, the novel title, and visual references for the characters.

I’m not a very visual person, so I definitely need an actual image to picture while I’m writing.

Stage Two: Build out a Book Bible.

I use thin A5 Muji notebooks and fill out little character questionnaires for the main characters along with notes about family/friends. I also jot down a loose timeline. I find this helps keep the novel on track, but also with writing newsletters and blog posts once I’m done with the book.

Stage Three: Media.

Before writing, I build two essential lists. A musical playlist, my current WIP has a mostly country music playlist. I also create a TV/movie list. I find watching shows or movies based around the theme of what I’m writing can really help me get in the mood.

For The Royal Marine, for example, I watched a lot of Bake Off. For the Grasmere trilogy, it watched Poirot, of course.

Stage Four: Let’s Play Pretend

This is the stage where I’m usually supposed to be giving myself a writing break, but I’m chomping at the bit to write.

Stage Five: Write

Self-explanatory that involves a lot of coffee, sobbing, and hitting my head against the keyboard.

If you’re a writer, are you a pantser or a plotter?

 

A Soul Full of Music.

I don’t know about other authors, but I can’t write without some sort of noise in the background. Usually, I listen to music.  Every novel I’ve ever written has a playlist associated with it.  Each one is unique to the main characters of that particular story, though often a few of my favourite songs sneak into the list.

The Caretaker, for example, ended up with a rather blues and jazz inspired playlist, which you can find on Spotify.  It has a few modern songs in it. I think the one that evokes everything about Freddie & Tens is probably Bonfire Heart by James Blunt, an odd choice given the other songs on the list.

It just–there’s something about the lyrics that caused me to listen to it on repeat for a significant portion of writing Freddie & Tens love story. It reminded me of Tens, I think, how this younger man comes into his life and does quite literally light the spark in his heart.

 

10 Ways to Avoid Book Launch Exhaustion

Maybe it’s just me, but book launches are highly stressful and exhausting. Since I couldn’t figure out what to blog about this week, I thought I’d come up with a list of ways to help avoid exhaustion and also how to stay sane during the release of my latest romance novel, The Wanderer.

So, here are ten ways to avoid stress and/or relax when you are stressed out:

  1. Tea. Lots of tea. All the tea. Particularly if it’s Republic of Tea’s Lemon Chiffon Green Tea. So Good.
  2. Bath, a long soak can do wonders.
  3. Indulge in a good book, this week I was reading some free flash fiction.
  4. Naps. Don’t judge. Naps are brilliant. 
  5. Write. Sometimes, the best way to relaxing during a book launch is to continue working on your next project.
  6. Video games. My current favourite? Mass Effect Andromeda, hands down, the best game that I’ve played in ages.
  7. Indulge in binge watching on the telly. What am I watching lately? Hunted, Lock Up, The Great British Bake Off.
  8. Avoiding Goodreads, nothing more stressful than reading reviews lol.
  9. Get time away from the computer.
  10. Music. Nothing releases stress like singing loudly and badly. lol

What about you? What do you do to alleviate stress? If you’re an author, do you find book launches to be stressful?

 

Five Musical Things for Monday

This Monday, I thought I’d share five songs I’ve been listening to while writing this past week:

  1. LEJ – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLmDvvfYpCE
  2. Adele – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk4BbF7B29w
  3. Cimorelli – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpZ82oU_UQc
  4. 7th Ave – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp28RylttZ0
  5. Kodaline – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtf7hC17IBM

What are you listening to this week?

Five Things about Music

I’d planned a mildly more serious post for today, but decided it was too much of a Monday for it.  So instead, I’m going to share five of my favourite musical Youtube subscriptions.

No. 1: The Piano Guys.

No. 2: Peter Hollens

No. 3: Pentatonix

No. 4: Cimorelli

No. 5: L.E.J.

What are your favourite music groups?  Any non-traditional ones?

Natasha – The Playlist

Inspiration

The music I’ve been listening to while writing Natasha:
Trouble by P!nk
Some Nights by Fun.
I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons
Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons
Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys
My Life by TLC
Demons by Imagine Dragons
Stubborn Love by The Lumineers
Miss Independent by Kelly Clarkson
Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
Walk Away by Kelly Clarkson
Mercy by Duffy
Right to Be Wrong by Joss Stone
Devil’s Backbone by The Civil Wars
Hell on Heels by Pistol Annies
Dealing With the Devil by Imelda May
Mayhem by Imelda May
Trouble by Ray LaMontagne
Hard to Handle by The Black Crowes
Fire by Babyface
England by The National
Love the Way You Lie by Eminem
Killing in the Name b Rage Against the Machine
Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong by the Spin Doctors
Wing by Birdy
Have a Little Faith in me by John Hiatt
Skinny Love by Birdy
Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw