Its all in the detail…………

Great tits cope well with warming (BBC)


NZ finds black Cox hard to swallow (The Register)


Elton takes David up the aisle (The Sun)


Tiger Woods plays with his own balls, Nike says (AP Wire)


There’s not a lot wrong with these headlines, in the first example the sentence simply requires the change of a lower case‘t’ to an upper case ‘T’. But the difference in meaning is huge, as I hope you’ve already discovered, and had a bit of a giggle.

The profession responsible for errors in journalism is the sub-editor, commonly known as subs, who take the completed copy from the journalists and ‘polish’ it ready for print. They check facts and links and make sure the text not only makes sense, but fits with the very fine editorial voice of each publication. Take ‘The Sun’ and ‘The Times,’ for example. Every day both of those papers will cover roughly the same subjects. It’ll have features like the Chancellor’s Budget report, news on disasters, any scandals will also find a place in the papers.

But the way in which each paper does it, the precise selection of words, sentence length, use of grammar, varies with each publication and is designed to appeal to their exact audience, as dictated by market research. It could be that magazine ‘A’ sees they are starting to appeal to a younger audience, so they might start commissioning pieces that appeal to this market and make the ‘voice’ each uses a bit younger, or more jaunty. Magazine ‘B’ likewise might feel their target market is middle-aged businessmen, so they might decide to stick with long sentences, complex words and a serious tone. Publications spend a lot of time working on their voice and honing it to perfection.

The responsibility for that lies with the sub-editor, and so, regrettably for some, does the responsibility for the headlines above.

Those of you that know me might well wonder that, interesting though this is, how comes I bothered to figure out the above when I’ve been a social worker over twenty five years plus.

It’s because a long time ago I used to write articles for magazines in my spare time. Anyone that knows social work will know that the job involves writing lots of reports for different Courts. Mostly it’s Family Courts but occasionally others too. The Judges in these cases can’t be expected to make their decisions on the scanty and very one-sided submissions from each parties solicitors, so a social worker is sent out to the family or person and writes a huge and very detailed report on the issue, interviewing all the parties as many times as necessary and presenting it to the Court. It’s that and other evidence that guides their view.

All very well, I expect you’re thinking. But how does that fit in with a blog post on writing romance? Well, it’s because when I started writing for magazines my voice was very formal and the tone serious, I had honed my writing skills in my professional life exactly in tune with what my job, and what the Court, expected. I remember when I first started in social work. I’d read little more than course books at school and many, many women’s magazines. My dad worked for the Daily Telegraph as a printer and he’d bring home all the women’s magazines every week. I loved them. In my early social work days I’d have had less problem writing for magazines cos my style was naturally warm and chatty. But warm and chatty won’t do for Court reports.

So I used to scour the pages of other Court reports and collect formal, intelligent sort of sayings, and scatter them liberally through my work. I got so good at it that I used to teach report writing skills for Exeter University.

Unfortunately I also got so good at it I couldn’t do anything else, hence my interest in sub-editing.

Thankfully I’m over that now and can write whichever way I want, which is just as well. I know what you’re thinking now, you’re thinking let’s see some then, let’s see the same message then written in two different ways. I’m not going to though, cos I’m so engrossed with my book, an account of a child’s journey through care and the reasons and weird childhood I had that led to me becoming a social worker, because I didn’t want others to have the sort of childhood I did. You can look at The Times and The Sun on the same subject to see what I mean.

If I’ve really whetted your appetite for subbing there’s plenty of information and courses on subbing on the internet and loads of courses both online and face-to-face and even some exercise for you to practice at home. Just type sub-editing into Google and loads will come up.

Have a lovely New Year!

Lynne Pardoe

Guest Blogger, Claire Haywood, tells us about “New Starts”

It’s coming to that time of the year when we look back and see what we have achieved (or not!) and start to think about the new year. This year, I made a start on writing. It wasn’t something I planned to do. I am a reader, a crazy reader too – I always have at least 3 books on the go and through my book group I have been introduced to lots of different genres, so I’m not fussy about what I read, I’m like a literary magpie. But writing? I guess I may have thought of it, and enjoyed it at school, but I hadn’t made a start.

But then there was Jo. A lovely friend from junior school where we shared desks, a love of learning, whizzing through the English activities, and ponies.


I was heartbroken when we went to different secondary schools, but life continued and we immediately and inevitably lost touch. This year, I am so thrilled to say that she’s back in my life and we have made a new start on our friendship. We have so many years to talk about, 3 children between us, many ups and downs concerning our lives to share and it is writing that has been the glue. Jo, Write Romantic and writer has lit the fire for my new start – writing.

Typically for me, I started by getting organised. I thought seriously about writing longhand, I love a sharp pencil and some beautiful paper to get my ideas down on, but I realised quickly that this wasn’t going to work. So I bought a lap top, just for my writing. An extravagant gift to myself but one that felt I needed to get started. I read all the old posts on this blog and wondered at the journeys of the writers here, how they made their starts, what they have achieved, the excitement and possibility of being published. All the time I questioned whether that could that ever be me? And then there was the most obvious thing, the thing that I could not organise, I needed an idea. This is where the support from my wonderful Write Romantic friend has been invaluable. Jo allowed me to realise that my prize winning idea, the thing that I was excited about writing and made me sign up for the ride, really wasn’t going to work. So I decided to go back to the drawing board and think about what I could bring to a story by looking at my life experience and now I am decided on my book. The subject is something close to my heart and something I know about, so I am starting from a point of confidence. I am still not sure which direction it is going in, but I understand that this is okay!

I joined the Nano event in November and one evening I wrote my first thousand words. This is where I started to learn about myself as a writer and I realised that for all my organisation I had no idea how to set my ideas out so they look and read like a book. I have lots of characters and getting them into the story was causing me trouble. So, I started again and re-wrote the start of that first chapter. Nobody told me that you have to have guts and bravery for this writing lark, because once you have written a little bit, you need someone to read your words to see if you are on the right track. I chose my English teacher husband, he was there and I needed an immediate answer that he thought my writing was, at the very least, okay. I have never felt more exposed. I couldn’t stay in the room when he was reading and made excuses for my style (shouting from the kitchen!) and the fact that I hadn’t written anything since school. I realised that it actually mattered to me. When I returned to the sitting room, he was smiling, and now I know that I have made that start.

I am not finding it easy. I have a crazy busy job and arrive home most nights far too late to make much of anything. I failed to make the grade with Nano and did not get beyond that first chapter, a very weak effort. We are now moving house and so not much will be achieved in the next few weeks. However, life will settle and I really, really want to try to complete my book. I have amazing support with Jo (who has offered to read for me from now onwards) and my husband who is also a frustrated writer. This blog has been great too as just knowing that others find it a challenge makes me feel like I am among friends.

So, what about next year? Well, I am determined to make some new starts for myself. The first will be to join the New Writers scheme in January – I actually have my alarm set for January the first, I am that determined to get my application in. Then the timescale is set for me, I need to come up with that book and get it finished by August, I am sure that this is something that I can achieve and I have the best part of eight months to get there. Nano in 2014? Yes, I think I will do it again and this will be my second book, for which I already have an idea and change of genre, and that one will be teen fiction. I hope that in the next few years I will be able to add ‘writer’ to the things that I do and I know that when I do get there I will have never felt so proud.


The Wednesday Wondering – Christmas Gifts: Friends or Foes?

Seven more sleeps til Santa! What a lovely-sounding sentence. In celebration of the fact that it’s Christmas a week today and because we won’t be posting a Wondering on Christmas Day itself, I’ve gone for a Christmas-themed question and asked The Write Romantics:

What’s the best and worst Christmas presents you’ve ever received?

In typical style, I’ve posed the question without thinking of an answer and wasn’t surprised that The Write Romantics struggled a bit with this one either as I did too! I’d only had two responses by the time I left for work this morning so a polite nudge on Facebook got everyone to delve into their deepest memory banks and they all came up trumps. Sorry for nagging, guys!


Here’s the responses …



My best Christmas present each year comes from my parents who take my whole family (well, not my nephew yet because he’s too little but hopefully next year…) to the pantomime at the Theatre Royal in York. Now if your instant reaction to panto is thoughts of ageing soap stars shouting ‘oh no it isn’t!’ then you really need to experience the York panto. It is regularly in the list of the country’s top pantomimes and is a York institution. It’s so popular that my Mum bought the tickets in April this year! I honestly think I laugh more in those two and a half hours than I do in a week the rest of the year. 

My worst Christmas present comes from my parents too.  Each year my Mum buys me a new washing up brush.  I think she’s trying to tell me something!



Worst present- remember it well. My friend told me she’s seen my ‘then’ boyfriend looking in the jewellers one Christmas, and when he handed me a small box beautifully wrapped I honestly thought he’d bought me a ring. I unwrapped it and inside was a small packet of rolling tobacco! He thought it was funny and used the excuse that I was trying to stop smoking and rolling my own would be a good start! I actually felt like crying, not so much that I’d wanted a ring but, to me, it showed how little he cared. Don’t think I managed to hide it that well!


Best present, probably a lot more recently when my lovely husband bought me an iPad when they first came out. I really did cry then, because I’d been going on and on about wanting one, but a bit tongue in cheek because they were (and still are!) expensive. I didn’t think I’d get one and I cried because it showed how much he cared (and that against all odds he did actually listen to what I said- occasionally!)



My best present wasn’t a single thing, rather a few presents bundled into one. When I left the UK for Australia my mum continued the tradition of sending me a stocking and having that huge parcel delivered for my first Christmas in another country was super special. I know how much she loved putting it together too, but it was so long ago that I can’t remember what all the presents were. I just remember opening it with a big smile on my face.

I can’t think of a “Worst” present to be honest…I’m someone who wouldn’t even mind getting festive tea-towels or oven gloves for Christmas!



I think my worst ever Christmas present was a make-up set that my husband bought for me.  It smacked of last minute panic buying, particularly as I am not a big make-up wearer (although I probably should be).  It was the size of a small coffee table and contained eye-shadow in shades I barely knew existed.  There was even some orange eye-shadow… ORANGE!!! Who on earth wears eye-shadow in that shade?   I donated it to the drama group at my children’s school, so they could do the make up for everyone from the Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz to the Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – so, in the end, the orange eye-shadow came into its own after all! 😉



For me the best gifts have always been the ones the children made at primary school. Those days are long gone, but I still cherish the snowman and Santa ornaments they made. As for a worst gift, well I can’t actually recall one. So I guess I must have done pretty well over the years!

A Christmas gift I always wish for is a Christmas Day Calf. This is a busy time of the year for us on the farm as lots of cows are calving and each year I wait impatiently to see if we will have a new life born on Christmas Day. With the calving pens full and one cow with a due date of 25th December we may get lucky this year.



For my best Christmas present I’ve drifted back into the mists of time when I was given my first, and only, teddy bear which I imaginatively named ‘Teddy’ but pronounced ‘Tardy’. Well I was only little…  He was made of brown sheepskin with lovely orangey-brown glass eyes, and I loved him to bits, literally, as the legs and ears had to be sewn back on many times.  In the photo he seems to be wearing a pair of woollen knickers, which must have been a phase as normally I didn’t dress him.   I once left Teddy in a bus shelter which nobody realised until we’d got home and my poor Dad had to get the bus all the way back to wherever it was to retrieve him as I wouldn’t stop bawling.  Easy child, huh?

I’ve trawled more recent times for my worst present which has to be a full-length, bright red dressing gown my mother-in-law made me.  She was a dab hand with a needle – but only when she had a pattern to follow and on this occasion, for reasons best known to herself, she decided to do without.  As I’m tall she used my ex-police officer father-in-law to fit the thing on, and added a puff effect to the shoulders for extra style. I looked like a badly-dressed Santa Claus with arms hefty enough to drag his own sleigh without benefit of reindeer!


My best Christmas Present ever was probably the fruit and veg stall complete with all the plastic fruit and veg, till and plastic money when I was about seven. I played with that for hours and hours and I think it even snowed that year because I remember going to the park and it was covered with a sprinkling of snow – perfect.

My worst Christmas Present ever would have to be the circular, silver tray that Steve bought me a couple of years ago to serve his meals on!!! I honestly thought he was joking and he almost ended up wearing it over his head.



As a kid, I remember getting some great presents – a Walkman, a pair of roller boots (we’re talking the 80s here) and a bike to name a few (not all at the same Christmas I hasten to add!) I’m struggling to think of something more recent that I’d say was the best gift ever so I’m going cheesy and saying my daughter. She was born 7 years ago tomorrow but was very tiny at 4lb11oz so she was on the special care baby unit for a week. I had hoped and hoped she’d come home for Christmas but it was actually Boxing Day before she was released. Christmas didn’t really happen that year as I spent most of December in hospital then on the special care unit. Getting her home on Boxing Day was the best gift ever, though.


I don’t think I’ve had many bad presents so I’m going to talk about the one that was the biggest disappointment. My 1st serious boyfriend was incredibly romantic. He’d write long love letters in the university holidays when we were apart, buy me flowers and was generally really thoughtful so, when we’d been together nearly a year and celebrating our 1st Christmas, I expected something really thoughtful. He bigged it up telling me that he’d bumped into a mutual friend when buying my gift and she’d absolutely loved it. It was a hairdryer. Yes, I know! I already had a good hairdryer and had happened to say one day that I sometimes wished I had one with a diffuser. This was the early 90s with big permed hair so a diffuser would have been helpful but the reality is that I’m not someone who spends much time on my hair so was never really going to use one. Apparently the thing the friend had really liked was that it was one of those “spend £x and get our hideous xmas toy for a few quid” types of offer. I adore teddy bears and soft toys in general but this silk stocking with a soft mouse poking out over the top was not the nicest. Credit to him for remembering something I’d said … no credit for not thinking it through in relation to the type of person I am!


We’ll be taking a break on Christmas Day although I have posed the group a question for New Year’s Day so join us again then. In the meantime, let us know your best and worst gifts. We’d love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas

Julie xx

Phew! What a Roller Coaster Ride for Rachael!

The last few months have been one big, and I mean big, roller coaster ride. At the end of September, on a very spur of the moment decision, I entered Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write competition, which had the fabulous prize of publication.

ImageAt the beginning it was just my first chapter that was uploaded to the competition website. Within a few minutes it was there for everyone and anyone to read and comment on.

The next stage was selecting the Top 50. This was done by a team of fifty editors and I was thrilled to find out that my chapter had been selected. This now meant sending the complete manuscript to Harlequin for the next round of judging.

Then one wet and windy evening my mobile rang. Imagine my surprise when it was an editor from Harlequin New York, to say my manuscript had been selected as one of the Top 10, but that I had to keep the news to myself for a week. That was the hardest thing to do when I wanted to shout out loud.

On 12th November my complete manuscript was online and voting began. November should have been a NaNo month for me, but nearly all the words I wrote were on Facebook or twitter as I promoted my story.

Once voting had closed the long wait for the final announcement began. I’d had really wonderful comments on my entry and I was so happy to have made it that far in a global writing competition. My dream of publication with Harlequin Mills and Boon was tantalisingly close.

The day of the final announcement dawned and I crossed everything and hoped my story could make it into the Top 3. It wasn’t to be, but I’m so pleased with just how far my entry has come.

It has been a wonderful and emotional experience, but one that has achieved what I wanted, the interest of editors. You never know, my winning moment may be yet to come!

At the moment you can also still read the entries, from first chapters to Top 10  here and if you want a real tear-jerking moment then watch the winner, Tanya Wright, being told she’d won.  

The Wednesday Wondering – We’ve Got Some BAD Habits!

It’s just two weeks until Christmas today. How exciting! This week’s Wednesday Wondering has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, though. I posed the question and asked The Write Romantics:

What are your writing bad habits?

It’s confession time. As the responses started rolling in, I have to admit that I found myself saying, “I do that … oh, and that … and that!”

Here’s our habits …



I am guilty of using words too much…”just” appeared more than 300 times in a 370 page manuscript of mine! Apart from that I would have to say not sitting properly and then getting sore as a result…writers need to look after themselves as the job is sedentary.



My worst writing habit is going over and over the same ground instead of just finishing the novel and then re-drafting it. I know it’s a stupid thing to do as have read about enough published writers who have cut great chunks out of their TS’s on re-drafting. I think it’s my way of revving up my engines to get started on a new chapter, but then I get bogged down with mistakes and revisions which might never see the light of day anyway. That and, of course, peeking at the internet whenever I suddenly think of something I want to look up – time wasting!!



My worst writing habit….I could be here a long time!! I must admit there were a few contenders for this title. There’s my little fondness for sweeties, parma violets and haribo’s top of the list. Or my occasional forays into obsessional cleaning. Give me a manuscript to edit or a room to clean and I’ll go for that latter and put the former on hold. But it doesn’t happen that often.

By far my worst writing habit is the internet. It’s just so interesting. There is just so much information out there, most of it accompanied by gorgeous colour pictures or even videos and music! Have you ever wondered what meals your average peasant would have cooked in the Tudor times and how they would have cooked them? I have. And the internet is just soooo full of fascinating facts and so many eccentric, obsessional people doing the most crazy things. I wouldn’t dream of doing anything too different, I’m a sofa and telly girl, me. But I love reading about folk that do.

Anyway, I’d better get back to that novel I’m writing. I’ve just got to look something up on the internet!



My worst writing habit is my inability to move on until I’m happy with the chapter I’m working on.  It’s as if there’s a setting in my brain which won’t let me go on until I feel happy that it’s right. I write a draft and then I have to put it down and get on with the rest of life and while I’m doing that my subconscious is working on the bits it’s not happy with.  I wake up some mornings going ‘oh it should say that’ or with new bits of dialogue to add in.  I’m not sure what’s going on while I’m asleep but somewhere my brain must be figuring it out.  And then suddenly that process stops and I know that I’m reasonably happy with that chapter and it’s OK to move on. To be honest it drives me crazy and I’d love to be able to write and write and then edit the full draft.  Maybe I’ll be more relaxed when I start the Orkney  book.  After all, I now know I can make it to the end of a novel and that gives me a whole lot more confidence than I had when I set out to write Beltane.



I’m sure that I have lots of bad writing habits, but the worst of them for me is head hopping.  Maybe it’s indicative of a butterfly mind on my part but, in my first NWS submission, I gave out more Points of View than Terry Wogan did in eight years of hosting the show – gosh, showing my age now too!  I know I’ve got better at it and, actually, if I ever get published I suspect that it might not matter so much, as I’ve recently read a novel by a best-selling author of multiple novels who head hops like there’s no tomorrow.    You can break the rules once you make it, it seems, and I think I’ll be very good at that – so someone hurry up and publish me, please, so I can start to rebel!



One of my bad habits is having a love affair with a word and using it again and again. I never know when this ailment is going to strike, or even which word it will be. I also make lots of coffee whilst writing, most of which I then forget to drink as I get into my story. It’s almost as if the act of making the coffee allows me to think.

My worst bad habit though, is not believing in myself, not trusting what is written on the page. Instead of seeing where it goes, I come to a grinding halt as ‘the gremlin’ on my shoulder tells me it is a page full of utter rubbish. Perhaps I should throw cold coffee over him!



I’m guilty of most of the above! The quest for perfection massively hindered my progress with my first novel. I must have re-written the beginning at least 100 times. Taking a different approach to novel 2 and 3 – just writing it and not looking back over what I’d done before – has been refreshing.

I’m terrible for using certain words over and over again. Like Helen R, “just” is one of mine but I also have phrases I love. My heroine in novel 1 is based mainly on me so she uses some of my sayings. One of my faves is “how rude” or “how incredibly rude” but I discovered that she said this about 15 times across the novel and, not only that, but her two best friends had started saying it too! Slight overkill!

My final one is the cardinal sin of tell rather than show. I’ve always struggled with this one and I think it will continue to be my nemesis. I find it much easier to write, “I was really angry with Andy …” instead of “My nails dug into my palms as I fought the urge not to slap him across his smug face …”


Over to you. If you’re a writer, do you have any bad habits? Or, as a reader, are there any habits you’ve spotted in novels that wind you up? As always, we’d love to hear from you and please feel free to pose questions too.

Julie xx


Steamunk is what? Jackie Ladbury Gets Confused.


I went to a symposium last week to try and grasp the essence of Steampunk, and interesting as it was, I’m not sure I’m any further down the road  in my understanding.

It’s all a bit of a minefield, is Steampunk and although I get the bit about Victorians being ‘splendid’ in their top-hats and goggles firing up their flying machines, the ladies on their arms wearing corsets outside their dresses and….  err, top-hats and goggles, the rest leaves me slightly flummoxed.

It’s started off as a science fiction genre rooted in the steam based past, with a nod towards the future, (think functioning computer made from brass and wood made to look like a typewriter.)

It was embraced by the fashion industry in the 1980’s adopting a modern day take on yester-year, hence the punk part.


Okay, so far, so good. Yup I get it, I’m sure I do.

I stick my hand up: “So, you’re saying Vivien Westwood and her see through gowns endorsed it as a fashion subgenre…?”

 Oh, not Vivien Westwood and her see through gowns, that’s not Steampunk although she did make it a legitimate genre in the fashion world. Take a look at Prada’s fashion line; they’ve got it right.

Sticks hand up again: “Hang on, you did you just say Prada have a Steampunk line?”

Apparently so.

So far, so confusing.


Okay, let’s try again.

So, this whole subculture is about fashion and invention and is more of a theory rather than a practical return to a past, which let’s face it no- one really wants to do? Can’t see anyone ditching iTunes for a wind up phonograph, can you?

Didn’t think so!

Did you just say a tea duel is Steampunk? Are you sure? You do what? You dunk your malted milk biscuit in your tea (china cup and saucer of course) for three seconds and the winner is the one who gets to hold out longest before shoving the unbroken biscuit in your mouth.

You’re ‘aving a laugh, aren’t you?

Then there are Vampire Steampunks (of course there are!) Lolita Steampunks, Jesus Steampunks and Goth Steampunks to name but a few.

Lastly sprinkle a bit of alchemy, Neo Nazism, magic realism and fetishism into the mix and then you might be close to a genre that appears to be a moveable feast.


So there you go, nailed it!

 And Steampunk is so mainstream, a backlash of the genre, F**ck Steampunk has a Fanzine with a blog dedicated to trashing the historical period that never existed. Being a bit thick here, but if it never existed, how can you try to debunk it, or is it supposed a bit tongue in cheek?

What’s that, you want to know about Dieselpunk and Cyberpunk? Then obviously, I’m your man! Just pass me a malted milk biscuit and a cup of tea and I’ll tell you everything I know.

We’re Wednesday Wondering how NaNoWriMo was for you?

As regular readers of the blog will know, seven of the nine Write Romantics ventured forth into the scary but exciting world of writing a novel in a single month during November – well 50,000 words of it at least, and here’s how we got on:


I registered with NaNo on a wing and a prayer, having decided on day 4 that I didn’t want to be left out!  I had every intention of giving it my best shot but got really tired after the first ten days (it’s old age, you know!) then stuff happened which prevented me from getting to the keyboard (excuses, excuses!) but if I allow myself a couple of extra days to make up for starting late, I’ll be up to 30,000 words, and I’m really pleased with that.  I started a new novel entirely for this project.  Spurred on by the target I raced on without editing or researching and since I had no idea I could write in that way, it’s been quite a revelation. I am finding though, that the further I get into the story, the slower I become as the little plot holes are starting to show up and I worry that if I plough on regardless I could end up with too much to alter later if I’ve gone up the wrong alleyway somewhere, or I could even find the story doesn’t work at all, which wouldn’t surprise me as I only spent about 5 minutes planning the thing!

Helen P:

I had to stop Nano to concentrate on getting my second book finished and sent off to my publishers and I think I was using Nano as an excuse to put it off when I knew it needed to be done. So I made an executive decision to stop the Nano and I’m pleased to say I did get book two finished and sent off to my editor Lucy, who I’m praying will love it.

I’ve also made a cracking start on my third book which will be a stand alone novel and already I’m up to over 15,000 words of that which I’m thrilled about. So I’ve probably typed well over the 50,000 words but they are just on different projects.

I’m very proud of all my Write Romantics who have completed Nano and all my other writing friends who have taken part whether they have won or not, it’s the taking part that counts.


I started off well with Nano and was really pleased with myself for the first week or so. I think my downfall was spending time poring over the old MS that I was re-modelling. I copied and pasted some of my old story and started editing it. Nooooo, I hear you cry, but I just can’t seem to write without editing now, which is not what Nano is about. My writing then felt like I was swimming in treacle and I wasn’t getting the buzz I had when I started. I knew that I’d failed in meeting my target, so just for a couple of days,  because I couldn’t bear to look at my Nano Novel anymore, I dug out my Victorian Potteries novel that I’d done two years previously at Nano time and not done much with since. Enjoyed musing over the changes I would make and after that enjoyed writing my Nano Novel again although I knew I was out of the running. Now am back in the saddle and although I’m disappointed that I didn’t complete the 50,000 it has given me 30,000 odd thousand words that I didn’t have at the beginning of November, so I take my hat off to Mr. Nanowrimo, whoever you are, and- see you next year!

The NaNoWriMo’ers are dog tired!


Early on in the month I was well ahead of my NaNo target and was on course to write about 60,000 words.  However, life got in the way a bit, as it did for so many of the Write Romantics, and I saw that head start run off into the distance and leave me trailing in its wake.  By the final week, I had about 8,000, words catch-up to do in order to hit the 50,000 word target and I managed it… Just!  I had to finish a day early, as I was away for the weekend that marked the end of NaNo, and I limped over the finish line at about 5 pm on the 29<sup>th</sup> November with a validated word count of 50,028.

I’m sure I wouldn’t have written anything like that much without NaNo, though, and in fact I have written a word since.  I am planning to get back in the saddle next week, though, with the view to having a full first draft (about another 50,000 words) by the end of January.  I am going to have my personal FiNoByFe period (finish novel by Feb), if anyone wants to join me?

I can’t promise sophisticated software to work out your word count or motivational meet-ups in coffee shops for sprints, but I will be drinking lots of wine and mostly sitting around in my PJs with un-brushed hair hoping that staring at the laptop screen for long enough will magic up those remaining words!

Sadly, due to unexpected circumstances, I didn’t get to go to any NaNo meets for real this year, but I ‘met’ some really interesting people on the forums and I hope to do better next time.  In the words of Arnie, I’ll be back J


At the start of the month, I hoped to win NaNo but was slightly dubious that my job hunt and working 3 jobs across a 7-day week was going to mean I didn’t realistically have time to do it but I’m delighted to say that I won NaNo and even finished a day early (on 29th November) with an impressive 50,521 words.

I’m also delighted to say that draft 1 of novel 2 in my trilogy is finished and I’m probably about a quarter to a third of the way through draft 1 of novel 3.

I said that I wasn’t going to do anything with NaNo other than enter my word count i.e. not get involved in forum discussions or meet-ups and I had to stick to that. It’s not that I don’t believe that these tools would have been helpful or enjoyable but simply that time was of such a premium that there was no way I could do any of those things and write as well. I confess I didn’t even read any of the motivational emails. The only things I did were enter my word count daily, scowl as my bar chart seemed to dip further and further away from the goal line and check the stats of a writing pal who had hooked up to my profile so we could see each other’s progress.

So, what did I get out of NaNo if I did nothing except enter my word count? Oodles and oodles. Because, for me, the “just write” approach is so refreshing. I started book 2 doing it and NaNo enabled me to continue in that “don’t you dare edit or you’ll get a slap” mindset so I could just get the story out there and worry about the descriptions and emotions later instead of spending days/weeks/months re-writing and re-editing the start and never actually moving on. With everything that’s going on in my life at the moment, November would probably have been a 5,000 word month if I’m lucky instead of the 50,500 month it turned out to be and I’m so grateful. It means that, with book 1 in the big bad world seeking representation, I can say to an agent or publisher that book 2 AND 3 are well on their way instead of just ideas. Without the goal of 50k words, I know I would have let life take over.

I had some sticky moments. I had 4 days of doing nothing. One of these was a day off inbetween book 2 and 3 which made sense to clear my head. Another was a night out but the other two were days where I felt shattered. On top of that, I had five days under 1,000 words and another 3 under the daily target which meant I had to do some real hard grafting at the end but a couple of days at the 4.5k mark and another couple at 2.5 recovered things quickly. The one thing I don’t understand, though, is why I can’t apply that same discipline, willpower and determination to my diet. Hmmmm. Answers on a postcard please! 😉


I got off to a great start, then life caught up with me. I had so much on at home I dipped out and didn’t finish. But I will do next year, I consider my efforts this year as an aperitife! 🙂


I didn’t get much more than 16,000 done this time and will give a better go next time.  However, I have had a bit of an excuse having been promo’ing like mad as a result of making the top ten in the HMB So You Think You Can Write competition.  All of that and still running a  business was amazingly time consuming, but the results are in today so expect a posting with some news from me on here soon…..

Technically speaking, we only had two winners but, we hope you’ll agree, there were no losers here.  We produced over 200,000 words in the month between us, had a top ten finalist in an international romance writing competition, from HMB no less, and a second novel winging its way to the publishers – all in the space of 30 days.  So here’s to NaNoWriMo and the other mad folk who joined us in our month of frenzied creativity.  We can’t wait to hear how you got on too, so please, if you can bear to type just a few more few words, we’d love to know!