The Novel Project – Week 19

Okay, yes I’ve missed a few weeks. I have been writing, but I’ve also had competing priorities with the day job and a few other bits and pieces. I think it’s what we call “life”.

So, where am I up to?

I’m done with this book…for now. This morning it went off to my editor for a structural review. Once she gets back to me I’ll do another re-write, but I don’t expect to be picking it back up until May – when I’m back from my holiday in France.

This novel is both the fastest one that I’ve written – I started on November 1 at Nanowrimo – and, at 105,000 words, the longest. At times it felt as though it was writing itself. That’s not to say that it was easy writing – it absolutely was not. There were scenes in this that I had huge emotional difficulty with. I found myself in tears on more than one occasion – not a good look at the Surf Club, let me tell you.

There were also times where I had to put it away for a week or so at a time – when the characters were taking me down a path that at times I didn’t want to go. Most of the time I ended up letting them lead the way.

This book is about a love story, but that’s not all that it’s about. It’s also about loss, second and third chances, and new beginnings. It has grown-up characters and grown-up themes.

When I started this book I wanted to write about some of what happens after the happy ever after, and I also wanted to write about some of the unexpected challenges that face us in middle age – especially regarding age discrimination in the workplace. I’ve done that – to a point – but the single question I started this story with very quickly went out the window. Up until two weeks ago I truly had no idea how it was going to end.

It’s set in both Sydney and New Zealand, so I hope will be a good companion piece to Wish You Were Here. It’s also a story that excited me from the minute that I began writing.

And the title? Well, it won’t be Happy Ever After. At this point I’m undecided. Book No.5 is the current oh so catchy title.

So, what happens now – while I’m waiting for my editor’s notes? I keep writing. I’d decided to delay publishing I Want You Back until I was ready to release the other two books in the series, so that’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow – picking up Tiff’s story again. I was at the 25,000-word mark when I put that one aside at the end of last October.

I also have a freelance astro article to write before I go to France (did I mention that I’m going to France for a holiday?) and business as usual in the day job. I have plenty to be getting on with.

Until next time…

Jo xxx



Happy Ever After – Week 9

I’m not long back from my morning walk. The surf has been spectacular over the last couple of days. It’s because of the Super Moon bringing super high tides, and a tropical low off somewhere in the Coral Sea.

I could have stayed down there and watched it for hours. Plenty were. I don’t think I’ve seen so many people (outside of whale season) just standing and watching the ocean – or quite as many surfers in the water at one time. There is, however, work to be done. And, as I have to log on later this afternoon into a teleconference for the partition job, a limited number of hours to do it in.

So, progress on the novel. I’m nearly done – with the first draft anyway. A couple of chapters will have it finished – hopefully by the weekend. I’ll be going straight into re-write mode with this – it has an appointment with my editor mid-March.

I also pulled out I Want You Back over the weekend and did another proof-read. It feels as though I’m missing something, but I don’t know what. Perhaps it’s because I intended releasing this as part of a three-book mini-series that I’ve managed to interrupt with Happy Ever After, I don’t know. At just 73,000 words it’s also much smaller than anything I’ve written previously – again because I intended it to be the first in a three-book mini-series. It’s not much longer than a genre romance. At that length, there’s very little room for sub-plots.

Anyways, I’ll write the blurb this week and send it off for formatting, but I’m still undecided as to whether I release as a stand-alone. The alternative is waiting until I’ve completed Tiff and Alice’s stories. I’ll need to think about that, but if anyone has ideas, please let me know!

Until next week…


Happy Ever After – Week 8

Yes, I know I’m late again in getting this out. Another Wednesday where I had to log into the partition job this afternoon. Sigh. The things we do to make money, hey? I am, however, fortunate I have the flexibility – plus, I had a few hours this morning where I got some decent words out.

Speaking of work, I had someone ask me this week what I meant when I refer to the “partition” role. Essentially it’s how I differentiate between my work – i.e. my writing – and my corporate gig. Both of the jobs happen from the same home-office, but if I were still in Sydney, I’d be doing the corporate gig from a real office – one with partitions. Therefore it’s the partition job.

Ok, now that we’ve got that sorted out, how’s the writing going?

Good, thanks for asking. I’ve got through the tricky bit where I kept crying into my keyboard and I’m pushing through. I had a good chat with Debbish the other day about a bit of a plot problem that I’ve written myself into a corner with and have a clearer idea of how I’m going to resolve that. And as much as I loved her suggestion about turning the whole thing into a murder mystery, I’m not going there – as it is my browsing history (solely for research purposes) is a concern to my husband.

It’s something I’ve done a bit with this book – write myself into knots, that is. Partly that’s because this is the first time I’ve written a story that’s not purely about a romance. It absolutely does have a romance at the heart of it, but the story is much wider than that. It’s also partly because my story has changed so much from when I first started writing it. It’s one of the reasons why I’m glad that I’m an indie author. I don’t have to explain to anyone why the story that’s being delivered is profoundly different from the story that was pitched.

Another thing that’s occurred to me this week is just how much layering in of texture I’m going to need to do in the next draft.  There’s an excellent cast of family members in this book, but not so many friends or colleagues. I’ll pick that up with the rewrite.

So, that’s your update for the week. I’m still on track to finish the first draft in another week or so – although I’m now going to be away for most of the middle of February. It’s part work and a little bit of play. What it means is that I need to make the most of every spare minute.

Until next week.


Happy Ever After – Week 6

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to write a novel?  I’m in the process of writing a new novel and will be blogging my progress week by week here.

Ok, so the words are coming again. Having solved my plot problem and finished the second season of The Crown, I no longer had a valid excuse.

I’ve actually gone back and looked at the first few chapters again over the past week. I woke in the middle of the night the other day – something I do most nights – and realised two things:

  • I hadn’t given Kate any friends. She has an extensive family – and family is very much a theme of the novel – but if she’s lived in the same city for 50 years, she’d have friends.
  • I hadn’t given Kate a job – or even a daily purpose

Without either of these things, the story was always going to be single dimensional and overly introspective – both of which would mean the story was likely to be as boring as batshit and Kate about as likeable as that.

So I’ve gone back and started to flesh some of that out. I’ve mentioned before that I really start to hit the stride of a story in the second half? That means that the front part of my story usually requires a lot more re-writing. I’m covering some of that as well, but won’t be spending too much time on this – my aim is to get the first draft done as quickly as possible and then come back and flesh out the layers.

Am I on track to finish before Christmas? No. I think I’m going to need more words to tell this story…speaking of which, I’d better get back to the writing!

While I have your attention, thank you to everyone who has followed or supported my journey this year. I wish you and yours all the very best of everything for the season.


Happy Ever After – the Week 6 Update

I almost wasn’t going to post this week – I’ve barely written a thing since last Friday and it was embarrassing to tell you that. But the whole deal of this series is to show the whole of the writing process – warts and all – and this week I’ve fallen off the wagon.

I’ve hit a wall. It’s a high wall. And although I can see through it to the end of my story – so it must be a wall made of toughened glass – I seem to be stuck at the moment. I can’t really tell you exactly why without giving too much of the story away, but my characters didn’t want to play along with where I originally intended them to go and now I’m concerned that in allowing that to happen I’ve lost some of the tension and conflict that I thought that I needed.

On the other hand, I’ve introduced a different sort of tension and done more to make my readers care about what happens to my protagonist. Hence my wall. I can see where I want to go, but I’m not sure how to get there without losing any of that sympathy that I’ve built up. That’s code for I’m not sure how to get them there without my heroine coming across like a prize bitch.

I tried to explain to my husband the problem I have with the plot but he couldn’t work out who the characters were and when there was going to be an explosion or a car chase. Suffice to say that he’s not interested in character-driven stories and his eyes glazed over very quickly. He supports what I do, but has never – and probably will never – read a word of what I’ve written.

Anyways, into this wall has come a million ways to procrastinate. Top of that list is new series of The Crown. I’ve inhaled the first five episodes. I’ve also started writing wrap-up posts for both this site and the astrology site. In addition, I accepted a freelance job to write some daily horoscopes for the next few months. The first deadline for that gig is Monday.

So in other words, I haven’t stopped writing, and today I think I’ve actually found the solution…now I just need to write it in.

Of course, it means that there’ll be more to do in the rewrite once I finish the first draft, but in order to do a rewrite, there must be a first draft to re-write. So, I’d better get back to it…after I watch one more episode of The Crown

Nanowrimo 2017 – the wrap-up edition

Ok, I know that there’s still one day left in November, but Wednesday is my day for writing posts about, well, writing, so we’re wrapping this year’s Nanowrimo …ok?

In case you missed it, I passed my 50,000 word target just after 6am on the morning of the 24th.

me typing the 50,000th word on Friday morning at Mooloolaba

Yes, I’m a nanowrimo winner.

The thing is, anyone who finished November with more words than they started it with is also a winner.

Nanowrimo – the Stats


I started slowly, with a grand total of zero words in the first two days. Thankfully I was able to pick the pace up after that and wrote daily until I got to target. That meant an average of 2400 words a day for 21 days.

How I did it?

The same way that I do anything – by planning ahead and doing the head down bum up thing.

There absolutely were challenges. I’m working on a project in my corporate gig at the moment that has meant some travel to Sydney to familiarise myself with a process that I’ve to date managed to avoid needing to be familiar with.

In the middle was also a long weekend in Wellington, New Zealand visiting with friends, plus I had to get all the family Christmas shopping done ready for our daughter to take to Sydney with her today.

Plus, of course, there was normal life.

Alongside those challenges though, were opportunities.

Some rainy mornings helped my writing – but not my fitness. I’d still get up at the same time, but write before work rather than go for a walk.

I worked pretty much anywhere – in bed at night, in my lunch break, waiting for flights, on flights – and made the most of the days I wasn’t at my desk doing corporate-ish things. On those days I’d take myself out of the house for a few hours at a time – I have a few favourite places to write at that I’ll tell you about another time – order a coffee, sometimes brekky,  and just write.

What now?

To be honest, I haven’t written a word in the manuscript since last Friday – and don’t intend to until December 1.

I have another 30,000 or so words to write before this is a passable first draft, and my goal is to finish that before Christmas. To do this I’ll set the same target of 1667 words per day – starting from December 1. If anyone else wants to play along, I’d love to hear from you.

What have I been doing with all of my writing time in the interim?

I’ve updated this site with links to travel posts that have previously been published on and anyways.

I’ve organised the web “pages” so it’s easier to navigate, with links from a single picture rather than having to plow through reams of words. There’s still more to do, but it’s looking ok.

What else? I’ve written and scheduled some content for the astro site which had been sadly neglected during my writing blitz, and also started doing some planning around production deadlines for 2018. I’ll share some of that with you over the coming weeks as we close out the year that was.

Did you do nanowrimo? If so, how did you go? Are you finishing November with more words than you started with?