Another word count…

Two days into the next novel in my series, and the word count is just over 5100. I’m excited about this one too. I’m picking up the story of two characters who played a small supporting role in the last one.

I spent my ‘rest week’ doing final edits and corrections to the first book in the series (the one currently out on submissions) which brought it up to 76,000 words – not bad for only five weeks’ work for the first draft, plus one week for revisions. I’ve never worked so fast. Steadily, but not necessarily fast. Six to eight months was the norm for me previously, to write a novel from scratch.

I’ve found it’s the new limitations I’ve set myself for writing Romance. A specific genre and style, with no more than two central characters taking centre stage, with very limited air-time for background characters. Not allowing the background characters to hang around just building up their roles, but ensuring they’re already developed enough to matter whenever they do appear. And if their air-time doesn’t require them to have a name – I don’t give them a name. If they need one, I’ll give it to them in another story of their own.

Also, a shorter word count. I’ve written tomes in the past ranging from 110,000 to 250,000 words. I felt my best work previously was an adventure of around 140,000. But I’m enjoying these shorter 75k-76k projects. The stories have to be tighter, which makes them more action-packed, with no room for padding. Just dive straight into the action or dialogue first – you’re not writing a film script, where you have to open with time of day, setting the scene, describing who is in the room/scene and then their positions and motivation – just jump in and grab the reader straight off…

In that same thread, do your build-up and planning before you write. I have read high-profile novels in the past that seemed to begin with verbatim exposition of the back-story and characters copied from the very notes that the author made in the pub earlier that day. Rather than use the skill of ‘show, don’t tell’ the author is telling the reader why this is happening, to whom, and where, alongside the history of the where and the personal failings of the whom until I feel as though I have accidentally opened a Wiki page or sat down with a local expert on the book rather than the actual book.

The other important thing, is to let go of anything I want to vent personally. The Romance novel is escapism. Not a soapbox for my own personality to jump aboard and start ranting and raving. Let the characters have their own issues – just enough for the reader to handle – but don’t have them leaping aboard every political and social bandwagon passing through the real world in the process of writing about them. I’ve learned it’s a good excuse to avoid following the news…

🙂 xxx




Coffee and creativity – Photo: Lisa Scullard

Well – what seems like a very short month ago, I started this blog, while querying a major Romance publisher for a story of mine that I was quite excited by. And only two weeks ago, I had a request from them for the full manuscript.

So I’ve been frantically rushing through my latest revisions in the last fortnight, and emailed it off to them on Halloween.

Fingers crossed now that they like it… 🙂


What’s your go-to inspiration? Does something in particular flip your switch, from the everyday patterns of work, eat, sleep, to being an artist or a writer?

For some I guess it could be a piece of music, or watching an old favourite movie. Others might stimulated by their garden, a walk in the park, eating a food that they love or revisiting a book they adored as a child.

Once in a while, I need a switch – say if I’ve had a bad dream the night before, or a big heap of red tape paperwork that has nothing to do with my creativity. One of my go-to switches is this video on Youtube, which someone made to go with the song ‘Halcyon On and On’ by Orbital. Not only is it a great piece of music, but the images are stunning, and it completely clears away all of the white noise of everyday life for me. And makes me want to get back to writing that masterpiece – I’ve just passed the 17,000 words mark on the latest one 🙂




Researching images for my next story, I came across these beautiful photographs of Wyoming on a site called Morgue File. They look almost unreal.

Thank goodness for photography and for the internet – I think about how small and insignificant my knowledge would be, relying only on the words of others for what they have seen. I suppose as a creative writer weaving fictional tales, part of the job is to do justice to the wonders of the world that only a privileged few have seen and recorded for the rest of us to enjoy.


Writing playlists…

Do you need music while you write? I don’t – but I have to say it certainly helps.

Over the weekend I experimented with different tunes from my MP3 player. Girls Aloud, Britney Spears and Sophie Ellis-Bextor came out on top as some of the most appropriate. The only thing that bothers me is that the songs are so short! I do need a whole album’s worth of songs that will keep me writing all day, if I’m going to depend on a playlist for motivation.

Classical helps – Holst’s ‘Planets Suite’ is a good example for my writing mood in general. It’s not specific enough for my genre though.

Here’s one I came across in my MP3 player and had completely forgotten about – it’s called ‘Everything’ and was so appropriate I wrote 5000 words in one day… 🙂


Word count…

A day and a half into my latest title, and I’ve written 2478 words.

Is that good or bad? If I manage 2000 words a day, potentially I’ll have finished in a month. That’s my ideal discipline.

I keep smiling to myself as I write. Not because I’m trying to be funny, or on some special medication – I like my characters and the situation I’ve put them in. I’m wondering how they will deal with it as the story unfolds.

On the subject of names…

I’m already wondering if having a pen-name would help. And how it would fit the category of Romance I am attempting to write?

For example, if I was writing something really racy, maybe I should have just a first initial. If I wanted to have more than one, I’d have to pick one, as I don’t have a middle name. So maybe something like L.Q. Boutain would sound alluring and mysterious.

Or if I was writing in the more lighthearted, flirty end of romance, they’d expect a less exotic last name. ‘Boutain’ is supposedly old Anglo-Saxon for ‘button’ referring to a maker of buttons. So maybe for that kind of story, a publisher would like to see the name Lauren Button on a book cover.

It sounds a little like the actress Lauren Hutton, from the movie ‘American Gigolo’ – she is stunning – and we’re back to the steamier end of the entertainment shelves again! 🙂

american-gigolo-1980-03-gLauren Hutton and Richard Gere in American Gigolo (1980)