Friday, 27 February 2015

A second book, Creative Writing Class and World Book Night

So I woke up last weekend with a story in my head. The trouble was it would not fit into my current novel. The story was swimming around in my head so much so I couldn't sleep. I got up and starting writing. 
I am writing my current novel in the first person, but I started writing this second one by giving each character their own chapter. I stared with just one character Adam. He is a widower with a 10 mth old baby girl Daisy. I then added another character Jennifer who is Adam's dead wives sister. Characters then began to develop linking all the cast together and the whole thing began to flow really easily. This book doesn't have as much humour as the other book I am working on. This one is more about relationships and how they affect not only the lives of the characters, but also those around them. One character "Tom" is selfish and self absorbed, but is totally oblivious to the wake he leaves behind him. 
I am pretty confident as to where each character will end up, but as usual I am having trouble with general description throughout the novel.
I can describe people until the cows come home! What I need to work on is descriptions of the surroundings so my readers can become totally absorbed in what is going on around the characters.
My first novel has slightly more description, but I am worried there is too much speech! I have been taking time to read more and gain inspiration and advice from the books I read. I am a keen reader of Milly Johnson, Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Lucy Diamond so who better to gain advice from? 
So with all this in mind I decided to book myself on a Creative Writing Course at my local Adult Education Centre. It is a 10 week course beginning in April. Fingers crossed my health behaves itself so I don't have to cancel or miss lectures. I am a bit apprehensive, but I am sure it will be fine and I will make friends. Will I need a new lunch box and pencil case? I hope so as stationery items are actually quite a weakness of mine. I think a new folder, notebook, pens (although I have a lovely one my hubby got me for Christmas) and possibly a spare folder, notebook.......

Other news is that I was chosen as a volunteer for World Book Night. My book is Assassins Apprentice by Robin Hobb. It is a fantasy novel and to be honest not really something I would usually read. I already have 13 people who would like to read this novel. They are people who would not usually read this type of genre.
I have 18 books altogether so the rest of them are going to be given out in the community. I am really looking forward to it as I love giving gifts to people and I love books so it's an ideal situation for me.
World Book Night is on the 23rd April 2015 so please look out for any events going on in your area.

Lastly thank you so much for all your lovely comments, retweets and shares of my last blog with guest Heidi Swain. It meant a lot to both of us that you all enjoyed our conversation and that you took the time to read it and comment.

Well that's all for now as I have to have a nap before work (my non writing job!) although I wish I could sit here in the sunshine and continue writing.

Bye for now.

Find me on Facebook at Mary's Writing Page on Twitter at @MaryLewisWriter and also now on Instagram MARYLOU4873 #MaryLewisWriter

More information on World Book Night 2015 can be found here

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Guest Blogger Heidi Swain

Good Afternoon everybody. I am so excited to welcome a guest to my blog today – the very talented Heidi Swain. I met Heidi at the Creative Writing Masterclass I attended last November at Books in the City. Since then we have become firm friends sharing a love of books and writing. Her debut novel The Cherry Tree Café is due to be published by Simon & Schuster on July 16th, 2015.

I have put some questions together to ask Heidi and if you have any you would like to ask please write them in the comments box below and I’m sure she will endeavour to answer them.

So Heidi – welcome. Firstly congratulations on your publishing deal, you must be very excited.

Hello my lovely. Thank you so much for asking me to feature on your blog. Yes, I’m ridiculously excited and probably driving everyone in the house to distraction already. I can’t imagine what I’ll be like by the time we get to July!

First question then. What was the inspiration behind The Cherry Tree Café?

My motives were purely selfish really. I wanted to write a novel where I could combine two of my favourite things, cakes and crafts. Luckily for me, baking and stitching, not forgetting a sprinkling of romance, seems to be rather popular at the moment so The Cherry Tree Café has been the perfect outlet for my sweet teeth and sewing inclinations!

Are any of the characters based on people you know?

No, I never base characters on anyone I actually know. To be honest, I think I would be stifled by all the things I already know about them. I prefer to create my own cast however, if I see someone who encapsulates the look of a character I’m working with then I’ll take a mental snapshot of them, their clothes, how they walk, talk and so on.

How do you like to write? I use pen and paper and curl up on the sofa, but I know a lot of writers use laptop or PC.

It depends on where I’m at with my writing. Planning happens both on paper and on my trusty netbook. Quite often I’ll print off my plans and scribble all over them. Kindle sticky notes and scraps of paper are always to hand when I’m out and about so I can make notes or jot down ideas as and when. When it comes to seriously upping the word count I’m back on the netbook, although if necessary I will write longhand during my lunch hour at work and type up and continue in the evenings. 

Do you ever suffer from the dreaded writers block and if so what do you do to combat it?

I haven’t yet. Obviously I can’t say it will never happen but I’m strict about keeping it at bay. I never finish a writing session without knowing what I‘m going to write next (sometimes I even write down the next sentence, idea or chapter opening so I can hit the ground running), and I’m always planning the next project and sometimes even the one after that.

A tough question now. Who is your favourite author (apart from Dame Milly of course!)?

Seriously? And just when I thought we were getting along so well! That is a ridiculously difficult question to answer, impossible really. Of course Dame Milly is right up there but so are at least a dozen other names! I’m going to skirt around answering this one and give you the name of the author who has the most books sitting on my fit to burst bookshelves and that is the inimitable Miss Read.
Although I can now single out one book as my all-time favourite read. Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey is without doubt the most beautiful and touching book I have ever read... and I've read a lot! No spoilers here, but if you only read one book this year (as well as The Cherry Tree Cafe of course), then make sure it is this.

What do you do for a day job and do you set aside specific times for your writing?

For three days of the working week I’m a teaching assistant in a local junior school and for the other two I’m an ‘interrupt me if you dare’ author. The weekends are a mash-up of mum, wife, daughter and author although my family would probably argue that my loyalties are not always in that order!

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Here I fall headlong into cliché…
Write what you love because you’ll love what you write. If you are in it for the long haul then the love affair with your work simply has to last a lifetime
Read, read, and then read some more
Network online and, if you can, attend any events that come your way
Never ever give up. I’m living proof that you know what is just around the corner!

Right now a quick-fire round!

·         Chocolate or Fruit
Chocolate…big slabs of Galaxy

·         Book or Kindle (or other brand)

·         Comedy or Horror

·         Drunken night out or Cosy night in
Cosy night in

·         Autumn or Spring

·         Cats or Dogs

·         Sunset or Sunrise

Lastly you are on a desert island what 5 items would you take with you?

A trunk full of books (the kindle would be useless without a charger)
My bed
Notebook (with pen/pencil attached so counts as one choice)
Ray Mears (or similar)

Thank-you so much for joining me on my blog Heidi and I wish you every success with your book.

Thank you for having me!

You can find Heidi on Facebook at The Writer Files on Twitter @Heidi_Swain and read her blogs at

You can also pre-order The Cherry Tree Café here:

Friday, 13 February 2015

Book Review A Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

“To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I am doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.
Just goes to show”

I was really looking forward to reading this book as last November I heard all about it at an event from the author’s agent. Straight away it caught my attention so I made a note of it and when the publishing date came round I bought a copy. Not just any copy though, a signed First Edition! It arrived wrapped up in box, bubble wrap and a sleeve around the book. It felt like Christmas as I unwrapped it – credit to Goldsboro Books for their fantastic service and packaging.
I was already reading a book so I put this on the book shelf reluctantly while I finished the current book. I finished it 3 days later and on a cold Sunday afternoon I snuggled up on the sofa with my fluffy blanket and started to read A Girl On the Train. I was hooked and read half of it within a few hours (I am a very fast reader, always have been). I stopped for dinner and the washing up and then started again. By the end of the first day I had read nearly all of the book, but my eyes were getting heavy and I had to go to bed. Next day I had to work, so after dinner that evening I finished the book. I hate finishing a book that I have been enjoying as it leaves me feeling empty.

So about the book. It is a fast paced psychological thriller about a woman named Rachel who is a functioning (on most days) alcoholic. Her drink of choice is usually Gin and Tonic in a can or a bottle of wine. Rachel gets the same train every day to work although we later find out that she has no job and is just pretending to go to work to keep her job loss from her friend Cathy who Rachel rents a room from. Rachel was once married and has lost her husband and her home. However the husband has moved his new wife into their old house which is next to the rail tracks. Rachel also suffers from lost time, where she cannot remember getting to where she is.

Every morning the train stops by the same signal and she can see into a house by the rail tracks. She has given the people who live there names – Jess and Jason – and makes up stories in her head about their lives. One day however Jess is gone and her disappearance has been reported in the papers. Rachel had drank herself into oblivion that day and has no recollection of what she had done or where she had been. Rachel then becomes involved in a web of intrigue, missing people and strangers.
We find out that “Jess” is in fact Megan and the book then begins to follow Megan’s story too. Each chapter has a character’s name and a dateline. You have to be careful to check these otherwise you could get easily confused as to who you are reading about especially when the action gathers pace.

The plot twists and turns and keeps you hooked right to the end. Every review I have read states the same thing “I never would have guessed the ending” and that goes for me too.

I would highly recommend this book to lovers of crime and thrillers. I look forward to the next offerings by Paula Hawkins with excitement. This really is one of the best books I have ever read.

A Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins is available now in Hardback and eBook.

Published by Transworld Books 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Romance Festival

So yesterday and today I went to a literary festival. I wore my PJ's and dressing gown and had copious cups of tea brought to me by my husband.
The reason why the dress code was so lax was because it was held on line! I had tabs open linking me to Twitter (where I am to be found as @MaryLewisWriter) and to Facebook (where you will find me at Mary's Writing Page).

I asked Jill Mansell a question and got a reply. My question was: 

Hi Jill. Firstly let me say I am a huge fan of your work. I was wondering do you ever worry where the next book is going to come from? I am trying to write my first and have so much self doubt that I am wondering if I have another book in me. x

Jill answered:
I always think the good writers are the doubters and the confident ones might be less good! I always worry that I won't have any more ideas - luckily they always seem to turn up though!

There was a line up menu and I honestly didn't know where to go next as there was so much going on.
Today I asked Katie Fforde about place names. I have asked Milly Johnson the same question too. They both tend to make up place names for their settings. I have been doing the same, but basing them on real places in Kent.
When I "go to" the village in my book I can see clearly the village green, Church, duck pond and pub in my head. This really helps me get a feel for how the characters would be behaving. For instance you wouldn't expect noise, lots of traffic etc in a village like you would in town or in the city. You would expect a more sedentary pace to life. This sounds like a cliche, but I've yet to read a book set in a village where the villagers are speeding around in cars and using the village green for anything but the odd picnic or short cut to the pub!

Really looking forward to next years festival and I'm really hoping I can be involved in the authors Q&A. Who knows? Maybe? 

Facebook: Mary Lewis Writer
Twitter: @marylewiswriter