Search Sue's Blog

Wednesday 20 November 2019

THE RAIDED HEART - a guest post by Jennifer C Wilson

My guest today is a very special friend: the fabulous Jennifer C Wilson.

I first met Jen a little over four years ago, when I worked with her as editor of her first novel: Kindred Spirits: Tower of London.  Since then we have worked together on three more Kindred Spirits novels - Royal Mile, Westminster Abbey and York - and most recently on her latest masterpiece: The Raided Heart (released last Friday).  

Read on for a fascinating interview, and news of an exciting giveaway.

Welcome, Jen!

Hi Sue, and thanks so much for hosting me today. You know better than anyone the journey The Raided Heart has gone through, so I thought I would write about one of the biggest stages of the book’s journey: National Novel Writing Month, 2009, especially as we’re midway through the 2019 edition!

For those of you who haven’t heard of this month of madness, NaNoWriMo, as it is shortened to, is the challenge to write 50,000 words over the course of November, in any given year. The emphasis is to write fast, not looking back over what you’ve written, and not allowing that pesky Inner Editor to have any say at all over the words which are hitting the page, with word count all that really matters. 

It was certainly a challenge! That year, the 1st November was a Sunday, and I was out for Halloween the previous night, but remember pausing just after midnight, and sending myself an email with the opening line of The Raided Heart: “The night was always darker when a raid was afoot.” What I love, is that after all the rewrites and edits, although it may no longer be the opening line, that’s still in there! I’ve always had big problems changing opening lines…

But back to NaNoWriMo. It all gets a bit manic, but I really do recommend it, if you have the time to commit to it. The average target is 1,667 words per day, which, depending on whether you write or type, can usually be done in a couple of hours. Using any free time to boost the word count and reduce the average needed for the days remaining is usually a good idea too, to allow for those days when life does, inevitably, get between you and the work-in-progress.

I’ve completed NaNoWriMo in full twice now, and both times, the finished projects became, with a lot of editing and polish, published novels: Kindred Spirits: Tower of London and The Raided Heart. For The Raided Heart, I used the month to full rework an old project I had begun years before, but the 50,000 words were still ‘new’ written during November. And that’s all that really counts; that 50,000 words hit the page throughout the month. It can be 10,000 words each on five shorter projects, a collection of short stories, a first draft of a new project, or the final 50,000 words of a much longer piece that you’ve been working on.

When I was first looking at having an attempt at it, ten years ago, I read the great piece of advice: You can’t edit a blank page. This is utterly true, and having the ability, in fact the instruction, to ignore that little part of you which keeps saying “Stop, you can’t write that,” or “You should really go back and check what you wrote yesterday,” is liberating. You just have to keep writing, pushing the story forward, word by word, page by page, until you hit that magical goal.

So, are you tempted? Granted, it’s a bit late for this year, unless you really are a fast writer, but if you do give it a go next year, or decide to try it any other month of the year, these would be my top tips:

·       Do have a think about what you’re going to write before the month rolls around. There’s nothing more terrifying than a blank page, especially when you have a very specific and ambitious goal in mind. Pre-November planning is absolutely allowed, so consider your settings, characters, and plot in advance, so you can hit the ground running on the 1st.

·       Do tell others that you’re giving it a go, especially anyone who has to share a home with you for the month, and might be expecting you to take part in cooking, cleaning or caring for others in that time! Get some swaps arranged in advance, and try to give yourself as clear a run at things as you can, so your free time is just that, free.

·       Don’t beat yourself up if you cannot hit your daily goal. At the end of the day, this is meant to be fun, and if we’re tormenting ourselves because we cannot face the screen or notebook at the end of a long day at work, then there’s not going to be any joy found in what we write.

Good luck if you give it a go, and don’t forget, everything begins with a first draft, and this is a great way to get that first draft into being!

More about The Raided Heart:
Meg Mathers, the headstrong youngest sibling of a reiving family on the English-Scottish border, is determined to remain at her childhood home, caring for the land and village she's grown up with.  When an accident brings her a broken ankle and six weeks in the resentful company of ambitious and angry young reiver Will Hetherington, attraction starts to build.  Both begin to realise they might have met their match, and the love of their lives - but 15th-century border living is not that simple, as Meg soon finds herself betrothed to the weakling son of a tyrranical neighbour, Alexander Gray.  When tragedy strikes, can Meg and Will find their way back to each other, and can Will finally take his own personal revenge on Gray?


More about Jen:

Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history and historical fiction whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England for work reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her time-slip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, by Ocelot Press. She lives in North Tyneside, and is very proud of her approximately 2-inch sea view.

Social Media Links:  

Giveaway* to win 2 x e-copies of The Last Plantagenet? (open internationally)

* Terms & Conditions:  Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter by clicking on the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email.  If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel's Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner.  Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners' information.  This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel's Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Sincere thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.

No comments:

Post a Comment