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About the book
This book breaks down a romance novel into beats. The beats are plot points that are expected in popular romance stories. It helps you identify if your romance novel has all the right ingredients.
It’s good but brief. I’m glad I read Save the Cat first as it’s similar but that book goes into more depth. This book was like a romance appendix to STC. I don’t think this will be a resource book I turn to very often now I’ve read it.
This project is set in the same low fantasy world of The Soul Heart Series. In fact, for readers of Ocean Heart they may recognise the main character, Denny.
This story is a prequel. It’s set in the 90s, back when Denny was a teen herself. It will cover how she became friends with Gwyn, started her Sparkle Cake business, and the highs and lows as a new mum.
I feel more prepared now I have created a title, cover, and blurb. Of course these are all just a work in progress, so could change but it helps me feel more focused.
I’ve started writing an outline. I intended for this to be a novella but I already have a sneaky suspicion this could become a full length novel.
I’ve also made a spreadsheet to help me track my word count. If this works successfully, I will look at making a version available to my followers on Ko-Fi.
I’m going to aim for the big Five-O (50,000 words). If I don’t make it, I will still have made progress, but if I do, it’d make me so happy.
I’ve been struggling with motivation because Sky Heartis on hold until I can afford the professional services I need to move it forward. I’ve also been bummed out with all the germs (sick kids) ruining September, and fracturing my ankle ruining October.
I really want to get back into the habit of writing again. My ultimate goal for November is this: To write!
Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What’s your project, goal, and how do you prepare?
I joined the Mighty Network back in 2019 and Elzevera helped me with self editing, Ocean Heart.
It inspired me to want to create my own Mighty Network and I set this as a goal at the start of 2020.
I have been exploring creating a Mighty Network. It is a social site for creatives. I’m currently a member of a Mighty Network by Willow Editing. I have been Beta Testing a self-editing course by Elzevera of Willow Editing.
I am considering the network as a potential way to share extra bits with my readers. I am also exploring it as a space to share writing resources as many of my followers are fellow writers.
But, I’d also decided to self publish Ocean Heart, and this was my priority and keeping me very busy. I didn’t have time to build my own Mighty Network. I ended up abandoning the goal to focus on my debut novel.
Early this year, I stepped back from my volunteer role with World Indie Warriors. I created their indie books brochure and eZine. Collecting all the info and publishing four times a year was taking over too much of my free time. When I started a new job, I didn’t have the energy to continue with both. It was hard to let go but I’m still very close with the members and support them however I can.
Now I’ve settled into my new role, I have more energy again. When I saw Elzevera call for help on Instagram, it sounded like a perfect new fresh challenge for me.
I applied to help, and we had a little chat about what she’d need me to do. From October, I shall be Elzevera’s new co-host. I’m excited to take on this new role.
Under the Willow is inline with my original Mighty Network goal. Elzevera’s created her network to empower writers to have the tools they need to self edit their work, and improve their writing craft in a supportive community.
If you want to join a supportive group of writers and improve your craft, please do come join us on Mighty Networks in Under the Willow
I love Felixstowe Book Festival. It’s in my hometown making it convenient for me to attend. It’s reasonably priced so it doesn’t break the bank. And, it gets bigger ever year.
This year, I only bought tickets for the writing workshops delivered by Orwell Writers League. It consisted of three sessions, each cost leas than £5, and if you bought all three it was only £9.99!
With the pandemic I was a little worried it could be cancelled. Last year all events went virtual. The only disruption was a location change from Orwell Hotel (the usual venue) to Harvest House (a new venue).
I’ve lived in Felixstowe almost all my life and never been inside Harvest House. Usually it’s not open to the public. They are looking to diversify their income and now offering it up for hire for Weddings. And, Book Festivals 😍.
Language & Voice
This workshop had us exploring the 5 senses and developing a word bank for the theme “Shoreline.”
We were given a postcard and challenged to write a short story about the setting using the five senses. Half the room was asked to focus on “natural” senses. The other half focused on “man made” senses.
I wrote this piece, focusing on man made senses:
This workshop had us thinking about how actions can speak as loudly as words. We thought about facial expressions, and then worked our way through the body listing different actions and gestures.
We then imagined a couple on an open top bus and had to come up with three scenes they see – I think that’s what we were meant to do as I did something different. I did not do what I was supposed to 🤦♀️.
We were then challenged to write some dialogue between at least two people, and encouraged to use senses and actions to give the scene more meaning.
I wrote this scene based on the setting, “stuck in a hot car looking for a parking space”.
The afternoon session was an opportunity to do some free writing. They recapped on all the things we’d covered in the morning.
I decided to use this opportunity to work on an untiled prequel to Ocean Heart (my debut novel). I decided not to read this out allowed:
I didn’t learn anything new from the workshop but I didn’t expect to. I find workshops like this valuable as they remind us about the basics needed to write effective fiction. Think of it as refresher training.
Whilst creating my word bank, I realised it would be a useful tool to combat Writers Block and will be adding it to my arsenal. I also find writing settings challenging, the word bank was a great way to create a personal thesaurus of descriptions to use.
I love Felixstowe Book Festival and would go again. I also enjoyed networking with other writers and met two other upcoming authors. It was great to see my favourite local bookshop there with a stall, and to have a good chat with the manager of Stillwater Books.
I wish I’d taken a copy of Ocean Heart with me so I could have taken selfies with my book at such a beautiful location. I did get to hand out my new bookish business card to interested people, and ran out! I learnt from a marketing perspective to be more prepared and utilise every opportunity.
I’m so happy Ellie agreed to let me interview her as I loved her debut book. There’s a link to my five star review at the end. It’s really exciting to find out what went into making such an amazing book.
I loved Garden in the Sands. It’s not like any book I’ve read before. What genre would you say it is?
It’s interesting that you say that, as Garden in the Sands actually started as a MG fantasy story. When it came to self-publishing, however, I read lots about YA being an easier market to get into. Therefore I re-wrote it, adding Lira’s POV element. Overall I’d say it’s a YA fantasy re-telling.
Despite being set in the desert, it’s very reminiscent of The Secret Garden. Did you plan for it to be like a fantasy version of the classic?
Yes! A re-telling was exactly my aim. I adored Mary in The Secret Garden when I was a child, as she was stroppy and imperfect. She influenced Quil a lot!
There are two MC’s can you give a brief intro to each?
Quil is a human girl born into wealth and privilege that only serves to constrict her. Desperate to gain a shred of attention from her parents, she spent her childhood misbehaving. This led to being frequently sent away from home to learn to become a ‘lady’, something she has no interest in doing. The only ray of light in her life is her main, Sasha.
When she finds herself sent away from the palace and charged with entertaining the sickly prince, she finds she’s not the only one in the world with problems.
Lira was born into greatness too, but as a demi-god this involved learning to wield a sword to prove herself. She rose to the challenge, and when the story starts she is a great heroine. She feels trapped, however, the link to her long dead human mother setting her apart from the other gods. She can’t help but watch the misery of life below in Miran. When a chance arises to break the curse that’s punishing the humans for their king’s crimes, Lira risks all the help them.
Quil learns to garden in the book – are you green thumbed?
I certainly try to be, but it’s a process of trial and error!
Lira is a demi god and fights mythical beasts – did you do a lot of research on this for your novel?
I studied Classics at university, so I’ve loved the mythology of Ancient Greece and Rome for a long time. I knew many of their stories already, but some of the beasts needed some extra research!
Who is your favourite God/Goddess from mythology?
Definitely Athena. She’s so strong and not cowed by any of the males in Olympus. She’s who Lira is based upon.
What can we look forward to from you next?
My next book is and MG adventure fantasy set in Cornwall, where I live.
Where can we go to discover more about you and your books?
Instagram (@ellie_mitten) is where I like to connect with other writers and reads 🙂
We discussed what the week is all about and those involved. We talked about how we became indie, our experience, and tips for those considering it, and to help those already with books out.
Were there any bloopers?
Going live is terrifying as there’s a fear something will go wrong. But, it builds skills in handling these. Here is what happened:
Kids: I had a few issues getting the kids to bed, so I was cutting it fine when I logged on. I used Stream Yard several times last year for my book launch without issues so I wasn’t too worried as I know it’s super simple. But…
Camera & Mic undetected: I logged on and Stream Yard couldn’t detect my camera or microphone- WTF! This is not what you want when you are about to host a live event. I switched browsers and it still wasn’t happening. It must be my laptop, because when I tried my mobile, it worked!
Unprepared: I wasn’t prepared to go live using my mobile. I had my event notes on my phone – eek! I also didn’t have a stand ready. Although my hubby snuck one over to me a few minutes in when he realised I was struggling to keep it steady. I think I did a good job of keeping the questions going without my notes.
No Link/On screen text: Next up, one of my guests hadn’t got the link to attend. It was in our group chat but for some reason was hidden from her. I accidentally added her cry for help to the screen for everyone to see. I didn’t realise until way into the stream, so you can see it for most of the live.
Lagging & Crashing: Cassidy’s iPad kept lagging making it hard for her to keep up with the chat, and we were rabbiting on. It also kept dropping her. She switched to her laptop and then it was much better.
Here are my Instagram pics introducing each of my guests:
Last year I was the lucky winner of a place on Pagan Malcolm’s course, Story Seller Academy.
This course came at the perfect time for me. I’d recently decided I wanted to self publish my book and the course is perfect for that. This course is all about publishing and marketing your book.
The first module is on mindset and although it sounds a bit hippie, this one is vital. I had previously caught some of Pagan’s free taster sessions on Facebook. Those samples had already empowered me, so doing the full module was next level.
Launching my book was new and scary, and self doubt was already caressing me with her familiar fingers. This module helped me get my head back on track, and to catch self doubt in her tracks before she got her nails into me.
The course covers everything you need to do and consider when self publishing a book. It’s like having someone hold your hand through the process.
Not only that, but there are modules to cover what to do after you publish and other income streams to consider.
There are masterclasses with tips and walkthroughs on how to do a wide range of things. Pagan shares her own personal experiences, including mistakes she has made so you don’t have to.
The course content is shared using videos of Pagan delivering presentations. These are timestamped so if you need to jump to a certain section you can.
Pagan also shares resources to support the content like ideas content ideas for your book launch on social media.
This is a self paced course which means you can study when you want and consume as much content as you like. This was ideal for me because when I gained accessed I didn’t have time. When I did have time, it was all there waiting for me to indulge.
Pagan allows forever access so I can log in and revisit content whenever I need a refresher. She also updates content and adds bonus material. It’s like the course that keeps on giving.
This course has been a real benefit to me and I would recommend it. The flexibility is exactly what I needed to work around my other commitments.
Pagan is a great teacher and really approachable. She was genuinely interested in how I got on with her course as she is continuously improving what she does.
I’m confident her courses will only get better and better over time.
I love that Felixstowe Book Festival is on my doorstep. They offer a range of events, talks, and workshops. It’s also very affordable. For example, this year, you can attend a full day writing workshop for only £9.99!
You may have already guessed or seen on Instagram, I’ve bought tickets for this years full day writing workshop for the bargain price of £9.99! It is being help in a stunning historic building, the sort that can inspire stories.
I haven’t attended every year, or blogged about every event I have attended. Below are links to my posts about some of the talks or workshops I did attend.