Writing Christmas Reunion in Pariswas a curious mixture of fun and anxiety. Maybe it’s always like that. There are always tough moments when you can’t see an ending, when you sit and stare at the screen and the words won’t come. But, mostly, like childbirth, you forget the agonies when all is delivered safely.
It all started when my editor asked if I’d like to write the first book in a three book mini-series – Christmas at the Harrington Park Hotel. My fellow authors, Kandy Shepherd (in Australia) and Susan Meier (in the US) were old friends. I was delighted to team up with them to work on the books that were about three siblings, each with their own painful past.
Emails flew back and forth as we worked on settings. The boarding school that James (my character) and his twin Sally had attended. The Harrington Park Hotel. The backstory of their parents, a stepfather, the moments that fractured a once happy family.
That was the fun part!
Paris…we’ve done that…
My story takes place in Paris, in the run up to the holiday, so I grabbed the chance to go and do a little research which I wrote about a few months ago.
“On a gloomy March afternoon, sitting in the same high school classroom she’d been sitting in for thirteen years, gritting her teeth as she told her significant other for the seventy-second time since they’d met that she’d be home at six because it was Wednesday and she was always home on six on Wednesdays, Quinn McKenzie lifted her eyes from the watercolour assignments on the desk in front of her and met her destiny.”
Jennifer Crusie is famous for putting wonderful dogs in her books and this is no exception. Quinn’s destiny is a small black dog with desperate eyes and he isn’t a prop, a cute accessory for her heroine. He gets the opening line in Crazy For You, because he’s about to change her life.
Animals in books? Dogs, more dogs and a duckling or two
Georgette Heyer, seen here with her dog, was another author who used dogs, kittens, even ducklings to delight us. In a long scene in The Grand Sophy the ducklings escape, are recaptured and generally cause chaos.
Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay
Venetia‘s Flurry flew to her rescue when, shockingly, Damerel kissed her. Unfortunately Flurry desisted the moment he was commanded to “sit”, recognising a master when he heard one. But he was enough of a distraction for Venetia to extract herself. Once she’d done that, she was more than a match for the man!
And Ulysses, the disreputable mongrel Arabella foisted on Beaumaris, is a joy.
I have just finished a book. Writing it, not reading it. It was Hard Work.
Nothing new there. No matter how sparkling the inspiration, how heady the enthusiasm to embark on this particular story, they are always a strain on the imagination, hard on the back and a slog at the keyboard. The reward is that moment of joyful relief when you’ve despatched it into the ether and it becomes your editor’s job to sort out mangled timelines, momentary slips into scatalogical dialogue and missing commas.
I have a busy writing year planned, but I seem to have spent the entire winter saying, “When I’ve finished the book…’
When I’ve finished the book I’ll get up to the V&A and take a look at the jewellery department. I’ve been there dozens of times but have somehow missed it and I’ve been inspired to visit by the documentary series Secrets of the Museum. Also on the list is the local Arts Society. I’ve been wanting to join for ages but couldn’t fit in another thing until I’d finished the book.
Apart from, “Where do you get your ideas from?” that has to be the question writers are most asked.
And the answer is, for me, yes, actually.
Quite a lot.
Pinterest, Google, Youtube
Even before I put finger to keyboard I scour Pinterest, seeking ideas for locations, looking for photographs of places and characters as I build my storyboard. This is the one I’ve created for A Harrington Christmas (it’s a working title!)
Mostly, after that, it will be diving into Google as questions crop up? What is the temperature in Nantucket in March? What is the time difference between Paris and Singapore? Is there already a restaurant in London called any of the half a dozen names I’ve come up with — and yes to every one. Continue reading →
There are a couple of months to go before we need to start to panic, but the groans are undoubtedly justified.
The children have only just gone back to school, the supermarket aisles are full of the momentary distraction of fake pumpkins and Halloween costumes, but they are already piling up the Christmas chocolate. (I took these two photographs just this morning.) And greetings cards are on sale for those organised enough to get them written before they get swept up in the season.
Last year I received an invitation from three authors I know and whose books I love – Donna Alward, Nina Singh and Barbara Wallace – to complete the quartet to write a mini series called “Bucket List Brides”.
Four young women, attending a charity auction, bid on an adventure. What happened to them after that was entirely up to each author.
The auction was to take place at the Merchant Resort, a fabulous hotel resort complex on Nantucket Island.
I needed a suitably gorgeous resort location, a beach and the kind of cottage that an islander family could have lived in forever. It was time for a little online research. I disappeared down the Pinterest rabbit hole for more time than was strictly necessary and followed #nantucketisland on Instagram. But that wasn’t the beginning of the story. This is the beach – with the necessary sunset – where it all began.
This is play time. The best part of writing – apart from the moment you sit back and know the book is finished – and a visit to that island location is now very high on my own bucket list! Continue reading →
None of those here, when I moved into my new home last summer. The garden was just a big neglected mess.
The first job was to clear out the weeds and paint the wall. When I say “I”, I confess I called upon the lovely Robert, who got to work with a some serious tools and, once he’d cleared the bed, a paintbrush.
Here, with a little November sunshine to light it up, is the result.
All he left were a few plants hardy enough to survive the neglect. (I’m trying not to think about the huge store of weed seeds lying in wait for my hoe!)
There is a large deep pink hydrangea, a couple of buddleias to attract the butterflies and a well grown Clematis montana. It was in full bloom when I viewed the property last year and is just about to give me joy.
I began, but where? How? What was the inciting moment?
Liz Fielding’s Latest Book The Billionaire’s Convenient Bride
Every time I finish a story, I try to remember where it began, in this case to try and put my finger on the exact moment when The Billionaire’s Convenient Bride stopped being a mess of stuff in my head and began to be a story.
Sometimes it’s so clear.
I once saw a great house set high up in the woods as I was being driven to Cheltenham. I instantly pictured a woman standing on the doorstep. Angry, not wanting to be there. She had a wedding to arrange. The man who answered the door was expecting someone else so he wasn’t happy, either. And then there was the baby.
I don’t usually add dogs to my books. That’s because, like babies and small children, you constantly have to remember where they are. Make sure they’re being taken care of.
This time, however, I found myself desperate for a dachshund. I have an entire Pinterest page devoted to them! I began buying stuff with dachshunds on them. Notebooks, socks, a Christmas sweater — they are, I discovered to my joy, everywhere. This is Dora.Continue reading →
Liz Fielding, multi-award-winning author, celebrates her arrival in the Libertà Hive with a Romance Conference Diary, after Joanna’s blog about the RNA Conference. Welcome, Liz!
Liz is just back from Denver, where the Conference in question was that of the Romance Writers of America — and where her lovely Sheikh’s Convenient Princess was short-listed for the 2018 Short Contemporary Rita® Award.
LIZ’s ROMANCE CONFERENCE DIARY — Monday
Packing for Conference is ridiculous. You have no idea how cold the hotel is going to be. You do know it’s going to be steaming hot outside, so you pack twice as much as you need. Plus conference “swag”.
I checked in online and printed my boarding card. Tick. Car delivered me to Heathrow in good time. Tick. Bags dropped. Tick. Through security… Er, hello Border Control. I was drug swabbed! I mean, could it be any more ridiculous? Noticeably all the swabbees were women. The lady in front of me had a scented candle. I hadn’t taken the plastic pouch with my toiletries out of my hand luggage before it went through the x-ray machine. Slapped wrist. Don’t do it again. Continue reading →