Association of Christian Writers, Books, fiction, Mizpah Ring, Novel, Scotland, Uncategorized, Writing

When NaNo isn’t good enough

This is my declaration of intent: I’m quitting NaNoWriMo. I’ve written 30,156 words and I’m grateful that the process has broken my writer’s block. But…


Because as a Christian I won’t work Sundays, I had to write 2,000 words a day to reach the target. And imperceptibly I began to lose the joy, the delight in the story. Facing my desk each day became a chore. And that’s unheard of for me!

I also began to feel that I was short-changing my story, my characters and the Holy Spirit Who inspires me. I wanted to go back to page one and take my time to get it much more ‘right’ rather than simply focus on churning out 2,000 words a day.


A Mizpah ring
A Mizpah ring










So I’ve allowed myself two days ‘off’. Instead of slamming down words for words’ sake, I’ve allowed myself the pleasure of reacquainting myself with the research notes I made when this story of the Mizpah Ring  first captured my heart. And I’m in love again. There’s so much more than I had remembered in the frenetic NaNo days.

So I’m going back to my way of doing things: I’ll aim for a flexible one hour or one thousand words a day, approximately. And I’ll immerse myself in the research. I’ve already discovered previously unknown connections between the Highland Clearances and Manitoba, fascinating eye-witness accounts of Buenos Aires in 1900 – and I can’t wait to weave them into my book, knowing it will be the better for it.

What’s more, I now have energy and time to give to the promotion of my novel, When the Boats Come Home, due out in paperback, Kindle and e-book around 12th December. I had a day when I could enjoy a lovely virtual cup of tea with Donna Fletcher Crowe ( And there’s plenty more to do – and enjoy.

When the Boats Come Home cover

My verdict on NaNoWriMo? It’s great and I’m grateful. But now I’m out of the shallow end with the new book, I need room to forge ahead at my own pace. I’ll keep you posted!


Books, fiction, Herring fishing, History, Novel, Scotland, Social history, Uncategorized, Wick, Writing

What you have to do to publish a book

“Writers are people who write.” Well, that used to be the case. All you had to do was write and a whole bunch of other lovely people saw to everything else involved in getting a book out: copy-editing, proofreading, page design, cover design, publicity and promotion and marketing, sales and distribution, and even nicer, royalty statements!

But the world has changed. Some few authors still go along the traditional lines. Many more create a more independent career. This ranges from full-on self-publishing, even to the extent of setting up one’s own publishing company, to making use of one of the many packages on offer to take the slog out of getting a book and an e-book conversion ready for market.

I’m not quite sure what the route I’ve chosen is called. Zaccmedia are a publishing company and are doing everything I’d expect of a publishing company but I have much more input and involvement – which I’m loving. It’s much more of a co-operative venture.

The other day the ISBNs were allocated and suddenly everything began to seem real! Last week I saw the planned cover. That was a huge wow moment!

When the Boats Come Home cover

So here it is. My Christian historical novel about the Scottish fisher lassies. The paperback will probably retail at £7.99 (296pp) and will be orderable around 14th December. It will also be available in Kindle and other formats, on Amazon etc. Hopefully this will solve the Christmas present problem for Christian women who like a good read.

Meanwhile, as with traditionally published authors, I’m thinking about marketing – I love doing interviews, giving talks and writing articles and blogs so that’s no hardship. I love the book, the background and the characters, so they’re easy to talk about!

And somehow I have to find time to keep producing 2000 words a day for the next one! More about that another time!

Books, fiction, God, Jesus Christ, Novel, Uncategorized, Writing

How to have the most fun writing

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This is such fun! How could I ever have forgotten? Terry Pratchett used to say on the author details on his books that writing was the most fun you can have on your own. True, true, true!

So even though it’s a grey November day and it’s still raining, I’m one happy bunny. Because it’s NaNoWriMo Day 2 for me and the word count so far is 4491 – 7 chapters already! Oh wow. Hitting my targets. But that’s not all. The story has me in its grip. My characters fascinate and delight me. And it feels more like watching a video while I’ve got my hands on the keyboard and words just seem to keep appearing on the screen!

I suppose what’s really making it such a joy is the embargo on judging what I’m writing. Almost an embargo on thinking too much. Left-brain anyway. All I’m allowed to do is open the door to my story and let it out, and that is sheer joy.

And I’m so looking forward to December – or whenever the first draft is complete – so I can go back and flesh out my plot-driven skimpy scanty prose.

This summer I’ve been learning a lot about trust. My morning Bible study time has been in the Book of Psalms and day after day the message has been – very clearly – trust in God. Lay down your burdens and lean on Him, rely on Him, depend on Him to deal with everything, to provide what I need.

You might have thought this would be a nice easy lesson, in fact, one I should have got at least a pass mark on many years ago. Looking back, I can remember a time when trust came easy – when I was first a Christian in my late teens. But a series of dodgy relationships/disasters/life events that rocked my little boat to the point of capsize ate into that trust and now it’s something I’ve had to give a bit of attention to.

But it makes a difference.

Jesus said we should be like little children in the way we trust and depend on our Heavenly Father – and I’m discovering the amazing joy and freedom of doing just that. One of the great benefits is approaching my daily writing stints with the glee of a little child, because children don’t judge their creative output the way adults do. They just get on and enjoy it.

Which is what I’m doing. And I hope all the other NaNoWriMoers out there are too!


Books, God, Novel, Uncategorized, Writing

NaNoWriMo: The first day

Today marks lots of firsts.

It’s the first day of the Celtic New Year – so as a fully paid up in the blood Celt, may I wish you all a happy New Year!

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It’s the first of November. So, happy November. And if you want a truly happy November and not a miserable Thomas Hood November (‘No!’ is a great poem though), reach for Ann Voskamp’s chart of things to give thanks to God for each day of the month. (Check out her blog: aholyexperience) It starts, delightfully, with thank you for 3 things to eat. My kind of day! Especially when I’ve got chocolate brownies to have with afternoon tea.

And being the first of November it’s the first day of NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. And I’m celebrating my first day by blogging to tell you about it. Because yes, I sat down at my laptop at 9 a. m. and put in an hour’s writing, and then after time out to do Saturday things and have lunch and a quick skim of my notes (I have a huge research folder that’s been sitting glowering at me for years…) at 2 p. m. I sat down and did another hour. And the day’s total? 2150 words. I am thrilled.

To reach the target of 50,000 words by 30th November, I need to achieve an average of 2,000 words per day of work – because I won’t be working Sundays. Cos that’s my special day off with God.

I reckon that’s a pretty good start. And I can relax now and enjoy the rest of the day and a lovely restful Sunday!