I don’t know how some writers smash out 80,000 word novels in a few months. Then they launch and make a bunch of sales, then switch again to creative mode to smash out another. I didn’t ‘win’ Nanowrimo this year but I did get 36K words into a new story Thalia Henry and the Ghost Writer. It started out as Ella Henry but as happens, my main character wanted to change her name! And in the 36 days since Nano finished I have added about 3000 more words. argh!
I need to make a cover. I love these.
I have made a basic one on Canva.
It girl and Instagram sensation Thalia Henry is living her best life until the law catches up with her in spectacular fashion. Her agent, Star, does her best ‘agenting’ ever and whisks Thalia away to a writer’s retreat in a crumbling French chateau, promising to keep her out of trouble and get her to finish her manuscript on time. Company intern and driver, Phillip, is tasked with the role of taking Thalia to France, and keeping an eye on her while Star concentrates on damage control back in London.
A smart woman, despite her hell-raising reputation, Thalia learns quickly that anyone less priveleged than she would have found themselves in prison. Thalia Henry is nothing if not adaptable, throwing herself into her writing and getting to know the other artists’ in residence; glass artist Camryn and her enigmatic companion, Watermelon, and mysterious writer Braith Lewis-Evans.
The once-magnificent mansion, bequeathed to the publishers Whitehall International as an artists’ retreat, is under repair after years sitting derelict but Thalia begins to see it in a new light once she meets Braith.
Old Houses and Time Travel again feature in this story. What can I say? I’m obsessed.
Here’s the new cover of The Circle. I was going to work on this for Nanowrimo but Thalia Henry elbowed her way forwards pushing poor old Dr Shelagh Barton to the back of the queue.
Paperback of Hotel Deja Vu is out now on Amazon (search Hotel Deja vu by Christine Betts on your Amazon store) with other stores coming soon. The next novella in the Paris in a Day series is nearly complete along with 6 new short stories.To complete the tricolour -trio of Parisian obsession, my creative non-fiction memoir Remembering Paris will also be available on Kindle.
The Byron Bay Writer’s Festival has come and gone. I bought I One-Day ticket and really jam-packed my schedule. I wrote a post on it here in real time.
In July, for the first time I abandoned a Camp Nanowrimo project. It wasn’t a complete failure – 13,000 new words were born in the form of short stories.
I sometimes convince myself that I am getting a lot of writing done because I blog every day. Truth is, I’m not getting a lot of fiction writing done, just loads of waffle. So today, to celebrate the editing I’ve been doing, I submitted my manuscript to a Pan Macmillan on their Manuscript Monday page. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?
Camp Nano is done and dusted again and I’ve just had another holiday in Bali and Lombok. Life is good except that Game of Thrones didn’t end very well. There’s a lot of pressure on writers to get it…well, right. Boo, hoo…there’s more pressure on brain surgeons, fire fighters and kindy teachers and you don’t see them stuffing up this badly! I hope one day to write something so loved that 1000’s of people get pissed at me for stuffing up the ending.
IN April I wrote 1000+ words a day – finally working on Remembering Paris, the creative non-fiction memoir I’ve been wanting to write. I had a Paris playlist going in the background and I’ve added to that a bunch of songs that remind me of my visits to Paris over the years. The list is eclectic to say the least; Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden, anything from The Division Bell by Pink Floyd, 7 Seconds by Youssou N’Dour asnd Nenah Cherry. Staying on my own in Paris all those years ago, I let MTV play day and night so I wouldn’t feel lonely… Even though I am going to keep it to memories of Paris, I will have to provide some context by mentioning things about my life at home, so it is something of a memoir, but limited only to Paris. Like what happens in Paris, stays in Paris – but it doesn’t stay there – it’s written down for the world to read!
February 2019 was crazy busy. I managed to blog daily in Bali with a very surprising result; a big jump in followers! Obviously using my own photos is a good idea!
I have been neglecting my creative writing so here’s a little bit of French fun…
From across the street, I could see that the woman in the cherry-red-beret was also wearing a striped fisherman’s top. At first, I could only see the beret, her dark hair, the cigarette in her mouth…but after the airport shuttle bus moved away I could see her more clearly. It had Paris scrawled across the front in a glittery script. The fisherman’s top, not the shuttle bus.
“I love this city, completely,” I heard her say to no one in particular, her voice carrying even over the din of the traffic.
I grinned as I looked right and left, crossing the street. Casting her gaze about, she enthusiastically sucked on her cigarette. As I approached the group, I knew that this woman was going to be the ‘fun one.’ The group was what the boss called a ‘mixed assortment’. Rather than a package-tour group who had been, or would be, spending a couple of weeks together on the road, these were individuals and couples who had booked a day tour; a whole different beast. Along with the ‘fun one’ (she’d be keen for a wine after the tour, or even during…) there would be the ‘arguing couple’, the ‘lady with the headache’, ‘he who forgot his camera’, the ‘armchair expert’ (who really should be leading the group, let’s face it…) Throw in some eye-rolling teenagers, a pair of elderly sisters and a couple on their honeymoon and you can picture the standard ‘mixed assortment’ tour group assembled for a half-day mini-tour.
I smiled at the eager faces and took out my list. After a quick introduction and a roll-call, I waved to our driver who made his way over to the curb.
‘Everyone, this is Jean-Pierre, our driver for the day. You can call him JP, pronounced zshay-pay. Say bonjour to zshay-pay, everyone.’
They all say bonjour more or less in unison. The lady in the cherry-red beret, Jen from Arizona, preferred Jean-Pierre, obviously, her greeting ending a few moments after the rest of the group.
‘I was French in a previous life,’ she said.
I smiled and nodded enthusiastically. I was about to say something about ‘all good Americans…’
‘I have a French aesthetic,’ she said, gesturing to her outfit like a game-show hostess. I noticed the blue, white and red-painted fingernails. I felt bad, suddenly, for wearing my usual uniform of jeans-t-shirt-blazer instead of something more…French.
She stood beside the bus, allowing the rest of the passengers to clamber up the stairs while she finished her cigarette. The ‘arguing couple’ were the last to board, leaving Jen and me on the sidewalk.
“I could get used to Paris. People smoke in the street here!”
Blowing smoke over my head she threw her head back and laughed. She ground the cigarette out with the pointed toe of her black boot and smiled up at a worried looking Jean-Pierre.
‘Permission to come aboard, captain?’ she said. Winking broadly at him she swung into the bus. The arguing couple and the elderly sisters had claimed the four front seats so Jen sat in the next available row. I took a deep breath and climbed aboard, carefully avoiding eye-contact with J-P in case we started laughing.
‘Let’s get the party started, Jay-Peee,’ she said. Her arm in the air she let out a muted woo.
‘Indeed, let’s…’ I said, as the bus door hissed shut and he nosed the mini-bus into the early morning traffic.
Over the next few weeks, I will be reviving Mimi to see if she can still get away with murder… I think she will, but I am going to need to kill a few of my own darlings in the process. I just have too many characters! Mimi – a former child star and beauty queen who has managed to create a cult-like following for her quirky science-fiction heavy body of work. And her body. And she’s a piece of work. Nicole – Mimi’s sister. A former child star who cannot get far enough away from the movie business…until she gets sucked back into it and spat out.
Nanowrimo… November 2018…I did it!!! I wrote 50, 000 words in 30 days. Excuse me while I go lie down…
I did Camp Nano in April 2018, but doing Nanowrimo was a dream come true. Years ago, I heard about it and talked about it a few times…but now I’ve done it! I spent October gathering ideas for Nanowrimo. I started a Pinterest board for my prep for the novel that may be called something like The Circle of Ashes. The Pinterest board isn’t very sexy just yet, just a lot of maps and history. Imagine my surprise when I found out that my theory that Britain was originally attached to Europe is pretty much established scientific fact. Ha! I must have heard it somewhere during my education. Apparently, when the polar ice caps from the last Ice Age melted, it gradually flooded the area leaving Britain separated from the mainland forever.
My character/s will leave their home in Brittany to make a pilgrimage. They may never return home. I am really excited about this project because I am learning something new every day!
Before Nanowrimo kicked off I wanted to finish the first drafts of Paris in a Day – Book 2 – The Paris Souvenir and Book 3 – Mirra. The Paris Souvenir is a darker story but still on the themes of love and regret in the same ‘universe’ as Hotel Deja Vu. Paul and Mary, who met in Paris have returned years later to ask themselves where everything went so wrong. It’s a love story of sorts, but with a dark twist and a return to the time-travel motif.
Mirra, on the other hand, will be a huge departure from my other stories. Still set in Paris, the MC is a geneticist and is working alone in her lab for the 24-hour period over which the story is set. Unlike my other stories which are very character-heavy (and some people say confusing…sorry…heads up, don’t read Song of Ice and Fire! GRRM loves using a LOT of characters!), Mirra is the only character. There may also be a lethal virus that will wipe out the population, but that isn’t really a character. Oh, and zombie monkeys.
My blog and my fiction are the priority. I’ll be limiting my social media and marketing to concentrate on writing.
I really want to write a time travel/supernatural love story about a couple who communicate across time using an old typewriter. A bit cliche but maybe I can write something with a fresh perspective! It’s a work in progress.
Earlier in 2018…
How time flies! I launched Paris in a Day – Book 1 – Julie largely giving zero shits about the whole process. I’ve sold approximately 4 copies! My Facebook page is home to a community of 2700 Paris Lovers! I am writing a series of short stories, set in Paris, of course, and uploading the next part of the story every few days. You can find some raw stories on the Facebook page, or see the more polished version here. My next work set in Paris is called Paris Souvenir, about a couple who let their regrets drive their lives, and how Paris could make or break them.
In April 2018, I put myself through the mill of Camp NaNoWriMo. Part pleasure, part pain, I achieved my goal of 40,000 words in 30 days, which apparently makes me a winner! I did look around the room and give a little cheer to myself when I uploaded the manuscript, but there was no-one there to celebrate with me. Just the cats.
Oh, and apparently…