Saturday, 18 January 2014

Writing Progress Blog Tour

I was invited to take part in the Writing Progress Blog Tour by Sue Dawson, writing as Jodi Taylor, the creator of the 'Chronicles of St Mary's'. This is a series of books about the adventures of those time-travelling disaster-magnets - or historians as they like to be known! Full of history, love, romance, adventure - and reservoirs of tea, the latest - A Second Chance - should be published around March and will be available on Amazon and through Accent Press.

You can read more about Jodi on her Facebook page:

 Or  her blog:

These are the four questions I am required to answer. 

What am I working on at present?

 I am presently writing about the Border Reivers and the feuds between the Scottish and English during the 1500’s, moving to the early 1600’s, when King James 1st of England (James V1 of Scotland) wanted his two kingdoms to live in peace. There were a great many hangings at this time and my heroine, Isabella offers her own life in place of her brother’s because their father is dead and her mother and sisters need him. The clan chief admires her courage. He wants grandchildren with character so instead of taking her life he decides she should be a wife for his son, but  Henry only wants to be a monk and a healer.


This is an earlier period than usual for me and it is involving a lot of interesting research re the Border Towers, living arrangements, food, crops available at the time (Neither turnips nor potatoes were available then and I believe early carrots were white). Herbs were used for medicine.

 How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My next novel - Beyond Reason – will be published in April 2014. It is set around 1840. This, and my current novel, are single books and earlier periods than usual so they are not my normal style of family sagas. My family sagas are different from many others because they are written in series of 3, 4 or 5 books, each series following different generations of the same family. They may be set any time from 1900 to present day. As an example my last series began at the end of the war with Dreams of Home and a young soldier desperate to start in a farm of his own. Darkest Before the Dawn, is the fifth in the series and the first time I have brought the generations up to present day.
It concerns a young man due to start at university, but he is also keen to farm. He is convinced milk robots will enable him to carry out his ambitions in spite of his injuries but his father does not agree.

 Why do I write what I do?

I have always had a vivid imagination, quite scary sometimes, but I suppose you could say I write about what I know and that happens to be farming. My family have been farmers for several generations. I went to agricultural college against all the advice of my teachers, and to the disappointment of my mother, who thought I should go to university and be a teacher. I have only one regret and that is my mother did not live to see me write a book. It would have pleased her greatly because she was a great reader herself, as was my grandmother. (Incidentally I think some things must be in the genes as my daughter also went against advice and attended agricultural college and this year my granddaughter is doing the same.) Maybe some things are meant to be.

Since marrying a Scottish dairy farmer I have lived most of my adult life north of the Border so most of my books are set in Scotland, with an odd foray back to my Yorkshire schooldays. I have also written seven shorter, lighter romances but even they usually have some connection with animals or country life. The latest of these is called  A Question of Love – an e-book, recently published by Endeavour Press, about rare breeds, animal thieves, and of course, romance.

How does my writing process work?

I am not a plotter so my characters are the most important part of my story. I fix  the main characters first and usually I have a rough idea who will come together at the end, but I never know what their journey will involve, who they will meet, or what problems they will encounter. I wish I could write a rough outline but I can’t, it has to be a full first draft. This is the most difficult stage for me. I enjoy the second draft and often a third, especially if I have had to take a break in the middle.

When I begin a novel I keep a loose leaf folder beside me and I write down the names of the characters, their ages, colour of hair, eyes, build etc. and anything outstanding. Also names of places. This is more essential than most people realise, especially if the novel is part of a series. As I go along I get to know the characters and their traits, their strengths and weaknesses – as in real life. Whenever a new character appears, however minor, I make a note of them too, plus the chapter numbers where they first appear. I try not to use names which are similar, but I still make mistakes sometimes, as I believe most people do. I would not like to be published, or to self publish, without a copy editor, even if I do not always agree with some suggestions. Most of us believe we see what we intended to write.

Computers have made writing far easier than it used to be with typewriters and Tippex, re-writes and carbon copies, but for as long as I can remember I have loved the feel of a pen, or freshly sharpened pencil, and a new sheet of paper. This probably accounts for my old fashioned use of paper notes beside me.

Now I shall hand over the baton for the next Writing Progress Blog Tour to Janet Gover. I have read some of Janet’s stories and she makes the Australian countryside come alive and creates an atmosphere which makes you feel you are actually there.  

Janet grew up in Australia – but now wanders the world in her day job which involves something to do with very large and complex computers – there are times when even she is not sure exactly what. In between trips, she writes romantic adventures – mostly set in Australia. She has a passion for dark and damaged heroes. Despite her childhood love for knights in shining armour on big white horses, racing to rescue damsels in distress – in her books, it’s just as likely to be the heroine doing the saving.

She’ll be blogging next week, 27th January, about her writing process at . You’ll find her website at . Her facebook page is at and you can follow her on twitter @janet_gover