November and early December have passed me by in a blur. I started writing Summer Nights at The Starfish Café on 4th November and submitted it to my editor on 5th December but over two thirds of that were written in the last ten days. I returned from a few days away in York with some of my author friends, panicking that I’d written just shy of 30k words so, considering my novels are usually about 100k words, I had a long way to go in a very short space of time. Eek!
Somehow I pulled it out of the bag and wrote a whopping 68,569 words during that last ten days. Unfortunately, I had to cancel going to a family event which fell on Saturday 3rd Dec as I absolutely needed that time (over 8k words were written that day). With 10,141 words written on the Sunday and 10,662 on the Monday, I finally submitted at 10.30pm with an apology email to my poor editor that the story was there but the manuscript was a mess. It’s the first time ever that I haven’t been able to go back through and do any editing. I hate submitting sub-standard work but I’ve been playing catch-up all year and after a few tough edits and illness and this book was a victim of that.
I now have the edits back and thankfully my editor loves the story so it’s a case of developing the two main characters a bit more, smoothing out the action, clarifying a few points here and there… basically a huge amount of work but nothing I didn’t expect. I’m hoping to get some good in-roads into that before Christmas. The magic happens in the editing stage, turning a good story into a great book.
Despite the intensity of the writing, I have managed to get out and about a bit as well. I’ve already written a blog post about my few days away in York but, before that, I went on a crafting workshop. Quite a few of the characters I write about have some impressive creative skills – chocolatier, cake decorator, crafter – so you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m a creative myself and put a little of me into those characters. I wish I was but my creative talents relate to writing and I’m more of a trier with varying degrees of success with any other types of craft.
A few years ago, I made a needlefelted stag at a one-day workshop with local crafting studio Ebberston Studios (Ebberston being a village between Scarborough and Pickering). I was really proud of it so, when I saw them advertising a robin workshop this year, I had to sign up, especially as robins have a special relevance for me in my Hedgehog Hollow series.
I’m really pleased with the result. What do you think? Here’s how he started and how he finished. I did, of course, need to wear a ‘Rudy’ robin dress from Poppy Clothing for the occasion which you can find here although, if you search on ‘robin’, you’ll find it comes in two different dress designs.
I’ve signed up for a wet felting workshop in February to make some hearts. Really looking forward to having a go at a different craft.
Last Thursday, hubby and I picked up our daughter after school and went to Castle Howard to see their ‘Into the Woods – A Fairytale Christmas’ event. This is the third time I’ve visited this stately home decorated at Christmas. Each year there’s a theme and a trail to follow round the house. The first year I went during the day but we had to go on an evening last year after our weekend booking got canceled due to a horrendous storm. It was lovely on the evening as the lights showed better, it was quieter and it had a lovely atmosphere.
This year was a little disappointing. I really liked the installation. There was some amazing detail as always although I will admit it perhaps wasn’t quite as impressive as Narnia last year. There’s a corridor you go along, for example, which was full of Christmas trees as though walking through a forest. Last year, in Narnia, there was an atmosphere in this corridor with wind whistling and moving lights which was lacking for this year which was a shame, although realistically Narnia is so magical and perfect for Christmas that it was always going to be a tough act to follow.
The part that disappointed me was therefore not the installation itself but what happened afterwards. Last time, we came out into the courtyard, explored the gift shop, hubby had a coffee and the daughter and I toasted giant marshmallows over a fire pit. It was lovely. This year, we came out and the gift shop and cafe were closed and the fire pit had been extinguished! We felt like we were being rushed out of the place and it put a dampener on the visit. Hubby and daughter have said they won’t return next year as it took us longer to drive there than we actually spent there which isn’t right. So I either give it a miss next year or go on my own. What a shame. Anyway, here’s some pics from it. They’re not amazing as you can’t use flash but hopefully they give you a feel for what it was like. Spot the hedgehog!
On Saturday, the daughter and I went to Northallerton to meet with my side of the family for a pub lunch. We nipped across early so we could go to Strikes, the local garden centre, and I was thrilled to spot my books in there.
They were in The Works too. I always look for books by friends when I visit The Works and it’s a special moment if we’ve been positioned alongside mine, just like they were here. Jo Bartlett, Helen Rolfe and I are all with the same publisher, Boldwood Books, and we started out our journey together a decade ago as a collective called The Write Romantics so it’s lovely to share shelf space with them.
I posed with a nutcracker outside a lovely furniture/gift shop and the tree was in the coffee lounge of the hotel. Love all the elves on it.
I’ve had a meet-up with authors Sharon Booth and Eliza J Scott too – always a good excuse for a yummy hot chocolate. Eliza and I were both wearing the same Christmas jumper and were meant to get a photo of us together but completely forgot. I did take a pic of the drink, though. I’ve also been enjoying my Lindt advent calendar. Mmmm.
Finally for this post, we’ve had snow in Scarborough. Lots of it! It came down on Wednesday night/Thursday morning with a good covering but, when we went to Castle Howard that evening, we were surprised to see it ended not that far outside Scarborough and there was none inland. It’s been so cold here that the snow has never gone and we’ve had more. We’re probably only talking a couple of inches but, because what was already there hadn’t melted, it’s very icy out there.
It’s causing chaos with lots of things being cancelled and moved around. I’ve just had a phone call this morning cancelling my optician appointment for the second time, both because the snow is stopping the optician getting in. I’ve also had my hairdresser needing to shift next week’s appointment to this evening because her son’s nativity has been moved to next week due to the snow, clashing with my original appointment. It’s all fun! However, as I write this, the rain has started. This will either wash the snow away … or leave more ice. Eek!
The super talented photographer hubby has taken advantage of the snow and captured some amazing photos in Wykeham Forest just outside Scarborough. If you want to follow him on Instagram, you can see his full range of pics – @MarkHeslington – but here are a couple of the ones that made me smile as a certain dog photobombed them! Let’s play spot the sprocker!
He also got these gorgeous photos of Whitsborough Bay (aka Scarborough) this morning after dropping our daughter off at school. So pretty although I feel sooo cold looking at them. He said it was -3 when he got out of the car. Brr!
I’d say I’d rather stay inside where it’s warm but that would be a lie. I’m nithered! I’ve got a long-sleeved T-shirt, a Christmas jumper and a fleecy oodie on, leggings and a long skirt and I’m still chilly. Might need another blast of the heater.
I’ll be back again before Christmas as I have a post about my Christmas decorations to do but bye for now. Stay safe, stay warm and hope the last nine days of prep go well.
Big snowy hugs