Recently I’ve received emails about my writing process. So I thought since I’ve begun a new book I would start a blog charting its progress. Please note that this is my method of writing – I’m in no way saying that this is how a book should be written. This way just works for me. So here goes! Before I write a single word I always select a cover and title for a story I’ve already worked out in my mind. Not only does this give me a feel for the the theme of the book but it also gives me inspiration. I keep the cover open on my desk top for those days when doubt, fatigue or just plain laziness creeps in and it serves as a reminder that I have an unfinished book to write. The cover I have chosen for “Faking It” hopefully reflects the fact that I’m writing a more light-hearted romance this time around which is a departure from my normal style.
Next on my to-do list is the outline! The lack of one in some of my previous books made writing so much harder. My outline covers the plot and what will happen in each chapter. As well as this I write summaries of locations and characters. From there I begin my first chapter where I parachute into the lives of one of the main characters. I like to introduce them during their day to day activities and show where they’re at emotionally. I think the first chapter is one of the most important parts of the book – it’s here that you have to capture the readers imagination. In my novel Guilty Hearts, I re-wrote the prologue numerous times until I got the scene exactly how I envisaged it. Word of advice – don’t sell yourself short – if you’re not happy with a piece of work, keep at it until you are. Believe me, you’ll be grateful you did! In my next update I’ll be focusing on how I select my characters and their traits. Below is the first chapter of “Faking It”. I hope you enjoy it.
Danni Gardner is a talented writer. The only problem is, nobody else seems to think so. Skint and rejected by what seems to be the entire global Publishing Industry, her gay best friend Josh makes her “an offer she can’t refuse”. Pretend to be his fiancée and he will finance her new writing project. It all seems so simple.
Across London, successful Editor Brooke Gibson is wondering how long she can carry on living with her partner, Megan, who seems unable or unwilling to commit to their relationship. When Danni and Brooke are introduced by a mutual acquaintance, the chemistry is explosive. This seemingly “professional” encounter will throw them into turmoil and a situation neither could have foreseen. Will aspiring writer Danni jeopardise a literary opportunity, breaking the cardinal rule of mixing business with pleasure? Will Brooke reciprocate, risking everything for a woman she believes to be engaged? After all, there is nothing so desirable as forbidden fruit….
Danni’s jaw dropped as she glared at her boss.Who did Pete think he was, Alan Sugar?
“You’re kidding me!” she retorted, placing her hands firmly on her trim hips.
“Do I look like I’m kidding you?”
To be fair, he didn’t. He looked pretty stressed; his balloon-like face was crimson with a quivering bulge protruding from his temple. As much as she would have loved to have told the slave driver where to stick his job, she couldn’t – her rent was due in less than a week and without her wages, she would be out on the streets.
“Come on Pete, give me a break. I’ve only been working here three weeks.”
“That’s the problem, in three weeks you’ve smashed more plates than a whole season of weddings in Corfu!”
Danni suppressed the grin that was close to erupting on her lips. “That’s not fair,” she protested, watching as he used the back of his hand to wipe the sweat from his shimmering forehead. Yuck.She dreaded to think how many of those salty droplets made their way into the coq au vin of unsuspecting diners as he prepared their tasty casserole. “Chef’s special” indeed.
Pete threw down the T-towel he held in his large veiny hands, in an act of defiance.
“Not fair Danni?” he asked raising his eyebrows. “Follow me.”
Heart pounding, she followed Pete to the kitchen, the scene of her latest disaster. There, he revealed a pile of broken dishes she had “hidden” beneath scraps of sticky toffee pudding in the bin. A pretty sorry effort, she had to confess. Evidently her attempts at a cover-up were about as effective as a chocolate teapot.
Glancing around nervously, she combed her fingers through her tousled blonde hair.
“Well, I can easily explain what happened there…” she said, grappling for words she knew wouldn’t come. The game was up.
Pete held her gaze; his beady eyes seemed to soften with a hint of compassion. “Look Danni, you’re a great girl.The customers love you, but love isn’t going to pay the bills. You’re too much of a liability.” With that he turned on his heel and strutted purposefully towards the door.
Danni gasped at Pete’s final insult. Liability! How rude! She stood dumbstruck, watching him retreat from the kitchen, his head bowed down as if he was looking for something. Manners perhaps?
Resting her hip against the worktop, she absent-mindedly picked up a raw carrot from a white chopping board and angrily bit the tip off. “Fan. Fucking. Tastic,” she muttered between crunches as she ripped the white apron from around her waist. Twenty-four and unemployed again.
“It’s going to be alright!” Danni told herself as she began the courageous ascent to her flat on the sixth floor. She had to put things into perspective. It was only a job and a crap one at that. It wasn’t as if she’d lost a limb or that waiting tables was ever going to make her a millionaire. All that thankless job had ever given her was minimum wage and chronic back ache. By the time she reached her floor, she was fighting to catch her breath. Why she’d ever agreed to rent a flat in a building without a lift she’d never know. It was just another one of those decisions she made without thinking – she seemed to be doing more and more of that lately.
Danni crossed the small landing and slipped the key into her rickety front door, but before she could make the triumphant step over the threshold a swirling cloud of smoke engulfed her as her pot-loving neighbour appeared from next door.
“You want some ganja?” he asked, his eyes barely visible.
Danni turned to face her intoxicated neighbour. Mick was a tall, anaemic looking, twenty-something from Reading.The nearest he had ever got to the Caribbean was nibbling on a slice of Mcvities Jamaican ginger cake.
She shook her head. “Nah thanks Mick, I need a clear head tonight.”
“You sure?” he asked removing a sinister-looking white roll-up from behind his left ear and holding it out to her.
Danni pretended to think about it. “Yeah, I’m sure. Thanks anyway.”
Without a word, Mick ran his tongue over his dry lips and glided back into his flat. She had been living next door to him for over a year and she didn’t think she’d ever seen him when he wasn’t stoned. He’d offered her “da herb” most days during that time, with zero success. Now, had he been offering Chocolate chip muffins, it might have been a different story!
The interaction over, she stepped into the hallway of the shabby two-bedroom flat she shared with best friend Josh where she suddenly stopped in her tracks. She stood still, as if paralysed, staring at a single envelope resting innocently on the mat beneath her. Her heart began to thump uncontrollably. Could this be it? Her ticket out of poverty and into the fabulously glam lifestyle she so desired? Nervously, tentatively, she knelt down and scooped the cream coloured envelope between her fingers.
Without hesitating, she mercilessly sliced the back of the envelope with the tip of her nail … today was not the day to be afraid of paper cuts. She withdrew the crisp white paper, the bold lettering -Desti Publishing – flashing before her eyes. This was one of the best publishing houses in the UK. Surely the fact that they had taken the time out of their busy schedule to reply meant it was good news.
She could feel the excitement bubbling up inside as her as she scanned the page below. Dear Danielle … oooh, they had addressed her by her first name! That had to be a good sign. She read on.Suddenly, her wide eyes began to shrink. Why was she finding it so difficult to swallow? As the words floated across the page, she blinked to dislodge the tears welling in her eyes … her fate was sealed.
You’d have thought she’d have been used to receiving these letters by now. Rejection letters. “You’re no good” letters. “Don’t-give-up-the-day-job-that-you–just-got-sacked-from” letters. This was number 54. Instead of becoming stronger with each damning blow, the insult struck harder, taking another piece of her soul every time. Not bad for a piece of work that had taken her two years to write. Twoooo whoooole years.
Danni flicked on the hallway light, kicking the door shut behind her with her foot. Right, where was the Vodka? Had she polished it off with rejection letter 53? No, that night it was baby sham and red-bull. Another bad decision.
Five minutes later, she was reclined in the cramped box they called a living room, sipping on a glass of flat Fosters she’d found behind the numerous take away cartons in the fridge.That was the funny thing, no matter how poor she seemed to be, she always seemed to have money for a take away.
“What the hell am I going to do now?” she asked herself, eyeing the pile of laundry balanced on top of the TV. She didn’t have anything left to sell – everything of any value was either in Cash Converters or the pawnshop. Her life was pathetic. She thought by the time she had hit twenty-four she would have her life sorted. She’d be settled down with the woman of her dreams – brunette, smart, part-time cake-baker (preferably muffins, though willing to compromise). She would be on her second bestselling novel, the toast of literary circles.
She saw herself as the female Oscar Wilde, full of sardonic wit, a genius storyteller. She and her beautiful lover languishing in a moderate size house in Islington (she wasn’t a showy sort of gal) with four bedrooms and dog named Gizmo. Her days would be spent writing and replying to the numerous messages she’d received from fans from around the world. Her evenings filled with charity events and dinner parties with other successful authors, where they would debate the pro’s and con’s of being a successful writer.
Danni grimaced as the fantasy disappeared along with the last few drops of booze. There was only one thing for it – first thing tomorrow, she’d scour the papers for a way out … probably in the guise of another low paid, dead-end job to destroy her self-confidence further.