Monday, January 29

One Shore Thing is One Finished Thing

Phew! The final chapter of One Shore Thing is now completed, and I have therefore typed the words "The End" and updated my word counter accordingly. Now it's off to get its CP's viewpoint and won't be touched by me for a few days while I get on with my proofreading job.

It feels really good to get this novella finished. Of course, it's always a great feeling to type "The End" on a piece of work, but One Shore Thing is a bit different to what I've written before. "The Little Shop of Dreams" from Fall in Love: An Anthology was something I started, ooh... about five years ago now, and was originally meant to be a full-length book. In the end it got put in a drawer, only to be reworked last year as a novella and entered into a contest. Haunted Hearts, on the other hand, was always meant to be a full-length book. It was also started around five years ago, but was something I mainly wrote for myself (the 'book of my heart', if you will) and its targeted publisher pretty much changed with the moon :)

One Shore Thing, on the other hand, is a novella that I was essentially contracted for. Not officially contracted, but the premise of two novellas based on a summer theme, as opposed to an autumn theme (as in Fall in Love) was something Nell and I had talked about last year. She proposed the idea to our editor at Moonlit Romance and we were given the green light. So this time I was writing something to a different beat. This time I started the piece as a published author who'd essentially had a proposal accepted and was writing to fulfil the agreement.

And it feels really good to have done it :)

In other, v. v. exciting news, I am proud to announce (although many of you will already know) that Nell's book Marrying Max has made the shortlist for the Romantic Novelists' Association's Romance Prize 2007! You can find out more about the award by clicking here.

Congratulations Nell!!!

Sunday, January 28

Not Very Well-Rested

Ugh. I had a rubbish night's sleep. My lower back was twingeing and aching on and off yesterday and for the whole of last night I could not get comfortable. I tried lying on my side, on the other side, legs up, legs down, pillows here, pillows there and nothing worked. It felt like my lower back and hips were somehow out of line with each other and needed a really good cracking, which I couldn't do.

I lay awake between 4 and 5 a.m. this morning feeling like I wanted to cry and contemplating getting up because the whole thing was hopeless. Sigh. Thankfully I managed to get to sleep after that but it wasn't a very deep sleep because I kept waking up and fidgeting. Then I got too hot and opened the window, only to make the dog bark because she could hear an owl hooting outside.

I didn't want to "treat" myself to lots of maternity buys which weren't really necessary, but I am seriously considering getting one of those body-length bump-bolster pillows to see if it helps.

Any tips or advice would be very welcome!!

So, the plan for today is to finish up the final chapter of One Shore Thing. I have another proofreading job lined up, which I want to start on Monday. If I can have OST all done then it can sit untouched while I do my proofreading, and I can return to it with a fresh focus later in the week to make my final revisions.

Also, please note that my website is currently under re-construction for a little while. I'm revamping the design and adding some extra content. I think it looks really good so far. I'll let you know when it's back online.

Just finished reading: Virtually Perfect by Samantha Hunter

Saturday, January 27

Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Knees and toes! etc. etc.

The scan went very well and all is perfection in the world of the Flump. Measurements of femurs and tummy circumferences (baby's, not mine) and so on are all exactly what they should be, and we got to see the little person rolling about whilst I was feeling it at the same time, which was very cool.

:) :) :)

The final chapter of One Shore Thing is now in progress; I got almost 1500 words done today. I would like to have done more, but I have a headache now and have reached the end of the first scene, so I think it's a nice place to break so I can resume writing the next scene tomorrow.

Thursday, January 25

Snowfall and a Sneak Peek

Yesterday we finally had some snow! A good few centimetres of it, but it didn't hang around for long. Within two hours of me getting up in the morning it had turned to slush and, apart from a few little patches beneath hedges, it had virtually disappeared by mid-afternoon. Still, it was pretty :) Here's what it looked like (note the Popple paw-prints to the left of the picture):

My proofreading job is now finished and packed off back to the publisher, so I'm free to return to writing the last chapter of One Shore Thing. Once I have that out of the way, and my closing revisions done ready to send the novella off to Moonlit, I'd like to get my website updated. I want to add more information -- trivia pages for my books, for example, like the songs I listened to while writing, my inspirations, fun facts, etc. I've also got review snippets to add for each book now, and I'm thinking of including an advice page with information and links for aspiring writers. I may also give the basic design/artwork of the site a bit of a revamp. If you have any thoughts about my current website, or ideas for new things you'd like to see on it, please let me know. It would be very helpful!

So... the sneak peek. Today is our second ultrasound scan of Flump, and we're really looking forward to it. We're not going to ask about gender, but we've decided that if we think we can tell from looking at the screen, we'd rather know for sure than be under an assumption. We've also come up with a little list of names, and some of them are so CUTE. It was strange to finally use my baby-name book, which I've had for about five years, for actual baby names rather than for character names!

Friday, January 19

"A Breath of Fresh Air in the Romance Industry..."

A wonderful compliment, no? :) Well, I'm thrilled to tell you it's just one of the sentences included in a fresh new review of "Fall in Love: An Anthology", pertaining specifically to my novella The Little Shop of Dreams!

This review is from Robyn Roberts at Once Upon a Romance. The anthology scored a 4 out of 5 overall and The Little Shop of Dreams achieved an individual score of 4.25. To read the review in its entirety, just click here.

Just finished reading: Echo Park by Michael Connelly

Thursday, January 18


There probably won't be any more progress on OST now until next week, as I've got a proofreading job to work on for the next few days. I've only got one more chapter to write, though, and in my head I already know how it's going to go. I might get it done in the evenings when I've finished working, but if not, it will definitely be done by the end of next week.

The Feng Shui workshop is really interesting and I am learning some intriguing things. Also, my article is now out in the local newspaper's magazine and it looks good :) I'm still waiting to see if it's going to be online: hopefully it will be.

Finally, congratulations to Jean Mess of Colorado, USA, who won my Winter Warmer contest!

Just finished reading: The Billionaire and the Bassinet by Suzanne McMinn

Tuesday, January 16

Ah, The Kiss...

I've done more work on OST today -- now over halfway through chapter three. I'm still planning on finishing up the story with a fourth chapter, but because of the places in which my scene breaks have occurred I think I might have to reconsider this when I get to the editing process, and maybe split the four chapters into five.

My characters -- Noah and Carrie -- have just kissed for the first time :) I love doing the first kiss scene. I used to be very nervous about writing that part because you have to make it justified and, in a funny way, it has to meet the characters' expectations. Very occasionally I'll read a first-kiss scene and think "They deserved way better than that!", so I really try to take care to make the kiss important for the characters. It might sound a bit crazy, but it's almost the same as making sure that the characters do and say things they should. If you don't do it, or don't do it properly, there is a risk that the reader can lose their belief in the story or the characters, and that is my worst nightmare as a writer! I know I hate it as a reader.

Still no idea on a title for my next project yet. If I still haven't come up with anything soon then maybe I'll do a mini-contest for some possible ideas...

Monday, January 15

Good Vibrations

And so another week kicks off! My plans are to get chapter three of OST written (and the final chapter -- four -- written too, if I can) and get some more work done on the ideas for my next book. I still don't have a title to use for that yet, so I need to do think about that as well.

I've signed up to an online workshop with Earthly Charms, which starts today. Run by multi-published romance author Bella Andre, it's all about Feng Shui for writers. I think it will be an interesting workshop to take part in and hopefully it will also prove helpful for me since I'm now working in my own environment at home!

This week I'm also due to have an article published in the glossy magazine that comes with my local newspaper. It's a short piece on how to get started with writing and I'm really looking forward to seeing it in print. Hopefully there will be an online link to the article, too, in which case I'll post it on here for anybody who is interested in reading it.

Just finished reading: Hiding from the Light by Barbara Erskine

Thursday, January 11

Goal Fulfilled

I committed to a goal of finishing the second chapter of One Shore Thing yesterday, and quite happily, I did it! I don't always get things done and dusted when I plan to, but when I do, it always makes me feel good. OST is now over halfway done (see word counter) and I am really enjoying writing it.

I'm not sure if I'm going to get chapter three started today because I never did any of my monster filing yesterday, plus I need to finish having a clearout and put some bits and pieces on eBay. Sigh...

Wednesday, January 10

Flump Likes to Move It, Move It

Yep, we have movement :)

It started about a week ago but to begin with I couldn't be sure whether it was baby ballet or just my dinner being digested. But it's pretty clear now because I feel it on and off throughout the day, especially when I'm lying in bed, and the nudges are most definitely not normal stomach stuff.

Yesterday my sister and I went to a bridal shop so I could be measured up for my bridesmaid dress. Because she's getting married in autumn and Flump is due in mid-June, they had to measure me first -- now -- before I get any bigger. We found a dress, too, which I wasn't expecting! It was a fun session. We got rained on our way to the shop, so they made us a cup of tea and then we got to pick out stuff for me to try on from a rack of 70 dresses. Then, while my sister sat on a nice little sofa, I came out in each dress and the lady pinned it to fit me. The actual dress we've picked is really glam -- the first thing I thought when I saw myself in a mirror was: "It looks like an Oscar dress!"

Writing-wise, today I plan on finishing chapter two of One Shore Thing and then I have loads of filing to sort out. The other night I made four pages of notes on the other idea I'm considering re-working, and I think that once OST is finished I will be working on that idea. Better start thinking of a name, because at the moment I just refer to it by the hero and heroine's names.

Sunday, January 7

Three Days Left to Enter My Contest

A little head's-up post for anybody who would like to enter my contest and hasn't already done so, because it closes on 10th January. Here are the details...

I'm holding a “Winter Warmer” contest to tide you over the nasty weather. You could win an e-book download of your choice from my backlist, as well as a selection of warming teas, Cadbury’s chocolate, a pair of cosy socks, some bubble bath, and assorted Jessica Raymond goodies including a notepad, pens, and fridge magnets.

To be in with a chance of winning this selection of prizes, just answer the following question:

In Haunted Hearts, what is the name of the house at which Beth is performing a paranormal investigation?
(Go here for a hint!)

Send your answer to, including the following details:


The contest closes on 10 January 2007 and worldwide entries are welcome. Sorry, but entries submitted without a correct answer to the question will not be eligible to enter the prize pool.

Good luck!

Friday, January 5

Going Swimmingly

An appropriate title for this post, don't you think, considering that my current novella has a beach theme? I've been working on One Shore Thing today and it's going well. I'm now halfway through the second chapter.

I'm still not sure which book I'm going to go on to once OST is done. There's always Truck of Luck, which I'm excited about starting, but I'm also thinking about reworking those two other stories from a couple of years back. I already know which publisher I'd like to submit them to, so it will be a case of looking again at my plotlines for each and seeing if they still work. I imagine they'll probably need a bit of revamping because I've learned so much about writing in the last couple of years.

Thursday, January 4

Another Review for Haunted Hearts

I received a message this morning to notify me that the next review of Haunted Hearts is now available, this time from Fallen Angel Reviews. It's a lovely review and the book gained a rating of 4 angels! Here's a snippet:

Haunted Hearts is a romance of two lovers that must get past their obstacles to face their future. Good conversation with quick dialogue that keeps the story flowing smoothly, Beth and Sam are warm characters and make the story delightful. The way Beth thinks of how it will be once she leaves Hoblington Grange and Sam, had this reader feeling her sorrow. Ms. Raymond pens a fantastic story of the paranormal, making everything, even the investigation feel real and accurate with her knowledge of paranormal studies.

If you'd like to read the full review, you can do so here.

In other news, work on One Shore Thing is going well; I'm near the end of the first chapter and I really feel like I know the story and characters very well. I wonder if that's because the planning stage took me so long! I'm also toying with the idea of reworking a couple of stories I started and stopped -- something that might be successful for me, when I think about The Little Shop of Dreams...

A little Flump update -- I went back to midwife clinic on Tuesday and got to hear the little heartbeat!!! :) :) :) All my books are saying that movement can be felt from this week onwards, so I'd love to hear about when everybody felt the first movements of their first baby if you feel like sharing.

Just finished reading: Married in a Rush by Julie Cohen

Monday, January 1

One Door Closes / Another Opens

Which is basically my weird way of saying goodbye to 2006 and hello to 2007.

Happy New Year!

Hope you had a good evening. We had some friends over and ate yummy curry and played poker. I eventually caved and crawled up to bed at 1.30am, which was v. impressive as I didn't have an afternoon nap yesterday and had feared I would fall asleep before 1o.30pm.

Yesterday I read a lovely post at Little Black Dress author Phillipa Ashley's blog, in which she reviewed her year, month by month. It was really funny and interesting to read, so I thought I might try and do the same thing. (Hope you don't mind, Pip!) So join me as we take a trip back through time...

January 2006
The year starts with new goals, which involve writing the last two chapters of Haunted Hearts and getting it submitted to Silhouette's Intimate Moments (now Romantic Suspense) line by Valentines Day. I manage to type 'The End' on 18th January. I go down to a four-day week at my day-job as a secretary so I can focus more on writing, and join the Romantic Novelists' Association as a New Writer. (Little do I know that before the year is out I will have seen HH go to print--not with Silhouette--and be upgraded to a full member of the RNA.) I also register as part-time self-employed and start working as a freelance proofreader.

February 2006
I immerse myself in editing Haunted Hearts and make a new plan, which involves sending the book in for its RNA New Writers' Scheme critique before submitting it to Silhouette. I also meet Nell for the first time, because a hotel that The Bloke and I go and stay at to celebrate our fourth anniversary ends up being not far away from her. Later in the month, HH's edits go on hold as I decide to rework The Little Shop of Dreams, an old story of mine, into a novella and enter it in a writing contest being run by Moonlit Romance.

March 2006
While getting on with writing Little Shop, I also write a new short story for a contest being run by The Sun in aid of World Book Day. The Bloke and I get a month's free pass to our local gym, and I start feeling very virtuous by doing regular exercise. (This peters out by the end of the month...) Nell's first book, The Cinderella Substitute, is released by Moonlit Romance. By the end of the month, Little Shop is completed and sent and my nervousness begins...

April 2006
Editing of Haunted Hearts is resumed, and I decide that when it's had its RNA critique, I'll send it to Silhouette's Special Edition line rather than Intimate Moments. Just before the end of the month, the results of Moonlit's writing contest are announced and I am named as one of the three winners! I suddenly realize that a story I have written will now be in print for definite, as the prize is for Little Shop to be included in an anthology to be published in the autumn. The news is even more exciting for me because Nell also wins a place with her novella, September Song. Now that I need to start publicizing myself, I decide on my pen-name: Jessica Raymond.

May 2006
's edits get shelved again as I turn to doing publisher edits on Little Shop for the Fall in Love anthology. Midway through the month The Bloke and I head to London for the RNA's Summer Party, where Nell is a nominee for the New Writers Award; in the end the prize is won by Mills & Boon author Fiona Harper, whom I had previously got to know online. I meet numerous other authors I have only known before as online friends, and the whole evening leaves me feeling more sure about my romance-writing ambitions than ever. The next day, The Bloke and I go to Paris and have a wonderful mini-break.

June 2006
's edits are *finally* completed and I promptly pop it in the post for its RNA critique. In my quest to read more of the classic fiction that I've somehow neglected to read over the years, I dive into Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and well and truly fall in love with it. I start planning another book with the tentative title of The Guardians (which has since fallen by the wayside). The cover for the Fall in Love anthology arrives, which excites me no end as it has *my name* on it! I launch my website shortly before the arrival at the end of the month of the RNA critique of HH, which is tremendously helpful and encouraging. Another high note is the engagement of my sister!

July 2006
I set about making a list of changes that need to be made to HH following the RNA critique. It turns out to be pretty exhaustive and takes me quite a while to work out how to implement the new directions for the plot and my characters. I enter the first chapter of HH into the annual Romance Junkies contest, but it is a pre-critique version and I am not too confident. (It does not, in the end, receive a placing.) Meanwhile, The Bloke and I whizz off on another mini-break, this time to Cornwall, which we both love. At the end of the month I have decided not to submit HH to Silhouette any more, but to Moonlit Romance instead.

August 2006
The month begins with an exciting arrival: my contract for the Fall in Love anthology. I am thrilled by being referred to as "The Author" throughout the document. I start making revisions to HH based on the changes I've thought of as a result of my RNA critique, with the aim of finishing them by the time September starts. While in the middle of my revisions I get an idea for my next book, which comes in the form of a vision of the first scene as if it were a movie. I get ridiculously excited by this idea, which is soon named The Truck of Luck, and think about writing it for the mainstream market.

September 2006
I over-run my self-imposed deadline for finishing HH's revisions, and am still doing them halfway into the month. Fall in Love: An Anthology, featuring my contest-winning novella The Little Shop of Dreams, is released on 18th September and less than a week later, I complete the revisions of Haunted Hearts and it is contracted immediately by Moonlit Romance. Another project enters my schedule: a beach-themed novella, also for Moonlit, which is slated for release in May 2007. (This has been started and is now named One Shore Thing.) I finish the month astonished by how much has happened in my writing career.

October 2006
The cover for Haunted Hearts arrives promptly as it has been slated for release in *this very month*, Oct 2006. It's gorgeous and I admire it intermittently while getting straight on with publisher edits ready for release day. The Bloke and I go away for a weekend to Phillipa Ashley's book launch in Staffordshire, and then to a lovely hotel in Reading to celebrate my birthday. Four days later we find out that I am pregnant! I start trying to formulate a plot for One Shore Thing, as well as another novella idea I've had, but an influx of hormones lead my brain astray and I basically get nothing done.

November 2006
I manage to get a plot and characters in place for One Shore Thing and not much else happens in relation to writing this month, thanks to more hormones. I spend most of November sleeping and staring at a blank laptop screen.

December 2006
The month starts with major email malfunctions, but I am kept quite nicely calm by our first ultrasound, which I then use to announce my incubation of Flump to the blogosphere. This seems to have a strange releasing effect on my writerly brain and I manage to start writing the first chapter of One Shore Thing. The year comes to a close with the inaugural and stunning reviews of Fall in Love: An Anthology and Haunted Hearts.

Total books read during 2006: 41

And so now here we are at the start of another year. What do I have planned? Well, there's the small matter of BIRTH (which I'm trying to avoid thinking about) sometime around mid-June, but I have other plans in place for 2007. Another thing that happened at the close of 2006 was the end of my employment. The freelance proofreading I did last year really started to take off and I was dying for more time to write, so after careful discussions and calculations with The Bloke, we decided that I would leave my day-job and become fully self-employed. So unlike most people, I will not be returning to the office tomorrow. My home is now my office!

As for writing, I plan on getting One Shore Thing finished as soon as I can, after which I am going to start working on the plans for Truck of Luck, my hopeful mainstream idea. There may be another writing project in the works, too--something that occurred to me yesterday--but this may not happen.

So how was 2006 for you? And how do you see this year shaping up?