How I write…

As writers we are all curious about how other writers do it. Are there tricks of the trade I don’t know, are there secrets that would help me be a better writer, magical writing exercises, foolproof computer software?

Sabrina Garie, fellow contributor to The Milk of Female Kindness: an Anthology of Honest Motherhood kindly tagged me for this writing process blog tour which lets writers share the way they write. The intention? So we can all learn from each other. the milk of female kindness - cover 13-12-13Click here to learn about how Sabrina writes.

On Monday April 14 please visit my fellow writers Julie Stock, Sharon Bonin-Pratt and Rachel Stirling to read about their writing habits.

What am I working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m in a mad whirl of promotion for Ignoring Gravity, encouraging people to pre-order the book. I have a new type of crowd-funding publishing contract which involves getting 250 pre-orders from the public for my book to confirm publication in September 2014. So far I have taken 58 orders [23% of my target] only one week after it went on sale. But 250 still seems intimidating! PrintTomorrow in London is our major annual book exhibition, The London Book Fair [below] so I will be there, furiously networking and showing around my book trailer to anyone who will watch it. LBF view of stands from above 5-4-14When I do eventually sit down to write again, I will go back to Connectedness. This is the sequel to Ignoring Gravity, which is half-written. I have plans for books three and four in the series too.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m not sure what genre my work fits into… general fiction is the catch-all, I guess. Certainly I am unaware of another character who, like Rose Haldane in Ignoring Gravity, is a detective of identity. Rose researches her own family history to uncover the secrets of her adoption; in Connectedness she does the same for a client, a controversial artist. Rose is a detective but has never solved a crime, interviewed a murderer or arrested a burglar. So this is definitely not crime fiction!

Why do I write what I do?
I never sat down and consciously started to write a particular type of novel. Writing to fit into a genre just doesn’t suit my style, I think I’d find it too restrictive and it would make my writing wooden. Rose came to me fully-formed one day in a sentence: “Rose Haldane thinks children should be served lightly grilled with a green salad.” From that, I started to tell her story. I’ve always been interested in identity, what makes us ‘us’ and so it seemed natural to take Rose on a journey through her own family history. The story evolved from there and Rose decided the direction it would take!

How does my writing process work?
I have a writing routine five days a week and hate weekdays when I am dragged away from my desk to do something non-writing-related! The discipline comes from my days as a journalist when I lived by constant deadlines. When I’m not writing I’m reading. I read for pleasure, though this does include reviewing new books for my blog. I’ve been lucky enough to review some great new books lately, and I learn about writing from them all.



Two of my recent favourites are The Bear by Claire Cameron [above], click here to read my review… and Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, click here for that review. frog music by emma donoghue 29-3-14Next week it is the turn of three more writers to talk about their writing process. So on Monday April 14th please visit these writers to read about their writing processes. Each is unique.

Julie Stock started writing her debut romance novel From Here to Nashville just about a year ago. At the start of 2014 she was accepted on to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s “New Writers’ Scheme” which gives her the opportunity to submit her finished manuscript for professional assessment by the end of August. She is now in the process of rewriting and editing FHTN in the hope of submitting early. The manuscript is currently with beta readers before she completes her my final edit. Meanwhile she started her second novel Seeking Approval during the 2013 National Novel Writing Month and this month, during Camp NaNoWriMo, is hoping to add another 25,000 words to the manuscript. She blogs every Monday on her website about the ups and downs of her new writing life and the path to becoming a published author one day.

Rachel Stirling is a writer and artist currently living in middle England. She works in the area of Literary Fiction and is currently taking time out to produce a collection of twelve short stories for publication later this year. Her artwork is classical in style and ranges from pencil drawing to oil painting. She is also a traditional dip pen & ink Illustrator. She holds a degree in  Applied Human Psychology and is read widely as you can probably tell from her twitter feed @stirlingwriter. She is particularly interested in ancient cultures and philosophy. She enjoys literature in English, Italian, and French, and needs to write things down to remember that she’s done them.

Sharon Bonin-Pratt began her writing career the way so many others have done: by first doing everything else. Winning entries in grade school art, story, and essay contests convinced her to become a writer, but the real world intruded in adulthood and demanded she pay bills, raise kids, be a contributing member of the community. Ten years ago the writing muse, struggling to breathe in letters to friends and art articles, found its way to the surface. In a two-week period Shari wrote 60 pages of her first historical novel and didn’t stop for three years. By then a second book demanded paper – okay, computer space – and now the third is in final revision stage. Of course, final revision is two words with a long shadow and a little footprint. Some folk claim they will write when the floors get vacuumed, the family accounting completed, the new garden planted. Shari is proof that all those things can be successfully ignored but not the urge to write. Her fiction explores human relationships, revenge, rage, forgiveness, redemption, and all the labyrinthine quandaries that mess up otherwise perfect lives. She resides in Southern California with her husband who’s learned to vacuum but not to cook. And the garden needs help.


  1. woodbeez48

    Hi Sandra,
    I’ve really enjoyed reading about your writing process in preparation for writing about mine. It’s interesting to read about how disciplined you are, knowing that it is the only way I have found I can make the writing process work for me if I am to take it seriously. I wish you lots of luck with promoting ‘Ignoring Gravity’ at the London Book Fair this week and with your crowd-funding afterwards. I’m sure you will do well. Thanks for asking me to take part in the blog tour, starting to feel like a proper writer now 😉

  2. Sandra, you are extraordinarily disciplined about writing. It’s the way to get things done and many believe it’s the only way to write if you are serious about the craft and not just seeking the title “author” as so many do. I enjoyed learning about your writing habits and your career background.
    I’ve read enough about Ignoring Gravity to know that I want to read the entire book, so I’m hoping this unique path to publication is successful for you.

  3. Sandra, so good to learn more about you and your writing. The crowd-funding contract is interesting. Its the first time I’ve heard of that option.