14th December 2021
When I wrote In December, and Always, it took me by surprise. I had finished a 100k-word novel and was itching to write something new, and within 48 hours of celebrating the completion of my first project, I was missing the rush of writing and searching for a new idea.
Somewhat unexpectedly, I was gripped by the idea of Ellen and Will's love affair whilst having lunch. My husband was watching Sky Sports, and I was chewing on a sandwich and playing a game on my iPad when inspiration struck. I already knew I wanted my next story to be festive, and I knew whatever I wrote needed to be set somewhere deep in the UK countryside, with thatched cottages and lots of character, but that was it.
Ellen came to mind first. The idea of a woman returning to her roots to clear out her parent's home, dealing with grief and coming face to face with people from her past seemed like an excellent place to start. It took no time for Will to make his presence felt, and by the time I had finished my lunch, their story was taking shape in my mind.
I warned my husband I was off to write again and rushed upstairs to my desk. He knew it would be hours before he saw me again, and he wasn't wrong! At 6.30, the smell of dinner wafted up the stairs and eventually, he shouted up and told me it was on the plate. I came down with the biggest smile on my face because, in those five hours, I had mapped out the entirety of Ellen and Will's story. Each chapter, each character, and even the details of the village. It was all mapped out, and I was walking on air.
There is no feeling more joyful than knowing you have a plan and all you want to do is start writing it. I messaged my best friend and told her I was starting a new project, and she offered to read each chapter as I wrote it, giving me tips and feedback, and picking up any obvious plot holes or mistakes. Honestly, I would be lost without her, and it was a no-brainer to thank her at the start of the book when it came out.
I started to write, and it poured out. Every chapter tumbled from my mind and onto the screen with so little effort it was a joy. I adored Ellen, and I couldn't have loved Will more. I love him for his arrogance and sensitivity, his loyalty and generosity. The more I explored who Will was, the more I knew he would make the perfect love for Ellen, who, as my protagonist, deserved only the very best!
The book came together very quickly, and my friend worked through each chapter and the whole manuscript to ensure it worked. Then it was shared with my ARC readers, who gave wonderful feedback. Overall, writing In December and Always was a wonderful experience.
I decided to self-publish because I wanted to try the process out, and also, I was keen to get some of my work out there and see what people thought about it! Hitting 'Publish Book' was one of the scariest things I have ever done, but the response was fabulous, and very quickly, I received reviews that built up my confidence enormously.
I asked friends and family not to leave a review, simply so I could be sure that the reviews that did come in were as objective as possible. Every review so far has been positive, some even glowing. Writing this novella has been an incredible experience. It has given me the confidence to believe that my hobby, the thing that makes my brain behave and do something productive (ADHD sucks), is something I could succeed at. Now that I've started, I'm never going to stop.
And you've guessed it! I already have another idea, so watch this space for a release in the spring!