Being a Parent & ‘high risk’ during COVID 19

 So, I wrote a really long assed blog the other day about how the UK governments measures were woefully inadequate in terms of protecting the elderly and vulnerable throughout the global crisis many of us find ourselves in. It was going to be entitled; ‘How BoJo is trying to knock me off – Part One (hopefully!)’

Luckily, for those elderly and vulnerable, BoJo appeared to come to his senses or was warned that by advising the British public to wash their hand and isolate for seven days if they had a cough or fever smacked of genocide. It was political suicide. Especially, as after he said that we ‘would lose loved ones before their time’ before promptly disappearing off the face of the planet. Hardly a sign of great leadership, huh?

Finding humour…

In an about turn, on 16th of March BoJo strongly urged those over seventy or with an underlying health condition to socially distance and encouraged those who can to work from home. These were along with other reasonable measures, such as not gathering in places.  

My best friend is one of those people who are naturally cautious about everything and overloads herself with information. She was talking about COVID-19 before it came to your average Joe’s attention. She talked to me today about the few extra bits and pieces in her cupboard that she’s picked up on her weekly shop since January and more so about how no-one is laughing at her now…

Unfortunately, she totally correct! The issue is, I wonder how this will change the way we live our lives forever? 

We have already changed our lives drastically due to the use of social media and the tons of advice, some of it completely incorrect, at our fingertips. Now, I don’t know about you but the pictures of empty shelves in supermarkets sets my heart pounding. It feels like forever since I’ve even been to a supermarket, in reality it’s been two weeks when the fear and panic along with disease progression were not yet ingrained.

The prospect of not being able to feed my family has me feeling quite anxious. Literally whilst writing this blog, my son wandered past with a pint of freaking milk in his hand, inspiring hysteria! I understand my daughters school issuing a letter asking parents not to worry children. However, I’m a parent that wishes to provide facts to my children and had to call an emergency Kelly COBRA meeting where I informed them one slice for wees and two for poos. Like, never believed I’d have to have THAT conversation. Also, a curb in appetite must ensue, along with the hand washing reiteration.

A colleague of mine decided to take pictures of empty food shelves and of the alcohol aisles in comparison. They were brimming with lovely drink! I almost posted, ‘Thank GOD! :)’ but I realised that wasn’t the tone of the post just in time! 

Admittedly, and perhaps I am naive, but I never saw it coming. I honestly never believed there was a time I would fear for my safety to the point that I’d sign up to stay at home for weeks upon end. Before you judge me and tell me it’s the flu, I am in the at risk category. Although, I’m young enough to probably survive if I get it, I’d rather not chance it. When I die I want it to be because of something I did, because of my lifestyle or the naturally better option of old age, not nipping to the shop to have some twat cough on me, thanks.

Having scrolled through many news articles and social media I remain concerned. This virus seems to be like the Marmite of the disease world. No, not like you love it or hate it, but you’re all out in a state of panic or not bothered at all. I look at peoples panic and I get it. I have freaked out several times, but now I can work from home and feel validated in my decision to socially distance, a sense of calm has washed over me. 

Whilst the schools remain open in the UK there is every chance my children could bring it home to me and I could contract it anyway, but there are some things that are unavoidable. I predict the schools will close here on Friday. My sons school sent home a package of ‘just incase work.’ A contact within the NHS told me they’ve been informed schools will close on Friday. So, watch this space. 

I urge you to do what you need to do to get through this extremely difficult time. I’ve decided to journal for the first time, I’ve never quite had the willpower, but I can see the benefits of releasing worries onto a page everyday. Another good way of looking at it, is you’ll hopefully look back on this five or even ten years down the road and thank God you made it through.

My blog is monthly now and I wonder what I’ll be writing about then? The air of uncertainty hangs prevalently within the air for many, globally. 

In positive news, I have a cover for Falling from Grace! I originally set a schedule for the release date of May 1st 2020, and a cover reveal for my newsletter subscribers first and the preorder and cover reveal for the rest of social media the following day. However, given what’s happening I’m planning on bringing it forward.

Additionally, I still have prizes for this months subscribers. We all need cheering up, please sign up for you chance to win because heaven knows we all need to cheer up!

Sign up here: http://bit.ly/ltkellynewsletter

Beware The Ides of January

 This blog is my first of 2020! I hear your snide remarks about laziness and incorrect maintenance of a blog space. Hell, I hear them inside my own brain!

But, honestly, hear my plea…January can only be described as utterly dreadful in many ways, and then the majority of February was taken up with the vast amounts of editing I should have done in January. SIGH.

So, please take the post as an update of what’s been happening with me.

If you didn’t already know, I smacked NaNoWriMo 2019 out of the ball park! I wrote the third, and long awaited book in my Paranormal Romance Series; The Falling Series. Falling from Grace has some wonderful, not seen before elements within the series. It was an absolute pleasure to write and undoubtedly, plotting has its merits. It flowed out of me like Norovirus and I expected the result to be just that, but I rather surprised myself!

That said, I suffered the soggy middle more than I ever have before. There’s definitely merits of being a pantser, too!

So what happened that made January so bad?

On the 30th of December 2019, as we were preparing to welcome a fruitful 2020, my beloved cat Henry was run down on the quiet rural lane outside our house. His neck was broken and he was killed outright. If I had to be thankful for anything, it would be that he didn’t suffer. Henry was a 9th birthday gift for my daughter in June 2019, she was his owner, but I was his human. I loved him so dearly, it’s difficult to describe with mere words. He was so young and full of life that his absence was apparent from the moment he was taken from us.

My grief was deep and all consuming. I had no idea how much I would suffer. Henry was the first pet death I have suffered.

Henry was resident on my lap throughout the first draft of Falling from Grace and already played a character in the cast, as a tenacious and feirce protector of his master. It was Henry to a tee. The book was already being dedicated to an angel taken too soon from the world, I hope R.K. Pavia is looking after my fur baby for me until my own time comes.

As if my grieving wasn’t enough to concentrate on, my daughter had surgery scheduled for her adenoids to be removed on 9th January. My bad luck unnerved me further, but luckily we got through that together and her health is much improved as a result.

Post surgery pic. Cake can fix anything!

The positives:

Toward the end of January, I made the decision that our household required an injection of love that could only come from another cat. We welcomed gorgeous Ziggy, he’s made us all so happy again.

I’m well into edits for Falling from Grace and I’ve sent ten chapters out to beta readers. I’m both terrified and excited for the feedback to start rolling in!

I have made a desicion to start concentrating on my newsletter. I’ll only be blogging once a month on average from now on, and sending out exclusive content in the newsletter which will be sent out on the last day of each month. Instead of throwing stuff out there, I think my subscribers should be offered rewards for taking their time to read my newsletter therefore one subscriber a month will be chosen as the winner of a mystery prize. I have already been in touch with a number of author authors and I’ll be offering their signed paperbacks as well as my own. But, the lucky chosen one will have a number of gifts sent to them, mostly book related or hedonistic in some way, because that’s how I roll!

If you’d like to sign up, because hey, you ignored the sign up on the way in…LOL. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/ltkellynewsletter

Thanks for dropping by! Keep your eye out for my cover reveal of Falling from Grace...coming soon.

NaNoWriMo Newbie!

Between the end of 2016 and May 2019 I wrote around the grand total of fifteen thousand words, most of which were utter shit. I just couldn’t do it, I had nothing of me to give to a sentence let alone a page. My marriage had broken down and I left the family home, agreeing to joint custody of my two children, that marked the start of my dry spell. 

I’d had relative success in previous years, penning Falling to Pieces, my debut novel releasing mid 2013, Falling into You in 2014, Kissing Cassie in 2015 and Kissing Katie in 2016! I then wrote a book with another writer, which finished in 2016 but unfortunately we had a huge falling out on the account that he was an utter wanker. Therefore, that was a waste of both time and effort. 

When I left, I moved into a quaint little cottage, the end one of several and the largest. You would have thought it would have been idyllic and tranquil, but it turned out to be anything but. My next door neighbour was a nightmare. I left the property within four months. 

When I moved to the next place, I vowed to start writing again, even though I was due to start Mental Health Law  at Northumbria University. Life simply kept getting in the way.

So, what does this have to do with NaNoWriMo I hear you ask? 

I finally, oh my God, you have no idea how divine it felt, finished the first draft of a novel at the end of September 2019. But, I still feel so desperately behind and people talking about NaNoWriMo seemed to flood from everywhere. 

Of course, I understood the basics of NaNo, write at least 50k in the month of November. I’ve been a writer for long enough now to have full knowledge of what 50k means in terms of time and effort and honestly, I couldn’t think of anything worse. For me, the pressure of that would kill my creativity and freedom. There would be no way I could ever do that…

Then, this is number one…I remember a cold beginning of 2013, telling people that I was happy writing short stories and I could never write a novel. Sooo, I figure that I was completely wrong there, on six accounts actually. I got to thinking maybe I could write 50k in a month! Well, I can if I try.

Number two, the thought popped into my head that I could do NaNo if I set my mind to it, I picked up my phone to reach out to my FaceBook pals and find out their experiences with NaNo and caught a notification on the front screen of my phone, ‘Beckie Pavia shared a video to your timeline.’ Nothing unusual about that, I hear you say? 

Beckie lost her battle with cancer on 21st August 2016 and when I hit the notification there was nothing there. I’m a superstitious person by nature and I honestly believe that was a sign. For anyone who didn’t now Beckie, she was inspirational and positive to the end. I don’t know if she ever did NaNo, but if there was anyone who had the willpower to do it, it was her. That’s why ‘Falling from Grace’ will be dedicated to Bex who went by the pen name of R.K. Pavia.

Preptober has been a completely enlightening situation for me, too. I’m a loud and proud pantster, it’s in my soul and how I function best. I have saved the cat and plotted out the entire novel, if it doesn’t fly out of my fingers that way, then so be it. There’s a part of me that hopes it doesn’t, because that will mean flying by the seat of my pants was always the correct road to travel on.

Also, this awesome board has rocked my world…

I have never spent an entire month prepping a novel. All of my research has been done on the job. I have done tons of research for my NaNo project which has led to richer ideas, or so I hope. I will definitely be taking a month out for research in the future. I mean, I don’t know how I even came up with the idea of setting some of ‘Falling from Grace’ on the Scottish border, but my research has suggested that the place is absolutely heaving with inspiration. I’d love to visit.

Are you participating this year? If so, please send me a friend request. I’m ‘TheLTKelly.’ Have you entered in previous years? I’d love to hear about your experiences, good or bad.

Thanks for reading :).

Lucy

My Write Club – Sprinting Tools – Part Two

 This is part two of my four part series on ‘sprinting’ sites for writers.

If you’re anything like me, you work better under a little bit of pressure, and if you’re even more like me you don’t have anyone hounding you for your next work of fiction to come to fruition.

With NaNoWriMo upon us, I decided to review handy sprinting sites, one, so you don’t have to and two, so you’re not reliant on finding another writer to sprint with!

Today, I’m bringing you something that’s completely different from anything else I going to show you in part three and four, so it’s a real contender depending on what you’d like from a sprinting application. My Write Club does not have a gaming aspect to it. I adore gaming and it spurs me to write so I can keep streaks and win items as part of a game. If you’re currently rubbing your hand together, thinking that you’ll wait for parts three and four, I urge you to at least take a peek of My Write Club, it truly is a very clean and functional site.

Click to sign up and then you can add a goal, this could be anything you like and a very nice feature is that you can choose how to measure your success in words, pages, lines and depending on how you work best! You can also set yourself a deadline, again, a great feature even if only to trick you into striving to smash it!

Note: If you’re British and you’re trying to in put a date, remember that Americans put the month first and then the day…

Okay, now onto the actual sprinting part. In the top left hand corner there is the ‘running person.’ At this point you can choose a custom or the global sprint. I think that the custom sprint maybe a private sprint between friends utilising the same site. I may be wrong and I admit I haven’t utilised this site enough to be aware of all the finer details. I have always opted for the global sprint. Sprints start every thirty minutes and last for twenty-five minutes. There is a handy timer at the top of the page so you know where you are in the sprint. Down the right hand side of the page you’re able to see the progress of your contenders. This is great, especially if you do have a real life friend to sprint with because they can’t cheat!

Please note, there is usually a list of names at the side with their live word counts, but I took the screenshot early this morning…

However, if you find the competition distracting you can hide it while you complete your sprint by clicking on the arrow on the top right hand side.

As you can see you can earn stars for your sprinting efforts, however, these don’t really do anything for you as far as I can see. I guess it’s sort of like getting a gold star when you’re at school, you don’t get a prize, only that warm fluffy feeling that you have done a job well done!

You’re words save in your account, if you move sprint, your words come with you which is a great function.

This is a great site for those who want to sprint in a more traditional sense, you, your words and a bunch of other people just trying to create. I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to do the aforementioned. However, if you love colour, flair and game playing, I think you’ll be pretty impressed with the next two sites I have to show you, so don’t forget to subscribe by e-mail!

Give My Write Club a go: https://www.mywriteclub.com

Accountability is KEY!

I think I’m sat here writing this post as a valuable reminder of what works for me. Though, unfortunately, August marks the month that I have sadly ‘fallen off the writing wagon.’

But, this blog post may be useful for those of you, who like me, stopped writing for a long time. This could be for many reasons and trust me, I had many reasons and excuses for stopping for as long as I did. There were that many excuses/reasons that there wasn’t even a main reason.

This had to stop, especially for someone like me who has a poor prognosis when I’m not writing. Writing helped me almost eliminate a life long battle with depression. Writing also keeps me energised in all that I do, it keeps my mind oiled which assists in my battle with despondency. Funnily enough, the more I write the more I get done in other areas of my life.

So, August just happens to be one of those months where I am on a knifes edge with keeping the house clean, doing laundry and ironing and just completing tasks in general. Oh, and not writing!

Today, I’m taking it back and I still have eleven days to reach my goals!

When I decided in April that I absolutely had to start writing again. I missed it so much that a part of me had died and I could almost feel the life being sucked out of me. I eased myself in gently and listened to an audiobook of a craft book called Write Naked by Jennifer Probst. That book really helped me and I’m certain that I will listen to it again.

Anyway, Jennifer speaks about accountability and it struck a chord with me. I’m not lucky enough to be set deadlines by a publisher, agent or anyone for that matter. In fact, I never have been. The only thing that ever happened to me that could even resemble that is receiving an e-mail from my previous editor asking me what I had planned for the year ahead!

There are literally no human beings that are sat there voicing or even thinking their annoyance that L.T. Kelly hasn’t produced a book for an age, either!

So, I went on an adventure. A little bit like Weight watchers when you know that you will have to face the scales every week in front of all of those people and die of shame when you have added 5lbs, but at least there are other people there like you, ones that also share your shame of accidentally eating ten doughnuts that week!

The 1st of May hit and another author who shares a horrible, life changing diagnosis of type one diabetes teamed up with me to be my checker and I was to be her checker. Her schedule is insane, made worse by a huge event at work and then summer break. It all fell a little to the wayside and I quietly stepped back and introduced the concept of an ‘Accountable Group’ to my fellow authors within the Romantic Novelists’ Association. I had quite a few takers! Alas, I think the RNA conference and the summer has stolen them from me too, and I totally blame them for not keeping me on track this month! Just kidding, it’s totally my own fault! If you’re an RNA member and you like the idea, please drop me a line and I’ll send you an invite to the group. 🙂

There are probably many groups like it and if you’re struggling to sit down and put words on a page, even shitty words, then what do you have to lose? Contact other authors and shop the concept to them, get as many as you can and hope that everyone stays with you. I promise that you will get at least a couple of months of productivity out of it, if nothing else!

What do you do to stave off the despondency and stay on track with your writing goals? I’d love to know! Drop me a comment.

Happy writing!

Lucy

Guest Post with Francine Beaton

Rugby meets romance

What has Fourth of July, rugby and romance in common?

The obvious answer should be, absolutely nothing. It was, however, what led to the writing of the Playing for Glory series. On 26 February, I’ll release the third book in the series, and the first I’ve ever written, Leading from the Front.

A chance meeting with a rugby player from Jersey on a Fourth of July boat cruise on the Hudson planted the seed although I didn’t know it then. Before, and even during that meeting I not even dreamed about writing a novel, so a rugby romance was out of the question. It was only on the long flight from New York to Johannesburg while struggling through another rugby romance, the seed was planted.

I’m not mentioning the writer or the book, but it was absolute garbage. It felt as if the author knew nothing about the game, fitting in sex scenes on every second page to cover for the bad storyline. I suddenly thought that I’m sure I can write a better rugby romance than that. When we arrived in Johannesburg, I already planned a series. I’ve never written a book before and never dreamed of writing one either. It was just a random thought. But it seemed that I unpacked my muse along with my dirty laundry. Two days after our return from New York, I started writing. That was the end of July 2016.

I wrote non-stop for the next six months, finishing about six novels during that time. The first ones were just as bad as the one I read on the plane. It didn’t stop me though. In May 2017 I attended a Romance Master Class in Cape Town with writing coach Sarah Bullen of The Writing Room. Just before that class, I’ve finished the seventh novel in the series I called Taming a Buffalo. I took that book called Under the Mistletoe along to the course. During the course, Sarah read parts of the novel and encouraged me to continue. Over the next three months, Sarah helped me to polish the book. She also advised me to change the names of the books and the series name to something that relates to sport. Under the Mistletoe changed to Eye on the Ball, which was first published in April 2019 by Roane publishers who had closed their doors at the end of 2018. Since then I’ve got my rights back and started to self-publish. 

The series Playing for Glory, as well as the prequel series called Kick-Off, consisting of three books, all deals with the players and management of a fictional rugby team based in Pretoria. Because rugby is a professional sport, I had no choice than to create my own team called the Buffaloes, playing in a fictional series called the International Club Challenge. 

The Playing for Glory series was supposed to be typical sports romances with sizzling sex scenes. It didn’t stay that way. My characters seem to follow their own destiny and it doesn’t matter how hard I tried, they stay true to themselves. I still blame it on Jakes in Eye on the Ball. Although Jakes had the looks, the physicality, macho male image, the intelligence and other attributes to make him an alpha male, Jakes wanted to highlight important issues that had nothing to do with his looks. With Eye on the Ball I wanted to show the readers that even though men like Jakes are physically tough, playing a hard and physical game, they may struggle with the same insecurities other people suffer from. They may be emotionally vulnerable and that is okay. It is, however, important to talk about it, and sometimes show your sensitive side before it is too late.

Leading from the Front is my ninth book. Two of those nine books are in Afrikaans, my home language, and the rest in English. Leading in the Front was supposed to be the first book, but again Jakes had a different idea.

 

LEADING FROM THE FRONT

Temptation can come in any form.

 

As long as it wasn’t Melissa Roux. Daniel Cooper had known that since the first moment he’d seen the new physio for the Buffaloes. As captain, he had to set an example and falling head over heels for the feisty blonde with the endless long legs wasn’t the way to do it.

 

Melissa knew Daniel was going to be a problem from the first day she walked into Buffaloes Stadium. There was no way she was going to risk her career for an arrogant chauvinist who called her a blonde bimbo. For that, she worked too hard to get her dream job.

 

Neither had reckoned with the undeniable chemistry between them and the famous Cooper curse. When he couldn’t hide it anymore, Daniel made a simple request which had more repercussions than he expected. In his quest to find the truth, he made another error in judgement, risking not only Melissa’s career but also the loyalty of his team and the Club.

 

Daniel and Melissa both had to make important decisions: what’s more important? Your career or love? 

 

https://amzn.to/2TLBbZd

 

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Bookbub: https://http://www.bookbub.com/authors/francine-beaton

What’s the problem with sex?

I started this huge journey into the world of writing when I self-published Falling to Pieces on 26th July 2013. I say I started it then because I strode into this world blindly, flinging my book baby on the proverbial table and proclaimed it good enough to be ‘out there.’

Falling to Pieces is a paranormal adult romance and a true example of raw, unadulterated writing from the heart. I bled onto those pages, and it was the same with the sequel, Falling into You.

Readers loved it. It did very well for a debut novel and I’m proud of what has been said about it. I never submitted it to a publisher, not because I don’t think it’s good enough, but because it’s precious to me and I was not open to change.

However, what was said behind my back by people I knew personally, was devastating.

‘Ugh, it’s about her and her husband having sex.’ Please, allow me to say that I was cornered into calling the male protagonist Marc, lets just say that’s why what happens to him, happens to him.

‘Vampire novels are stupid and you’re stupid for reading it.’ An ex-boyfriend to his wife when she read it.

Even to… ‘Ugh, it’s stupid, there’s a page number missing.’

‘It’s a cross between Twilight and Fifty Shades.’ I liked both of those books, but what an insult to my feisty and strong heroine.

‘No, no, it’s more like True Blood.’ Well, why can’t it be, you know, like Falling to Pieces, FFS!

There’s loads more, but I won’t bore you with the details.

Luckily, I was well into Falling into You by the time most of this got to me, but when I came to the end of the series I felt I wanted to be taken more seriously as a writer and I walked away from the Falling Series and side-stepped into contemporary romance. In all fairness, my ex-husband, Mark begged me not to finish the series at book two. It was possibly the only advice he’d given me that I should have taken.

I got a publishing contract for Kissing Cassie and then for Kissing Katie. I can imagine that caught in a few throats. I hope it choked them. By then I’d left the Royal Air Force camp life and besides a few bits of bait I threw to the hounds I didn’t hear that much from them again.

Away from the nasty circles and with a publishing deal under my belt I thought life would be much easier. I was wrong…

At first I thought it was the vampire thing that made me a lesser novelist in some eyes. I strived to conform to what a romance novelist should be, HEA’s and sunnier characters radiated in my contemporary romances and there was hardly any death or bloodshed.

But still there was the sex. No, not sex, lovemaking. Maybe that makes you cringe but in my view I don’t write erotica, I write adult romance or steamy romance. I’ll come back to what I believe the difference to be at a later date. It’s not that I have anything against erotica, I’ve read a few and they have just sort of made me giggle more than anything.

Not so long ago I congratulated a fellow author on her publishing deal with a very good house and I told her that I was going to read it on my holiday. She replied, publicly on the FB thread, that I may not enjoy it because it’s not that sort of book, as though I’m incapable of reading or indeed writing anything else! I pretended not to be offended and merely pointed out that I’d been reading a lot of thrillers, actually. Funnily enough, I never did buy her book, but I did read two rather good books sans sexual content. I’m sorry if you’re reading this and now know you offended me, because I know you’d be mortified.

Look, it could be that I’m wrong about this. It’s just the impression I get. Maybe I’m just a crappy writer and it’s nothing to do with the sex? But then, I honestly don’t think some of the people who have made snide remarks have even read my books. I would be really interested in hearing from any adult romance writers who may have experienced negativity.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on all of this over the last few years whilst I haven’t been writing. When my publishing house folded, I re-read, edited, rebranded and rereleased my two contemporary novels. I got the chance to look at them through fresh eyes and I thought they were great if I don’t say so myself! It’s strange what your mind can do to you when you don’t feel very successful and you feel judged by others.

So, will I stop writing? No way. I love it too much. Will I stop writing raunchy scenes? No, I’m good at it and it always seems to be a natural progression for my characters. I don’t sit there thinking, I must write a sex scene now, it just happens. Will I be adding a new book to the Falling Series? Yes, several!

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment if you’re so inclined!

Lucy 🙂