Christmas in July?

I remember reading a very good book and watching a very good movie based on that book, called Summer in February. The move had the very gorgeous Dan Stevens in, so I was probably pre-destined to like it, if I’m honest, anyway; but it was very good. I thought about that movie today when I was considering a title for this blog post, and Christmas in July seemed pretty apt.

I’ve just received my edits, you see, for this year’s Christmas book! And, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s been the hottest few days on record in the UK. The last thing I was thinking about was Christmas and writing a cosy book full of frost and mince pies and mulled wine. And roaring fires in the Spatchcock Inn, in Padcock. Because this is the third book in the Padcock series, and I very much enjoyed writing it before I submitted it, so I know I’ll enjoy editing it; but what I also have to do is get really, really into the festive zone and double the size of it – so it’s a ‘proper’ book, and not just a novella. It’ll be the second Christmas book I’ve doubled in size this year. Holly’s Christmas Secret, part of the Pencradoc series, is just about to go to print as a full size book, and I’ve just seen the visuals for the cover. It’ll look gorgeous on the shelves, but by the end of this year I will have spent a lot of time in Christmas Book mode!

I was also beating myself up the other week about not doing much writing at the minute – I had convinced myself people would be fed up of my books as well which was a bit daft, and couldn’t seem to start up again after I’d taken a couple of months off writing. But then I eventually started a novella, and I’ve now done 24k words or so. It doesn’t have much style at the minute, barely enough plot to write a short story about and I’m getting myself irritated about it. I can tell where I’ve had to stop and start, and put it to one side, and come back to it because it doesn’t flow very well. It will eventually, and through the magic of edits it will be a decent book. But it’s a struggle – I’m not going to lie. I watched a podcast about Creative Block the other week that one of my author friends directed me to, and I could totally see where she was coming from. You can just about work with established characters, but can’t think of anything new, and you need to give yourself a break for your head and your mojo to sort themselves out. Which I have been doing. I think I actually need to manage my own expectations as well – I am grumpy because I haven’t created a whole brand new story in ten months, but when you look at it, I have created a new story in Holly’s Christmas Secret. Holly grew and became a bigger book, and this new festive Padcock one will do the same. And I edited two other books this year as well, which have already come out.

So I may feel deep down as if I’m not writing and not achieving anything with new stories– but I think I am really… so I just need to be a bit kinder to myself, cut myself some slack and go with the flow!

And find a mince pie or two to see me through the next few weeks…