Sunday, December 05, 2010

Writing a book is like preparing for Christmas by Kate Walker

Being a writer is a lot like preparing for Christmas. Well, writing a book is very similar.

You spend ages just thinking about it. Thinking and planning. If you're like me, you make a list, or rather lists, and check them more than twice.

A list of characters and their backgrounds, their families and friends. Christmas is always about familes and friends. The ones you love and want to see a lot of - like your hero and heroine. And the ones who always cause trouble and start arguments, maybe drink a little too much - the villain or the 'other woman' - but you have to invite them anyway.

A list of conflicts and problems that you are going to throw in their way. There are always problems and hitches in the run up to Christmas. The special toys that the little ones want but the shop has run out of them already. The awkward brother who you just don't know what to buy for him.

A list of settings, houses, countries, perhpas even, in Presents novels, a palace and a penthouse. You have to know who is going to be where and when so that you can get everyone together if you want to - or, alternatively, arrange for some much needed private time so that you/your characters can . . . . spend a little quality time together!
A list of all the nice little things that will also happen. After all your hero and heroine are going to fall in love so there has to be some reasons why this is going to happen. Some special meals togther with really nice food and drink.And all this involves planning and scheming, organsing and thinking, to make sure it happens.

Once your lists are written, all the planning done, then you start to work through them. And this is where the fun often starts. You often find that you have to keep changing things and adjusting, altering as you go along. Your heroine has decided - without telling you - that she's going to have a different job, a new name, that she won't go here or there . . and you have to make different arrangement to make sure she does even meet up with her hero.

The plot you've decided on doesn't quite 'fit' and you have to go looking for something different to fill the empty spaces, all in good time for the deadline when you have to have everything ready.

The setting - that wonderful palace you were going to make that everyone met in, has been overbooked - everyone's been using that setting recently - so you're looking for somewhere else. Somewhere warm and lovely that can fit all the characters you want to collect together.

And all the time the Big Day ( your deadline ) is getting closer and closer. You find yourself thinking about nothing else all day long. You work on your preparations/your writing all day, every day it seems. You get up early, go to bed late, but no matter how hard you try, you still find yourself wrapping or cooking - or slamming out words - in a rush on the very last day.

But at last, finally, somehow it all gets done. You get to Christmas day/the end of your deadline and all you have to do is to cook the dinner (or press 'SEND' on the email of your manuscript) and sit back and relax. You can have a glass of wine - or two - forget about work and word coubnts etc for a while. And you can look around and think how great it is that everything turned out well in the end.

Or at least you hope you can until your editor gets back to you with her 'tweaks' and revisions - which is rather like finding that the brand new gadget you were given doesn't work right or the underwear was in the wrong size and you have to take it back to the shop . . .

But hopefully these will only be minor hitches and you'll soon be able to say when anyone asks, 'Oh yes, I had a wonderful time - it was such fun!' (You always soon forget the stress and hassle when you look back at your memories)

So with the similarities betwen writng a novel and Christmas in mind, it's not really surprising is it that I chose a Christmas giveaway this year based on the Advent Calendar as we count down to December 25th. Over on my blog I'll be giving away a book a day - some old, some newer, some single novels, some 3 in 1 collections. And all you have to do is to come on over and chat, leaving a message in the Comments section.

But today you don 't even have to visit my blog. Today, the giveaway comes here to Tote Bags. Today's giveaway is one of those 3 in 1 collections. Mistresses Shackled with Rubies is a collection that came out at the start of 2010. It has stories by Lucy Monroe and Lee Wilkinson together with my own Her Secret Bridegroom which was originally published back in 2000.

Bride by deception!
After a whirlwind wedding in Venice, Amy discovered that her brand-new husband had only married her to gain a priceless old ring. Fleeing Italy, Amy never told anyone of her marriage to ruthless billionaire Vincenzo Ravenelli.
Four years later, while Amy knew she'd never really love another man as she loved Vincenzo, she needed to be free of the past. The time had come to return to Venice and confront her secret bridegroom . . .

And today's question is- m
Are you a planner or a dasherwhen it comes to Christmas?
One of my sisters will have bought all her presents - and wrapped them - by now. My brother in law will leave everything to the last minute and then dash around like crazy trying to find what he wants. Which sort are you? Calm, collected and prepared ? Or wouldn't it be Christmas unless you went out into all the crowds and the excitement in the last week or so?

Post your answers in the comments and Sid the Cat will get to work to pick a winner - he loves this Advent Calendar idea. He gets to have extra cat crunchies every day for 25 days! As far as he's concerned his Christmas has come already.

And for me my Christmas came early when I learned that my March Presents Extra title The Konstantos Marriage Demand has been short-listed for the Best Presents Extra award by Romantic Times. That really was a special joy.

I know it's a little early but I want to wish each and every one of you all the joys and happiness of the Festive Seasons, no matter what you're celebrating. I hope you all have a wonderful time with family, friends and those you loveclose to you - and hopefully a little something extra special and beautiful like the rubies in the title of this giveaway wrapped and put under the tree for you. Have a lovely time and I'll be back at the very beginning of the New Year to see you all again.

Happy Christmas!

Kate Walker's latest Presents title - The Good Greek Wife? - was out in Presents Extra in October and is still available now on Amazon, eHarlequin etc. You can get all her news and read the latest updates over on her web site or her blog.
Sid has chosen the winner and the name he picked out is EV - so Ev please email me kate AT to let me know your postal address and I'll put your prize in the mail to you.

Just to remind everyone that you can still keep entering my Advent Calendar Giveaway over on my blog every day up to Christmas,


Laney4 said...

Hi (again), Kate!

I'm sure it will be no surprise to you (or others) that I am (and always have been) a planner. I have lists galore. I buy gifts throughout the year - not just for Christmas presents, but for weddings, showers, birthdays, etc. - and almost always on sale. I love a good sale - well ... I don't enjoy shopping, but I enjoy the savings rewards! I keep track of sizes and ideas throughout the year, and I write down what I've bought so I don't have duplicates (as my memory is terrible).

I wait until all the gifts are bought, I plop them into boxes - even though my kids are in their early twenties, I still ensure they get the same number of boxes to open every year - and then my DH and I wrap them all up at once. We try to put each kid's presents in similar wrapping paper so it is easier for them to distribute on Christmas morning. Our tree is in our front window where everyone can see the gifts, so gifts are wrapped and stacked behind chairs out of sight for a couple of days before Christmas instead.

Kelly said...

Hello Kate,

I am a planner all the way! I ask everyone for ideas and write down a detailed list with many different gift options. I spend the same amount on everyone and try to have the same amount of packages for people to open. I try to get everything done by mid-December and then I can relax and not have to go to the crowded mall closer to Christmas. It just makes my life easier to have a plan of attack, and to get things done early. I also love the process of wrapping the presents and watching everyone try to guess what it is!

Joanna St. James said...

Definitely a dasher; my writing, my blog posts even xmas shopping. Hope your kitty likes my name.

Nas Dean said...

Congratulations on THE KONSTANTOS MARRIAGE DEMAND getting short-listed for the Best Presents Extra award by Romantic Times. I'm reading it and so far very good! But I'm with Nikos all the way.

Oh I'm a planner. I buy gifts and keep them beforehand.

Jane said...

Every year I say that I'll get all the presents early, but end up just running around looking for the best presents.

Estella said...

I'm a planner.

Valerie said...

I'm definately a planner. I make lists, even a pre-Christmas cleaning list.

A baking list, and when I am going to bake what.

A Christmas pressie list, card list...I have a list for everything!!


in Germany

Kate Walker said...

It looks like the planners are in the mnajority - on here anyway! I have to admit that I'm a bit of both - I plan a lot and get things done as early as possible - but then I usually dash out for some bits and pieces too

Keep the answers coming and Iill get Sid to pick tomorrow,

Leni said...

I'm a planner and will take my time and enjoy the entire experience.

ev said...

I buy throughout the year- I listen when I talk to the family and as soon as they say something that gives me an idea, I plug it into my memo on the phone and buy it at the first chance. I am usually almost done by T-day.

However, no matter how much I plan and make lists and timetables, the crap always seems to hit the fan and everything goes off track anyway. Just like this year. Again.

Kaelee said...

I'm half and half. I plan but I don't always get things done until the last minute. We draw names so my husband and I only have a couple of gifts to get. If we have a hard person to buy for we get the present bought ahead of time but an easy person's gift may wait for the pre-Christmas sales. Wrapping the presents usually gets done at the last minute. I do love to get out in the malls and see the Christmas decorations. It's also great exercise in our cold climate. Who would have thought I'd be a mall walker.

Debby said...

I try to plan and fail everytime. I alwyas forget something. Liked your post though. Very well planned!

debby236 at att dot net

Helen said...

Huge congrats on the nomination for the book whoo hoo.

For me I try so hard to plan but more often than not I am running around at the last minute trying to get everything done LOL although this year I have finished the shopping and made 5 Christmas cakes which is really good for me. I just need to find time to wrap everything now.

I am a member of your newsletter group

Have Fun

GladysMP said...

I am afraid that I am a dasher. I always have the best intentions, but things just sort of get in the way and I find my intentions went up in smoke.

Mary said...

I am definitely a planner. I have all my shopping done, the cards are sent and I'm making cookies for family members and have all the ingredients to do them already.

I start shopping in january for christmas, so I am prepared when it comes around again. lol

Kate Walker said...

Laney I thought you'd be a planner - and clever with money too. I have a friend who is just like you. I just wish I had the time! You sound so wonderfully organised

Kate Walker said...

Kelly - you sound scarily orgabnised too but I'd love to be like that. I used to have more time when I wasn't writing and I planned more then

Kate Walker said...

Hi Joanna - me too - a dasher when writing blogs - I'm sorry Sid didn't pick you today but if you visit my blog you'll have plenty more chances ot catch Sid's eye - er - his mouth!

Kate Walker said...

Nas, so glad you're enjoying The Konstantons Marriage Demand but I hope you'll come to understand Sadie more too

Kate Walker said...

Jane that sounds just like me - so well intentioned at the start!

Kate Walker said...

Hi Estella - hope your plans are going well.

Kate Walker said...

Hello Valerie - I have cards lists and gift lists . . but cleaning? I always thought that was what the decorations were for - to distract everyone from the cleaning that neede to be done ;o)

Kate Walker said...

Leni - time - you see that's my problem. I wish I had more time! But I always enjoy the planning and buying and wrapping anyway

Kate Walker said...

Ev - you're a winner!! And I visited your blog and I want to thank you for rescuing the kitten. My cats send purrs too

Kate Walker said...

Hi again Kaelee - I agree. Even when I've planned ahead and got most things, I still love to see the decorations etc in the malls. THat's part of the fun of Christmas

Kate Walker said...

Debby - thank you for your comment on my post. I'm glad you liked it. I'll let you into a secret - I didn't have an idea what to write until the last minute - so I'm glad it worked

Kate Walker said...

Hi Helen - you're in Australia aren't you? So your weather will be warming up while we're freezing over here. Thank you for your congratulations. That nomination really made my day - week - month! 5 christmas cakes! Do you make one for lots of family members?

Kate Walker said...

Gladys - you sound likie a kindred spirit. My good intentions are always going up in smoke too

Kate Walker said...

Mary I'm so impressed - you really are organised - now you wouldn't like to come over to the UK and do my organising for me would you? I hope you have a wonderful time

Kate Walker said...

There's only one prize for today's giveaway - but there are 20 more to go over on my blog so don't forget to come and visit and post a comment and maybe Sid will pick you next time - see you there

ev said...

WOOT!!!! I won!! Thanks Sid (and Kate!)

Thanks for checking out the blog, I wish I could keep it up, but I have to be careful about what I write as I now work for the parent company for Penguin and they own what I write. So I had to quit- at least for now.

The kitty is now over a year old and only weighs about 6lbs and about 20lbs of pure craziness. I call her BatShitCrazyKat for a reason. There's pics on my FB and a couple videos on Youtube. Her favorite toy?? Our 70lb lab and one of the doxies.