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Writer Wednesday: Daisy James

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. Her husband and young son were willing samplers of her baking creations which were triple-tested for her debut novel, The Runaway Bridesmaid. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

1. Why did you want to become a writer?
I have been scribbling stories since I was ten years old. I think that was when I realised that my dream was to become a writer. I wrote my first full length novel over twenty years ago, in long-hand, and it's still in a shoe box on the top of my wardrobe gathering dust. It was only whilst I was in New York celebrating a milestone birthday that I thought again about writing another story. Hurricane Sandy meant we were stranded there for six days and everything had shut down. So I grabbed a pen and an exercise book and started to write The Runaway Bridesmaid, which is set in Manhattan before switching to the Devon countryside. This time I made sure I typed it up and sent it out to agents and publishers.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you?
It might sound strange but for me one of the toughest parts is coming up with the characters' names. It takes me days, sometimes weeks to come up with the perfect name. A person's name is so important, it's such an integral part of who they are and how we perceived them. It has to reflect their age, their personality, where they were born and be a perfect fit for the character I'm trying to create for the story.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing?
It has to be writing the first draft. I love getting to know the characters I've created as they struggle with the obstacles I've put in their way. Sometimes they surprise me!

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
I love books written by people who have taken the amazing decision to change their lives by moving to another country. I enjoy reading about their trials of doing up a dilapidated barn or farm, as well as settling into the local community and learning the language. Some of my favourites are Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart (love that title), Snowball Oranges by Peter Kerr and of course A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. I've just read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and loved it. I also thoroughly enjoyed the books written by Karen Wheeler - Tout Sweet: Hanging up my High Heels for a New Life in France.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
It would have to be Rosie Hamilton in The Runaway Bridesmaid. She was my first heroine. She overcame lots of obstacles to find her Happy Ever After. And I love her attempts at 'baking herself better' from the recipes in her aunt Bernice's journal.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do?
One of the things I do to relax is archery. So - I'd love to spend the day with Legolas from Lord Of The Rings.

7. What can we expect next from you?
I'm busy working on my fourth book at the moment. I've completed the first draft and now knee deep in edits. It's set in glorious Cornwall so I'm enjoying the research and the dreaming, not to mention the clotted cream teas I have to eat to get myself in the mood. I hope it will be out early Spring 2017. I've also got a story in my mind for book number five, but that's just at the planning stages.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out?
The best advice I received from writer friends when I was starting out was to just write. Put your fingers on the keyboard and write, write, write. It doesn't have to be perfect at the beginning - don't fret about punctuation or spelling errors. Just get the story down and then you can spend time editing. You can't edit an empty page.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you.
I still write in long hand. It's a habit I don't seem to be able to break. So I will scribble in the morning and then type up what I've written in the afternoon. When I'm writing a first draft, I try to aim for around 2,000 words a day, but it's not set in stone - great if I can do more! I have a peppermint-and-cream writer's retreat (garden shed) which I love to work in in the summer months.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I'm reading Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes who moved from Shepherd's Bush to the north west of Italy to live in a tiny rustico in the hills. I also have her next book Ripe For The Picking ready for when I finish it.

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When life gives you lemons, make lemon-drizzle cupcakes…

Lucie thought that proposing to her boyfriend in Tiffany’s would be the best day of her life. Until he said no. In just a few seconds, her whole world is turned upside-down! And when she accidentally switches cocoa powder for chilli powder at work, she finds herself out of a job, too…

Baking has always made life better in the past, but can Lucie really bake her way to happiness? Starting her own company, selling cupcakes out of an old ice cream van might just be the second chance that Lucie needs!

Of course, she never expected to find love along the way…

Follow Daisy on Twitter | Buy When Only Cupcakes Will Do on Amazon |
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Writer Wednesday: Tracey Sinclair

Tracey Sinclair is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a published author. Her latest series is the Cassandra Bick/Dark Dates series, the most recent of which is Angel Falls. She is also the author of the romantic comedy The Bridesmaid Blues.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I’ve written stories from a young age, so I’m not aware of when I decided to ‘be a writer’, really. It just was always something I did – then in my teens I started to think it would be nice to make some money from it!

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
I think sometimes it’s just sitting down and writing when you feel you have so much else to do, or a project is a bit stalled. Once I’ve actually picked up the pen I’m fine, but getting to that stage can be tough.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
I think when something just flows, or a difficult plot point falls into place, the feeling is unbeatable. And I love it when I get feedback from readers that something resonated with them, or they enjoyed it. I’m thrilled that people seem to really like the characters in the Dark Dates books – there’s something about creating characters people fall in love with that feels truly special. And when I wrote my rom com Bridesmaids Blues, I had a lot of women go ‘oh my god, that’s totally me!’ which is enormously satisfying.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
Ooh, great question but tough to answer. Maybe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, because it’s just such a beautiful love story, or Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, for its sheer inventiveness and originality.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?  
It would be Medea (and by extension, her fiancĂ©e Katie) in the Dark Dates series. I feel like their relationship gives a beating heart to the books – they’re the only long-term, settled couple in the series so far – plus I really hate the current ‘#buryyourgays’ trend in TV for killing off gay women as soon as they become happy, so I want my books to feature a content, loving lesbian couple who don’t die.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
God, these are such great questions but so hard! I’d quite happily spend the day being seduced by Valmont from Dangerous Liaisons, as I think that would be quite the experience…

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I’m working on the next Dark Dates book, but also potentially have another romcom in the works, together with a handful of other projects.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
Don’t wait for the perfect time to write, or you’ll never find it, and remember something imperfect and complete is better than something perfect that you never finish.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
There’s no such thing, really: I work on so many projects for a range of different clients that my days vary enormously from one to the next. I might have to write a theatre review for a 9am deadline then finish some editing for a client or write a magazine article before I can turn to my novels, or I might have a full day to work on a book. But that suits me: I get bored quickly with routines, and though there are some stages in a book’s production where I need unbroken stints of time, I actually work quite well in the edges of the day, with time snatched between other things. It keeps me energised, otherwise I can waste hours staring at the page.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, which has some fascinating thoughts about the artistic process and living as an artist, Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night, which is compelling but brutal. I just started Lindy West’s memoir Shrill. I always have a handful of books on the go at any one time.

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Luce knows she should be thrilled when Jenna asks her to be bridesmaid – after all, they’ve known each other since childhood and Jenna is the best friend any girl could have. But it’s hard to get excited about weddings when you’re terminally single and the best man is the boy who broke your heart: Jamie, the groom’s dashing and irresistible brother. How can she face the man who dumped her when she’s still so hopelessly in love? Then again, maybe this is the perfect opportunity – after all, where better to get back together than at a wedding?

So Luce has six months to figure out how to win back her ex, but she has plenty else on her plate – from an old friend returned to Newcastle with an announcement of her own, to a youthful colleague who may or may not have a crush on her and a mother who is acting very strangely indeed… and that’s all before a mysterious, handsome American walks into her life.

Sometimes being a bridesmaid isn’t all confetti and champagne…

Follow Tracey on Twitter | Buy The Bridesmaid Blues on Amazon |
Visit her website | Like her on Facebook

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