Hello there.
Sorry about the lack of newsletter in May. I simply ran out of time to write it – lots of boring and stressful things happening in my life. However I’ve taken a bit of time to re-think what I’m doing and to re-prioritise, and I do suggest you do the same if you find your life running out of control. I hope these musings about the process I went through will be of some help.
One of my problems was letting other things get in the way of writing. ‘Oh I’d better clear this off my desk before I get going,’ felt like a constant refrain in April and May, until I took a hold of myself and said, no, writing has to be the priority, so make it happen.
I gave myself a clear session one morning to list what was essential to me in my life and decided those were going to be the priorities. Family has always been important and everything gets dropped for them, but what about friends? So many have really stepped up for me this year when I was injured and depressed, making me feel good, helping me out in lots of ways, big and small, so now yes too, friends are a priority.
Next on the list – writing. It’s what keeps me sane, it’s what I want to do, so that has to come third.
Which means all the other stuff, the voluntary work, the social media – this newsletter – it all comes after that, and it’s got to be fitted in around family, friends and writing.
It sounds a bit mad, but when you have that clear in your mind – and for every one of you the list will be different – planning your week becomes so much easier.
It sounds quite simple when it’s written down like that, but I was surprised by my thoughts. Hopefully if you take the time do this, you will find it equally clear but also surprising.
Maybe it was that whole reflective process that got me thinking about the theme for the blog this month. I was a bit stuck about what I should write about, and one of the ideas that has been lurking for a while was top reads from my childhood, but once I got into this, it was actually my favourite blog to date. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Best read of Spring.

I thought I had not read many books since the last newsletter, but in fact I’ve read 18; no need to prioritise reading obviously. So which was my favourite? Hard to choose, but the one that jumps out is The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I was drawn to the idea of fiction written around something which I’d heard of but wasn’t sure was a real life event: the dancing plague in Strasbourg in 1518 where people danced themselves to death. Ostensibly the book is about this, but the dancing happens in the background so to speak and instead we focus in on the lives of one small family and the women within it. It is also a profoundly moving read for anyone touched by miscarriage. And, guess what? I get to interview her at the Edinburgh International Book Festival! Can hardly wait. If you fancy coming along, book here  
I”m also chairing a panel discussion about children’s publishing.
Be aware these events will sell out quickly, so book as near to the launch date – 29th June – as you can.

How to write

This is the first book I ever read about how to write. Elizabeth George is a prolific writer, and she might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve always enjoyed her Inspector Lynley books. At the time I got incredibly enthusiastic about her plotting and planning process, probably because I had just finished writing my first novel, 120,000 words of formless prose which will never see the light of day.
I’ve just opened the book again to see why I loved it so much at the time, and can see that there is probably nothing new if you’ve read ‘how to write’ books before, but if you like her writing and would be interested in her process, then this a good read.

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