The village of Aisford is Christmas-card perfect, but Millie hates it - she hates the snow, her freezing fingertips, and being forced to look like her Aunt Marjory in a mud-splattered wax jacket and wellies instead of her beloved shorts and sparkly sandals.
She plots her escape but ends up locking spatulas with the estate manager, Fergus McKenzie, who is forced to rescue her before she succumbs to a severe dose of hypothermia. Things start to improve with the arrival of handsome Sam Morgan, fresh from the beaches and rum shacks of the Caribbean.
Can Millie accept her fate? And will Aisford sprinkle some of its seasonal magic on her troubles?
Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is a festive story of love and friendship and reaching for the buttercream icing and edible glitter when life gets tough.
My Writing Process
I write every day. In summer I write in my little peppermint-and-cream writer’s retreat (garden shed) in the back garden amongst the lawn mower and the trowels, and in winter I decamp to the kitchen table. I suppose I would describe myself as a plotter rather than a pantster as I like to have an idea where my story is going and what the ending will be so I can scatter clues along the way, but that’s not to say my character don’t surprise me - they do!
One thing that I am working on changing is my writing method. I write all my novels in an exercise book long-hand and then type them onto my laptop. For me, it seems my creative juices just flow that way - from my brain, down my arm, into my pen and onto the paper. It’s time-consuming so I reassure myself that when I type my scribblings up later in the day, that’s the story’s first edit.
For me, one of the most difficult parts of the writing process is settling on a character’s name. A name bestows more than just a useful label with which to refer to a character. Not only is it the first thing we learn about a person, I believe their name also shapes what we feel about them. There are certain names that mean a great deal to me - those of my family and friends and people who have had an impact on my life, good or bad. It’s important to me to get the name right and I spend hours selecting something I’m happy with. Camille Carter has a French mother and an English father. She lived in the south of France when she was a child then moved to England with her father’s job, so she changed her name to Millie to fit in with her friends. It didn’t help much as she was always going to be an outsider, joining the school mid-term when friendships had been formed and sealed. But the name stuck, except with her family who still call her Camille.
When I was writing Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes I had a medley of Christmas tunes playing on a loop in the background whenever I needed an extra soupçon of inspiration. I also experimented with a few batches of the Christmas cake cupcakes Millie bakes to keep herself sane whilst she is snow-bound at Craiglea Manor cookery school. The warm spices coiled around my kitchen and helped the writing process but did nothing for my waistline.
Talking of waistlines, there’s no getting away from the fact that an essential part of the writing process is applying your behind to your seat and getting on with it. If you don’t do that regularly you will never type those glorious words THE END. But spending hours and hours with a pen in my hand or my fingers on a keyboard is not a healthy way to spend the day. So, as part of my writing day I make sure that I weave in some time to take a walk or a trip to the local café to stretch my legs and my imagination. I call it research as you never quite know when inspiration might strike. I’ve often found myself scrabbling for a piece of paper, the back of a bus ticket or even an old tissue, to jot down a snippet of conversation or a brilliant idea that has scorched into my mind.
Where do you prefer to write? Or, where is your favourite place to read? Do you prefer complete peace and quiet or do you crave the burble of conversation as background music to your creativity? Let me know in the comments below.