Have laptop, will travel

Mary Smith’s great post last week made me think a little more about where I write and when.

Study webcopy




Over the past few months, I’ve spent quite a bit of time writing in places other than my favourite place – my study at home. I headed up a great writing retreat in Italy for Arte Umbria where I had the huge pleasure of writing a book set in Italy while I was actually there. (And if you’re thinking of joining one of my writing retreats there in 2018, here’s what you might like to know, along with the booking link.)

AU retreat 2017 webcopy

Arte Umbria – 2017 retreat


In August I was a little more local, heading off to Derbyshire and the fabulous Swanwick, The Writer’s Summer School to teach the Popular Fiction course, which ran over four morning sessions and was so well attended I was allocated the Main Conference Hall as my venue. It’s a lovely hall, light and airy, and I was happy to have such a great facility for one of my last teaching gigs in the foreseeable future, my publishing schedule being  tight at least until the end of 2108.



Workin in my room at Swanwick

Each day, after my session, I returned to my room and I wrote. This is despite the fact that Swanwick runs a varied and imaginative programme, of which I could have taken advantage, and there were a lot of friends in attendance, old and new. I really needed to finish the first draft of next summer’s book, currently entitled The Summer of Finding Out, so I simply treated my non-teaching time as a writing retreat. Although a room in a conference centre doesn’t have the charm (or sunshine) of an Italian terrace, I was very comfortable and with no domestic duties or visits to the gym to factor into my working week, I just sat down every day with a plentiful supply of tea … and wrote. I’d go over to the main buildings for lunch and a glass of wine then return to my room and write again until dinner.


The main building at Swanwick


And I finished my first draft! Awesome.

There’s a small sting in this tale. When I returned home I worked first on my German edits for The Little Village Christmas and then wrote a two-part story for My Weekly. When I returned to my first draft of The Summer of Finding Out the final chunk was missing! I nearly had a heart attack. I had saved a version to Dropbox but could hardly bear to look at it in case it, too, was incomplete ….

PHEW! The whole manuscript was there. It took me a further day to realise that I’d written the last chunk of the book on my laptop, which was why the full version wasn’t on my desktop! A real brain fade moment for me but it gave my heart a thorough workout.

Just before I go I’d like to share with you the lovely cover for The Little Village Christmas, which was revealed a week ago. Isn’t it gorgeous? Can’t wait to see the paperback with all its festive bling.

The Little Village Christmas

For those who have been asking me for another book set in Middledip Village – this is it! It features a few old friends such as Gabe Piercy and his contrary pony, Snobby, and head of the village hall committee, Carola, plays a pivotal role. But things have been happening. The village hall is closed! How can this be? It was the heart of the village. Good job that Alexia Kennedy heads up a rescue package for an old pub, The Angel, abandoned decades ago, to make it into The Angel Community Café. (I always thought the village lacked a coffee shop.) But when someone runs away with all the money, everything changes not just for The Angel but for Alexia herself. The Little Village Christmas also brings to the village Gabe’s nephew, Benedict Hardaker, who has suffered a couple of hard knocks and is hiding out in the woods to recover. Until he gets roped into rescuing The Angel …



6 thoughts on “Have laptop, will travel

  1. Oh, I can imagine the heart-stopping moment when you thought you’d lost the final chunk. Years ago, my computer actually went on fire and I lost masses of work. I thought it was all backed up on an automatic system but that had failed. Even to this day I don’t know exactly what I lost. The new book cover looks great – looking forward to reading it when it’s out.


    • I actually could hardly bear to look in Dropbox, Mary! But at least the flipping thing was there when I did look. Completely pales into insignificance when compared a computer bursting into flames. I’m not sure I’d survive…


  2. I always work when I’m in Turkey, after breakfast in my room. And twice I’ve actually started a new book set there while I’m doing it. And looking forward to your Christmas book. (By the way, this is my WordPress nom-de-plume – it’s me – Lesley C!)


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