This week I had the honour of visiting a lovely primary school in Wales and speaking with 6 classes between the ages of 5-11, I even learnt a couple of words of Welsh! I love visiting schools and sharing my passion for literacy, STEM, and exploration.
Here are some of the photos that the teachers posted on Twitter. FYI, I visit schools through School Speakers, am enhance DBS checked, and proceeds from any speaking events (and my books) helps support my environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project which provides free, online education to young people worldwide who are denied access to school because of things like gender, poverty, natural disaster, war, and disability.
Do you Want to Write a Cozy Mystery Novel in a Month? - November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
Wow, I can't believe that it's coming up to my first year anniversary as a writer. Have I got it all figured out yet, heck no, but looking back on what I have achieved over the last 12 months I'm really pleased, especially now that I've found a genre (cozy mystery) that suits me perfectly.
I wrote my first novel as part of NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November every year. There is an adult version, and a version for schools and young people (which I especially love as I run a UK registered charity that promotes education and literacy for children around the world). It's absolutely free to take part in, there is a massive community of people participating, and what's more, it is nowhere near as daunting to write 50,000 words as you might think. If you can write an average of 1667 words per day, you'll have a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month!
Writing lake Love Found
I actually ended up writing several books in the month, one was a collection of stories from my primary school days (I might publish this one day), and a contemporary romance, based in the Lake District where I was living at the time, and which I ended up publishing - albeit under a pen name because I was too scared to put it under my own name. I didn't even tell anyone I had written it, and I was terrified that it would get awful reviews, so it was a huge secret for almost a year. I didn't have an editor, I had zero funds for a cover, and I didn't feel at all worthy of having a book published, so if I can do it, then there is no reason why you can't do it too. It's no best seller, but a year later, it's still getting plenty of reads and downloads, it has been translated into Spanish, and is doing well as an audiobook. I'll be writing blog posts about how I tackled each of things, but first things first, you need to write your novel before you worry about anything else. It's all about taking baby steps, every single day, and I'd love to be a part of your journey and to share any tips I have learnt over the year.
Why Did I Write a Romance?
I was nervous about writing anything, let alone writing a romance, but I felt that it would be the easiest of the genres for me to write in. I based the story on Rydal Water where I walked my dog each day as that meant that I was familiar with the world I was writing in, my characters, and in creating a simple story. Once I had the confidence in knowing I could do it, I then wrote my Bertram Bile time travel adventure series for middle-grade, and as I started to read more and to learn about books, I came to realise that cozy mystery was the genre I loved the most. Something I discovered by accident whilst working on a number of murder mystery programmes for film and television. But there is no reason why your first novel can't be a cozy mystery, especially if you are already familiar with the genre, which I wasn't when I started.
How Do I Get Involved in NaNoWriMo?
The first thing to do is to set up an account on the NaNoWriMo website, it's free of charge, but setting up your profile will give you access to loads of writing resources and to a community of people getting ready to write their book. Over the next week or so, I'll try and share cozy mystery specific resources that have helped me on my journey, but the first thing you'll want to do is to plan out your book, or at least think of your characters, setting, and murder scenario. Try and follow the #NaNoWriMo and #NaNoWriMo2018 hashtags on social media too, you might just connect with some new friends along the way, who can become writing buddies. There are loads of YouTube videos out there too. If you are struggling for an idea for your Cozy Mystery, a good place to start is audiobook stories, watching series like Murder She Wrote or Poirot, and watching mystery movies. Think about what you love about them, and why they appeal. Is it that you don't know who the murder is, or that you have to follow clues, or you like the characters?
Can I Add You as a Writing Buddy?
If you do decide to take part in NaNoWriMo, I'd love to be your writing buddy, so feel free to add me so we can support each other with writing our next novels. To find me, just type in Sarah Jane Weldon in the search bar on your dashboard. More the merrier!