A pleasure today to help launch the blog tour for Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay by Katie Ginger: published for kindle today by HQ Digital, available via Amazon in the UK and US, the paperback will follow on 20th August. Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support.
Grab your strawberries and cream and get ready to return to the beautiful Swallowtail Bay!
Summer is in full swing and the locals are getting excited for the launch of the Swallowtail Bay strawberry food festival. But will all run smoothly when festival organiser Hetty’s heart is torn between lord of the manor John Thornhill and successful bakery owner Ben?
And I’m so sorry, I still haven’t managed to fit in a book from Katie Ginger – her writing looks so much up my street, and I really must try to read and review her next one. But I’m really delighted to welcome her to Being Anne, with a lovely guest post about the writing of Summer Strawberries…
Sometimes, when I read blog posts about books authors have written, it always seems not exactly easy, but seamless! The characters talk to them, the plot comes fully formed, and I imagine them writing it with a huge smile on their face, the words flowing from their fingertips. Well, I can tell you, it wasn’t at all like that for me when I was writing Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay! And it made me think it might be a good idea to share the side of writing that we don’t always see. The side where things don’t go to plan and you think you’ve made a huge, giant, terrible mistake!
I absolutely loved the idea for Summer Strawberries when I first worked it out. Hetty was always going to be determined and feisty with very few insecurities. She was always going to have an ex who was quite cheeky and easy-going, and John Thornhill was a bearded Richard Armitage lookalike in a crumbling, but still gorgeous country house.
And then I started writing it and all my dreams fell apart.
Getting the words out was like getting blood out of a stone. It was hard, mentally exhausting work. Every sentence was a slog and none of it was funny. Depressingly, none of this amazing story I’d envisaged was living up to how I’d imagined this movie in my head. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do the idea justice. Every day, I’d do my best to figure out what wasn’t working and if I was just being negative. I very quickly learned that writing during the summer holidays with the kids around 24/7 is not fun! But no matter which way I looked at it, it just wasn’t working!
While all the books I’ve written before have needed edits (some more than others!) I was getting to the point where I wasn’t even sure I could submit this to my publisher. I honestly thought that they might throw it back in my face and I’d have to leave the writers club because I wasn’t good enough to be a member anymore! I’d clearly forgotten how to do it!
It was time to take a step back and really analyse what wasn’t working in the story. I stopped pressurising myself to get the first draft down and identified that the stakes weren’t high enough. There was no real sense of risk with either of the main characters. That was the first thing to fix. Then I realised that there wasn’t enough tension anywhere in the entire story! With those things figured out, I had to go about fixing them with the deadline fast approaching. Feeling a little bit better, the next job was setting and atmosphere. Again, by the skin of my teeth I managed to get a lot more added in before I had to submit it to my editor.
Right now, I have to tell you that Sarah Goodey at HQ Digital, is an amazing editor and flat out genius. Her editorial notes were fabulous and she immediately identified the biggest problem: the two main characters just weren’t spending enough time together! As a result, the romance wasn’t as believable as we needed it to be. How had I missed that?!
A whole load of stuff was added in and somehow, this book has turned into one of my favourite stories. By the time we got to copyedits, it was finally living up to the movie I had playing in my head. It just goes to show the even the roughest of diamonds can shine with enough work! And if Richard Armitage would actually like to star in a film version of this, that’d be fine with me!
Fine with me too Katie – wishing you every success with the book!
About the author
Katie Ginger lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and she really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay is her fifth novel. The first, Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay is available now. Her debut novel The Little Theatre on the Seafront was shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and her stand-alone Christmas novel Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage was a US Amazon bestseller.
When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive their two children, Ellie and Sam. And there’s also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).