Today I finally have one of my most favourite humans ever on the blog – the amazing and super wonderful Katey Lovell to celebrate the release of her new Christmassy romantic comedy, Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown!
Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown was released in paperback on the 30th November published by Harper Impluse and is set to get you in the Christmas mood!
“Warm and romantic, every page is sprinkled with Christmas magic” Cressida McLaughlin, author of The Canal Boat Café
So as it’s nearly Christmas and we are looking for the perfect Christmas read to snuggle up by the fire with I asked Katey exactly how to write the perfect Christmas book…..
As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.
Clara O’Connell loves Christmas. For her it is the most magical time of the year. And she’s determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he’s hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.
But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara’s Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe’s broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe’s love for Christmas and forever…?
The Perfect Christmas Book
When the wonderful Chelley invited me to guest on her blog I was thrilled – she’s such a force to be reckoned with in the publishing industry, known and loved by everyone. However, when I asked what she wanted me to talk about and her reply was ‘how to write the perfect Christmas novel’ I could feel the imposter syndrome creeping in. I’m very proud of my festive release Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown, but perfect? There’s a lot of weight in that word, but I am going to share how I wrote this book, step by step.
Have a ton of ideas, reject most of them, hone the good one
As I was reaching the end of drafting my second novel, The Café in Fir Tree Park, my editor Charlotte Ledger and I were in discussions about what to do next. I was really keen to write a festive novel and tentatively suggested my ideas. Our favourite was based around an office secret santa, but Charlotte felt the office setting had the potential to be too dry. I wanted charity to be a big theme in this book and after dismissing the idea of setting the book in a foodbank (although there is a scene at a foodbank in the novel) ran with it centring around a fictional Manchester youth club.
Make notes on anything and everything Christmassy
Throughout October 2016 I carried my notebook everywhere and made a ridiculous amount of notes. I asked friends what their favourite aspects of Christmas were, queried Twitter and Facebook on what they thought were ‘musts’ for a festive read (tinsel, mulled wine and Santa, apparently) and thought about how my characters were going to develop over the course of the novel. I also came up with a title at this point, which was eventually tweaked only slightly (when the male protagonist’s name changed).
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place every November and encourages writers to draft 50,000 words in 30 days. I still had 20,000 words left to write to complete The Café in Fir Tree Park but, knowing that it would be easier to write a Christmas novel in winter, I surrounded myself with mince pies and decided to also write the first half of the Christmas book. By the end of the month I had ‘won NaNo’ and had the first 30,000 words of what would become Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown.
Finish the book!
This stage took a while. I had a much-needed month away from writing over Christmas and struggled to get back into the routine of writing afterwards, especially after the tree came down and Christmas was over for the majority of people. Thankfully I’m friends with other writers who were in the same predicament and so our fictional Christmases continued in parallel. I finally finished the first draft in May 2017.
Edit, edit, and edit some more
Personally, I always find structural edits (big changes to plot, the order events take place in, adding in subplots or additional characters) difficult. One change often starts off a chain and it felt at times as though the novel I’d worked so hard to build was falling like one of those tracks of dominos where you touch one and the whole lot fall down. However, I had the experience of knowing I could edit a book because I’d done it before (twice!) and knuckled down to get stuck into polishing my Christmas book.
Next came the line edits, where as well as working on editors suggestions I was keen to inject even more festive sparkle into the book. I wanted it to be 100% Christmassy! This is where I developed a lot of the outdoor scenes such as the one at the skating rink and at the Christmas market, to ensure I was encapsulating the magic of the traditions of Christmas in my words.
Finally, in August 2017, it was time for the proofread – the end was in sight! I must admit that by now I was all Christmassed out – I challenge even the most avid Christmas fanatic to feel in the mood for listening to Shakin’ Stevens in temperatures nearing 30 degrees.
Let it go
As Elsa so wisely said in the Disney hit ‘Frozen’, there comes a time where you just have to let it go. For authors, that time is publication day, when ownership is no longer yours and your publishers, but your readers.
When Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown was released in October I was nervous – would people like the idea enough to buy it? Thankfully, people have and I’ve been fortunate that bloggers, authors and readers have shared their kind words about the book online.
So that’s my experience of writing a Christmas book – it was jolly hard work, but worth every tinsel-filled moment. If what you’re dreaming of this Christmas is writing a festive novel I’d encourage you to go for it, and sprinkle glitter on every single page.
You can buy a copy of Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown here or from your local bookshop
About Katey Lovell
Katey Lovell is the author of three commercial women’s fiction novels published by Harper Collins’ imprint HarperImpulse. Her novels are about people overcoming everyday challenges with the support of their friends, family and local community. She has also penned a series of coffee-break romances (also published by HarperImpulse) and a hot romance for Tirgearr’s City Nights series.
Originally from South Wales, Katey now lives in Sheffield with her husband and son. When she’s not writing she’ll most likely be found watching musicals, enjoying live music or reading anything and everything she can lay her hands on.
You can follow Katey on twitter – @Katey5678
A huge thank you to Katey for such a fab guest post and for sharing so much about her writing process.
Have you read Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown? What did you think? Do you read Christmas reads in the lead up to Christmas? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !