Tuesday 29 November 2016

Sue Moorcroft on Writing the Christmas Novel!

Today, I'm thrilled to welcome author of The Christmas Promise (TCP), Sue Moorcroft to talk about Writing the Christmas Novel! TCP has done very well since the ebook release on 6 October 2016, and currently has 63 Amazon UK reviews (of which 53 are 5 star, and 7 are 4 star). Recently, TCP has reached the top 5 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart (and is this morning, number 3!). Congratulations, and over to you, Sue...! (updated 2 Jan 2017: TCP actually made it to number 1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart before Christmas, huge congratulations to Sue. And here's my 5 star review).
Writing the Christmas Novel, by Sue Moorcroft
It was some time ago that I watched Christmas novels selling year on year and decided that I ought to write one. I also talked over ideas with my agent and she picked the Christmassy one as having the most commercial potential – i.e. she felt confident in being able to sell The Christmas Promise to publishers because it was the one she felt the publishers would be able to sell to the readers.
Why do people like Christmas novels? Maybe they just want to extend their enjoyment of the atmosphere of present-giving and fab meals with loved ones, of munching on chocolates and watching Christmas Specials on TV. Or maybe it’s because the characters are probably having a worse Christmas then the readers are!
Ava, my heroine, isn’t a Christmas fan. To make sense of this in the context of a novel I gave her unpleasant associations from her childhood. To ensure she’d dislike this Christmas in particular I ran her millinery business into trouble. I also let ex-boyfriend, Harvey, threaten Ava that if she doesn’t go back to him he’ll disclose intimate pictures of her, the crime we popularly refer to as ‘revenge porn’. He makes the threat whenever he’s had a drink. And he drinks a lot.
Sam’s conflicts are less of his own making but just as intense. His mum Wendy is in the elapse between surgery and chemotherapy and he’s trying to make Christmas wonderful for her. He commissions a special gift, which is what involves Ava in The Christmas Promise of the title, a promise she finds increasingly hard to keep.

It takes me quite a while to write a book. This one took about nine months so I couldn’t count on having the Christmas atmosphere of snow and sleigh bells to sweep me through the process. July sun pouring through my study window or not, I needed to invoke Christmas myself, to select Christmas presents for my characters to give to one another and the Christmas shows they might attend.
If you’re hoping I can arm you with tricks like writing with the freezer door open and the computer festooned with tinsel, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. Like most people who have written for magazines I’m familiar with the situation of writing for one season while experiencing another. It just takes a combination of imagination and research.
The book was well underway when My Weekly magazine requested that a serial I was writing for them be set at Christmas, too. If I was able to comply then they could offer me a great slot in their Christmas special issues, the issues that sell better than any others of the year. Obviously I grabbed the offer. But writing a Christmas novel and a Christmas serial at the same time did leave me feeling pretty Christmased out! 
Would I write another Christmas book? Yes. It was poignant to have Ava and Sam deal with difficult issues when they’re expected to be jolly and everyone else seems preoccupied with sparkly clothes and wrapping gifts. Christmas is a great vehicle for highs and lows (and, don’t worry, they get their highs, too!).
I find myself looking forward to Christmas more, this year to seeing my book on the shelves and hoping that it contributes to readers’ happy Christmases. #MyPromise is I’ve done my best, anyway.

Thanks very much for your interesting post, Sue, and best of luck with the paperback launch for The Christmas Promise (released 1 December 2016, available for pre-order now).
Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. A past vice chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and editor of its two anthologies, Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor. She’s won a Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award and the Katie Fforde Bursary.

Sue’s latest book is The Christmas Promise (Avon Books UK, HarperCollins)
Facebook: sue.moorcroft.3
Twitter: @suemoorcroft
Instagram: suemoorcroftauthor
Amazon author page:

Wednesday 21 September 2016

How Going Back Changes Point of View

Me in Birmingham in 1973
I haven’t blogged here for a while, because summer term was busy, both at home and with my neetsmarketing work, and I decided to take the summer holidays off from blogging and social media (apart from my work for the HNS Conference). This summer, I went back to three places where I’ve lived, without really intending to. It just kind of happened.

Simon Michael's launch for An Honest Man
1.Birmingham where I was born: In June for client, Simon Michael’s book launch for An Honest Man at No5 Chambers, where I tweeted as my alter-ego neetsmarketing 

It was one of the most stylish launches I've attended with cocktails, and canapés, and actor, Robert Daws read a couple of excerpts beautifully with different voices for the characters. Simon's agent, Lisa Eveleigh has written a lovely post on the launch here.

Although I only lived in Solihull for the first year or so of my life, going back did make me think about how time flies, especially as I knew I'd be returning to Lancaster and Siena this summer.

Me, Adrienne Vaughan and Jules Wake at the RNA Conference, Lancaster
2. Lancaster where I went to school (and nearby Low Bentham where I lived for five years) for the Romantic Novelists' Association Conference 

Siena this summer
3.Siena, Italy where I studied, then au paired for eight months in 1994: I went to Italy this summer, and showed Siena to my family for the first time

We went to look at the outside of a flat where I rented a room, in Via di San Martino, off the Piazza del Campo. Unfortunately, the bar below which my flatmates and I used as a living room and somewhere to take phone calls from our parents has closed down. We ate lunch at Gallo Nero, where I used to make my way through carafes of Chianti and bowls of pasta with friends. It’s away from the main restaurants which were too busy, and we were given a lovely table in the corner, where I ate the most delicious home-made gnocchi with a duck sauce, washed down with a couple of glasses of Prosecco. Siena is the magical Tuscan city which inspired my first novel. We also visited the seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia where my au pair family had a house.

Castiglione della Pescaia
Going back makes you think. 

Birmingham was the first of many places where I've lived. My family moved around a bit when I was a child, then I moved to Cambridge (with time spent living in Grenoble and Siena), London (where I rented a few flats with friends), and now Surrey where I’ve remained in the same house for almost ten years, the longest I’ve lived anywhere.

Low Bentham, in the heart of North Yorkshire is where I sat at my mum’s typewriter one summer (because there wasn't much to do), aged ten and wrote a series of stories about a pink mouse and sent them to Ladybird: Pink Mouse’s Birthday, Pink Mouse Goes to the Dentist, Pink Mouse’s Adventure at the Supermarket; you get the picture. I used to make up a lot of stories for my sister who is six years younger than me. The beautifully-worded rejection letter is in the loft somewhere (waiting to be dug out, scanned and tweeted when I’m published ;-)). I also went through a phase of putting together a monthly magazine, and used the photocopier where my dad worked to make copies for my friends. I really wanted to write, even then. The main character in my first novel is from a farm in North Yorkshire.

High Bentham, up the hill from Low Bentham
Lancaster is where I had the two most inspiring English teachers. We read and discussed Jane Eyre, A Christmas Carol, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I can still hear one of them, Mr Church saying, ‘2L, it’s like talking to a wall’. We acted out A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the school gardens one summer, and it was a lot of fun.

When I first started writing, my thoughts were to write about something I already know and understand. This seems to be what a lot of writers do, while learning the craft of writing.

Now I write about places and things I don’t know as much about, which is more difficult, but it means I’ve moved forwards as a writer (hopefully).

Going back makes you see places from a different point of view.

I last saw Low Bentham as a fourteen-year-old in the 1980s, when my friends were in love with Tom Cruise, the album of the moment was The Joshua Tree, and we'd read Smash Hits on the bus, tearing out lyrics and posters for our walls. Now I’m older than my parents were when we lived there, a scary thought.

Me in Siena in 1994
I last saw Siena ten years ago, and before that in 1994. First I viewed Siena as a student, then as an au pair, then as the mother of a one-year-old going away for the weekend with friends. This time, I viewed Siena through the eyes of my husband and children, and I was so pleased that they liked Siena as much as I do. When you love a place, you want those you love to love it as much as you do. When I read my first novel now, written from the point of view of a twenty-one year old woman, the same age as I was in 1994, that life seems alien to me.  Especially as the life of a twenty-something is so different now. And one struggle I always had when writing that novel was making the main character different from me.

At the RNA conference in July, Alex Brown said that in her forties she found it difficult to write about women in their twenties, and at the HNS Conference, Tracy Chevalier said she writes historical novels to step outside of herself as it's easier to slip into autobiography in a contemporary setting (See Lorna Fergusson’s post here for more on Tracy’s talk). It’s reassuring to hear what they both said.

This blog is almost five years old, I can’t believe it. In October 2011, I thought that I was almost ready to be published. But I wasn’t, and although I feel that it’s getting closer, more time will pass before it happens. I have to say that I’ve gone through phases of really trying, and of not trying hard enough, because life has got in the way a little. But I’m still writing, and feeling especially inspired after a recent pitch at the HNS conference-see my neetsmarketing post here. And a few months ago, a well-known, and successful agent approached me asking to see my work. Although they liked parts of it, they didn’t feel strongly enough to take it on, but the fact that this agent approached me with an informal email (which I’ve printed and pinned to the notice board above my desk), something I could never have dreamed of when I started this blog, was a real boost, and another step up the ladder to being published. And for anyone who says that blogging and being on social media isn’t worth it for writers, well, I’d say it might be.

Previous post: My Mother and The Durells

Thursday 5 May 2016

My Mother and The Durrells

View of Trafalgar Square from steps of The National Gallery yesterday
Tomorrow it will be fourteen years since my mother passed away. Time heals, but there are reminders of her everywhere, which creep up when I least expect them to. Once someone has gone, they're so quickly forgotten (unless they're in the public eye), and now some time has passed, these reminders which once made me sad, help to keep my memories of her alive. 

The latest reminder is the wonderful Sunday night TV series, The Durrells. My Family and Other Animals was one of my mother’s favourite books, and she gave me a copy when I was around seven years old. It was one of those books that stayed with me, and that copy is in the loft somewhere (must read it again). Some books you remember reading more than others, and I still recall the picture I built up in my mind of Gerald Durrell’s life in that house in Corfu.

What’s so great about The Durrells? Pure escapism: it’s set in Corfu where the sun always shines, all the characters in the Durrell family have flaws, and the overall message is it’s OK when things go wrong, when your kids don’t do what you expect them to; and I especially like Larry’s life as a writer-the scene where he’s sitting under a tree tapping furiously on his typewriter, when he says, ‘I’m in the mood’. In last Sunday's episode, he received a rejection letter for his novel; and after a long discussion with his girlfriend, he decided to give up being a writer and became a farmer for the day. Farming didn’t suit him, and at one point he cut his foot with a spade. By the end of that episode, he announced that he was to be a writer and an intellectual. Besides all this, the actors are so well cast, led by Keeley Hawes, who plays Mrs Durrell beautifully.

The Durrells, like Downton Abbey transports you to a time when life was simpler and when there were fewer distractions. Today, I’m sure that the Durrells would have more of an outdoor life than in the UK because of the better weather and different culture: but if they had WiFi in that lovely house by the sea, perhaps Gerald would be too busy playing Minecraft on his iPad to capture and learn about animals and insects; Leslie might play Grand Theft Auto all day and night with strangers rather than shoot anything that moves; Margo might take pouty selfies and upload them to Instagram and Snapchat; Larry could be too busy writing self-indulgent blog posts, tweeting under the hashtag #amwriting and posting rants on Facebook to get any writing done. And Mrs Durrell would perhaps have discovered online dating. From what I’ve read online, The Durrells is loosely based on Gerald Durrell’s trilogy, but that doesn't bother me; it's an hour’s holiday on a Sunday evening, and I'm sure that my mother would have loved watching it.

I’m running a course on social media for writers on Saturday as my alter-ego neetsmarketing, and I went up to London yesterday to test out the IT side of things. I had a couple of hours to spare before my meeting at the hotel, so I went to a place where my mother always seems to be present: The National Gallery. She used to take me to London often on the train as a child and we’d go to The National Gallery before buying marmalade and sweets in Fortnum and Mason. At the time, I found this art gallery visit boring, as children generally do, and I’d sit on the leather banquette biting my nails, waiting for her to hurry up and finish studying the paintings, which seemed to take hours. But now I go there whenever I’m in London if I can, to see the paintings from my work in progress. Each time, I notice something different, and being that close to them fuels the old inspiration.

Here’s an old post on how my mother inspired my writing: Why do I write? 
Previous post: Something for the Inspiration, inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic.
Latest post from my neetsmarketing blog: How Can Real Life and Social Media Work Together?

And here's the trailer for The Durrells:

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Alison Morton on Taming Research!

Alison Morton is my guest today, with advice on how to tame research. I’ve known Alison for a few years, through Twitter, the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Historical Novel Society ("HNS"); and we've got to know each other especially well over the past year whilst working on publicity for the upcoming Historical Novel Society conference in Oxford (I'm Publicity Officer, and Alison is Assistant Publicity Officer, as well as an Indie Co-ordinator)

Last Tuesday, I met Alison for lunch at the London Book Fair (I attended as my alter-ego, neetsmarketing) to talk about the HNS conference publicity, and later on that day, I went to the launch for Alison’s latest thriller in the Roma Nova series, INSURRECTIO, where I got my hands on a signed paperback, and met up with some lovely author friends. Here's a selfie from our lunch:

Thank you, Alison for taking the time to write this post, and over to you!...

Getting organised – taming your research, by Alison Morton

Research. Yeah, I know, a sticky subject in more ways than one. Writing of any sort needs research whether it’s a modern shoes-and-shopping story, fantasy, crime thriller or a historical magnum opus. Readers will engage with your story as long as you keep their trust. So your story has to be plausible (even the elves...). Strongly coupled with this is the internal consistency of your book’s world, especially if it’s historical, science fiction or gritty urban crime. Readers investing their precious reading time in a rather strange place is high-risk for them. So you must build that world carefully and thoroughly or your credibility will crumble.

Leaving aside the cracking plot you’ve dreamed up, its setting has to be woven into the story. You have to know the scenery, weather, what the inhabitants look like, their clothes, beliefs and values, do they use buses, trains, horses, or just plod everywhere on foot? Can they vote and/or are they subject to a lord or lady’s whim?

Where do you start looking? What resources do you have or can reach without breaking the bank? And how do you organize what you’ve amassed?

Let’s get practical!

1. Identify what do you need
For my latest Roma Nova thriller, INSURRECTIO, I already had a g
ood general background in history, politics and economics with geography thrown in and a small specialist library of books on Roman life, women in Rome, and modern military women from writing previous books in the series. But for this new one I needed information about military tactics and weaponry, police procedures, journey times, internal government procedures, mounting a coup d’état, dictatorships and resistance organisation.

Of course, if you’re writing a romance around an ice-cream shop, you’ll need to dig into recipes, different types of milk, cream and flavourings, food handling and hygiene standards, tourism, supply systems within the catering industry, landlord and tenancy regulations, employment law, shop-fitting, weather patterns, etc.

You may already know something about those topics; I’d been in the military and studied women in military roles and living under a dictatorship, but I sat down and read up on the things I knew I’d forgotten. My advice is to immerse yourself in the period/world first so that your writing flows naturally when you come to draft the story.

2. Focus your research
Draw up a list of questions with spaces in-between, then sit down and write a short paragraph in answer to each. For example, what kind of climate does your setting have? In Roma Nova, it’s a merge of mountain with Mediterranean, which means longish summers; snow, high alps and pine trees in the mountains; grapes and olives in the lower land; and dust and heat in mid-August in the city. This will not only help your brain remember specifics subconsciously as you write, but will be a valuable reference tool if you forget something!

3. Note your sources
Always jot down where you found your information whether online or in the library or notes taken at a workshop. If you’re a normal human being, you will forget. If I take a photo of something fabulous in a museum, I always take one of the label; was that vase from the 1st century BC or AD? If your heroine is looking through a contract, what’s the reference for the Sales and Supply of Goods Act being replaced by the Consumer Rights Act? And where did you read the difference between a Glock and a Sig Sauer?

4. Don’t exclude anything
Printed sources are obvious, but don’t discount the Internet. Wikipedia has improved exponentially in the past few years and the bibliographies and references at the end of articles can yield rich pickings. These references can be easily stored  - see 4 below – but be ready to record and organise photos, podcasts, film and interviews. A smartphone is very handy for this as long as you download content to your online storage as soon as you can.

5. Files or files?
I’m a digital creature, so I tend to photograph, scan and store everything online. But I back up to Dropbox, to an external hard disk called Time Machine and lastly, to a remote storage server ‘somewhere in Kansas’. (Actually, it’s in the Netherlands.) Instead of bookmarks for virtual links, I use Protopage computer desktop organiser where I can organize my references into discrete groupings:  my books, Roman, other research, writing technique, dictionaries and glossaries, marketing/PR, self-publishing and that ubiquitous one ‘General’. Protopage is a free programme and you can just scroll down if you don’t want to see the adverts at the top.

I have a few paper-based files, mostly newspaper clippings, brochures, maps including an FAA one of flight paths over Washington and New York – absolutely mesmerising! I carry a notebook when I’m out to jot down overheard conversations or little gestures people make, and to note information and sources other people give me. I’ve usually taken a photo on my phone if it’s a building. And of course reference books are the stalwarts of research on which tend to use Post-it notes; I simply cannot bring myself to write on them.

My last piece of advice: whether writing historical, contemporary, crime or alternate history like my Roma Nova thrillers, be meticulous and methodical, whatever method you choose to organise your research.

Thank you for such a helpful post, Alison. I look forward to using your tips to re-organise my mountain of research books on the eighteenth century, newspaper articles, country house guidebooks, online articles and scribbled notes! Protopage looks especially helpful. Congratulations on the launch of INSURRECTIO, and best wishes for continued success with your novels!

Find out more about Alison and INSURRECTIO below:


‘The second fall of Rome?’
Aurelia Mitela, ex-Praetorian and imperial councillor in Roma Nova, scoffs at her intelligence chief when he throws a red file on her desk.

But early 1980s Roma Nova, the last province of the Roman Empire that has survived into the twentieth century, has problems – a ruler frightened of governing, a centuries-old bureaucracy creaking for reform and, worst of all, a rising nationalist movement with a charismatic leader.

Horrified when her daughter is brutally attacked in a demonstration turned riot, Aurelia tries to rally resistance to the growing fear and instability. But it may already be too late to save Roma Nova from meltdown and herself from entrapment and destruction by her lifelong enemy.…

Alison Morton's bio 

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre all over the globe.

Busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…

But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women.
Alison lives in France and writes Roman-themed thrillers with tough heroines.

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series
– shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
PERFIDITAS, second in series
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year
SUCCESSIO, third in series
– Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2014
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
– Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014
AURELIA, fourth in series, the first of a new cycle of three
– Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2015
– Shortlisted for the 2016 HNS Indie Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion

Fact file:
Education: BA French, German & Economics, MA History
Memberships: International Thriller Writers, Historical Novel Society, Alliance of Independent Authors, Society of Authors, Romantic Novelists’ Association
Represented by Blake Friedman Literary Agency for overseas and ancillary rights

Social media links:
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site
Twitter: @alison-morton

INSURRECTIO book trailer

Monday 29 February 2016

Something for the Inspiration

I’ve written a few posts about inspiration on this blog, and recently I read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, a New York Times Best Seller for over 200 weeks: a memoir of her journey of self-discovery, set in Italy, India and Bali; and a film with Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. If you’ve visited this blog before, you’re likely to know that I’m a big Italy fan (and yoga fan too), and so of course I bought Eat Pray Love as soon as I heard about it, and went to see the film when it came out at the cinema. Elizabeth Gilbert writes in a particularly engaging way, somehow provoking those thoughts that you brush away when going about daily life.

I like to read how-to-write books, my favourite being On Writing by Stephen King (mentioned here in previous post, How Do You Get Past Writer’s Block?), and these books live on the same shelf as my favourite novels, and eighteenth century research books. Big Magic is one of those books you might want to flick through when you can’t bring yourself to write, when you’re ready to give up, and when the idea of being a writer is driving you nuts; but because you’ve started you feel that you can’t go back to not being a writer. Elizabeth Gilbert is like a gentle mother reassuring a small child, with the message don’t worry, it’s all OK, you can have a break from it if it’s too much, you’re good enough to be a writer. And all that work you’ve done so far-even if it’s a load of old rubbish and you’ll never use it-has been worthwhile because it’s helped you develop as a writer. Think of Big Magic as a mother’s advice tailored to your writing life.
A favourite part of Big Magic is about ‘combinatory play’. Elizabeth talks about how, if you’re stuck to get involved with another kind of creative activity:
‘Once, when I was struggling with a book, I signed up for a drawing class, just to open up some other kind of creative channel within my mind.’
She goes on to say:

'Einstein called this tactic “combinatory play”-the act of opening up one mental channel by dabbling in another.......Part of the trick of combinatory play, I think, is that it quiets your ego and your fears by lowering the stakes.’

When I get stuck, I visit potential scenes from my work in progress and take photos, go for scenic walks and take photos, up the yoga classes, do research, read bits of novels which I consider to be the best ever written, read novels set in the same time period as my work in progress, read how-to-write books, make a cake or a big roast lunch for my family. I write blog posts like this one.

There are lots of thoughts and ideas to ponder upon in Big Magic, and when you find yourself pausing the writing because life gets in the way, and can’t seem to unpause: I’d recommend keeping a copy of Big Magic on standby.

Since last month’s post, Taking the #amwriting seriously, I have been doing as the title suggests (apart from a half term pause), but I’ll keep Big Magic within my reach next to On Writing, just in case.

And here’s a YouTube clip from Eat Pray Love. When I went to see this film at the cinema, the friend sitting next to me started to fall asleep as it’s quite a long film, and you either ‘get’ the middle ‘Pray’ part in India where Elizabeth Gilbert does a lot of meditating and soul-searching, or you don’t. But when the ‘Love’ part of the film began in Bali with Javier Bardem, she sat up in her chair and said, ‘Who is that?’

Some reviews of Eat Pray Love say the book is self-indulgent, but both book and film resonated with me; perhaps because I like the way Elizabeth Gilbert writes, or because of the Italy part, the yoga part, or due to Javier’s appearance in the film. Who knows?

Thursday 21 January 2016

Taking the #amwriting seriously

I mentioned in my previous Writing Reflections and Plans post that this neetswriter blog helps to keep my writing in check, and that’s certainly true.

I’ve been working on my novel daily with a new determination, updating my spreadsheet with the word count, working towards my end of month target, even when the word count decreases because I’ve cut bits out. This is the year of my book, this is the year that I’ll submit my book 2, and my goal is to get it finished before the Historical Novel Society Conference. My deadline is 2 September 2016.

There are days, aren’t there, where you write, and you produce rubbish, and you read it back (or don't even bother because you know it's totally rubbish), and think, ‘this isn’t working, and it never will.’ The next day, you say to yourself, ‘I’m going to leave it today, it’s just not working.’ Then it can be a week or more before you return to your manuscript. But I can’t do that this year, if I’m going to get book 2 finished. I need to produce the rubbish to produce the good stuff (but ideally produce writing gold all of the time). Because it’s like learning to drive (pre-Sat Nav), when you got lost and drove around for ages, trying to find your way to the right road. I had to get lost all of those times to get to know the roads around me. And isn’t that the case with many things? You have to get a bit lost to find your way, you have to make mistakes to know when you’re not making mistakes.

So there you go, my first neetswriter post of 2016.

A belated Happy New Year, and best wishes for a fantastic 2016.

And in true neetswriter blog tradition, I’m posting a summer holiday photo because it’s cold out there (in the UK), and the above photo is of a place where I’d like to be right now, watching the boats speed up and down Lake Garda. With perhaps one of these in my hand and a good book to read: