I adore the chocolate box charm which can be found in many of the market towns and villages of the Cotswolds. In fact, I just love the entire area! And this love resulted in my setting my Christmas romance The Snow Crystals in the Cotswolds.
The Snow Crystals is the first book of a series.
The story is of course typically British, as are my characters.
I loved writing it! I got the idea for the story, during the 2012 Christmas season. Funny how thinking about Santa Claus, and this ever present hope that he just might -we can but dream!- be real, was the trigger that got the whole process started. Although I hasten to add, that there’s no mention of Santa in this book.
After once again watching “Christmas with the Kranks” (based on Grisham’s “Skipping Christmas”), -which is a firm yearly Christmas favourite of mine-, two of the characters in Crystals came into their own. The annoyingly adamant Christmas carolers were quite an inspirational trigger. This is just one example that inspiration can come in many forms… in many ways. It can hit at any moment. And it usually is totally unexpected and out of the blue. For example, several years ago, the light fall in a film I was watching (OK, I confess, it was one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films), resulted in my writing a section of another book. It was just the light. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just that light fall…
Anyway, it is still the 25th of November here in Europe. Oh heavens! Today, one month from now, Christmas Day is well on its way towards its end. OK, back to the matter in hand (lol)… Tomorrow on the 26th of November, the lovely cover of The Snow Crystals will be revealed. I absolutely adore the cover, and it is all thanks to the wonderful and creative Patti Roberts of Paradox Book Cover Designs and Formatting. And then, two weeks later… tada! drumroll! the book will be available.
Tomorrow I will tell some about The Snow Crystals…
The first of December already.
December, the month of Christmas, Yule… the month of the Winter Solstice and the shortest day. The month that winter officially starts.
It also heralds the start of Christmas or seasonal music on Classic FM. My all-time favourite radio station! The seasonally themed music slowly builds up across the days, the weeks, and always is a great inspiration. Actually throughout the year they’re a welcome inspiration. But now that I have to finish the last of a Christmas romance/suspense (to be released autumn 2014), what better time to finish it than this coming season?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved the December month and the Yuletide. Of course the gifts under the tree were nice, but… I by far preferred a beautifully decorated tree. Decorations dotted around the house. The atmosphere. Perhaps I was a strange child. My late husband was totally gobsmacked that he could sit and wrap my presents while sitting in his easy chair opposite me, or even right next to me on the sofa. I assured him that I wasn’t looking. And I never did! His gifts were always a complete surprise to me. Knowing this he was glad he didn’t have to lock himself away in his study…. (lol). He placed them under the tree in the full knowledge that they’d be safe. Oh, I picked ’em up and put ’em on the coffee table when hoovering, and put them right back again., No prodding, no sniffing, no shaking. When I was a child, this lack of eager anticipation and curiosity used to baffle but also annoy my mother some. She expected me to pounce on the gifts… I didn’t. Across the years I’d lost count how often I heard “Don’t you think it is about time you open your gifts?” I loved the giving, as for the receiving, well, that could wait… and I was a pro at letting it wait.
Didier and Delphine…
2 December 2013
This morning, as Delphine, one of my cats jumped up on the kitchen counter top to see what I was up to, the thought once again hit me that I gave her the perfect name. She was a howling, abandoned, still blue eyed kitten of some six weeks when she came into my life. The second I took the little terribly upset and squirming diddy thing in my arms, she fell silent… but only for a fraction of a second. She snuggled up to and into me as if I was her long-lost mother; next she’d started purring loudly. At one and a half years old now, she remains diddy. What she lacks in size she makes up for in character! She’s an elegantly sleek, slim yet well filled, muscled, blue and white lady… there’s something Siamese about her physique. And within minutes of welcoming her into my home, and promising her that she had a forever home, I called her Delphine. From the word go, she listened to that name, and she answers me when I talk to her or call her. Sometimes the right name is instantaneous. Sometimes it takes weeks… or lots longer…
It’s ditto when naming the characters in my books. Or place names… or house names… or any names…
Sometimes I use real/existing places in my writing. Sometimes not. Sometimes trying to find the right name for a fictive village, town, house, pub, street name, and such, can be a right chore. Sometimes like with Delphine’s name materialising immediately, the same happens when writing. When the necessary inspiration for the above is temporarily (or for much longer) AWOL, I resort to ***. In The Snow Crystals, my editor, Ella Medler, pushed me to find village, lane, and house names. The document was ready for the beta-readers, but I still had not replaced the ***s with names. Rightmove (a UK property site) was helpful in finding a name for one character’s house. Rightmove also was useful for fabricating street/lane names. And the Ordnance Survey Road Atlas of Britain was useful in the fabrication of fictional town and village names. I wanted to make sure that they didn’t already exist somewhere else in the UK… I also wanted the names to be reasonably relevant to the area.
Those same blasted ***s still exist in my nearing completion Christmas romance/suspense which will be out next autumn (title… eh, not really sure of that yet). Up until just over a month ago, one main character remained ***. He’s now called Christopher, and it feels right. Ensuring that a name feels right, is very important to me. It’s been the same with my cats. Delphine was lucky that she had a name within minutes of joining the family. In fact I’ve never yet known a name was right for a cat so quickly. I usually have to live with them for a while… get to know them… their personality… It is the same with my fictional characters. Sometimes I need some time with them, too, to get it right. In that as-yet-unsure-of-the-title next Christmas romance, there is one character who never gets a name. Unless you consider The Nameless One a name, we never find out his name…
To a degree, for the next book (provisional title, for now – The Victorian Photograph), the names came remarkably easy. Michael and his father Maximilian. Yes, I know… double M. Shouldn’t really do that. But nothing but Michael and Maxim was right for these two characters. As for the name of the antiques business which Michael and Maxim run together with Maxim’s best friend, Adrian, and Adrian’s son Dylan, and his partner Clive, that remains up to now ***. I wonder how long it will remain *** Antiques? Really need to get my skates on for an appropriate name, for ere long Ella will be pushing me once again for a name… because *** just will not do! lol
Sometimes I’m surprised at my choice of names. Why oh why did I give two characters -two sisters- in The Snow Crystals the names Holly and Ivy? I tried to find other appropriate seasonal names, and even asked some friends, but no matter how much I played around, in the end I concluded that sometimes the first choice is the right and the best one. So, the girls stayed Holly and Ivy. As for Aidan, there was never any doubt about that. Although I do wonder why I called the other man Donald… but nothing else was right for him. And the seasonal names also continued on in two other characters… Caroline and Christina… the “Christmas Carolers”. Perhaps a bit naff to give characters seasonal names, but sometimes nothing else seems right, or seems to fit.
As I type, Baby is curled up next to the keyboard. Baby… he’s a sizable, tabby and white boy, who will be 3 next late spring, I’ve tried to conjure up another, a more mature name for him… but, no, nothing. His papers state Baby Aristides. But he continues to be: Baby. And he will remain so forever. As I said, he’s lying next to the keyboard… and curled up on “A Dictionary of British Surnames”. Google is a great source for all sorts, but I’ve got quite a few name books, including for cats. I think I’ve even got one for dog names.