My new contemporary romance ‘Sugar and Spice’ is chick-lit for food lovers everywhere! It stars the eye-catching ‘Luscious Lily’, a Nashville based celebrity chef who travels to the UK in search of chefs for her new TV show Celebrity Chef Swap. When I finished writing I realized Lily and I have a lot in common. Not in appearance – I’m definitely not a sparkly pink t-shirt, endless mini-skirt, endless legs and pink stilettos kind of girl – well, maybe I am in my dreams but that’s all! But Lily’s philosophy on cooking is similar to the way I write. Here’s a short excerpt from ‘Sugar and Spice’ where Lily has just arrived in Cornwall and is having tea with Betty, her new landlady.
Lily slathered her second scone with more of Betty’s wonderful home-made strawberry jam and thick Cornish clotted cream. ‘These are delicious. Would you mind sharing the recipe with me?’
Betty chuckled and shook her head. ‘Recipe? I make them up until the mixture feels right, dearie.’
Lily understood because she did most of her own cooking the same way.
I’ve tried following the directions in writing books, listened to workshops by various successful authors and talked to other writing friends about their process. Although I’ve gleaned useful tips from many of them, in the end I’ve gone the Frank Sinatra route and now do it ‘My Way.’ All I start with is maybe a vague mental picture of a character, perhaps an occupation one will have or maybe a setting. Then, like Lily, I start with an empty page (or kitchen in her case) and start to add ingredients. The first draft resembles the basic recipe for a cake and once it’s complete I go back and begin to add the things that will make it special until – as Lily says – the mixture feels right. Of course some stories work and some don’t and occasionally I have to metaphorically dump the cake in the bin and start all over again. Luckily it’s usually just a scene, or maybe words here and there that need to be changed and not the whole thing. Of course then along comes the editor, we’ll call them the head chef, who tastes the final product and suggests improvements. It might be keeping some love scenes at more of a gentle simmer while turning up the heat in others, tossing in a dash more seasoning or sifting out the lumps in an awkward scene before declaring the story properly cooked.
‘Sugar and Spice’ was great fun to write and hope my readers decide I got the mixture right!