Join my Royal Rebel Competition and start collecting your super cute Royal Rebel patches today! Calling all readers: Royal Rebel book 1 will be published on January 3rd, so to celebrate I’ve got a royally fabulous ROYAL REBEL COMPETITION that’s ready to be launched just for you – and, FAB NEWS: I’m giving all my readers following me here and on my social media an exclusive head start. So to win your own super cute iron-on Royal Rebel patch, just like the one in the photo above, all you have to do is have some fun creating your own family coat of arms! To join our Fashion Your Own Future competition just follow these easy-peasy steps: Click here and head straight over to my publisher’s fabuliciously special ROYAL REBEL competition page. Once there, download the entry form. Then, create your own personal coat of arms in the blank space provided. Princess Lily in Royal Rebel has THE COOLEST family coat of arms – it has a white rearing unicorn against a red background. How special can you make your own coat of arms? Be as creative as you can, really go all out! Use your favourite colours and choose fun or interesting symbols or animals for it – something that you love or means something special to you. For instance, lions painted on a coat of arms traditionally meant courage and strength…maybe the lion is an animal you identify with? Or perhaps you love sports and want a more modern image on your coat of arms? So why not draw your favourite pair of sneakers, to represent speed and strength of spirit, for instance? Or a dog – maybe your dog – to represent loyalty? Or if the environment is important to you perhaps a flower or tree could be your symbol? Be as creative as you want and have fun! Once you’ve completed your coat of arms, it’s time to fill out the rest of the form. Make sure that a parent or guardian fills in the Parent’s/Guardian’s section and that they’ve read through and agreed to the terms and conditions set by my publisher. Once you’ve correctly filled out the entry form, just pop it into an envelope and post it to my publisher, Usborne Publishing, in London. Their address is on the entry form. That’s it! I can’t wait to see your coat of arms (YES, I will see them all!) and the first lucky thousand entries will receive their gorgeous Royal Rebel patch! Remember to collect all three! There will be another patch ready for you to add to your collection in June, when the second Royal Rebel book, Royal Rebel: Designer, is published. Then get ready for the third book, Royal Rebel: Stylist – and patch! – in September! More news on these exciting upcoming competitions will be posted here and on my social media when we’re closer to the publication dates of the next two Royal Rebel books, so stay tuned! Get creative and good luck! I can’t wait to see all of your fabulous coat of arms designs! Royally yours, Carina x Read more.
Happy Holidays! Here I am at The Pig on the Beach in Dorset, where I kicked off my holiday (over)eating! Hey everyone! I would like to wish all of you very Happy Holidays! I’m SO excited about 2019 and I’ll have so much to share with you over the coming year. The first three books in my new book series, Royal Rebel, will be published in 2019. The first one, Royal Rebel, will be published on January 3rd, which is only a few days away!!! YAY! Book two, Royal Rebel: Designer, will follow in June, and book three, Royal Rebel: Stylist, will be published in September, so it’s going to be a busy year of writing, editing, book tours, and meeting lots of fabulous readers like you! Also, stay tuned because this coming week, together with my U.K. punisher, I’ll launch a super fun ROYAL REBEL COMPETITION, right here on my website and on my social media, so make sure you check back! There are some SUPER CUTE PRIZES I’m royally excited to share with you. You’ll love them! My website is also getting a new look this year. Right now I’m in the process of adding Royal Rebel fun stuff like new Royal Rebel videos and graphics, so make sure you check back to see it all. Plus I’m working on adding loads of updated material, like new writing tips(!), so that’s one more fabulicious reason to check back in a couple of weeks! For now, though, click here to head over to my new Royal Rebel page – then check back in a few weeks, when the new videos are up, to see how the page has changed! This last year was filled with some highs – and some lows. Personally, one big and very exciting change for me in 2018 was finding my very pretty little mouse house cottage on the Dorset coast in England, which I use for writing. I had a little cottage I was renting in this part of Dorset before, one I kept for a couple of years…but my new cottage especially pleases me and I really, really love spending time here. I enjoy the stunning landscape (great for dog walks), my wonderful neighbours and friends, the slow pace and quaint coziness of life here – all which makes a wonderful contrast to my big-city trips and my time spent in Germany. My cute cottage by the sea is small, warm, and cosy. I have a writing room with just enough space for the books I need, plus a desk. Best of all, my writing room has a door that leads directly into the lovely garden at the back of my cottage, so on warm days I can leave the door open and the dogs can go in and out as they please and I can hear birdsong as I write, which is about as perfect as life gets for me, really! My biggest low of 2018 was losing two of our beloved black Labradors. One, Amber, was mine, and the other, Wilma, was my partner’s. We’d had them since they were young dogs and they were the loveliest, sweetest friends we could have asked for. I get a little bit of consolation knowing they both lived long, happy lives – Amber was nearly 15 years old and Wilma was close to 16. They were best friends and we were pretty sure that when one of them died the other would follow soon afterwards – which is effectively what happened: Amber died in July and Wilma in August. Another small consolation is that they both died at home in Germany, in their beds. I held Amber whilst she was put to sleep. It was horrible but I’d rather she died that way than any other. If you have a dog or cat or horse or any other pet you love dearly, please give your lovely fur-baby a hug from me and remember to give them all the love you can for as long as you are lucky enough to have them! Click on the pic above to see a short video of the girls at the Mouse House, feelin’ the Christmas seaside breeze… At the moment I am working on the last round of editing for Royal Rebel book 2, plus I’m starting to write book 3, all while gearing up for my upcoming book tours for book 1. Writing Royal Rebel has been a blast and I have enjoyed every second of flipping the conventional princess story on its head! In case you haven’t yet checked out my Royal Rebel page, here’s little bit about the series: my main character, Princess Lily, is a dynamic thirteen year old with some strong ideas about what she should do with her life – yet she is also a Crown Princess and future queen of the world’s only queendom, Waldenburg. Like lots of kids, Lily struggles with doing what her parents want her to do – be the perfect princess and future queen – and what she wants to do – have her own vlog showcasing all her DIY fashion projects – something the palace would not approve of…So what does Lily do? Can she keep her vlog a secret? You have to read the series to find out!!! I mentioned that Lily is the future queen of the world’s only queendom – a place I’ve created and called Waldenburg. It’s a tiny queendom high in the mountains between Germany and France and has only ever been ruled by queens. In fact, in Waldenburg men are not allowed to rule! Also, kids take their mothers surname name when they are born and all inheritance passes through women. The monarchy, parliament, and all other key positions in the queendom are held by women. There is no women’s movement in Waldenburg – there is no need for one! But there is a mens’ and boys’ movement! I hope you’ll have as much fun reading about Waldenburg as I have had creating it! I wish you all a 2019 filled with a ton of love, lots of exciting new projects, good health, good school results, lots of yummy cakes and cupcakes – and masses of good books to read!!! Thank you for reading my books, thank you for having a look at my blog, and, most of all, thanks for all of your lovely messages and good vibes! Happy holiday reading! Carina x Read more.
Read Royal Rebel chapter 1 now! Hey everyone! Royal Rebel chapter 1 is here! So click on the fabulous cover above and get ready to meet Her Royal Highness Princess Lilian Athena Isabella Marie, the heir to the throne of the fairytale like Queendom of Waldenburg! WHAT’S ROYAL REBEL ABOUT? As the future queen of the world’s only queendom (YES!!!), Lily is busy learning all about how to run a country – while trying to keep her HUGE secret a, well…secret. That’s no easy task when you’re the heir to the throne and the palace is watching your every move – AND your secret happens to be the hottest teen fashion DIY vlog. Lily is desperate to keep vlogging in her secret tower at the palace – it’s the only time she can be herself, without her parents, grandmother, bodyguards, or anyone else at the palace peering over her shoulders and commenting on everything she does, says, and wears. But as more and more viewers tune in to hear Lily’s fashion DIY tips on her fast-growing vlog, Tiara Girl, will Lily be able to keep her royal identity under wraps? WHEN WILL ROYAL REBEL BE OUT IN THE U.K.? I had such a blast writing Royal Rebel and I cannot wait to share Lily’s story with all of you! Royal Rebel book 1 will be published by my royally fabulous publisher, Usborne, in the U.K. this coming January, so not much longer to go! Right now I’m writing the second book in the series, with more of Lily’s royal adventures on the way. This series is about so many of my favourite things: comedy, girl power, fashion, dogs, palaces, ponies, feminism, and even a tiara or two…I can’t wait for you all to read it! Till then, I hope you enjoy the first chapter. Let me know what you think in the comments below or send me an email via my Contact page. And make sure you stay tuned here (or follow me on Instagram and Facebook) for all Royal Rebel updates. In the lead up to publication there will be more royal announcements, giveaways and fun stuff coming your way – no curtseying required! So start polishing your favourite tiara now! Royally yours, Carina x Read more.
Chers lecteurs français , I’m super happy to share with you that Vlog Princess – U.K. title: Royal Rebel – will be published in France this September – so, VERY, VERY SOON!!! I want to thank my French readers for writing me so many lovely messages, asking about when the next Fashion Detective book will be published…as of now I have no specific date for Fashion Detective book 4’s publication in France. That’s mostly due to the fact that my French publisher, Fleurus, has been working on the preparations for Vlog Princess’s launch in France this fall. So please keep following me for updates concerning Fashion Detective book 4 because I’ll let you know about any developments here on my website and on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. Thank you for being such awesome Fashion Detective readers! Your loyalty means a lot to me! In the meantime, check out the totally fun and fabulicious cover of book 1 of my new series, Vlog Princess: I LOVE it!!! The background will be holographic – something that you get a sense of in this picture – but, trust me, I’ve seen it in real life and I promise you it will take your breath away, like it did mine. It’s spectacular: holding the book is like clutching a handful of rainbow dust! Seriously! At my French publisher’s office, in April, discussing the launch of Vlog Princess. Very exciting!!! Also, exciting news: stay tuned because very soon I’ll be able to share the first chapter of Vlog Princess with you here! For now, though, I can tell you that my new series is about so many of my favourite things: girl power, ponies, vlogging, royal style, DIY fashion, dogs, friendship, palaces, feminism, history, glitter, princesses and queens, and, best of all, being true to yourself! I’ve had such an amazing time writing the first book of my new series, because I think these are things that interest all of us. I can’t wait until you can read Vlog Princess and let me know what you think – although I know already now that once you read about Princess Lily, heir to the throne of Waldenburg – the world’s only queendom – and hear all about her secret DIY fashion vlog, you’ll want your very own passport to Waldenburg! Vlog Princess book 1 will be published in France at the end of September. I still don’t have a specific date, so, again, please stay tuned for more information. Till then I wish you une super vacances d’été, rempli de beaucoup de bons livres à lire!!! Carina x Read more.
Some weeks ago I went to Iceland to do a book tour for the Icelandic publication of Model Under Cover: A Crime of Fashion. My Icelandic publisher, Tindur , invited me last fall; for me it was a real pinch-me kind of moment because I love Iceland and was thrilled to be published in that country. I didn’t hesitate to say YES immediately! Once the book was translated and a publication day was settled on, my book tour was planned, and as the day for my departure loomed all I could think about was how much fun it would be. I was met at the airport in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, by Helgi, my publisher, and Svava Jónsdóttir , translator of a Crime of Fashion. They whisked me off to my hotel and there I was handed my first copy of A Crime of Fashion. So how did it feel to see Model Under Cover translated into Icelandic: Fabulous! Seeing one of my book babies come to life in another language is super exciting – especially when it’s a country I like as much as Iceland! I kicked off my book tour with some school visits. Fortunately, all Icelandic kids learn English in school, so everywhere I went everyone spoke flawless English. Lucky me – because my Icelandic is nonexistent! I had a blast buzzing in and around Reykjavik, visiting schools, doing interviews, attending my book launch party and, best of all, meeting some super cool Icelandic readers! Here’s What I Did: Model Under Cover fun at Icelandic schools – this one just outside of Reykjavik’s city centre. Being interviewed at Reykjavík’s largest book store, Eymundsson. At my book launch party, with my Icelandic translator, Svava Jónsdóttir. YAY! A Crime of Fashion in the wild, in Reykjavík’s – and Iceland’s – largest bookstore, Eymundsson! Picture taken by my translator, the lovely Svava Jónsdóttir… Seeing one of my book babies translated into a different language is a fab feeling that never gets old! During my trip I was mostly in Reykjavík, and, although most of my time was taken up with book work, my publisher made sure I’d also have enough time to squeeze in some sightseeing (how nice is that!?!). My inner culture vulture was delighted! Scroll down to see some of the fun and interesting places I saw. Sightseeing – Icelandic Style! Hellloooo Iceland! Visiting the house of Icelandic Nobel laureate, Halldór Laxness. It’s a super cool house with a strong creative vibe. Love! The harbour. The light and colour of the water constantly changes min Iceland, so you have to be quick with your camera to capture a moment. A view of the colourful houses and buildings of Reykjavík, as seen from the top of the Hallgrímskirkja church spire. And, yup, this city of about 200,000 inhabitants has no skyscrapers. The front facade of Hallgrímskirkja, Iceland’s largest church. It’s stunning on the inside – I’ve never been in a church like it. Click the pic to find out more. Love this place, the Ion Adventure Hotel, outside of Reykjavík, with its views over the surrounding countryside and warm natural spring spa – and delicious food. I’m always curious to see the rooms other writers write in. This one was the one designed and used by Icelandic Nobel laureate, Halldór Laxness, and his wife, Audur Laxness. My Top Tips on what to see in Reykjavík… I love Iceland – it is a magical Island and the people are lovely! If you have the chance to go, GO! I’ve been a few times, and on my previous trips I was lucky enough to spend all of my time in the countryside. The geysers, waterfalls, volcanic landscapes and dramatic coast are magnificent. If you’re tempted by a visit to the Icelandic countryside then I’d recommend a horseback riding tour. Icelandic horses are the BEST! Also, seeing them in large, colourful herds, running free on the rough Icelandic hills is amazing. And riding them makes me feel like I did when I’d ride as a child. There is something about their small size and beautiful long, thick manes and tails and friendly personalities – not to mention the fact that they come in so many lovely colours – that takes me back in time. Writing about them makes me want to go back and visit and ride SOON! But if you only have time for a quick visit to Iceland, and plan on staying in and around Reykjavík, then, apart from checking out the old city centre – it’s charming, with its laidback pace and quaint wooden buildings – I’d also make sure to include a peek at the following sites (apart from the ones I’ve listed above!): Hallgrímskirkja. This one is easy because it’s right smack in the middle of Reykjavík. Make sure you go to the top of the spire; you’ll get the best view of the city from there. Also, the pared down interior is very Icelandic in its simplicity and beauty. It’s a stunning church. Perlan Museum. This fun, interactive museum is just outside of Reykjavík but you can get free shuttle buses from the city. It’s worth going for the view from the observation deck alone, but you’ll also get a crash course in the natural wonders offered in Iceland. It has a good restaurant, too! Ion Adventure Hotel. This unique boutique spa hotel is about an hour (not more) outside of Reykjavík. Its amazing architecture and stunning location make it worth the drive. I went for dinner – and next time I’ll be sure to stay a night so I can take advantage of their beautiful spa and natural hot spring. It’s a small, chic, yet down to earth hotel. I love it! I hope you get to visit Iceland! I have no doubt you’ll love it! Carina x Read more.
My writing bolthole – Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle would feel right at home… After being Missing In Action on my social media these last few weeks, I have finally come up for air and can say that I had a super fun reason for being MIA: I was getting my new writing bolthole in order! If you’re not sure what I mean by “bolthole” then here’s my best description…A bolthole refers to a place you love to escape to, usually small, definitely peaceful; it’s a place that may or may not be secret…Mine isn’t a total secret because those of you following me on my social media know that for the last three years I have kept a little cottage near the sea, on the south coast of England, in Dorset. It was a place that I (and my boyfriend and my dogs) used often for writing, holidays and breaks, and even Christmas and New Year’s on occasion. Then, last fall, I decided to find myself a new mouse-house, something a bit different from what I had. In the soft-focus daydreams of what my next writing bolthole would look like, I imagined a cute cottage that was closer to the sea, had a larger garden and a thatched roof – and voila, I found it! And I love it! And so do the dogs. (And the boyfriend.) So in between books I’ve been busy getting it cosy. My mouse-house by the sea is the perfect place to be at any time, frankly, but especially when I have writing deadlines and am in what I call “scarecrow mode” (because my boyfriend says I look like a scarecrow when I’m rushing to meet a deadline, keep reading to find out why). Scarecrow mode means that I’m basically writing day and night and don’t have the time or mental space to deal with distractions – even normal ones like washing my hair (so, yeah, I can go for days without washing it and end up, according to my boyfriend, looking like, you guessed it: a scarecrow!). When I’m in scarecrow mode I don’t want to see anyone, think about what to wear (so I’ll grab whatever is closest to reach), or have to cook meals at regular hours. I just want to write and walk my dogs and maybe read a bit and that’s it. I honestly can’t do much more than that when I have a book to finish! Anyway, at my cottage by the sea I can do whatever it takes to meet my deadlines without bothering anybody – or anybody bothering me. I will have three books published in the U.K. next year (yup, 2019 and 2020 will be buuusssyyy!), so, basically, I will be in full scarecrow mode for the foreseeable future…plus I’ll have to take care of my book babies and their launches – something I’m super excited about! I can’t wait to see my new series, Royal Rebel, in U.K. bookstores and I REALLY CAN’T WAIT TO MEET MY READERS once I start doing school visits, book tours, festival events, etc. (And, yes, I’ll wash my hair for my events!) Other Fab News: My new bolthole writing desk arrived two days ago and I love it. It’s a armoire desk, meaning that on its top half two large vertical cupboard doors open to reveal a built in desk. There is space for a large computer inside of it and a keyboard can rest on the pullout shelf below it. I thought this was the ideal solution for my cottage because this way I can work in my sitting room all day, but, then – say a friend comes round for tea – like magic, I can shut the doors and within seconds my manuscript, paperwork, notes, etc. can conveniently “disappear”. It also has another super cool feature: it has pretty pin-boards attached to the inside of its large cupboard doors, which are perfect to use as a mood board for whatever book I’m writing. Love! As for what the rest of my writing mouse-house looks like…well, it’s a very old cottage, built a very long time ago, so in addition to its sweet thatched roof it has low ceilings, little wood-paned windows, a stone floor in the kitchen, and sunny rooms. It’s super cosy; a girlfriend described it as being like Snow White’s cottage in the forest – only without the seven dwarves, which I think pretty well describes it! I have lots of books everywhere (of course!) and there is a large wooden table in the kitchen where I can draw. A lot of the antique furniture I bought at the Paris flea-markets (when I was living there as a model) is scattered throughout the rooms; it’s fun to see it here, in my English cottage by the sea, adding a touch of French glamour. Every piece and painting has a special story about when and where I bought it and I cherish every piece. Which reminds me… Just a note to those of you who are starting out with your writing: you don’t need to have your own cottage or a huge office to write. When I started writing Model Under Cover I was living in Paris and wrote (in pen and on paper, because I didn’t have a computer!) the first draft to the first book, A Crime of Passion, whilst living in a teeny-tiny top floor garret of a 17th century building in the heart of old Paris. And before that, when I was writing and illustrating my first published book, a picture book for young children called Nigel of Hyde Park, I did it all whilst living in another teeny-tiny one room garret, also in the heart of old Paris. Later, when I moved to Germany to live with my boyfriend, I put some IKEA furniture into an old disused room (and left the old curtains and carpet and awful wallpaper!) and wrote all four of my Model Under Cover books there…my point is, just start writing where you are. If you have your own bedroom then write there. Clear some space on your desk and get cracking! If you don’t have your own bedroom, then do what I did as a teen: write at your local library. I loved working and reading in my local library and spent as many hours there after school as I could. Jane Austen famously wrote her books (all of which I love – if you haven’t read any Jane Austen then do!) at a tiny table in her family’s sitting room. I’ve read that she would quickly cover up her manuscripts with blotting paper as family members walked in and out, so they wouldn’t read what she was working on. I find that now I need more peace and quiet than I used to in order to get more work done. I have more emails to answer, more books to plan for, more accounting to deal with (ugh!), more of everything, in fact, that goes along with being a published author today. And maybe I’m just older and like things to be more quiet. So, yeah, I’m excited about using my mouse-house by the sea. Most of all, though, I’m just super happy to be able to write books I love, for readers I love! Carina x I love Dorset! Read more.
Meet the royal rebel of my new book series: Princess Lily of Waldenburg. She’s a future queen with a HUGE – and fashionable – secret! Hi lovely readers! I’m SUPER excited to finally be able to introduce you to the first book in my new series, Royal Rebel!!! So get ready to meet Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Lily of Waldenburg, heir to the throne of the fairytale like Queendom of Waldenburg – the world’s only queendom! I hope you’ll love this new series that combines so many of my favourite things: girl power, comedy, DIY fashion, secret turrets, dogs, feminism, ponies, and even a tiara or two… The first book in this new series will be published in the U.K. in January 2019 (so, just in time to kick off a fab new year! YAY!!!) and, until then, there will be a whole lot of royal announcements and fun stuff coming your way! So keep checking back here. In the meantime, here is a royal teaser: Hi! I’m Lily and I’m going to be a TOTALLY AWESOME FASHION VLOGGER! There’s just one thing that night stand in my way. I’M A PRINCESS. But a Princess can do whatever she wants, right? WRONG. Because one day I’ll be queen of Waldenburg. And if there is one thing a future queen DOES NOT DO, it’s vlog about fashion… So I just have to make sure I DON’T GET CAUGHT – but keeping a secret this big isn’t easy… Royally yours, Lily xoxo Also, definitely MAKE SURE YOU you check back soon because I’ll post the FIRST CHAPTER of ROYAL REBEL, here, for you to read! In the meantime, start polishing your favourite tiara and remember: GIRLS RULE!!! (Literally, in Waldenburg!) Royally yours, Carina x Here’s the teaser I drew for my Instagram followers! I had so much fun drawing it! Read more.
At Francis Holland, in the heart of Chelsea, London. So many lovely readers! I’ve just returned from my World Book Day (in the U.K. and Ireland it was on Thursday March 1st) tour, half of which I spent in and around London, England, and the other half in Copenhagen, Denmark. I met lots of super lovely enthusiastic readers of all ages and had SUCH A BLAST sharing my thoughts on books, writing, reading and fashion. World Book Day! At the Green School, with fab librarian and book blogger, Emma Gray. Walking to Waterstones bookstore – in the snow! I’ve never seen London dusted in white – and talk about cold! Although the snow made getting around a bit tricky, it was beautiful. I won’t ever forget how magical the view was as I walked up Piccadilly Road on my way to Waterstones to sign some books. It really was like walking in a giant snow globe. London Wonderland! World Book Day was a snowy one in the U.K. this year! Here’s Buckingham Palace in the snow. I stopped by my agent’s office for a long book chat. Lots of exciting plans for this year! At my publisher, Usborne, making plans for my new series, Tiara Girl. Stay tuned! After London, I continued my World Book Day tour in Copenhagen… Amalienborg Palace. It was snowing when I took this picture, although you can’t tell from the photo. Happy to be at my favourite English book store in Copenhagen: Books & Company! It looks like I’m trying to do magic, or exercise, or something…in fact, just talking all things MUC. In Copenhagen I visited bilingual and international schools – so, YES, thank goodness, all the students spoke English and, no, I DID NOT have to even attempt to speak Danish. WHEW! I also had an event at my favourite independent English bookstore in Copenhagen, the super cosy and cute-as-a-book-worm, Books & Company. My event happened to fall on International Women’s Day, so there was a lot of empowering talk: Celebrating International Women’s Day! Love the T-shirt on the far right. What was hugely exciting for me on this tour was that I was finally able to talk about my new series, Tiara Girl (see my last post). YAY! The feedback was great and I think readers are really going to love diving into Princess Lily’s girl-power, tiara-wearing, dog-loving, world! Book 1, Secret Fashion Princess, will be published in August 2018, so stay tuned… Tiara Girl: Secret Fashion Princess will be mouton august 9th. I an’t wait!!! Click on the pic to find out more… Now I’m back at my writing desk and I’m working on the very last round of editing of Secret Fashion Princess. It’s almost finished, which is a very exciting feeling. At the same time I’m working on the second book in the series – it still doesn’t have a title – and getting ready for some more exciting Model Under Cover events which I’ll be doing this spring. I just want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the amazing readers who made my tour such FUN! You are the best and I had an amazing time meeting each of you! Thank you so much for making my World Book Day tour so special! Carina x Read more.
Writing on the go – in Paris, last week… The truth is, I like writing at home, in my writing room, best. Everything I need close at hand, in an environment I’ve created for myself. I also love the views from my writing room windows (although I spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME watching the birds at my bird feeder when I should be writing!) and, most of all, knowing that my dogs are sleeping under my desk makes me really happy. But…sometimes, like when an impending deadline coincides with a previously scheduled book tour or research trip, writing on the go is my only option. I have written on trains, planes, and boats. In cars, cafes, airports, holiday lodges, hotels, friends’ houses and mountain cabins. I’ve written at locations varying from snowy mountains and beautiful gardens to hot beaches and city cafes. I’ve learned that I can write pretty much anywhere…although having a few key things along for the ride definitely helps. For those of you who would like to write anywhere (maybe, for instance, you’ve already started writing a book and need to finish it, but a family holiday is looming) I’d suggest finding a few things to help you get into the writing zone when you’re away from home, so you can finish writing your book, whether you’re visiting your granny, camping with your family, or have a long train ride planned… Here’s my list of the writing necessities I never leave home without; I hope it’ll inspire you to find your own! 1.) My laptop! It’s an obvious one, I know, but if I forget it I won’t be able to work, so I always make sure I slip it into its travelling case and pack it into my work bag the night before I go anywhere. I also keep extra computer cables for charging and hooking up to electrical sockets packed in ziplock bags, so they’re easy to grab and pack. Also, I always make sure I pack two extra memory sticks, because you never know! 2.) A scarf! I need to be warm while writing or nothing is going to get written, frankly. Therefore I always travel with some kind of large, light, and super soft scarf. Something I can wrap around my neck, or even my shoulders if need be. To be honest, I wouldn’t dream of travelling without one…in fact, I usually wear one whilst writing at home, too! 3.) Tea. I drink so much (herbal and green) tea that this is another travel must for me! I might be in a wooden cabin in the middle of nowhere in Norway, but as soon as I brew my own tea, I’m suddenly transported to my cosy comfort zone. Ditto for trains or planes, or anywhere else that offers a limited choice. 4.) My trusty pencil bag. I NEVER leave home without it. In it you’ll find an assortment of clicky pencils, coloured pens, black pens, felt-tip pens, erasers, highlighters and sticky notes – all the various bits and bobs I need to write and edit. And because I use the exact same stuff at home, again, like with the tea, I can be anywhere and feel like I’m at my desk at home. 5.) My notebook of the moment. For every book I write I keep a notebook – one that’s light enough to easily slip into my handbag or tote bag. In this notebook I jot down every thought, idea, doodle, timeline, etc. that pertains to whichever book I’m working on. I like Moleskin notebooks with unlined pages, not too big, but not too small. And I always choose ones whose covers are in colours that make me happy. The truth is, these notebooks are basically attached to me at all times – even at home. So like my pencil bag, I cannot imagine travelling without them. Wherever I may be in the world, all I have to do is unpack them from my bag and immediately I start getting into my writing zone. 6.) Noise-cancelling headphones. As much as possible, I like TOTAL QUIET when I’m writing – although silence is not always an option when writing on the go. That’s when I pop my noise-cancelling headphones on. They cancel out all of the low-grade background noise and make writing on trains or planes, or even just working somewhere noisy much easier for me. Mine are made by Bose. I won’t lie: they are pricey! But worth it. Plus, once I’ve hit my writing quota I can kick back and listen to a podcast or some tunes. That’s it! We all have our little tricks and happy habits to get the words onto the page when writing on the go – I found mine through good ol’ trial and error. What special things do you pack for writing on the go? Do you need only a few things? Or more? Let me know in the comments below! Happy writing – and safe travels! Carina x Making myself feel at home in the Norwegian lodge I stayed at last summer… Read more.
Happy holidays everyone! It’s hard to believe it’s nearly the end of the year! Where does the time go??? The autumn whizzed right by, book deadlines came and went, the first heavy snows of winter fell, and now Christmas is here! Hard to believe… I haven’t updated my blog in a while because my entire fall seemed to get eaten up by a bunch of book deadlines – plus book and research trips to London (twice!), Bavaria (in Germany) and Copenhagen, Denmark (twice!). AND I was redoing my writing room! The book deadlines were all for my new secret project (yup, the one I still can’t say ANYTHING about except that I’m SO EXCITED about it!)…but I kept to my schedule, handed in my manuscript on time (WHEW!) and have even gone through the first round of editing on the new book. There’s still another round of editing to go, but in the meantime I’m about to start on the next book. And once the new year kicks in I’ll finally be able to start sharing some news with you about my secret project! YAY! I think these are every author’s favourite two words to write – well, mine anyway. And I got to write them this fall! I’ve also been busy renovating my writing room and this has been SUCH A FUN PROJECT!!! It’s also a bit stressful, if truth be told, because for a few months all of my writing and drawing stuff was packed up (with the obvious exception of my laptop) – exactly at the time I was writing my new book! And although I’m good about writing anywhere…still, my favourite place to write is my designated writing space. This is also why I haven’t been taking too many pictures of me writing/working, or shot any videos at all lately. It’s hard to take a pretty picture or make a nice video when the background isn’t looking right! But as of this week it finally looks on track – my writing chair and sofa finally came back from my upholsterer, all covered in beautiful new fabrics, and that has made a HUGE difference to the room! Stay tuned to my Instagram and Facebook feeds for some pics of my new pretty-in-pink writing paradise. At this point the shelves were up…but I was still waiting for my desk lamps, new carpet, sofa, writing chair, etc., etc… My restored writing desk with my new lamps! Plus carpet…Moving right along… As for my work and research trips, scroll down to see some highlights of what I was up to on my last trips to London, Bavaria, and Copenhagen. Hint: this includes lots of research for my new secret project – and some really fun model Under Cover school visits! I had a blast visiting JFK School outside of London! Feeling the fashion detective vibe at Presdale Girls School! I fed my inner culture vulture with a night out at Sotheby’s Auction House. The orange artwork behind me is by Richard Prince (and dates from 1988-89). I stopped by one of my favourite independent Chelsea bookstores, John Sandoe, off King’s Road…and, yup, you bet I bought a ton of books there! Click on the pic to check out the John Sandoe website. I caught a Mozart concert, too, at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea. I’ve been a Mozart fan/nerd since the age of nine! Choosing art supplies at my favourite London shop for doing just that: Green & Stone on King’s Road in Chelsea. Click on the pic to find out more about Tree & Stone! This is the The Queen of Denmark’s palace in Copenhagen. I was in Copenhagen to do some secret project research. But I won’t say more! Feeling the Christmas vibe in the super charming village of Oettingen in Bavaria, Germany. More secret project research… I was back in London last week – and had tea with my scones-and-tea bestie, the super talented YA writer Holly Bourne! We ate WAY TOO much. Click on the pic to check out Holly’s tumblr page! The Christmas tree at Claridge’s Hotel in London. Every year they ask a famous fashion designer to decorate their Christmas tree…and this year it was Karl Lagerfeld, designer at Chanel, who did it. And yes, his tree is hanging upside down! It looked amazing, though! Click on the pic to find out more about this tree. This pic was taken just after I stepped out of the cinema, after watching Paddington 2, which is the most ENCHANTING film ever. I LOVED it!!! For once a film does the book(s) it’s based on justice! How CUTE are these MUC bookmarks!!! I’m holding a giveaway over Christmas so head over to my Instagram or Facebook pages to enter! I wish every single one of my lovely readers the very best of holidays!!! May your days be merry and filled with masses of love, excitement, and, of course, a ton of good books to read!!! (Including, I hope, a few of mine!) Thank you so much for all of your support throughout the year. Being an author can be lonely work, but receiving all your emails and Instagram and Facebook messages really always makes my day! Carina x Merry Christmas!!! (Yup, those are my two Cocker Spaniels!) Read more.
Some puppy lovin’ always helps me feel better when my writing is stuck! Lots of you send me writing questions over my website and social media, which is great because it means so many of you are TOTALLY into books and reading and writing. But although I get lots of different and interesting questions…the one question that I’m asked the most is along the lines of: “What do I do when I’m having trouble writing my story?” or “I have started my story but I don’t know how to finish it…” So if you want to know what I do when I’m in EXACTLY that kind of writing bind, check out the question below, sent to me last week from a young aspiring writer living in the UK, along with my (VERY LONG) answer… QUESTION: Dear Carina, I have come up with multiple ideas for great stories that I’d like to write. The problem, though, is that although I can begin stories without a problem, the middle and the end keep giving me trouble. I could just give up, but I love to write stories so much that I can’t. I love how, with good writing, it creates images in your head and leaves you on cliffhangers that make you want to read more. Your writing is all the things I have just described and causes me to enjoy your writing. Anyway, what I am trying to ask is how to put the story together and make them mix? How do you know where to put certain scenes in the story and how do you describe while at the same time making them fit into the story? MY ANSWER: First of all, you are not alone! ALL writers struggle with writing – even experienced ones. Putting a story together is no easy thing. But I think it’s wonderful that your love of books and a good story inspires you to keep trying. That’s great!!! I have no doubt that if you continue to write, you will eventually write the book you have in your mind. I know because that’s what happened to me. It took me a LONG TIME to get the first Model Under Cover book just right! There is no easy or short answer to your question, but one thing I know for sure is that, if you have a good idea that you really, really like, books are very easy to begin. But I also know how tough it can be to carry on writing your story once you get into the middle of it. At this point I always start feeling like a dinosaur stuck in a tar pit – and sometimes start to panic because the story that once seemed like such a great idea now seems to make no sense and I can easily feel overwhelmed with the thought of how to finish it! So what do I do when I’ve written a great start to my story, but have no idea how to carry on once I’ve hit the tricky middle bit? Well…if I’m stuck it usually means that I haven’t structured my plot well enough. In other words, I need to know what I’m going to write before I write it, and I do this by writing an outline of my story before I actually sit down to write it. (Yup, I’m talking about exactly the kind of outline you learned to do in school!) This doesn’t mean that your outline has to include precisely what every character is going to say or every single little action your characters are going to take; it just means you have to have a good idea of what your story is about and what will more or less happen from the beginning to the end. Here’s an example of what I mean: Let’s say I have come up with the idea of a spunky character who loves dogs and finds the cutest puppy in the world on her way home from school; I love this idea so much that I feel inspired to start writing this story. I describe the girl, the puppy, and how she finds the puppy. Then I write about how excited she is to bring the puppy home, and I even describe her house and how the puppy runs around its new home…but then, after writing this great start, I get stuck and suddenly my story is going nowhere – FAST. And I start to feel like the great story I had in my head is NEVER going to appear in my notebook or on my screen. WHY??? WHAT HAPPENED??? And what can I do??? Well, like I said, usually, if I don’t know what to write next it’s because I don’t know what my main character should do next and this is because I haven’t thought about her or him enough and what they are doing in my story. It’s usually at this point that I also realise that my main character probably needs a problem to solve, because without a problem to solve there is no story, right? Think of all of your favourite books…I bet all of the main characters have to solve some kind of mega problem somewhere in the middle of the story, right? That’s because without a problem, you have no story! Every good story has a problem – and a resolution at the end. Your ending automatically happens when your heroine has solved her problem. In my Model Under Cover books, the problem is always the mystery that Axelle has to solve. Without the mysteries I have no story. I might have the start of a story, i.e. sixteen year old teen girl loves to solve mysteries and goes to Paris (or New York, or London or Milan)…but unless I give her something to do – like a mystery to solve (i.e. Bell the fashion designer disappears during the Paris fashion shows and Axelle wants to find her), my main character, Axelle, has nothing to do. And once she’s solved my mystery, I have my ending. Am I making sense? In other words, I can’t just set up my main character’s life and describe it for page after page – I also have to give her something juicy to do in her life – and THAT is my story. This is what makes a main character and their life interesting. Don’t you have a ton of fun seeing how a main character in a book you love is going to get out of the pickle she’s in? Me too! So let’s go back to our character who has found the cutest puppy on her way home from school… So what next? We need a problem for our heroine to solve, thats what’s next! Now I don’t know about you and your parents, but if I had brought home a lost puppy I’d found on the street my parents would have gone bananas and said “NO WAY!” Of course, this is exactly what you hope your parents won’t say…but for our character this is actually perfect, because now she has a HUGE problem to solve: how can she convince her parents to let her keep the puppy? This can easily take up the entire middle section of my book. For example, my main character can spend a few chapters training the puppy to do all sorts of exciting tricks in the hopes that her parents will see how special the puppy is and let it stay. But maybe nothing works until, one night, the puppy scares a burglar away and the parents decide they have to keep such a brave dog (this is your happy ending). Or maybe my main character trains her puppy to fetch her parents’ slippers for them when they come home from work. Then the parents decide that they can’t live without such a clever sweet puppy and the puppy is allowed to stay in her forever home. Do you see what I mean? There are many thousands of ways this story can go…but the point is that your main character must have a problem to solve. In my case, she has to fight to keep her puppy because her parents don’t like dogs. Remember: without a problem for you main character to solve you will get stuck in the middle of writing your story. And without a problem to solve, it will also be very difficult to figure out how your story is supposed to end. Ideally, you should figure out what your main character’s problem will be before you start all of your writing (this is your outline). If nothing comes to mind, maybe start with yourself. What would happen if YOU brought that puppy home? Would your parents be angry or happy? By the way, maybe you have parents that love dogs…maybe they would say, “Let’s keep the puppy!”. Now, you may be thinking, great, if my parents want to keep the puppy then I don’t have a problem, which means I have no story! So how do I get around this situation? Easy: use your imagination! Maybe, for instance, your whole family falls in love with the puppy, but then suddenly, one day the puppy is missing. What will you do? You’ll have to look for the puppy – this will be your middle section. You might, for instance, have a lot to write about if you and your family have an incredibly challenging time finding the puppy. But hopefully you will find it – in which case, this can be your happy ending! Remember: Every main character needs a problem to solve – THIS is your story. Once your main character has solved her or his problem you will automatically have your ending. Write an outline of your story before you start writing it! This will help you figure out what your main character’s problem is, and it will also give you your ending. By knowing what your middle and ending are BEFORE you start writing, it will be much easier to finish your story. FINAL TIP: Don’t be afraid to change your middle and ending once you’re writing – in other words, you don’t have to follow your outline just because you have it. Sometimes my outline for a book seems really exciting and I love the ideas I have on it…but once I start writing I find that maybe my outline doesn’t work as well as I’d hoped. When this happens I change my plot structure so that it includes my new ideas (and maybe I delete or erase the old ideas). By the way, don’t feel discouraged if you don’t immediately have a ton of ideas for our outline. Whenever I’m stuck and can’t seem to figure out which way my story should go, I take a short break from writing and usually go for a walk with my dogs. Usually, all you need to get the story ideas flowing is a break from your notebook or computer. An hour of bike riding or dog walking or playing the piano, or doing whatever it is you enjoy doing, will often help the ideas flow. If you’re stuck, go get some fresh air! Right. That’s it for now. I hope these writing tips help your story flow! Keep checking back here for more tips – and be sure to write me if you have a specific question you’d like answered. Happy writing! Carina x Every author’s favourite two words to write! Pic from my latest manuscript – the secret one I’m now editing… Read more.
Working on my secret project… Hi all, it’s time for me to fess up: I’m working on a new and super secret project! If you’re following me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll have seen me occasionally use the hashtag #secretproject. Which means exactly what it says: that I have a fab new project that’s SUPER DUPER exciting…BUT it also happens to be TOP SECRET! So here’s the good news: I CANNOT WAIT TO SHARE IT WITH YOU ALL!!! And now the bad news: I can’t share anything just yet…publisher’s orders. I’ve sworn to secrecy, crossed my heart, and promised my UK publisher, Usborne, as well as my lovely agent, Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg Associates, that I will NOT SPILL THE BEANS!!! So, even though I am DYING to let you all in on the secret, the fact is…I can’t. Well, not yet, anyway…but here are a few fun facts I can share: 1.) Yes, it’s a book! 2.) I love, love, love my secret project! 3.) MUC readers will love, love, love my secret project. 4.) My secret project is totally different from Model Under Cover. Okay, I admit that’s not much to go on, but put yourself in my Converse for a moment: if every time you thought that maybe, just maybe, you could very, very carefully and quietly share one teeny, tiny crumb of top secret information but then – WHAM! – suddenly the vision of your super-tough and super-clever editor giving you the evil eye jumped to mind, trust me – you, too, would NOT SAY A THING! So I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave you guessing. Think of this as a cliff-hanger chapter ending…and keep checking back here for the next chapter. I’ll drop more clues, promise. Just, shhhh! – don’t tell my publisher! Happy reading! Carina x Last weekend, doing some #secretproject research… More #secretproject research… Read more.