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.
If you’re following me on Instagram or Facebook you’ll know that I’m in the process of redoing my writing room. In fact, I’m not just redecorating it – I’m actually moving it to a different room. A more quiet room. I’m SO excited my new writing room because the one I’d been using was a spare room that I put an IKEA desk into, along with some shelves to keep my manuscripts and drawing paper. I did nothing else to the room – I left the old curtains and carpet and paper on the walls, so after years of using that room I can’t wait to settle into a new and improved one. So what do I think a writing room should be like? Well, for starters, it doesn’t have to be a large room – in fact, with writing rooms, I find small is good: it’s cosy and gives your mind less possibilities to wonder (at least my mind). And you can, after all, tuck a desk in just about anywhere: a quiet corner of your bedroom, or even, if you can forget the Harry Potter connotation, a cupboard under the stairs – as long as you have good lighting! (Scroll all the way down for some stylish inspiration for a bedroom “writing corner”.) I seem to remember reading that prolific author Stephen King, at the beginning of his writing career, wrote his first best-selling titles in a sort of broom closet near the kitchen in his house (If you want to be an author and haven’t read his book “Stephen King: On Writing”, get on it – it’s fantastic!!!). Garden huts are another popular option – Raohl Dahl famously wrote most of his best-loved titles in one. I’ve never had a garden hut, but I have writer friends who do and they love them. What IS IMPORTANT is that you have a space you can call your own. A space where you can SHUT THE DOOR and forget about the outside world. So what’s my writing room going to look like? Well, the walls are pink (!!!) and there will, naturally, be bookshelves. The room has three large windows overlooking the surrounding countryside, so I’m lucky that it’s flooded with light all day. I’ll have a carpet on the slippery wooden floor, so my dogs and I don’t slip, and there will be dog beds scattered around. There will also be a small single bed that will double as a sofa, for reading (and, er…uhm, yeah, procrastinating and daydreaming, too…). I can’t wait to start writing in here! Here are five things I like to have in my writing room: 1.) A window. I like to have a view to look at (no matter whether urban or countryside), plus I find that when I’m tapping away at my computer for hours at a time, a bit of natural light makes life much nicer. Just ask my eyes! 2.) Some bookshelves. This is an obvious one, I know. But my point is that I like to have some shelves within arm’s reach. This makes it super easy-peasy to just reach out and look up a word in my trusty dictionary or find some fact or photo in whatever research books I’m using for the book I’m writing. 3.) A mood board. I can’t live without a mood board! I like mine to be as large as possible and easy to reach, so I don’t have to struggle to change the images I pin up. In my new room my mood board will hang over my drawing desk. This way I can see it easily from anywhere in my writing room. (TIP: If you don’t have enough free wall space to hang a mood board, make one on Pinterest! I make one for all of my books on Pinterest because I find it super useful when i travel and – obviously – can’t stuff my mood board in my suitcase! 4.) Wifi! Another obvious one…unless you live in the countryside like I do. The thick walls of the house I live in, coupled with my mountainous location, means that having Wifi is not a given. But I need it for research and posting blog pieces like this one, so I made sure to choose a spot where I knew Wifi reception would be pretty good most of the time. Whew! 5.) Dog beds and water bowl. My dogs are my support team! They are always happy to lend an interested ear when I’m reading a new chapter out load (and hey don’t seem to mind how rubbish it may sound, bless them!) and are always thrilled to accompany me on a long walk to sort out some plot snag. So it’s important that my support team find my writing room as comfy-cosy as I do. And that, for my fur-babies, means an assortment of soft beds to curl up in and a large bowl of fresh water in a quiet corner. Not to mention a stash of dog treats in a desk drawer… The pink walls of my (hopefully) soon to be finished writing room… Stay tuned for some pictures of my writing room once it’s finished! In the meantime, scroll down and check out the inspiring authors’ writing rooms below, all of which you can find on Pinterest. Happy writing! Carina x Cornelia Funke in her gorgeous Beverly Hills, California writing room. How cool is it??? SUPER COOL, that’s what. Roald Dahl’s famous garden writing hut. Judy Blume’s (LOVE her!!!) pretty Key West, Florida writing room. It must be nice looking out onto that lush garden… This is Maggie Stiefvater’s fab writing room. If you follow her on Instagram you’ll know it from there. This is Vita Sackville-West’s famous turret writing room at her home, Sisinghurst Castle. I’d love to visit it – it’s open to the public. What ambiance! I found this cute pic on Pinterest, and I think it perfectly illustrates how you can make a stylish writing “corner” in a bedroom. Also, I love the mood board! And another cute bedroom “writing corner” idea, this one from Teen Vogue. Love all the colour! Read more.
Everybody needs blue velvet unicorn slippers! The second I saw my yummy new velvet unicorn slippers on Instagram I knew I had to have them. They have quickly become my favourite new spring accessory and are hands down THE most yummy pair of shoes ever: soft velvet slippers in a luscious shade of shimmery cornflower blue – and, get this: the unicorns have rhinestone eyes! Seriously, can shoes get any better than this? NO! I love them. And not only are they adorable looking but they are super comfy and work both for day and night. Nothing beats my new unicorn slippers! FYI: I found the unicorn slippers on Instagram. They were designed by Alice Naylor-Leyland for French Sole and when I saw them on Alice’s Instagram account I thought they were perfect…so on my last trip to London (see my previous blog post) I made a trip to the French Soles boutique on Bond Street and found a pair in my size. Happy days! I love my new handbag! My other favourite new spring accessory is something else I picked up while on my last London trip: it’s the perfect spring/summer handbag in a dreamy dusty pink colour. I found it at the Kate Spade shop just off of Sloane Square (although I’ve seen a lot of pretty pink handbags in the large department stores and High Street shops this season, too). It’s a great shape and size. I can use it both all day and into the evening, like, say, for a dinner party with friends or even a dressy work event. It’s smart without looking old or fussy; the pretty pink shade keeps it looking fresh and young. Also, it’s a fabulous size. I can carry all of my usual: notebook, pencil bag, wallet, makeup bag, phone, sweets, and a book, with room to spare. I’ve ben using it non-stop since the moment I walked out of the shop with it! What I love most about accessories is that they are an easy and fun way to freshen up a wardrobe without having to go all out and buy a ton of new things (Secret: I don’t enjoy clothes shopping, so if I can avoid it, I will!). In fact, all you really need are two or three good quality, stylish accessories that suit YOU (NOT your best friend at school, or your colleague at work) to update your look in a big way. Have fun finding some nice spring/summer accessories to tick your boxes – and happy reading! Carina x Read more.
I’ve just returned from a trip to London and, as usual, I had a blast…although it’s kind of scary how quickly time flies whenever I’m there. No matter how much I see and do while visiting London, I always leave with a long list of more things I’d love to squeeze in…which is a good thing, actually, as it means I always leave London with a reason to return! My first stop was a visit to Goffs School in Hertfordshire. I visited this school when Stolen with Style was published and loved it, so was thrilled to return. Meeting my readers is the BEST thing EVER!!! At Goffs School! I met with two of my editors from my UK publisher, Usborne, to talk about MY NEW AND SUPER EXCITING SERIES!!! I can’t say anything about it yet, but I’ll put a blog post up soon with the very few details about it that I’m allowed to share. Stay tuned! I also stopped by my to visit my agent, Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg Associates: I love the books on my agent’s shelves! 😂 I love the ballet and opera and try to watch something at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden whenever I can. This time I saw Puccini’s Madama Butterfly which was stunning. MY OPERA TIP OF THE DAY: if you’ve never been to the opera but would like to go, then Madama Butterfly is a good one to start with – it’s a tragic story but the music is wonderful. Model Under Cover readers know that a walk through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens is one of my favourite things to do in London – it’s something I mention in my London List of favourite places to visit, at the back of MUC book 3, Deadly by Design…so, yeessss, I walked through the park while in London – it’s impossible to resist, especially in spring! I also stopped by my new favourite London books store, John Sandoe Books off the King’s Road in Chelsea – in fact, I made not one but two visits. I’ll do a post on this gorgeous corner of bookworm heaven next week, so I’ll save all the juicy details for that. But here’s a pic: Tea with my good friend and fellow author, Holly Bourne, is always a treat – especially as Holly and I are on a quest to try all the best teas in London. This time we went to Fortnum & Mason and we both decided that we love their pretty duck-egg-blue and white china tea service. While in London I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: I visited the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. I recommend a visit! It’s worth going just to see the Golden Coach used for coronations – it really is like something straight out of Cinderella. Plus I finally found out why they’re called the MEWS. And, no, I will not tell you why here…but suffice it to say that the royal stables are called the Mews for a reason I’d bet a thousand books you’d never, ever guess (FYI: my guess was SO wrong!). Are you intrigued yet? Then go and visit! The Pumpkin Coach! I also did some shopping and found two gorgeous new additions to my wardrobe, but I’m going to keep you guessing about what they are until I do a blog post about them. Bye bye, London! See you soon! Carina x Read more.
A few days ago I stopped by my local library to check out some of the new books they bought with funds I raised for them last year through the sales of my Advent Calendar. Most local libraries everywhere are struggling because of government funding cuts – especially those in the countryside. So if you’re interested in helping out your local library, here are my top three tips for doing so: The quickest and easiest way to help your local library is to CHECK BOOKS OUT!!! I know this is an obvious one…but when was the last time you did it? This is something ANYONE can do! Volunteer to help at your local library (or talk your parents or grandparents into doing it). This is a great way to pass on your passion for reading and encourage others to feed their inner book worms. Raise funds to put towards your local library’s book budget. More on this below… Those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook know that I have a lot of fun doing option number three. And while there are as many ways to raise money as there are birds in the sky, I decided that what works best for me and my neighbourhood is a Christmas Advent calendar that I sell to raise funds. Here’s a close-up of my calendar: Selling an Advent calendar at Christmas is easy: I find that people are in a generous spirit – even if they don’t regularly visit their local library! I designed and drew it, then had it printed; all proceeds, minus printing costs, goes to the kids’ department of my local library. I started selling them seven years ago and since then have raised over 8,000 Euros for my local library. Every little bit adds up so over the course of the last seven years, the kids’ department of my town library has grown by hundreds of books, which is great! Here’s a picture of me with some of the books bought this year – thanks to the 2016 sales of my calendar: Happy reading! Carina x Read more.
Channel you inner fashion detective and join my World Book Day giveaway! Calling all MUC readers: join my World Book Day giveaway!!! As many of you already know, World Book Day will be celebrated in the UK this Thursday, March 2nd…so to celebrate this fabulous bookworm kind of day I’m going to hold a SUPER EXCITING giveaway! Every year many of you send me the cutest pics of your Axelle costumes for WBD…so this year I thought it would be fun to give away signed copies of Model Under Cover books 1 and 4 to the best costume. So start channeling your inner fashion detective! I’ll be holding the competition on Instagram, but if you or your parents don’t have an account don’t worry, I have a way for you to enter, too – just keep reading! But, if you are on Instagram, then all you have to do is make sure you’re following me, “like” my post announcing this giveaway, then send me a picture of yourself dressed as Axelle by DM, by Thursday night. Easy peasy! I’ll choose a winner this Friday, March 3rd. And if you are not on Instagram but would like to enter this giveaway, all you have to do is email me a picture of yourself in your best Axelle costume. Send it to me via the Contact page of my website (you’ll find it in the Menu bar) by Thursday night and I’ll include you in the giveaway. And if you need a few tips on how to dress like Axelle, look no further – I wrote a blog post all about dressing up as Axelle! Just click here to get started. Oh, and having trouble getting your own pair of glasses just like Axelle’s? Well guess what? Thanks to my publisher, being a fashion detective has never been easier! You can download, print and cut out your very own pair of fashion detective glasses just by clicking here and heading over to their site. Check out my publisher’s website to download your very own pair of fashion detective glasses just like Axelle’s! LOVE! If you have any more questions just let me know by contacting me via the Contact page of my website. In the meantime, get creative, start channeling your inner fashion detective, and have fun! Carina x Read more.