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.
The haute couture (check out how to pronounce “haute couture” in the “How To Speak Supermodel” glossary at the back of A Crime of Fashion or Dressed to Kill!) fashion shows have just finished wrapping up in Paris and as usual, I followed them (Model Under Cover research!). Just a reminder: Haute Couture refers to the super gorgeous and super high end hand-made clothes that only a few of the fashion houses still make. They are shown in Paris, twice a year, and separately form the “normal” pret-a porter fashion shows. There were, as always for the couture shows, some stunning dresses on the runways…but there was one in particular that reminded me of my favourite Disney animated films. Can you guess which one? Here it is: How GORGEOUS is this??? If you guessed Beauty and the Beast then we’re on the same wavelength! It’s exactly what jumped to mind when I saw this yummy, lemony, fluffy Gaimbattista Valli number. Wouldn’t it be perfect for Belle? It’s SO the kind of gown she’d wear – and it’s even in “her” colour. And have you noticed how even the runway looks like it could be out of Beauty and the Beast: the chandelier, gilded wood panelling, dainty ballroom chairs… I cannot wait to see the new Disney live-action version starring Emma Watson! It’s out on March 17th and, yeah, you bet I’m counting the days. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, then what are you waiting for??? Click below to watch it! here I cannot wait to see Beauty and the Beast!!! Here’s a Model Under Cover trivia question for you: Which Model Under Cover book features haute couture dresses? Scroll all the way down for the answer. Dreamy blue from Elie Saab… Pretty pastels and cinched waists at Chanel… Another yummy ballgown from the Giambattista Valli show… Answer: Dressed to Kill!!! Happy reading! Carina x Read more.
Happy New Year! I’ve been away from my blog for a while but I hope you all had a lovely holiday season! Doesn’t the month of December fly by? Between writing deadlines, drawing deadlines, decorating the trees and house, preparing lists of Christmas presents, then buying the presents, plus baking (!), plus eating the baking, an endless round of Christmas parties AND doing all the normal stuff like WORK (and there always seems to be more at Christmas), taking the dogs out, running the house, etc., time just DISAPPEARS, basically. But I always have fun doing it all and that’s what counts, really, don’t you think? For those of you not following me on Instagram (and you should be!!!), here’s a quick peek at what I did over the holidays: I love decorating the Christmas trees…and I enjoy it even more with my dogs around. Getting the downstairs tree ready with the help of my fur-baby elves! Aren’t they sweet! My Cocker Spaniel dream team! Dream team or double trouble – I can’t decide! If those eyes aren’t saying “PLEASE”, nothing does! My taste-testing team, ready to try a sample of my chocolate-peppermint filled-choclate-dipped cookies. One word: Yuuummmmm! LOOK at the fabulous Christophe Robin giveaway swag I included in my Christmas competition… I held a MUC giveaway with some fab swag – all the more reason to follow me on Instagram or Facebook! Thank you to all of the readers who set me pics and letters and emails over the holidays – I loved hearing from all of you! I was sent lots of lovely pics from readers! Here’s MUC book 3 in French… One thing I always squeeze in at this time of the year is some kind of commissioned art work. This year it was a Christmas card for my friend and hair colourist, Christophe Robin. I’ve been doing Christophe’s Christmas cards off and on for the last twenty years and always have a blast doing them. This year’s included the fabulous interiors of his beautiful new Paris salon. I was thrilled to receive my printed copies in the mail! I had such fun drawing this card! If this ornament doesn’t make you laugh, nothing will! And if you’ve never seen a fish wearing a wig – now you have! I escaped to Dorset over the holidays, too. I love it Dorset! I was in beautiful Dorset over the holidays, too! Travel tip: Don’t bother trying to have a good hair day in Dorset – it’ll never work! Yes, I gained weight over the holidays!!! No, the pig is not real! Standing outside the Pig on the Beach in Dorset, where I ate like a…yup, you guessed it… I was in Scotland to ring in the New Year. I was thrilled to be there because I love Scotland! And I hadn’t been since last August when I was there for my Model Under Cover event at the Edinburgh Book Festival….so it was time for another visit, this time to the gorgeous Highlands! There’s nothing like a dog walk in the Highlands. I think New Year’s Eve is special – although I don’t think you necessarily need to do anything special to celebrate it. Sometimes a quiet night in, watching a good film and maybe making yourself a nice dinner, is the best way to do it. But no matter where I am or what I’m doing to celebrate New Year’s, I have to have my dogs with me! My favourite Christmas clutch (by Lulu Guinness). It always looks better with a fur-baby next to it, though! I wore it on New Year’s Eve. And now I’m back home, in the mountains, and back at work on a secret project I’m excited about. I can’t wait to tell you what it’s all about! A little fur-baby love helps me ease back into my writing routine… It’s still looking very Christmas-y here in Germany, though, which is nice… I’v never met a dog who doesn’t LOVE running through fresh snow… That’s it for now because if I carry on I’ll be here all night. But if you’d like to see more pics of what I did over the holidays head over to my Instagram page here. I wish you all a fabulous 2017 filled with much love, good health, happy times, success in school and work…and a TON of great books to read! AND THANK YOU for being my readers!!! You’re THE BEST!!! Here’s to many more happy times together in the coming year! Carina x Read more.
Holding a new edition for the first time is ALWAYS the most exciting thing!!! Model Under Cover book 3 is now out in French!!! It was published on October 28th, is called Le Secret de Johnny Vane, and I couldn’t be more excited. I love the cover, love the graphics on the inside of the book, and love that French readers can now add it to their Fashion Detective collection! (Yup, in France Model Under Cover is known as Fashion Detective). LOVE!!! My French publisher, Editions Fleurus , created yet another colourful, fun cover that I think perfectly captures Axelle’s sassy spirit and sense of adventure. And I particularly like how on this new cover Axelle has her sunglasses pushed up on her head and wears her hair in one long thick plait. C’est très chic! I also love how Axelle is holding super-cute and clever Halley! It was Aunt Venetia’s cat Miu Miu who graced the French covers of books 1 and 2, but considering how Halley has such a large role to play in solving book 3’s mystery, she should be on this one’s cover! You can check out Axelle’s other French covers at the bottom of the post. When your puppy photobombs your book birthday cover shot! For a quick peek at Fashion Detective: Le Secret de Johnny Vane click here. Or, to read the first chapter you can also head straight over to my publisher’s website (remember to click on the “Feuillter” option of the page you link to). Yeeesss! I’ve updated my French website page. check it out! In the meantime, I hope you’re all enjoying the fall and having fun! And make sure you check back here again soon because my next post will be about my new puppy!!! (She is SOOOOOO cute!!! And, yes, she’s the sweetie in the above pic!) Carina x Book 1, A Crime of Fashion, in French! Book 2, Stolen with Style, looking très chic! Read more.