Sunday, 18 October 2015

Tips for Writing Romantic Christmas Novels - Guest Post Samantha Tonge



Samantha Tonge is no stranger to my blog... in fact this is her third visit! (you can read Sam's other guest posts here and here). Originally a magazine writer, Sam is now a successful Rom-com author who certainly knows how to work a title - I'm sure most of you will have heard of Doubting Abbey and Game of Scones. As well as these, Sam brought out a Christmas novel, Mistletoe Mansion, last year, and this week saw the publication of her second seasonal offering, My Big Fat Christmas Wedding.

I decided to ask Samantha to give some tips on writing that Christmas novel... over to you, Sam.

My Big Fat Christmas Wedding is set in Greece, at Christmas, and gives the reader a different view of this seasonal time of year - although main character, Pippa, does make a flying visit to snowy London with her sexy fisherman fiancé, Niko. They meet up with her ex-boyfriend, suave Henrik and... well, I won’t tell you anymore! Just to say I LOVE writing books set at Christmas. Last year’s was Mistletoe Mansion. I’m thinking fairy lights, Michael Bublé singing in the background, the aroma of warming mulled wine... *sigh*... there is just so much to make your heart melt!

So here are my five tips for writing a romantic novel set at this cosy time of year (other writers might heartily disagree with me!) :

Think location. Most readers want certain expectations fulfilled – snowy scenery, tumbling flakes falling onto lovers’ noses, crisp frosty pavements to walk across, warming hot chocolate to be drunk once indoors again... Whilst My Big Fat Christmas Wedding is set on an island with a milder climate than us at that time of year, a visit to white London plays a significant part in the book. Also, it’s definitely chilly in Kos in December, cue the need for honey cake, ginger baklava and warm Metaxa brandy... need I go on! For some readers, a story set somewhere tropical , for example, may not press the right buttons.

Seduce all the readers’ senses – and boy, there is plenty of sensuality around at Christmas. The aroma of baking turkey and spicy mince pies. The touch of silky tinsel. Describe the romantic sights such as fairy light lit pine trees and sparkling evening frost. Then there’s the sound of nostalgic carols and log fires burning. And as for taste – well, where do we start? Chocolates from the tree? Rich fruit pudding drizzled with cream? Crunchy sage and onion stuffing? Really spoil your reader – make them salivate and long for the twenty-fifth of December to arrive.

Don’t paint too perfect a picture – remember the downsides to Christmas and thread them in to make your story more realistic. The burden of inviting those relatives around that you don’t really get on with. Those sad memories that revisit you of loved ones passed who won’t be at the dinner table this Christmas. The cost of presents and expectation that everyone should be happy. If you write romantic comedy, these negatives also offer a good source of humour.

Leave the reader feeling good. It’s Christmas – that time of year when we wish goodwill to all men and count our blessings. There’s nothing wrong with a Happy Ever After as long as the journey there is an emotional one that leaves the reader feeling satisfied.

Most importantly, when writing it, have fun, because that will shine through, into your story. Christmas is hopefully a time of year when we can relax a little, remark on those cute reindeer and snowmen and play silly board games before having one port too many during a cheesy movie. Make your story into something that will contribute to the reader’s sense of taking a break from challenging real life, just for a few days. Escapist, feel-good fun - with, of course, a delicious hero who looks hot even when the temperature is cold enough to chill your champagne in the garden... and who makes every reader wish he was in her cracker ;)

Thank you for another lovely guest post, Sam and you're welcome back any time.



Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Her summer 2015 novel Game of Scones hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart.

Blurb
Things don’t always run smoothly in the game of love…
As her Christmas wedding approaches, a trip back to snowy England for her ex’s engagement party makes her wonder if those are wedding bells she’s hearing in her mind, or warning bells. She longs for the excitement of her old London life – the glamour, the regular pedicures. Can she really give that all up to be…a fishwife?
There’s nothing for it but to throw herself into bringing a little Christmas magic to the struggling village in the form of a Christmas fair. Somewhere in amidst the sparkly bauble cakes and stollen scones, she’s sure she’ll come to the right decision about where she belongs…hopefully in time for the wedding…

Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Debbie Johnson. Don’t miss the Christmas Wedding of the year!

You can find out more about Samantha here:
Twitter: 
Facebook
Website

You can purchase My Big Fat Christmas Wedding here:
AmazonUK
AmazonUS

33 comments:

  1. Excellent tips, Samantha, and your festive sensory details had me dreaming of Christmas already!

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    1. Thanks Rosemary - yes it is such an indulgent time of year, in every sense of the word... I can't wait! x

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    2. I might have to get the tree out, Rosemary!

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  2. Great tips, Sam - beautifully written, too xx

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  3. Thank you for the tips. The great thing is they are transferable skills to all genre. Nice to see you on Wendy's blog again Sam. Thanks, Wendy.

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    1. Thanks so much, Nicola, nice to be here again :) x

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    2. You are absolutely right, Nicola. They are transferable.

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  4. I thought that as I was reading it. Perfect tips for the short story writer too. Fabulous Sam, thank you. So beautifully atmospheric I was actually surprised when I'd finished reading that it was still only 18th October - ratther relieved though as no planning done as yet ;-) xx

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    1. Ha ha, aw thanks Sue! I have just ordered my first Christmas present, believe it or not - roll on the figgy pudding! xx

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    2. It made me ring my sister to discuss what we're doing this Christmas!

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  5. Good tips. I agree with others that they'd work for short stories too.

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  6. Lots of useful tips, thank you, Sam. :-)

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    1. Glad you think they're useful, Carol. Thanks for the comment.

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  7. A great interview. Thank you Wendy and Sam. Some really interesting and useful tips. :-)

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  8. Lovely post Sam and Wendy - great tips too. I'm feeling all festive now :-) xx

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  9. Aw, thank you Teresa! Here's to some mulled wine! :) xx

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  10. You've inspired me to write a Christmas NaNoWriMo, Samantha :-)

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  11. Aw, fantastic - very best of luck with it, Annelisa - and remember to have fun! :)

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  12. I've never written a Christmas romance, but you make me want to try. So many possibilities!

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    1. I've written many Christmas stories but nothing longer, Crystal. I quite fancy it too.

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    2. Go for it, Crystal, it is a lot of fun!!

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  13. What a lovely entertaining blog. Thank you, Sam, and Wendy.

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