Friday, 24 December 2010
Whether you're sick of the snow or spending Christmas on the beach I hope you enjoy the photos. Have yourselves a peaceful Christmas and thank you for reading my blog.
If anyone wants to track Santa's progress there is a website that enables you to do just that - click here to read about it.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Firstly I want to say a huge thank you to the people who left lovely comments on my last blog post, it meant an awful lot to me. If I ever come across fur coat woman again I'll tell her that her card is marked ;-)
Thankfully the black hole that sucked me up has spat me back out and I'm feeling HUGELY happier because I'm finally home again after 15 months of exile! Yep, I managed to make it back to Scotland during the temporary thaw and the minute I saw the snow covered mountains and the sunset reflected in the lochs something lifted inside my chest.
Three weeks of being left alone so I can potentially WRITE again is really exciting. Only slight dampner is that BT are sending someone to sort out the broadband tomorrow, the same day that the next lot of heavy snow is due. The inauspicious timing means I'm preparing to go cold turkey, and I'm not talking about Christmas leftovers! I'm currently sitting in an Internet cafe having what might be my last fix before I get gobbled up by a snow drift...
So, if you don't hear from me for a while, think of me snowed in in my remote croft house with enough food for a month, gorgeous views and uninterrupted peace and quiet to write in... Actually that doesn't sound too bad. Perhaps I should set up my own writers' retreat?
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Like Pip (above) I've been having a bad hair day. Several in fact, ever since I tried to cut my fringe with blunt sicissors and a tired hand - end result I look like a monk.
Whoever did it, it certainly wasn't my lovely, sunny ex-neighbour who is constantly smiling no matter what happens. Her cat was recently run over and killed, her husband has left her and she was dealing with a tantrum from her two year old while packing up the house to move when I went round to get my spare key. Still she was smiling, calm, cheerful...as much as I love her this felt a little, um, unnatural?
Bad things happen in life. We get angry. Then little annoying things happen that push our buttons. Hats off to the positive thinking Pollyannas out there but I can't help thinking a desire to accidentally whack 'fork woman' while putting on my coat to leave the restaurant was a natural, healthy response to the distasteful sneer I received.
Truth is I'm low, grumpy and tired. I've also put my back out to the point where I have to be pushed into an upright position in order to get out of bed. Endless appointments and a depressing prognosis re. the brain injury have left me wrung out like a dishcloth and without the energy to write. As not writing makes me grumpy, it's a self perpetuating circle.
Anyway, I ought to go as I've received an email informing me an internet order I placed in May 2009 has just been dispatched. Good news? No, it's quite a surprise given I paid for and received it last year, it was a horribly large bill then and I'm not exactly thrilled to find they've charged me for it again!
Thankfully I'm going home to Scotland for Christmas, I'll be seeing my house for the first time in ages and when I stop grumping about all the damage holiday guests have done to the place I may just recover enough to write again, not to mention finding time to catch up with all my lovely writing friends.
I asked a very wise person what I should do with the simmering anger I'm feeling and they replied. "You're a writer. So write".
Sound advice methinks ;-)
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Being mostly over The Poisoning I've been too busy being a human pin cushion and travelling to endless tests and meetings where strangers in suits talk about me, making decisions about my life.
I've grown ever more belligerent as every possible surface of skin has been pricked and scraped with needles to see if I yelp any louder than I did a year ago when they did the same thing. I used to think it was more scientific than that but now I'm not so sure...
Combined with a sick Mac which had to be sent to computer hospital I've done no writing at all. Ideas have been buzzing around my head but my frustration is growing about not being able to sustain effort and concentration for long enough to make any real progress on anything.
The only relief in the past week has come from collapsing into bed and listening to Jilly Cooper's 'Riders' on audiobook. After hearing discussion about Rupert Campbell-Black as a great fictional alpha hero I was curious. I have to say I've been utterly drawn into the story, captivated even. Although I could never love an adulterous hero who is cruel to animals (so he won't be making it onto my fave heroes list).
You know I can't remember the last time a book made me cry.Yet Riders has made me cry twice already - once when RCB beat up a horse and the second time when a horse rescued from cruelty died. Clutching one of my rescue dogs (who has been badly abused) and stroking him, with tears streaming down my face I had to tell myself 'it's only a book, it's not real', trying desperately to pull myself out of the world Jilly Cooper had so masterfully immersed me in.
I think if I can ever make a reader care half as much about my characters as she has made me care about the horses in 'Riders' I'll consider I'll have made it as a writer...
Which books have made you cry?
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Saturday, 2 October 2010
It feels a bit like a possible reprieve from execution. You've just come to terms with the judgement of the court and then you hear there might be a lifeline, some time next week... Too strong? Perhaps, ignore the crash, it was the attempt at a balanced and emotionally objective blog post being thrown out the window :-)
Okay, we're waiting in line to get into the most fab ever party, there are rumours that Gilles Marini, Michael Weatherly and Simon Baker are present (insert name of your favourite celeb crush). The doors have been closed and we're preparing to go home. Then a couple of burly bouncers announce there might be ANOTHER LIST but we're going to have to stand in line a bit longer...
Or, you may get a chance to be told publicly exactly why they're not going to let you in...
I know it's always been the same after competitions, requests have been sent but perhaps it's the public nature of the list that makes this feel more of a big deal. Not being on the list is going to suck, big time.
But in the interests of balance I'd like to point out the execution analogy was a bad one because this isn't the end for anyone, just a point on a journey, albeit a roller coaster one.
And there will be other parties.
Monday, 27 September 2010
But for the rest of us who are feeling inevitably a bit disappointed I'm pleased to announce it is now Open Season on Crows. So come and pick your weapon and ammunition of choice to shoot the crows of doubt now circling in menacing fashion.
If any of the following statements are applicable to you (and not all of them are applicable to me, I hasten to add) please select the appropriate weapon and take aim:
(1) I have had work requested from an Editor, therefore I am not crap.
(2) I have requested work still outstanding, waiting to be sent in to an Editor, therefore I am not crap. (and I promise myself to get on and get ready to submit)
(3) I have had really positive comments in a revision letter/face to face feedback at an Editor pitch, therefore I am not crap.
(4) I have previously placed in a competition, therefore I am not crap.
(5) I have received positive comments from readers who liked my competition entry, so they can't have thought I was crap.
(6) Failure to place in a competition does not mean I will not get published (invoke the names of Maisey, Tina et al at this point) so it does not mean that I am crap.
(7) The more I keep writing and learning craft and subbing and the harder I work at it the closer I will get to achieving my dream and I refuse to give up on it.
Take that pesky crows now I've only got one thing left to say:
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Thursday, 16 September 2010
- Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I possessed it I wouldn't have entered my New Voices submission early on but waited until nearer the end to save the prolonged angsting any time someone gives the entry a really low score ( I try to be impervious but I'm only human).
- Perspective is a wonderful thing. And possessed in bucket loads by people who aren't actually entering... ;-) I was determined not to be consumed by this competition but being ill, cranky and physically feverish (and without the energy to throw myself into anything else) while trying to NTAI is not a good combination.
- Patience is a... Okay, had enough of that. Patience is for saps, grumpiness rules :-) The fact I'm on week three without a cup of tea or the ability to eat chocolate is depriving me of my usual self-cheering strategies. I'm going to have to wheel out my favourite feel good dvds to do the job for me. ("The Accidental Husband", "Music and Lyrics" and "Ballet Shoes")
- There is always an up side, much as it pains my grumpy alter ego to admit it. Being ill means I can feel my ribs again and my too-tight jeans are now loose. And the public nature of the competition means whatever happens I'll have some lovely comments to take away from the contest with me, feedback I wouldn't otherwise have got.
Monday, 13 September 2010
Thursday, 9 September 2010
So, with that in mind I've decided to take the plunge and upload my chapter to the Romance is Not Dead site.
The title is "In too Deep" and the chapter is in the Contemporary Romance section.
If you're still writing/polishing head over to the Minxes site tomorrow (Friday) - We've collated links to all the best competition tips and news stories for you in one post so you can spend more time writing and less time surfing.
Right, time to head over to Lacey's blog to get my badge for being brave ;-)
Monday, 6 September 2010
Being violently ill at the same time as realising the beginning of your chapter needs to be re-written isn't a good combination. Worst thing is I've been told it will be another week to ten days until the adverse reaction wears off and I can eat and drink properly again.
So why am I sitting at my computer instead of curling up with daytime TV world? Firstly, because I wasn't convinced The Michael Ball Show wasn't making the retching worse but secondly because next to not eating and not drinking, not writing is even more unpalatable.
Congratulations to those of you who've already uploaded your chapters. Diving straight in beats standing in the shallows getting cold feet. I've always been a 'walk in slowly while gauging the temperature' kind of girl myself when it comes to swimming in the sea (but then I do live in the UK and the sea is bloody freezing!)
I'm sure I'll take a last minute 'what the heck' plunge, once I've managed to re-write my beginning.
Good luck to all my blog friends, I'm looking forward to reading your entries :-)
Monday, 30 August 2010
Monday, 23 August 2010
I'm cheating on Jack (the hero of The Art of Seduction) - I'm falling in love with the hero of my new competition story (In Too Deep) too!
Where was I? Oh yes, I hadn't paid much attention to Kris with a K before now but in the programme he displayed a sense of humour and a lovely caring protectiveness towards Dannii that made me instantly think of my new hero.
Friday, 20 August 2010
'So what should we do?' I hear you cry. Funny you should ask me that, as Sue Moorcroft, author of Love Writing, How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction is guest blogging for the minxes today on this very subject. Pop over and see what she has to say. If you've got any questions stick them in a comments box.
Yes we love writing and we'd continue to do it whether we got recognition and the reddies or not but...unless you're married to a billionaire (in which case why are you reading my blog instead of sun bathing on your yacht?) then it's a subject that affects us all.
How about the rest of you? Are your current WIPs pants or lacy works of La Perla art???
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
In a bizarre twist of fate I was sent for neuro-psychometric tests at an address just yards from the Mills and Boon Richmond offices on Monday. And I have given myself a deadline of this Friday to submit the requested chapters of The Art of Seduction.
Although I've been so knackered since the tests that's proving harder than I thought - every time I sit down to listen to my chapters I fall asleep. I'm hoping that's more indicative of my exhaustion than of the quality of the writing!
If I do lick my chapters into readable and error free form then it'll be a testament to my crit group the Minxes of Romance and crit partner Jackie Ashenden (who was lovely enough to read my revised ending while she's on holiday/conferencing in Sydney and has much more exciting stuff to be doing ;-)
So I want to say a big thanks, I honestly don't know what I'd do without you guys.
I do have to go back for more testing as I was too ill to complete it on Monday so it's going to be weird, sitting in the tests being asked about the speed of light and playing the Generation Game (yes, it's those ones for anyone who remembers me blogging about them in October!) knowing my partial is sitting in the Ed's inbox just yards away from me!
In other news I've finally become a fledgeling twitterer, my ID is romanceminx if anyone wants to find me. Tbh I'm a bit bamboozled at the mo about the whole thing so will be pathetically grateful to anyone who follows me :-)
Also I'll be blogging over at the Minx site on Friday and promise you some lovely pics of gorgeous men and a mini follow up to Heidi Rice's New Voices competition workshop last Friday.
Begging and pictures, how can you refuse???
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Friday, 23 July 2010
Monday, 19 July 2010
Ashton "I bet you'd look really good with your hair down."
Cameron Diaz "My hair is down."
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Monday, 28 June 2010
I've weeded enough 'felt's out of my chapter to make several cuddly toys and have spent more time on a one page synopsis than a sane person ever should (Hmm, is that why I'm mad I wonder? All those one pagers?)
I love the story but battling errant 'voice to text' software, acquired dyslexia and a permanent headache to get it into some sort of reasonable format has been exhausting.
I still want to do it, I can't not do it so I have to find some way of making it work, even though it's so much harder. It reminds me of toothache - when it strikes it makes you wonder why you didn't value that great long period of time when your teeth weren't hurting.
If you're still pulling teeth, sorry I meant writing your synopsis, here's a good tip I received recently - remember it should be selling your story to the appropriate line. I got so fixated on making my plot fit to one page I forgot to use it as a selling tool.
Oh and here's the editing checklist I use:
1. Check for clichés
2. Check the following and replace if possible: was, felt, just, that, actually, began to, started, he/she felt, though, observed.
3. Reduce adverbs
4. Cut any pairs of adjectives
5. Check for repetitions, choose the best and lose the rest
6. Don’t show AND tell
7. Cut unnecessary repetition of tense – I’d, she’d…
8. Look for repeated words and use thesaurus
9. Make characters take note of surroundings, create a sense of place
10. Use all the senses
11. Eat chocolate :-)
Has anyone else got any suggestions to add to my checklist?
Friday, 11 June 2010
It was also strange when a couple of people mentioned having heard of the Minxes blog. Not to mention difficult to say "Actually I'm a Minx" without giving into the urge to giggle uncontrollably ;-)
Other than cringing on behalf of the panel when they were asked what the formula for writing Mills and Boon was (!) the point that struck me most from the talk was the panel's answer to the question 'How many full length novels did you complete before you were published?' The answer was anything between 2 and 10, the average being 5!
it reminded me again just how dedicated you have to be and how our commitment as writers is to the craft itself, rather than to any particular story.
Having said that I am loving diving into the world of the story I'll be pitching at the conference. For a taster below is the rooftop in Marrakech that my hero is going to whisk my heroine off to
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Monday, 24 May 2010
Friday, 14 May 2010
- My crit group's new blog Minxes of Romance is going full steam ahead and some great authors have agreed to take up our author spotlight slots. In fact we have the winner of the RNA's Joan Hessayon award (announced yesterday), Lucy King, guesting in July - you can read about her win here
- I have started a new story AND found the paper notes for my Secret Billionaire partial so I can make some progress now...
Friday, 30 April 2010
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
- Doing character sheets can be fun and makes synopsis writing easier.
- Not checking emails/blogs until after lunch leads to getting more writing done (who'd have thought, eh?).
- Ditto only checking blogs twice a week. Being forced to go cold turkey during my internet-less period helped me break the habit. I love it but could spend all my energy checking blogs, answering emails and critiquing and have none left over to write.
- Looking at animal rescue websites invariably leads to a new addition to the household. Pipsqueak (the name I've given him) was found tied to a road sign half starved. I can only assume he was abandoned because he was old as he's a lovely little chap and has become my new pint-sized shadow. My other dogs have accepted him in true female fashion i.e. bickering amongst themselves while pretending not to have noticed him ;-)
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
So I finally, finally have broadband and can return to Blogland! J I feel like an outcast returning from a spell in the Gulag where I’ve been having a bit of a foggy night of the soul.
But the fog is starting to clear and despite test results detailing the damage to my brain (for some reason I can’t write ‘brain damage’, it sounds so horrible) or perhaps in a rebellion against them, new Romances keep popping into my head, demanding to be written. So I’m just going to have to find a way to write them, to get some balance and routine back into my life and accept I’ll have to do things differently.
Which I can do - I have got some very nice and clever people helping me and I’ve had training offered for my voice software so I can learn how to use it properly and edit with it.
So watch this space - the partial is almost ready to send off and then I can turn to the stories that are itching to be written.
It’s nice to see on my return to the internet that the UK media is awash with positive stories about Mills and Boon – The Daily Mail reports that digital downloads of Mills and Boon have risen fifty seven per cent in five months.
And my favourite magazine, Grazia, raised the issue as a talking point this week.
And if that doesn’t cheer you up then this picture of a meerkat being used as a backrest by his fellow meerkats has got to raise a smile!
I’ll be blog visiting very soon, just need to shave the beard off first, to make myself presentable ;-)
Monday, 15 February 2010
I'm doing a quick post to quell rumours that I've been crushed by a giant writers' block falling from the sky. Instead I've been surrounded by cardboard boxes (some of which have fallen on me actually) and having yet more problems with my internet connection (grr). Anyway, just because I haven't left any comments on your blogs doesn't mean I don't love you all anymore, in fact I've really been missing my daily blog check and can't wait for life to let me slot back into my normal writing-obsessed routine.
So, to say sorry I haven't been around here are some romance novel quotations that I hope will make you smile :-)
1. His body was hard -- not hard like Milosevic, the Serbian strongman, but hard like the marble on your shower floor, when you fall and bang your knee.
2. Her embrace made his manhood swell like week-old roadkill on hot asphalt in the Georgia sun.
3. Her breasts heaved like a stormy ocean, and her pointed nipples were like hypodermics washed up on the shore.
4.Her petticoats dropped to the ground, rustling like a cockroach in a sugar bowl.
5. He tore open her blouse like a Publisher's Clearing House letter in which he, and some guy named Steven Bouber from Stockton, California, were potential finalists for the $10 million prize.
6. With each breath, her chest heaved like a bulimic after Thanksgiving dinner.
7.Then he kissed her, like a butterfly kisses the windshield of a Porsche on the Autobahn.
8. His manhood stood at full attention, stiff and stony like the vice president.
9. Beatrice was on him like a piranha on a corn dog.
10. His chest was her pillow, and oh, did she drool.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Friday, 22 January 2010
- I used to read and write arabic as a child but can't remember a thing now. I also used to speak fluent spanish and ditto. Everyone said it would come back (my parents now live in Spain) but it never has. By the time I was three years old my teddy had a BA frequent flyer's badge because we'd flown so many trips together (I was an ex-pat kid).
- I was evacuated from Iran during the revolution, along with my sister and mum. I remember everyone being very stressed and huddling round radios to find out what was going on.
- I managed to create a few dramas of my own by nearly dying several times as a toddler - I caught a tropical fever and had to be packed in ice, walked to the bottom end of a swimming pool and had to be resuscitated and fell off a sofa and stopped breathing.
- I once rode a racehorse belonging to the Sultan of Oman.
- I've been told this week I have 'Acquired Dyslexia' - it happens sometimes after a head injury but no one really knows why. Ah well, at least I know why everything's been coming out as gibberish when I type.
- I used to work somewhere that was used as a film set and was caught hanging out of the window trying to get a glimpse of Colin Firth as he went for his lunch. I also saw most of the cast of Harry Potter and got to ogle the props (the Knight bus, a hippogriff and some of the Hogsmeade shops).
- I've had tea at Buckingham Palace and with the Archbishop of Canterbury (Yes, really!)
- Joanne Pibworth
- Joanne Cleary (who's already been nominated but has yet to divulge so I'm adding to the pressure - dish the gossip Jo ;-)
- Sri Pammi
- Lucy King (who did a recent interview for Cataromance, I don't know if everyone saw it?)
- Judy Jarvie
- Waiting for the Call
- Rachael Johns (when she gets back from holiday!)
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
- Hustle is back on BBC1 with the lovely Mickey Bricks (Adrian Lester) who steals from the bad guys and is the epitome of alpha control :-)
Saturday, 9 January 2010
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
- Falling flat on my face in a frozen forest and giving myself a black eye.
- Discovering this morning that the temperamental hot water supply has gone the same way as the heating and is now refusing to put in an appearance at all. Not great when the temperature is going down to minus 9 at night and unlikely to rise above zero for at least a week.
- Open warfare, resulting in a vet's visit this week, between my two dogs who have happily shared a basket and been the best of friends for four years. Any tips on how to restore harmony gratefully received.
- Going down with yet another stinking cold. Honestly, I didn't get colds at home in the Northern Highlands (too cold for the germs to survive perhaps?).
- Being snowed in today meant I got to miss physio and actually made some progress re-writing Secret Billionaire. Nobody faint, please ;-)
- The snow also meant I got to see Holly do a mad 5 minute roll in the snow, making very cute squeaky noises and making me laugh.