Wednesday, August 30, 2006

On The Shelf & RT Reviews!

Well... It's officially on the shelf gang! White-Hot! has been spotted in WHSmith's on the mainland by my good friend Natasha Oakley and here at home in Eason's by some of my friends and family. My first Modern Extra... Exciting times!!!

And just to make the day even shinier I got word that my October Silhouette Romance release - O'Reilly's Bride has received a Four and a Half Star rating from Romantic Times Review Magazine which is wonderful - Especially considering this is the famous Pineapple Book... ;) - And you all know how I felt about that book at the time...

And my good friend Natasha Oakley sent me my review from the magazine for The Wedding Surprise which was awarded a Four Star Review!!! They had this to say:

"When her father announces he's about to lose his business and the family home, chef Caitlin Rourke needs a large amount of cash - fast. So she agrees to appear on the reality TV show Fake Fiance, hoping to win the prize. She hits it off with her faux intended, writer Aiden Flynn, but planning a wedding while lying to her family and friends and battling her growing feelings for Aiden - doesn't equal contentment! And then there's the secret Aiden's keeping. Trish Wylie's The Wedding Surprise (4) should amuse fans of reality TV and charm everyone else with its characterisation and often witty dialogue."

A big thanks to Romantic Times for the lovely review and when I get the one for The Pineapple I promise to post it up too so you can see it...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Up On My Soapbox (Again)

WARNING LONG RANT!!!

The moral of this story - before I even start and just to save you some time if you're in a hurry - is this - When taking a break from your current WIP - DO NOT Google your own name for fun...

Now those of you that know me and have been visiting the blog for a while will know that way back at the start of the year I had a bit of a soapbox week about people who criticize Category Romance without really knowing what they're criticizing... Hence The Pink Heart Society was born... (launching THIS FRIDAY FOLKS!!!)

W-e-l-l-l... Whilst Googling myself as a reward for upping my word-count, I found a, let's for the sake of argument call it, a 'review', (though I apologize to all Professional reviewers for that) of one of my books... Now anyone who writes anything will tell you that reviews are par for the course... they come with the territory when you put yourself 'out there' -they are subjective... they are one persons opinion - to get a great one is the most fabulous thing in the world - but any writer knows that you can't please all of the people all of the time so therefore we shouldn't take it thick when we get a bad one... And I'm not. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

BUT - And this is where I drag out the soapbox - (wait a minute til I step up so you can all see me - there - better? Can you hear me at the back???) - I will smile graciously and take criticism with grace when it comes from someone who has any clear idea of what category romance is about these days... Which this person- Clearly doesn't - and, unfortunately 'cos I happened to find this example it's them I'm publicly answering, even though they said very little in the great scheme of things! But it's a good example of the everyday kinds of people that we would hope to educate with The Pink Heart Society - People who think they know what a Harlequin Mills And Boon or a category romance is, when really they don't..

SO - To all people who make generalizations:

If you don't like a particular book then fine, that's entirely your choice, and mine, and the rest of the planets - but don't knock an entire genre because of one book and the pre-conceptions you already have in order to make you feel like a more 'educated' reader. If you're an educated reader then you do your research, read across the lines and discover what the best-sellers are - allow that others may like something that you do not - and you do not feel you need to put them down because of it. Tolerance people, tolerance. There's nowhere like enough of it in the world - so start small and aim big I say...

It may seem petty to get on my soapbox and moan on about it - and the truth is I might not have got started if I hadn't been vain enough, and seeking distraction enough to go Google my own name - But if you know me then you'll know it could have been ANY book they'd said this about and I'd have still got the box out - Thats just me...

And I quote:

"A romance novel! I was curious to know what they're like these days, so I picked up a random recent volume at the library.

A Wedding Surprise is certainly recent (it's about two people who agree to participate in a reality show) but it's probably not typical. It's a Mills & Boone book, and set in Ireland. It took me a little while to get my head around that, but I got over it.

Not a bad idea, but not very believable either - truly fell apart at 'the big reveal'."

First off, I have to say well done for picking one up in the first place - this person was obviously feeling brave to go outside what they considered an acceptable form of reading. Which shows a glimpse of an open mind. Which is great.

Now let's look at the words 'but it's probably not typical' - Well actually, I'd love to say I was the first category author to come up with Reality TV as a back drop but I don't actually believe I am - Gang, you're more educated and well read than I am - so If you have a list feel free to let me and this person, know what they are by adding them to the comments below - Cos I'm certain I'm not alone... AND the lines also cover Internet Dating, Speed Dating, Issues of career v's parenthood, single parent families, characters with disabilities and a wide and varying cornucopia of relevant issues that todays women looking for romance face. Are we offering solutions to those issues? Handing out some kind of Grail like set of instructions for love? No - we are not - But we are writing stories that millions of women enjoy, that they can escape in for a few hours, and still know they are guaranteed a happily ever after - which lets face it - they really can't rely on in everyday life can they??? So, on this attitude of 'probably not typical' - NOT SO!!! The thing about the kind of people that run down the genre without knowing better is that they are comfortable believing the out-dated rumours and too lazy to do enough research to find out for themselves because let's face it - it would take them away from the more educated reading they do, wouldn't it??? And that's their choice, but really, don't let yourself down by not knowing the facts, word your criticism a little better....

Then we have 'It's a Mills and Boone book, and set in Ireland. It took me a while to get my head around that, but I got over it.' - Mills and Boon may be a London based publisher - but this person obviously thinks that means all their books are set in where - England? NOT SO!!! Harlequin Mills and Boon is owned by a CANADIAN based company with offices around the globe - so the books are set ANYWHERE from Australia to Hong Kong, to Italy to Canada to the US and yes, to little old Ireland... They have a diversity of settings, of plots, of characters and of authors voices that mean to lump them all under the one heading for criticism is a tad naive, don't you think? It's like saying all Irish people wear green and drink Guinness while River-Dancing their way through life... Which, as a resident of Ireland, I can tell you they don't - which is maybe just as well considering my Irish Dancing talents...

'Not a bad idea, but not very believable either - truly fell apart at 'the big reveal'. - I have to say THANK YOU that you thought it wasn't a bad idea - and I am glad that this reader even picked up a category romance book. Because if someone who has never read one before picked one up and gave it a go that is GREAT. It shows open mindedness and a willingness to see what's outside of their normal 'box' reading wise. And if this reader had enjoyed the book then they might have picked up another and maybe another, until they realized that not all category romances are the same, that there is a wealth of writing talent out there, writers who have strived for years to break into what is a very competitive market and some who have chosen to use it as a stepping stone to larger 'more socially acceptable' books. But to choose one, as it happened mine (which is why I found it) to use as a way of running down an entire publishing house... well... Do I really need to spell it out?

As to the 'not very believeable either' - I could choose to write 'real-life' romance from the experience of my friends and myself as modern day women in our thirties - but I'm writing books that are meant for 'escapism' - for guaranteed Happily Ever Afters for the reader - because that is what they want, it's why the romance industry exists - and really, isn't life depressing enough??? Everyone is so keen to critique things these days - and not just books - it's become a way of life. And freedom of speech is great - but does that mean that everyone who wants to escape into a place where happily ever after still exists, even for an hour or two, should be criticized for doing it? I don't think so, and that's why I write *(category)* romance...

So to this 'review' - (*Link Removed out of respect for my usual Blog visitors, family and friends - who have no need to read such an abusive answer imo*) - And to the people who have Googled their way to this Blog looking for funny Mills And Boon quotes (*of which I get LOADS - including ones with search words like bodice ripper, loveshaft ?! and my personal favourite of mansword*) that they can no doubt use to write another 'well informed' article about the romance genre - I say this - Remember you are only one person, and your criticism, if being placed into the public domain, should be subjective and well educated - Read across the genre, speak to authors and readers - know your facts - Because at the end of the day, as someone who is supposedly a well educated, well read and 'thinking' reader, your mind should be open before you begin... Shouldn't it?

If you have any experience of similar narrow minded articles or reports or interviews you have done with journalists then come let me know about them in the comments so I don't feel so much like a lone crusader... But then again, as I step down off my soapbox, I remember that I already know I'm not alone... Not judging by the numbers of you joining us at The Pink Heart Society... I'm just doing what the Society does - I'm Saying it Loud, Saying it Proud...

I DID WARN YOU IT WAS A LONG RANT....

(*portions of this post have been highlighted to demonstrate that this post refers to Category Romance and the generalizations and pre-conceptions attached to it and a link has been removed out of respect to my Blog visitors, friends and family - particularly my young neices and nephews all under the age of sixteen who visit regularly*)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A lightbulb moment

FINALLY I've discovered why my characters were being such a royal pain in the butt... They're both guarded and cautious... and obviously that meant until I got into their story a little they weren't going to reveal much of themselves to me!!! A-ha! Now I get it...

Oh and no ponies escaped... the rest of the family disappeared for the day... and I had a brief headache respite for a whole hour and a half... The world was a bright and shiny place once more... Wonder what my chances are of making 30k before the night is out? Mmmm??? Place your bets please...

8 DAYS TO DEADLINE...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I want not to have a headache anymore... Please?



Alright, so at some point in my broken sleep pattern I had a brainwave... Current scene was slowing me down... I needed to go back again and add another one... This is a break through I feel...

But I should go back a little more and explain how this startling moment of clarity came to me. Since I buried myself in the cave as a Full Time writer this year, I knew I was going to have to work hard and put in the effort. I have a schedule of sorts you see. I'm just one of these people that works better with a plan... what can I say... However, when you work at home, on your own schedule, it's tough making people understand that you're still WORKING. Just cos you're at home and can work in your jammies if you choose to, doesn't make what you're doing any less of a job... And as a writer, I dunno about others, but I find my writing can be very influenced by my mood...

Cue - (insert scary music and a clap of thunder) - MY FAMILY... da-da-dah!!!!

Over the last few years I have worked away from home, I'm a very indepedent being and I'm used to my own space and schedule and seeing people when I want to and - yada-yada-yada. So this is the first time in a very long time I've got to spend time within kicking distance of all my neices and nephews. (Who are now within yelling distance - literally) Which I should add I love. And they are all very into their ponies at the minute which is fab... But as the only real equine orientated and fully trained equine enthusiast member of the family that means I get lots of visits... Can we ride now? Will I put the ponies out? Can I wash tails? What time are we riding at? I put the ponies out. I washed tails. Are you ready to go riding??? AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

And those of you that know me may know I'm a night-writer - which means during the earlier part of the day I'M GRUMPY. What can I say, I'm a witch if I don't get my full five to six hours....

So, when I went to sleep at half five in the a.m. I did it with the complete belief that no-one without a death wish would be foolish enough to wake me before ten-ish, with any luck later than that. Imagine my glee at being woken up just after eight...

"Champ's out." (three legged pony I've been bandaging for five weeks now due to a noticeable lack of skin on fourth leg) "We need you to see if he's alright."

(Grumpy witch mode thinks it can't be that difficult to count if he still has three legs, a bandaged one and a head and a tail...) But gets out of bed and walks over to stables in jammies and dressing gown and, trainers, to see... While family asks me questions. Questions that mystic Trish should know obviously... like..."How did he get out?"

To cut a very long story down to novella length I didn't have the all seeing eye to know how he got out. And I am genuinely sorry that he chose to eat everything within a five mile radius including the new trees that were only planted this summer...But anyone who has ever kept ponies or horses will tell you they just DO stuff like that. If I were to tell you the number of times I've had to chase round the countryside in the middle of the night in my jammies to catch escapees... well.. let's just say it's why I always buy PRACTICAL jammies...

Grumpy witch then came back and immediately made a note to pin to door that said 'I'm on a DEADLINE. Leave me alone!' - (Im stressed and stressed to me equals problems writing....) and you know what, not only did it give me a day free from questions like 'Are you always going to be on a deadline?' and 'How many books do you have to write?' or my personal favorite when I'm stressed 'How's the book coming? - You done yet?' - which friends also TEXT ME with - and the usual glut of pony questions (which I really don't want to completely discourage cos I like to know they're all alive and have legs and heads and tails and kids can lose interest FAST so they need encouragement) - It also let me sneak back to bed for another interrupted hour or two of sleep which gave me my brainwave of what to do with the book... HOORAH!!!

All it took then was a bath, herbal calming tablets, a face pack and painting my toenails - all to DE-STRESS - and I was good to go... If I'd have sat down at the laptop in grumpy witch mode my poor characters would have suffered horrifically for it. Cos lets face it, up til now they'd have deserved it... But they're co-operating now so I can't really take the chance on upsetting them...

If I worked in an office I wouldn't have all these challenges... But mind you, neither would I get to wear my jammies til after lunch...

So, what I want to know is how in hell do writers with kids of their own DO THIS???? And how do people cope with other people who don't get that just cos a person is in jammies til after lunch it doesn't mean they don't WORK???

But most of all I really want to know HOW DO I GET RID OF THIS FLIPPING HEADACHE???

9 DAYS TO DEADLINE FOLKS....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Slow and Steady ain't winnin this race...



Well those uncooperative flipping characters of mine made me go the whole way back through what I'd already done so they could reluctantly spill the information they hadn't bothered telling me... Which means we made progress... yaay... but it was slow... sniff...

Thing is, I'm now so ticked off with them that I really want to stuff them in a folder somewhere and leave them to stew for a while. It would serve them flipping right!!!! But no, we have a deadline - so I can't be that petty. Much and all as I really want to be. Seriously. Trust me on this. They don't deserve happily ever after!!!!!

TEN DAYS TIL DEADLINE... Here's hoping for some speed tonight....And some kind of resolution for the headache I have now had for nearly a week...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Characters Not Behaving = Stressed Out Trish

Ever get to a point in your manuscript when you want to take your characters to one side and slap them about a little???

I'm there. With bells on.

I like nice obedient characters who whisper in my ear and tell me all about themselves as we go along. I open the door for them, figuratively speaking, and they're supposed to take the invitation and walk on in... And be co-operative!!!

Not these two. They're making me insane. I feel another pineapple coming on, I really do... Talk about suffering for your art!!! And I don't even have my usual online partner for hourly check-ins and updates on how much wine we have consumed and the usual incentive of her writing more words than me in an hour... Bloody inconsiderate of her taking a holiday when I need her really...

So, for all you writers out there struggling with characters who won't behave, who choose to be secretive and then reveal information you could have done with knowing THREE CHAPTERS AGO... Know that even when published... we understand your pain.. and suffer right along side you...

Whose idea was it for my supposed gift to be writing? Huh?

Cyber gifts of sympathy and pep-talks all gladly received at this point... 11 DAYS TO DEADLINE... Watch the worm counter guys to see if I can make it... And meanwhile...

Now-drinking-more-wine... And sending out a silent prayer that listening to Josh Groban's dulcid tones will ease me through...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Blank Page - The Show and Tell & Layering of Emotion


So, continuing with the questions I've been asked of late... Janet asked:

How do you layer in the emotion? Experienced writers say you need to show and not tell--- so instead of saying 'a feeling of disappointment came over her,' it's better to say something like 'she swallowed and blinked back the tears,' so the reader deduces the emotion from the body language.

Show not tell. This is a bit of a mantra these days. Along with the fact that every book should show an emotional journey. So, as Janet has asked me, I'll chat about how I handle it...

I write for the lines I write for for one good reason outside of the fact that my voice fits there... They are Modern Day love stories with real people. The relationships are supposed to seem as attainable as possible to the reader - may even show some echoes of people they know - or remind them of emotions they have felt. And for that reason I tend to use *methods* and *tools* that the reader will understand, that make sense to me when I read the kinds of books I like. Actually, thinking about it, this is something that can carry into every line and every genre. Because, as I may have mentioned a time or two before, people are people. It's a simple law of the universe.

If we are writing about people in their twenties and thirties and beyond, then life has been lived enough to take a little of the magical glow off it. And yet, some things will always remain constant - our need to feel needed, our need for human contact in the shape of friends and family as well as in the mystical thing known as a soul mate, our need to be accepted as we are, to have someone understand that we have lessons to learn and will grow as a person all the more with the right person by our side - and most of all - our need to be loved. And so many other things too. It's a common bond we all share. And it's this common bond between you and your reader through your characters that you need to keep in mind while you write.

What you then need to think about is what would stop two people for reaching out for the things they need? This is a big part of your conflict. Why, when they meet someone they are attracted to, who they could be very happy with, would they hold back? The simplest answer in this day and age is emotional baggage. We all carry it, and quite often the way we protect ourselves from getting hurt a second or a third or a fourth time, is by putting up barriers that get in the way of us reaching out to grasp the very things we need. How we then get round this - is the emotional journey. And this is what the lines I write for are most concerned with...

So, how do we convey this to the reader without laying it out like a shopping list or having our characters do some big reveal early on in the book that will have the reader cringing and thinking LOSER?

We build it slowly - we reveal it little by little - we, as Fiona Harper so succintly described it on her blog recently 'screw the punch'...

By screwing the punch I take it to mean a boxing analogy - rather than hitting the punchbag with full force we hold back a little - small pow in first hit - then we add a little more - a heavier second punch - and we continue doing that until we're building to a combination of punches that end in a massive POW...

In describing the emotions we take the reader inside the characters mind, we describe how they feel physically, we describe their outer movements (yes - this is where body language comes in) - and by means of interaction and an outer plot to move the story forward we allow the characters to make their emotional journey.

So, let's look at Marriage Lost And Found. We have two people who loved each other and married and were then seperated by circumstance. And in the opening Prologue we have the heroine finally writing to the hero to be set free. We convey her emotions through her inner POV in the form of introspection:

Abbey felt her heart cramp in her chest. Damn him.

Pushing her writing pad to one side, she stood and paced the floor in oversized fluffy socks. She'd lived up to her part of their great magical plan. She'd come home to wait, to finish her education as they'd agreed and to prepare herself for their new life together. They'd really been very sensible about the whole thing considering how fast it had happened...

But then he'd disappeared, abandoned her and the dreams they'd talked about for their future. Together.

And then her Father had died and the world had been an empty, lonely place.

No, she could never forgive Ethan for breaking the promises they'd made. For taking away the magic. She couldn't go back and make it all right again.

Abbey was just going to have to get on with the business of letting go. Pure and simple. It was time. She squared her shoulders, took a breath and closed her eyes for a second. Finding her strength sometimes just took a moment. Especially when it came to letting go of Ethan.

Wasn't it always that way with a girl's first love?

So, let's look at this passage a little closer... We already have a fair idea of how difficult a letter this is for our heroine to write... How do we know this? We know it through a series of devices -

Firstly, her heart has cramped in her chest... Think for a moment about how this feels - a cramp in your chest - it's sharp - it's painful - it hurts - so we know she's feeling pain. We have conveyed an emotion without saying something as simplistic as 'Writing the letter hurt.'... And we have conveyed it by describing something that everyone has felt at some time so the reader gets it.

Next. She thinks - Damn him. And it's in italics in the book so we know it's been said with force. So we know she's not his biggest fan - we know she doesn't like him very much for what happened. We have used her introspective POV on the subject to show how she feels... Without saying something as simplistic as 'She really hated him'. And in using this phrase and repeating it through the story as I do when she has moments that she hates him - I have screwed the punch... adding layers each time to back up the phrase so there is more impact before I land the big whammy where the heroine discovers that maybe the blame didn't lie entirely on his shoulders...

Then we have a moment of movement to keep the story flowing... she stood up and paced as she thought - loads of people do that or have seen people do that - so we have conveyed her agitation. Then we return to inner POV showing introspection - as she goes back over some of their history - but not enough to slow the story - until we get to the emphasized 'Together' - which enforces the pain she feels that it didn't work out that way.

And then her father had died and the world had been a empty, lonely place. - This is an example of where you take a common bond of shared experience and share it with your reader through your characters. There are very few, if any of us anywhere, who have not experienced grief. We all know exactly how it feels. And this one simple line is enough to portray a world of hurt, pain and loneliness. So we have no doubt at all of how the heroine felt then and there. We get it. We get it because we have lived it.

So she then echoes the emotion she portrayed through the Damn him by telling us point blank that 'No, she could never forgive Ethan for breaking the promises they'd made.' This is the most simplistic way of coveying an emotion - its a whammy - a big punch with nothing held back - that is then punched again with a smaller rippling punch by adding 'For taking away the magic.' - We know without a shadow of a doubt that this guy HURT HER. Emotional punch.

We then move the scene on again - first in thought and then in physical action which conveys hows she's feeling - 'squared her shoulders, took a breath and closed her eyes '- hinting at how she's feeling and then backing it up by explaining that 'Finding her strength sometimes took a moment' - again something the reader can understand cos we've all been there - and if we, as readers, square our shoulders, take a breath and close our eyes, we can feel ourselves trying to draw on inner strength as she does...

Until we add the final layer and whammy punch of 'Wasn't it always that way with a girl's first love?' - Who hasn't felt the anguish of that first heartbreak? That first time we fell head over heels and ended up sobbing into a pillow when our heart was broken for the first time and a little of that childhood magic we all have was taken from us? We all grow up believing in in Happily Ever After - no one is ever going to tell a child that it's something that has to be worked at every day cos we want that magic to last as long as possible - so the first time we learn the lesson that it's not always a guaranteed hea - we hurt. So we have used that common bond again between writer and reader through characters. We have allowed them to understand where our heroine is at the start of the story and we then use similar devices through the book to show how her emotional journey progresses, how she heals and learns to trust herself again as the story reaches it's conclusion...

Show not tell. ......... While making an emotional journey.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hey Look What I just Heard!!!

Found out today that I have a couple of books nominated for the Cataromance Reviewers Choice Awards - which is pretty darn fab!!!

My January Tender - The Wedding Surprise and April Tender - O'Reilly's Bride (aka: The Pineapple Book) - which is timely for me (thankyou Cata Reviewers!!!) - Cos I'm trying to decide what books to enter in competitions this year...

Thing is, it pits me against my lovely Pink Heart Leaders - Ally Blake, Nicola Marsh and Natasha Oakley not to mention in the same category as the REMARKABLE Liz Fielding... Sigh... Still, pretty darn great to be nominated!!!!!

Awards are being given out at a special Pink Carpet awards ceremony on Friday so do pop on over to Cata so you can give me a hug of commiseration and help me hug the winner!!!

Too much fun!

Monday, August 14, 2006

I got Tagged so...

Yes, I got tagged by Kate Hardy a couple of days ago... and this is my first chance to do it so here goes...

1. One book that changed my life:

Oh heck – An easy one to start with!!!! NOT. The Little House On The Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – Yes I know it’s corny, but this was one of the first books I read the whole way through as a child and thanks to that achievement I became a reader and thanks to that achievement I became a writer – so when you follow the chain back – The Little House book changed my life… Maybe not a Mensa moment but the start of a chain reaction – and that’s what I believe happens in life – the little things change us in the long term…

2. One book that I have read more than once:

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin – I mean, c’mon, who hasn’t???

3. One book I would want on a deserted island:

I’m gonna have the same reaction that Kate had here and say - ONE BOOK is not possible!!!!! But then I’d cheat and say one of those palm held Wireless internet accessible e-book readers and that would solve that one. (Wonder if anyone on the BBC version of Desert Island Discs has thought of that yet for IPods and Music…mmm…) Though I have read several not half bad e-books and have a couple on stand-by for when I finish this flipping manuscript – I will have to confess – at the risk of being thrown from a tall building – I still prefer the book in my hand… I get the usefulness and shelf space saving qualities and accessibility of an e-book thingie but since we’ll probably never be allowed one on an aircraft again and they don’t quite feel the same when you’re tucked up with them in bed… I just don’t know that I’ll ever be a convert… But IF on a desert Island…

4. One book that made me laugh:

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. - The book that nearly got me ejected from a Sixth Form study period in the Library of my school for laughing aloud so often… I had backed it in the same covering as the rest of my school books so I wouldn’t be caught out reading something off the curriculum – and it was the start of a lifelong obsession with this man’s work – Funniest guy on the planet – or anywhere else imho

5. One book that made me cry:

P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern – (As much crying from jealousy as anything else…where was MY MUSE when this book was being thought up???) This was a super book – really really clever – great balance between funny and poignant and an emotional journey to beat all emotional journeys – Anyone who has ever had someone they care about die will get this book. And they’ll weep as much from memories of their own as they will from the journey this heroine takes from grief back to life… We’ve all been there…

6. One book I wish I'd written:

The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenberger – Take two of my favorite things – Romance & Sci-Fi - and put them in a cleverly written, unique plot - and you’ve GOT ME. I want to be as clever as the woman who wrote this…. Mind you… I don’t think I have a large enough room for the size of wall required for THE TIMELINE to keep things straight in this book… PHEW…

7. One book I wish had never been written:

Nah. Like Kate again – I’m gonna say this smacks too much of book burning for me.- Though I would never ever read a book that advocates degradation of a human being in ANY WAY – or one that is prejudicial religiously or by colour of skin or promotes any kind of cruelty to children or animals – At the same time I think that to single out a book to have never been written is just too far above my rights as one person on the planet. Books should make us think, should allow us to get lost for a while, should stimulate our imaginations… And if we set boundaries for the way books are written then what might we have missed???

8. One book I am currently reading:

The Stargate Conspiracy by Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince – And I have to admit I’ve been reading it forever – It takes a lot of concentration and as I’m working on my fifth book in a year it has been picked up and set down and picked up and set down. And every time I pick it up I have to go back a bit to get the thread… It’s a *factual* book linking physical and historical evidence with the theories of generations on the Pyramids and their links to lost civilizations and visitors from other worlds. Yep, like I said. LOTS of concentration – fascinating stuff though… (Have to say though, if I take a break from my own writing these days it’s to watch a DVD - and all it’s extras of course… I could do you one hell of a film list…)

9. One book I have been meaning to read:

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom – I’ve also recently ordered Tuesday’s With Morrie by the same author on DVD with Jack Lemmon (his last film as well as being about life lessons passed on from an old man to a young - so twice the Kleenex’s expected)… Since I’ve been working on my longer Single Title Novel I’ve been doing a lot of research on peoples’ perceptions of life and death so I’m fascinated by these themes at the minute…

And now, mmm, who to tag to come along and play with me... It would have to be the usual gang of Ally Blake, Nicola Marsh and Natasha Oakley - my fellow Pink Heart Society gang leaders and I'd also love to see what Liz Fielding and Donna Alward come up with... Best thing about being tagged is tagging someone else...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Blank Page - Q&A on Layout and Changes of POV

I've been ignoring you all terribly and I hope you can forgive me??? This writing lark tends to get in the way of blogging from time to time... Occupational hazard...

To get back into the swing of things I'm gonna answer a few of the questions you asked me at the end of the last Blank Page post so you don't think I don't pay attention and then we'll take it from there. I'm so, so pleased that so many of you are finding them useful!!! I would never have got into the business if it hadn't been for the kind helping hands from so many of the lovely authors I am now lucky enough to share shelf space with!!! So all I'm doing is continuing a tradition... When you're published I hope you'll then continue it on my behalf...

So, we'll start with a question from Jacqui who asked: When you create your work in your wordprocessor, when you are typing the actual internal dialogue you use italics to distinguish?

The simple answer is yes I do. But that's nearly too simple an answer... Having read different wip's from different authors I've discovered that everyone has their own ways of doing things. And it's a dilemma that all of us go through when we are first subbing work - Have I got it laid out right? Will they turn away my terrific work if it's not spaced right??

As you may know Harlequin Mills & Boon like any work sent to them to be double spaced, with a header and page number and single sided with a margin around each side for them to put notes in. There's even a section on the eharlequin site where you can go and look up the exact way... But I will admit when I first subbed, and even into my third manuscript, I made the mistake of
having my work laid out in a way that made it tougher than usual for the Copy Editing department to transfer it into their printing format. Which possibly didn't make me popular... So I had to ask a friend or two to help me change over and lo and behold, since I got a template I have since discovered that pretty much all the suthors use the same method. Duh Trish. So if any of you working in Microsoft Word are having diffs working out how to lay out your work and you're as technically challenged as I am then email me through the website and I'll send you one of mine to use or compare to your own. Deal? Am I forgiven for not blogging now?

And as to the italics on internal thought or on words I want emphasized, some people merely put them in italics, I put them in italics and underline them. It's something I've never been told off for so I'm assuming it's been ok to do it that way but to be honest either method would work... So long as your Ed and your Copy Ed dept understand what you meant then it's grand, right?

Next up MsCreativity asked: What's the 'official' view with switching POVs? ...Basically, what I'm asking is, is it okay to use two pov's in one scene if it's clear to the reader whose pov it is?

If it's not okay to switch POV's between two characters in a scene then I'm in trouble... Cos I do it loads! The thing to remember is to not over-do it.. If you're switching pov every page then it can be hard to keep up with and sometimes the reader just needs to spend some time inside one head so they can get what's going on with that character before they move to the other... Remember, we may have spent weeks getting to know these people before we started telling their story, but your reader doesn't know them so well - and they need to so they can care about them enough to keep turning the pages til the end..

The question then becomes how best to tackle it?

For me, I like a beat or a pause. And this can be done several ways. You can use a physical movement or expression to make a pause before you enter that characters head. You can use dialogue. You can even use an 'inanimate' pause like a slamming door, or a clap of thunder... A beat that momentarily breaks the flow, but not for so long an amount of time that it slows things down. And before you change over the pov, so that it's clear you've done it. In Project: Parenthood for instance we had this:

She smiled softly at him, lowering her voice to a similar whisper, "Are you all right?"
"Me?" His fair eyebrows rose momentarily in surprise, "I'm fine. I'm the one that's used to all this."
"Are you?"
The whispered question made him search her eyes. What he saw there made him glance away. She was concerned, warm, sensual, all in one glance. And it took his breath away.
He took a moment to smile at another relative who had turned round to wave at him, then looked down to where his hands held hers, "They all mean well in their own way."
"Where I come from, it's called rubbing your nose in it."
"No," He shook his head, his eyes still on their hands, "If they thought that then they'd be very hurt. It's okay - really."
Teagan waited until he'd raised his chin and given her a reassurring smile, "Well, it's not okay with me."
The smile changed to one of open affection, "Just as well I have you to look out for me then, isn;t it?"
Her annoyance at his family faded under the depth of his smile. She looked into the dark blue pools of his eyes, at his thick lashes blinking slowly at her. And she felt lost and found in the space of a heartbeat.

I've highlighted the beats in bold so you can see where it has happened. So the first beat changes from her pov to his and the second changes it back. The third doesn't actually change it over again - what it does is act as an echo or a repeat if you like, so that it's very clear we've switched. The first beat might have been enough on it's own, but I guess it's just part of my voice to occasionally do that. I've discovered I do it quite a bit since I went looking for a piece to use as a demo so thanks guys... something else for me to obsess about...

The thing to remember about switching pov in either the Tender/Romance line and to a slightly lesser degree in the Modern Extra line, is that the lines are heroine driven - so at no point should the amount of time spent on the hero's pov overshadow the heroines... So, the amount of times you do it is up to you - just don't leap frog so much that we never get a chance to get to understand the thought process of one character properly.

Next up we'll answer Janet's questions on the show not tell aspects of layering in emotion and introspection - how much is too much?

Monday, August 7, 2006

Birthday Weekend & Cake results

Well I have to say that was probably one of the best birthday's I've had in two decades... (I normally hate them btw) - I got presents I liked, spent the day doing what I wanted to do (which mostly involved testing out the Spyro The Dragon PS2 games I bought for my youngest nephews birthday the day before mine - yes, they were for him!) and I baked Ally's Cake and nobody died and the kitchen remained in one piece!!!! A perfect birthday in my opinion....
A huge thanks to all of you who sent me Birthday messages and e-cards - It made for such a lovely day. Especially Kate Walker's card which made me giggle for quite some time!!! And Donna Alward's card which made me crave chocolate enough to get me off my backside and into the kitchen to attempt the cake in the first place....
So I treated myself to a weekend away from the computer to re-charge and during that time a friend of mine pointed out that there are less weeks left in August than I had convinced myself there were so I now have to buckle down and get that word-count up!!! And in the breaks I'll no doubt need I will be working with Ally, Natasha and Nic to get the Pink Heart Society Blog ready for launch on 1st September...
Nope... no pressure...
But if I get an extra five minutes in there I promise to do another article on The Blank Page, taking up where we left off on Introspection and Jumping POV...
Back to the cave for me....Tra-la-la...

Thursday, August 3, 2006

I'll let you figure it out...

Today is August 5th....
Your Birth Month is August
Your Birth Month is August

Ambitious and strong, you find it easy to be successful.
You are brave and stubborn. No one's going to set your limits!

Your soul reflects: Strength, character, and devotion

Your gemstone: Peridot

Your flower: Poppy

Your colors: Orange, red, and light green

You are 73% Leo

You are 73% Leo

How Leo Are You?
And today I am going to have a go at make Ally Blake's cake... For those of you that know me... I'm sorry for your loss...
Cooking wouldn't really be my thing. Even though she does give really simple instructions. She mentioned cup fulls of things... is that like expresso sized cupfuls or mug sized cupfuls???
This cake may take more than one attempt....

Let the Panic Attack Begin



So, thanks to a comment Liz left on the last post I now know that White-Hot! is making it's way out into the big, bad world on Pre-Order at the Mills And Boon site... And now I can officially schedule in my panic attack...

I wonder of authors ever lose this fear? You put your heart and soul into it, and this was the first one of my own that I cried in when writing it (mind you that could have been PMT). But you just never know how readers will take to it. And since each book becomes an extension of yourself, which is why I often refer to them as children, you can't help but feel protective...Like watching a child take it's first trip away from home. You want it to do well, you hope that if people don't like it there will be a larger proportion of people that will... and you then get to add to that the fact, that unlike children, the failure in the world of one may lead to a chain reaction that may end your career... Over-react? me? Nah...

But this one is a bit special, therefore garnering even more panic than usual. Because this was my first foray out of the comfortable and familiar surroundings of the Tender line into a line that I couldn't even read to research before I started writing! And you know how I do like to harp on about the subject of doing your research before you begin...

So this one was a shot in the dark. And I just wrote what felt right writing and must bow down to the superior knowledge of the Eds who bought it and said it was bang on for the line. Thing is, in my little world of paranoia, with the line having been out there for several months now, and it has to be said doing rather well! - I have now read so many great pieces of work from other authors that I'm thinking - Oh crap - what if I don't measure up??? Just cos I like it doesn't mean others will... Gulp... And now that I know Liz is going to read it I am poo-ing myself...

Any day now I fully expect there to be a knock at the door and a policeman with a charge of 'Pretending to be able to write' in his hand...Will the paranoia NEVER END???? (or maybe thats PMT talking again???)

Mind you, worse comes to the worst...The cover is certainly gonna be worth it...

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Blank Page - POV & keeping it real

Finally someone got brave enough to give me a topic!!!! Yay! Am I really that scary???

Janet has sent me two great topics to work on… And I’m going to tackle them kind of back to front to the way she asked – but they are very good lead-on’s from the last post so THANK YOU JANET!!!

Alright we talked about dialogue being a foundation for a scene and then adding layers – POV, sounds, movement, scents, setting maybe… all of these are layers. But to my mind, POV can be one of the most important.

This lets us inside the characters minds and allows us to take the journey with them. In a film the actor has to try and let us learn everything through movement, expression and dialogue. In a book we don’t have the same straight to the eyeballs luxury with the movement and expression so we have to use that sparingly and cash in on the bonus we have of inner POV…. Which in a way allows us more scope than an actor! After all how many times have you heard someone say ‘The book was much better than the film’… It’s because a book can layer in so many different ways than film – mind you, I’d love it if they all had a soundtrack… I know I always have one when writing… Think of your writing as an onion… each layer you peel off should reveal something along the way until you get to the heart of it…Handy analogy if you’re writing a weepy I guess…

So, the first thing to think about when you think about POV is the way that you do it.

When you think about something do you think about yourself in the third person??? For instance as I write this am I likely to be thinking ‘Trish wondered if the people reading this blog would be able to make sense of it…’ – nope – I’m more likely to be thinking ‘I wonder if the people reading this blog can make sense of it…’ – but as we’re not writing in the first person for these lines we have to find a way of translating this across without using too many repetitive phrases…

For me, that has led to two differing methods…

There’s the inner thought in italics with an- - on either side that indicates a thought. So in this case I might use ‘No-one is going to make any sense of this blog’ and we know it's a thought. Especially if we put it in as a new sentence on it's own or follow it up with more narrative POV.

And there’s the descriptive method (narrative POV) which would be something like: She wondered if anyone would make any sense of her Blog. – A simplified version yes, but then let’s put it into perspective with some actual writing…

Using White-Hot! As an example, cos the lovely Ally Blake reckoned I got it right in that book…

And keeping in the back of your mind the whole time how we need to remember that men and women think differently lets look at Shane; who thinks in short, succint sentences without the procrastination that a woman might use:

She blushed a fiery red, “Answer the question Shane.”
“Which was what?” He focused hard on forcing himself not to step forwards and shut her up the best way he knew how. She was shooting his great plan to win her over to hell in a handbag and all it did was add to his frustration.
He was a guy, for crying out loud. A guy’s guy at that. He wasn’t supposed to be good with words. And what did she expect from him so early on – wasn’t just taking a chance to begin with a big enough step for her?
“You see me as some quick thrill, some sort of a challenge to you? Is that it?”
“No. That’s not how I see you.” And it wasn’t. He already cared about her. Something he didn’t feel as if he had to tell her, as she should already know by now! Hadn’t he made it obvious?
“Then what is it you want?”
You. He knew the answer was just that simple. In his mind, anyway. And to him that was enough. Because he knew Finn McNeill. Had liked her more every time he’d met her or talked with her or played the verbal sparring game they were so good at. Then the liking had turned to curiosity and then to fascination.
It had only been a matter of time before the fascination had turned into something more. Anything more than that was a bigger step than he was prepared to take. Never mind discuss.

The thing I think is to remember that inner POV should follow in a thought process that makes sense to the reader. It should flow. In the same way that it does as it goes through our mind. So it won’t always be grammatically correct. In fact, if my English teacher were ever to look at my work she’d probably shoot me! But people don’t think grammatically correctly. Well, not the kind of people I write about. If your character is an English professor or very highly educated then maybe they do. But most of my characters are everyday folk. That’s what I write. And the way that I put that across to my readers is a part of what makes up my voice

If you break down the dialogue in that section so that it stands alone from everything else, you’ll see that really they’ve given very little away to each other. But we, the reader, can see more going on beneath the surface because we have accessed the POV of Shane. Which is basically a narrative of unspoken dialogue.

Keep that in your head – POV is a narrative of unspoken dialogue

So it follows the same path as dialogue would follow. Which means we can ask the same questions of it as we do of dialogue – Does it make sense – even when spoken aloud? Does it flow? Does it tell us something that moves the story along?

What you do need to watch out for, if you’re anything like me, is dead words. What do I mean by dead words I can hear you cry!!! Well it’s the he said, she said’s. The wasted words that remind the reader it’s a book. And sometimes, because that’s the way we’re taught to write in school, we tend to revert to that rather than making it *real*…

I never use a ‘said’ unless I’m using it in POV as a character goes back over something else that someone ‘said’. The rest of the time I try to either add a movement or a description or I just let the dialogue stand alone. That way I’m not making a ‘pause’ in the story with a dead word that was unnecessary… Look at the paragraph above. Are there any said’s in there?

POV should tell you what the characters aren’t telling each other. They should add to the overall flow of the story… they should give us information without being long descriptive passages. And they should be broken up with dialogue, movement and any other layers you choose to use to stop it from being boring…

I’m open to questions on this one….

And Janet has also asked me about Introspection which I think follows on quite well from here as it's practically a siamese twin for POV… So we’ll do that next and then Jenna asked me about getting past stalling…*cough* - which is a tad topical for me at the moment… So I’ll blog on that until someone else asks me something or I do a poll…

Mind you, I could also talk a bit about echoes – which is an absolute favorite thing of mine – and one I do LOADS without even thinking about it. It’s kind of a follow on from some of the things Fiona Harper has been talking about recently on her blog regarding screwing the punch… Great term that!!! And we can also look at how I distribute the layers in a scene...

I leave it to you guys… You say… I blog…