Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Book With Trish Pt 7 - Prior Relationships Effect On Interaction

Here we go then – back to the Workshops with a look at how relationships prior to the beginning of a story can effect the way the characters interact…

Remember that no matter what line you’re writing for, or what outside plot you have going, it’s the characters that drive the story. We need them to be as real as possible, with the same hopes, desires, ways of behaving, doubts, fears and baggage as the rest of us. It’s only by having believable characters that the reader will care what happens to them. So no matter what else you want from your book – make very sure that the characters are the focus of it all! Every scene, everything that happens, every action, should have an effect or a meaning or prove a catalyst in some way to your characters. That’s what makes any story work I believe.

And it’s why I’m so gung ho on making sure that you know them before you even begin – because that way you have as better idea of how they’ll react…

So this time we’re looking at how their relationship prior to the beginning of the book can effect the way they react to each other when they first meet on the page. A couple who have been friends for life are more likely to be at ease in each others company than a couple who have never met before. A couple who have been enemies for some reason or another will more than likely be antagonistic to each other whereas a couple who were maybe married and then split up may be guarded because of the hurt involved in that break up. All very natural, real life reactions. And so long as we keep that ‘realism’ in place as the bar to which everything must measure up then we stand a much better chance of making our characters believable, right?

This is especially important later on, when the characters have to soften or maybe even change their mind about something that has held them back the whole way through the book! We have to understand why that change happened, it can’t just come out of nowhere because when writing it we thought it was time it happened… The characters have to lead us to it…

So, let’s look at dialogue between characters in the opening chapters, with their relationships a little different each time and therefore reflected in the way they interact…

In Breathless! We have two people who have never met – one who tends to hide insecurities about herself behind sarcastic wit and one who is very alpha – used to being in control, not easily put off, a man used to being in charge of any given situation. They meet on the first page and Cara the heroine’s personality immediately covers up embarrassment with sarcasm – which he’s not going to have any of, is he? So they clash…

“Are you always this friendly when someone tries to be nice to you?”
“Is that what you’re doing?”
The material of his T-Shirt strained as he moved his arms behind his back and shrugged again, drawing Cara’s eyes to the large number sixty-nine printed there.
She swallowed hard. Behave Cara. She forced herself to look up into his dark eyes as he spoke,
“That was the general idea, yeah. I will admit I may be a tad rusty though. I’ve been out of the country for a while and I’m not used to making small talk. So you’ll have to excuse me for that.”
“Avoiding someone’s husband I suppose.”
Oh Cara, just shut up! Why was it she never knew when to stay quiet? It was a knee-jerk reaction of old, and she knew it. But really, at twenty-seven she should have some sense of control by now. Lord knew it wasn’t as if it hadn’t caused her plenty of heartache before.

So already we have a sense of these two people. In the first chapter we are laying down the foundations of their personality – and we must then reveal a little more and a little more as the story progresses… Have a look at that short passage and tear it down and see what you have learnt from it – can you see Cara’s sarcasm isn’t something she always has control over? Can you sense she’s unsettled by this man? And can you see it doesn’t phase on him? We’ve also learned that he’s been overseas. Laying the foundations for the next few chapters when we find out why and how it then relates to his conflicts…

Then let’s change the perspective slightly and look at two people with a very different situation – in Marriage Lost And Found we had a couple who had been married – one who remembers that and one who doesn’t…

“You’ve changed.”
“Yes,” He nodded, “I guess to what you remember I have. Older would be the first thing.”
“Me too.”
His eyes sparkled with a small smile that twitched his lips, “I seem to recall a birthday party.”
Finally finding her spine, she managed to look away from him, “Why are you still here? Wasn’t making this much of a mess for me enough for you?”
“I didn’t come to make a mess. I came to see you.”
Her laugh was sarcastic, “Bit late aren’t you?”
“I’m sorry about that.”
“The time limit on sorry ran out about seven years ago.”
If he was as awful a guy as she thought he was he’d have deserved the tone to her voice, but -, “A.J., there’s something you need to know.“
“Something that will actually make a difference?” Again she laughed, “Oh, this should be good.”
He frowned and took a deep breath, “I don’t remember you.”

So their interaction is strained – there’s hurt showing plainly on her side – a kind of quiet control on his cos he knows something she doesn’t. So their prior relationship and their personalities before the story began are both apparent. If he had just upped and left her for no reason then he may have been different with her. If they had argued before they parted then they may both have been antagonistic and sarcastic. Knowing them before starting to tell their story will automatically dictate how they behave…

So Part 7 of the Workshop would be to look at the way your characters interact with each other during the early stages of the book.

1/ Think about how their prior relationship or lack of one will effect their behaviour towards one another.

2/ Relate it to how they speak, to whether or not they touch, to what way they may think when you’re using their POV as a narrative…

3/ And don’t give away too much too soon! As your characters are just getting to know each other again, or see each other differently, or meet for the first time, the reader should be exactly where they are too. So, just like your characters, they will learn a little at a time – will have to interpret actions and reactions, reading between the lines – just as your characters would in real life – but with the added advantage of learning a little from inside the characters thoughts along the way so that misunderstandings or the reasons behind holding back a secret are clearer…

Every book in every genre has to have a page turning quality. By filtering a little of the characters thought processes and conflicts and motivations through the first third of the book you can then *turn them round* in the second third of the book leading to the *black moment* and *resolution* in the final third... Which is something we'll discuss in a later workshop...

In the meantime make sure, when you read through what you've done, that you have it clear what the relationship between these two people is - so that you can build on that as you continue...

I’ll go over any questions you might have on this topic and then we’ll move on to Pt 8 and Building Sexual Tension in the early stages…

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Confession...

I have a confession to make... It would appear I have a bit of a thing for Superhero's...

I'll try and put it into perspective a little tho - for the sake of my sanity... I'm not calling it an obsession - more of an, erm, avid interest... And something my friends seem to have some problems understanding - so I'm hoping to find some like minded friends among my lovely Blog readers...

I watched all the Superman Movies with Christopher Reeve in when I was a kid, and yes they were corny, yes they got progressively worse as they continued but I still watched them. So when Smallville came along I watched to see what they would do with it - especially when they had Clarke and Lex as friends. I mean, what???? How's that gonna work??? And being as and how as a writer I like to see continuity and character arcs and all that done well, I'm even fascinated by the simpest things like - he never wears glasses... The glasses on =Clarke, glasses off =Superman thing was always a stretch but really, no glasses at all??? And Lois already knows him??? How in hell are they gonna pull all this off???

So, I got hooked in. It just couldn't be helped.

And thanks to YouTube I can even take a break from writing and watch an episode before it gets here... and... oooooohhhh... It's The Justice League!!!! The Green Arrow, Aquaman, Cyberman and The Flash/Impulse... with Clarke... setting Clarke off onto the SAVING THE WORLD path... Watching it was like being a little kid all over again. I LOVED IT. And now I wanna know if they'll have a show of their own??? I wanna know if Clarke will go help them. I wanna know when he gets the suit - how he gets past the glasses thing - when Lois stops hating him and how she doesn't get he's not Superman without the glasses thing (I mean she was a bad advertisement for savvy female reporters before not getting it with the glasses there - but with them not there - c'mon Lois!)

I can safely lay the blame for this avid interest at the door of the writers of this show. They have me sucked in - I mean, right in. Already I've watched some of the things they've done and had that lightbulb moment where I've gone 'Ooooh now that was clever...' Like setting up the premise for why Clarke would never want to tell Lois... or by having Lois get involved with a Superhero once before and having it end badly so we can see the dilemma she might have with someone who would conceal things from her - clever!

That's the thing about good writing universally I guess... After a while you can't help but get sucked into the story. And yep. I'm sucked in. I am officially a fan of Superhero's. And I wanna watch this show all the way to the moment when he first puts on the suit in a phonebox. And just in case I get a vote - MORE JUSTICE LEAGUE - PLEASE!!!

You can have a look at one of my numerous Youtube discoveries here - appropriate music too... That part of the internet has a lot to answer for wordcount wise... And it seems I have Aquaman and The Green Lantern and The Fantastic Four all out in the cinema this summer... Okay... No rest for the wicked they do say...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Book With Trish - Filtered Descriptions of Characters

Before I move onto how prior relationships effect how the characters interact in the early chapters I thought I’d answer the interesting topic raised by Marcy in the comments of the last Blog… Where she asked:

“I don't have enough description of my heroine in the first chapter, but that chapter is from her POV. How can I let the reader know what she looks like without having her describe herself? I've read book where the heroine is looking in the mirror, but that can't be the only way. So how can I get across enough detail without it seeming forced?”

I don’t think you need to use a mirror every time ;) Though that is a clever way of doing it… Impressions of a heroine while the story is in her POV are fairly easy to add in either the descriptive parts of the narrative or by adding it into what I call the ‘action’ or even by adding it into the dialogue of the hero…

If you have stated that the heroine had to tilt her head to look up at a hero you have already stated is six feet two, then we get a mental impression of her height, if it almost gives her a pain in her neck then you have an idea of how far she had to tilt…. If she raises a hand to brush back a curled lock of blonde hair then we have another impression… If at some point his dark eyes locked with green then we have her eye colour… See? Little by little we give the reader an impression that they can then use in their imagination to build up a mental picture… A mental picture, that if we're lucky, is backed up by the visual image on the cover. It's part of the reason authors can get so miffed if the covers are *off* and why all we Romance Line authors have been so darn chuffed of late!!!

Let’s look at some examples of filtered description, so you can see what I mean…

In Breathless! - When Cara first meets Rory the entire scene is done through her POV to give us a fairly detailed description of how damn gorgeous he is. But we also get snippets of her thoughts, her movement and actions and her narrative, that reveal a lot about her when all added together…

“Struggling against the warmth that rose in her cheeks, she tilted her head up and searched his dark eyes. The man could make a fortune playing poker. He didn’t even flinch. He just looked straight back at her and waited. Silently.”

This is just one line that helps with an impression of the heroine within a descriptive passage in her POV of the hero. Later in the chapter when she then states in the same descriptive manner that he was “Easily over six feet tall, six one or two at a stretch…” we have an impression of her height without actually saying what it is - which is something the hero could then tell us later in the book with his POV, confirming what the reader may already have had in their mind from this one line earlier on…

Then we have more small hints in the narrative like, “As her blue eyed gaze dropped down long, jean-clad legs she even expected to see a cast.” – A very simple addition, but now we know her eye colour…

Later in the scene we have some interaction where Rory gives us hints of a description of how Cara looks through his dialogue without us changing the POV:

“Do you want my help or not? Not that I think you need it.”

Cara snorted, “Yeah, right. Is your guide dog behind the counter?”

“Nope. I can see just fine, thanks. There’s nothing wrong with a woman with a few curves. Too many women are obsessed with looking like a broom handle these days…”

So we know, not only that Cara has a ‘few curves’ but that Rory doesn’t seem to mind that too much!!! Again, simple but effective, and leaving the mental image firmly in the realms of the readers imagination... And then we have the narrative from Cara that gives us another mental image of her, and reveals some of her character and motivation at the same time,

“She couldn’t go through yet another wedding as the fat bridesmaid, the one that everyone said had such a pretty face – a double-edged compliment for anyone who carried extra weight. Yes, it was nice to know you had a pretty face, but it always came across as something they said in order to find something nice to say when all else failed.”

These are all just snippets taken from the first chapter – a chapter done solely in her POV – But laced with hints about her appearance without having to either swap POV or add a mirror every time… Mind you, there’s nothing to say you can’t use those methods, nothing at all!!! But, for me, it’s all in the layering. And I don’t tend to spend as much time describing the heroine as I do the hero – because, like I’ve said before on this blog, the idea is to have the reader walk in the heroines shoes – so give them enough to form a mental picture and then let their imagination take over… it’s all about the escapism, right??? And then layer on lots about the hero so that the reader can fall a little in love with him at the same time the heroine does…

Well. That’s the theory. Never ever underestimate the power of the reader's imagination. The reader knows better than anyone else what they do and don’t like and what they do and don’t need to be told. And the danger with cp’ing – I know, cos I’m a cp myself from time to time – is that we can get so wrapped up in making sure all the *ingredients* are there that we forget to just enjoy the story first! The reader wants the story – they want the journey – all the description of how people look and the setting and the scents in the air should add to that journey but not distract from it… So, no shopping list descriptions – filter them through with everything else… So if we’re in one characters POV we have license to inform the reader a little more of how the other character looks and vice versa… Just don’t go mad and go the other way and leave it all out either…

As we cover each part of the workshop – take a look at the passages quoted and the different ways of doing things – and then look at what else those passages tell you outside of that particular workshops theme… Then every few we’ll take a longer section to look at and you can tell me what information you have gleaned from it with all your new found knowledge, okay?

Thanks Marcy! Great topic!!!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Setting Up For The Workshop - Getting Started

Alrighty – so with the characters and setting and research and storyline all clear in my mind I’m reading to get going with the writing…

And Part Five Of The Workshop dealt with:

Introducing your characters to the reader:

1/ Have you got their names in quickly?

2/ Have you got a description of how they both look filtered into the first few pages?

3/ Have you thought about how their prior relationship will effect how they interact?

4/ Have you given the reader just enough about them to make them want to know what happens next or have you given them so much information they don't need to go any further - or worse still have you had both characters so defensive that the reader dislikes them???

In Last Chance Family I have employed a writing device that I have used in three odd other books now (I think) – I have given it a Prologue

Prologue:

1. a preliminary discourse; a preface or introductory part of a discourse, poem, or novel.

2. an introductory speech, often in verse, calling attention to the theme of a play.

3. an introductory scene, preceding the first act of a play, opera, etc.

4. any introductory proceeding, event, etc.: Appetizing delicacies were the prologue to a long dinner.
–verb (used with object)

5. to introduce with or as if with a prologue.

For me, a Prologue and an Epilogue are devices I use when there is a bit more of a back-story with the characters. Other people may use it for different reasons I know, but for me – that’s the only reason I will permit myself to use them – otherwise they can become addictive… The Prologue in this case not only introduces the characters – it also draws us into the largest part of the *external plot* for this story – the main catalyst for my hero and heroine to be thrown together – so a Prologue makes sense… Hopefully it will also make sense to my Ed when she gets it ;)

I’ve been a good girl and gotten Terri onto the very first page – I have used the external plot to open up some of the reasoning behind why she’s doing the things she is – and I’ve also made it very plain that she doesn’t like the hero a whole heap… I’ve added more description of him than her – because it’s all written in her POV so therefore we’re seeing him through her eyes – (also it's a female readership on the whole so they want to know that the guy is gorgeous from the start, right???) and then when I switch to my hero’s POV in the first Chapter I’ll let him describe her to us…. That way I haven’t got bogged down with too many paragraphs of description and I’ve kept the flow… (And also keeping in mind that in the Romance line its the heroine's story so it's only fitting she should get the majority of the POV...)

Which brought me neatly into Part Six Of The Workshop which dealt with adding descriptions of our characters…

In this one I’m pleased to see that without thinking too much about it, the surroundings and the externals are allowing me to add description without too much difficulty… what I need to be careful about is how thick I layer it on! I want the reader to understand that even though my heroine dislikes the hero so much – she isn’t blind. She knows how attractive he is – she just doesn’t much like the fact that she knows, you know? This can add conflict on an emotional inner level – cos she has the whole physical attraction vs personality clash issue going on… A big part of her character arc will therefore be how her opinion of him changes as the story progresses…

As for him – well I want to hold an awful lot of him back emotionally because when the Black Moment hits, the revealing of all the things he's held back will make it all the stronger, right? – so I want him to be describing her from a very male perspective, straightforward, no frills, matter-of-fact. He hasn’t thought much about our heroine in years, hasn’t spent time with her, isn’t keen on spending time with her and yet knows he now has no choice… So any descriptions he gives of my heroine have to change gradually, unfolding slowly as he very very gradually softens… This helps me to maintain a strong Alpha-side-of-Beta Hero. His personality based on my character sheet tells me what way he will approach the situation and therefore the way he will process things in his mind – which tells me how he will *see* things in his head… Make sense???

So that’s me all caught up with where we were before… And we’re ready to get going with PART SEVEN of the Book With Trish series… YAY!

**** MY NEWS!!!****

For those of you that haven't already noticed - there has been a HUGE REVAMP over at the Website... Thanks to the wonderfully talented Ally Blake who has given me a *make-over*... So, there is loads to go and find - behind the scenes stuff on all the books so you can see how the characters looked in my mind and how the stories came to be - what music I was listening to - there are a tonne more reviews!!!! And still to come (yes, I'm working on them as we speak) there are loads of new links for you to go explore and the writing tips page is being expanded so you don't have to go search the blog every time...

If you visit please do come let me know what you think!!! The official launch for it is 1st February to tie in with the release of Breathless!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Setting Up For The Workshop - Location & Research


Having sorted out my characters, which we all know is the main part of the story, I then moved onto Part Three Of The Workshop and:

Setting:

1/ Choose your settings and if possible gather some pics that you can use as samples

2/ Look at how you can use your setting to add to the story or bring forward conflicts

3/ List the possible scenes you might use in those settings

This part was the easiest part of this story, and probably why I’m looking forward to working on it so much… Because writing for the Romance line of late has been taking me into settings that almost become a little world of their own…

In Rescued: Mother-To-Be we had the story set in the fictional Inisfree, a small Stud Farm (add horses and it’s a comfy place for me to be) – in Bride Of The Emerald Isle we had the story set almost entirely on Valentia a tiny Island off the West Coast of Ireland ( a place I had visited for a while on one of my travels, so knew well and understood what it was like…) and here in Last Chance Family we have the fictional Brookfield, a large country estate (many of which I have been lucky enough to have worked on, lived by or visited…) – so I’m more than happy with the setting!!! It would appear this kind of thing is becoming *my thing*… I’m not suggesting that everyone should run out and do the same thing mind you – but it works for me…

And it also has the potential to be another *character* in the story, something I hope to exploit and yet still not allow to overshadow the crux of the story – which is – well, you know what I’m going to say here, right??? Thing is, Brookfield is a very large part of this story, so I’m gonna have to be careful… it’s the reason Terri and Kane have to spend time together, it’s what Terri will fight above all else to keep, and it’s also the one place that may cause them heartache along the way…

It’s also darned pretty and evocative….

There will however, also be some scenes set in Dublin – where Kane’s business is based… and thankfully as I came to Part Four Of The Workshop I had some help combining the things I needed to learn about Dublin and the subject of the workshop which was:

It's researching time:

1/ Look at the areas of your story that may require research - Medical conditions/historical facts/companies/amount of time taken to train for a job, etc.

2/ Get as much information as you feel you need to make the subject precise, correct and as real as possible.

3/ Replace real companies/song titles/ references to branded names with either generic terms or names you have made up yourself.

4/ Keep in mind all through your writing that these details should add to the overall story but should not distract from it...

I plan on keeping a lot of Kane and Terri’s work to the background as much as possible, because I know that Brookfield will take up a lot of the small space in my story allocated to background details… but I did want a flavour of Dublin and more particularly of Trinity College, where some of their past was tangled up – so that meant doing my research on there to add a little layering to it. And this proved quite timely as I had known I was making a trip to Dublin for a book launch party…

So I took advantage of the trip for research – which I’m blogging about over on Leena Hyatt’s Author Sound Relations Blog – so if you want to see how I went about that part of the Workshop then go take a peek! And you could also go take a look at Ally Blake’s notes on Inspiration as part of The Pink Heart Society’s FinDaBoo series here and what she talked about with regards location as part of her own Between The Sheets series on her Blog here.

So that’s my setting and my research taken care of – and it’s time to move onto the real work! I’ll be covering what I’ve done for Parts Five and Six of the workshop next…

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Setting Up For The Workshop - Characters

So - are we ready???

I'm getting all geared up for the next part of A Book With Trish... so that means, in order to know what I'm doing - I have to take a brief step backwards and follow all the steps that I had already taken with the last book...

So, you can follow the links for the series as I walk myself through them and when we're all caught up and ready to go then off we launch into a BRAND NEW STORY!!!!


For Part One of the Workshop I had to do a:

Hero Character Sheet.

1/ Cast a hero with pics that suggest moods/scenes and personality

2/ Name your hero

3/ Build up a detailed profile of his life prior to the beginning of the book

Now as this is a book I plotted and started and then abandoned for a considerable time, I'm a little ahead on this... But I did have to go in and give it one heck of a shake up!!! One of the major things I did was re-cast my hero and heroine and rename them both... which gave me a very fresh approach to the whole book and brought me some interesting new additions I hadn't thought about the first time round!!!

So, and realistically it had to happen sometime, I have cast Nathan Fillion in my mind for the hero of this book... I know my hero is now named Kane Healey, I know he's a mega-rich owner of a Software and Computer Games company and I know the basics such as hair and eye colour and height and age (and due to a few hours of DVD watching I have an idea of how his voice sounds and how he moves and the facial expressions he makes... I've been very studious for this book...) But more importantly I also very clearly know about Kane's history and his conflicts and his humour and how he takes his coffee... I think I've thought about this story so often that it's almost too real for me - like a film I've seen a dozen times - so I know Kane pretty well - what drives him (his motivation), what holds him back (his conflict) and how the story will change him (his character arc) ...

Being as and how I've been looking for the right role to cast this particular potential hero in for some while, I have several photos that depict different moods and scenes and having watched how he can deliver a one liner with a completely deadpan face and how he can carry off inner conflict in the roles he has played I feel this is the perfect place to put Nathan... So I'm MORE than happy with my hero choice... There will be NO CHANGING THIS ONE - Mark my words...

Then, having all that nice and clear it was time to move onto Part Two Of The Workshop where I had to do a:

Heroine Character Sheet.

1/ Cast a heroine with pics that suggest moods/scenes and personality

2/ Name your heroine

3/ Build up a detailed profile of her life prior to the beginning of the book

Now again - I had a bit of a head start with this having lived with the story for a while, but again I had to go in and shake things up a bit. So I cast Sandra Bullock this time as my heroine. But even at this stage as I re-cast, I still had to go through several pictures to find the *look* that I wanted...

Sandra is known for that 'girl-next-door' look and although thats a little of what I want, I also wanted something, I dunno, *more* than that. I even worried for a little while that she might not work for me... until I found a few pictures like this one and I knew I had what I needed... I guess it just goes to show that sometimes its not the person but the *look* that we need to get it right in our heads...

So here we have Terri MacNally, my single parent heroine, she does whatever jobs she can to support herself and her daughter as she comes from a poor background and she's had more than her share of hard knocks along the way. She's determined her daughter won't have that life - so when she's left a chance for a whole new life in her best friends will she's going to do whatever she can to build on that legacy... I know her height, hair colour, all the basics and have the motivation, conflict and character arc all firmly in my mind... I know why she does the things she does so all I have to do is try and convey that to the reader...

At this point I also have to add a 2b to the workshops - as I have a secondary character who will feature heavily in the storyline. And any secondaries who appear in the story for more than a fleeting moment may need a scaled down version of the hero and heroine's character sheets just to have it straight in my mind...

In this case, all I need on Terri's daughter is some basics - her name, which for now is Beth, (though I may change that...) - her age - which is ten - and some of her basic likes and dislikes. I barely need to delve into things like her motivation, conflict and character arc - because she is there to act as a catalyst between the hero and heroine. But I need to understand why she might do or say certain things and I need to know how she will react to certain things... So I need to have a basic idea of her. Apart from that, I just need to keep remembering not to let her take over the story!!! It's the two central characters that I'm concerned with... And their happiness will have a knock on effect to her happiness, right???

Okay! So that's my characters covered - next I'll come back and look at things like research and setting... And when I've caught up to speed with where I should be on this one - we'll start writing together again...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rescued: Mother-To-Be Cover

I AM SERIOUSLY IN LOVE WITH THIS COVER!!!!
I jest you not! Now we all know what a truly fantabulous job the Art Department have been doing of late with the covers for the new line but HOLY MOLY!!! This one could be a film poster for this book!!! The characters are EXACTLY as I saw them while writing (especially Eamonn!!!) and then there's the gorgeous green fields complete with stone walls background so typical of Ireland (and remember this one is set on a Stud Farm so loads of green fields...) - and then there's his hands on her bump... SIGH... it's PERFECT!!!! It has got to the stage where the arrival of a box of books at my door is like Christmas every darn time!
GOTTA LOVE THIS JOB!!!
The back-blurb reads:
Pregnant: rescued by a millionaire
Feeling her baby's first kick was supposed to be a joyous moment for Colleen McKenna. When life dealt her the hardest blow, Colleen knew that she would have to summon up all of her courage to cope with her pregnancy alone.
Now gorgeous millionaire Eamonn's kindness is testing her fierce independence. And having Eamonn's hand on her bump, feeling each tiny kick with her, makes every moment more special than the last...
Can Colleen allow her heart to believe that the wealthy tycoon would swap jet-setting for fatherhood and be the perfect daddy for her baby?
The book isn't out until April so there's a bit of a wait I'm afraid.... But I just couldn't wait to show you guys the cover now that its up on Amazon! And when you come back here in March we will do a competition to win a copy and a few behind the scenes factoids and an excerpt or two... ThosE of you that are regular visitors might know this book as And Baby Makes Three, which was its working title.... So if you use the search key at the top left hand side of the blog you can see some of the thoughts I had whilst writing it last year...
DID I MENTION I LOVE THIS COVER???

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lessons Learned Pt 2

So finally I'm here to go back through the things I learned in that last book... You remember? That one that I started writing with you guys and then ended up so snowed under that every word was forced through gritted teeth and it was late for it's deadline? That one???

We all know that writing is a continuous journey - that's a given. Even reading other peoples work or bouncing ideas backwards and forwards between friends can be part of the learning process. For me, with this one, I think it was over-thinking the process itself... Yes, I learned that I shouldn't do a Book With Trish series at the same time as trying a whole new (somewhat shaky as it turned out for a while) plot - cos I was over-analyzing every little detail with a view to telling you guys the way I do things... Not that I hold any blame on that to anyone but myself you understand ;)

Sometimes just having to break down what you do into stages forces you to use your brain you see... Because after a few books you know what works best for you as a writer and unless you start to write down what you do you don't actually think much about it anymore - it's kinda like breathing in and out.. Building character profiles, getting the conflicts clear, choosing a setting - these are all things that become part of the norm... There will always be challenges associated with them and parts of them may change along the way as you realize some things just don't work in the story you're working on... but the basics never change... So I still stand by everything I'd said in the workshops (just in case you were worrying)

What I learnt by looking so closely at my own writing process was this:

1/ Don't over analyze every single little thing - sometimes as writers we just have to tell the flipping story! Nothing more difficult than that. We already have it in our heads if we have lived with the characters for a while - so rather than tearing every single word to shreds, we sometimes just have to tell it - from start to finish - no matter what length it ends up or whether chapters end up uneven page count wise... Remember the joy you get from reading a book that draws you in so you don't look so closely at the craft behind it and end up having to read it a second time to try and see just what it was the writer did to make it so great??? Well that's the kind of fun you need to remember to have when you write a book too! With The Return Of The Rebel I got so caught up with trying to make sure all the emotion and angst and conflict was there that I lost sight of the story... It wasn't until I had a fresh pair of eyes in the form of my Editor that I finally got that lightbulb moment... And then I knew what I had done wrong... So with this new story I am going to go back to the basic rule of just telling the story like it is on that little cinema screen inside my head!!!

2/ Love stories don't have to be smothered in angst - Once I knew what it was I had done wrong it was one of those palm slap to the front of the head moments. And very uncharacteristic of me, which told me something I'll share in part three... But think about it, put it into that *rollercoaster ride* term that gets used so often... Yes, love can be a difficult road, but it is also filled with a lot of joy and laughter along the way. For me, there has to be flashes of those moments all the way through, not necessarily in slapstick, but in those scenes where the characters bounce back and forth off each other and end up laughing despite their best efforts not to. I need to believe that these people will make their happily ever after last beyond the last page and the only way I'll believe that is if there have been glimpses, even small ones, of how happy they can be - of how well matched they are - of how they have the ability to get each other through the tough moments with a dose of laughter or a bad pun or just a gentle softening of their thinking. Yes, it needs balanced out with an equal amount of support and understanding and sexual tension - but there has to be fun in there as well. Its something I normally don't have a problem adding in. But in this one, the characters had so much history that I couldn't seem to get past it. They were both dark, guarded, stubborn, wounded - and adding in laughter seemed to be the last place they wanted to lead me to. But it meant the book was a little depressing in places. So, when I went back in at the revisions stage I did what I should have done when I edited... I added in a proportional serving of humour to balance it all out. And when I did? Well, it suddenly made sense why they ended up together... *Duh Trish* The fact that I didn't get to that place on my own was, shall we say, annoying. I've never known two people who fell in love in real life who didn't laugh together, tease each other... wear those silly grins from time to time... And yes, adding those elements in too soon would have ruined the tension but a complete lack of it sooooooo didn't work...

3/ Sometimes you just gotta *step away from the keyboard* - Yes, it's the old 'can't see the wood for the trees' dilemma. This is where you guys not on deadlines yet have such an advantage!!! With the schedule I'd set myself last year and the fact that the one before (miraculously) made it through without revisions... I hadn't really realized how mentally drained I was. All it took was one difficult book and it was made abundantly clear to me that I was on my knees energy wise... So sometimes you just have to allow yourself to leave the story alone - to let it simmer - to come back to it with a fresh set of eyes... In this case I was lucky, cos the fresh set of eyes came from another quarter... But in future I plan to allow myself to step back when I need to - to go for a walk to clear my head or spend time with my horse - to not over edit at the early stages so that I don't get bogged down with the one problem - which brings me to:

4/ Beware of over editing before the story is told - Now, this might not work for everyone, cos we're all different, right??? With this book I constantly read back and edited right from the start rather than reading the last few pages or a chapter from where I had left off or was stuck... And that translated as procrastination for me! I know for some, they find it tough to get going again unless everything they have already done is damn near perfect - but that's just not me. Cos no matter how much I edit I will still have to come back and edit at the end or when I get stuck... I have to have told the story first before I know where the characters lead me - and then once I know I can go back and *fix* the beginning to come into line with what I now know... So, being as and how I have a lazy streak (apparently) I don't see the point in editing again and again and again if I'm just going to edit again at the end. With this book it would appear I forgot that rule. So that I had re-read the whole thing about a gazillion times and was getting sick of the sight of it. Which doesn't bode well for caring about the characters having a happily ever after, does it...? So I need to remember the first point on this list so that I can remember this fourth point on the list, right???

5/ Remain flexible in order to avoid hitting the wall - Sometimes when you get stuck you have to be ruthless and hit the delete key lots. This means remaining flexible all the way through the story... I was so determined that the impending *black moment* was the real crux of the story that when it meant I wrote myself into a corner, I had nowhere to go! (which led me to the editing thing AGAIN). The only way I could get out of it was to be brave enough, even when I knew the book was late, to rip sections out. Now don't get me wrong, doing that HURTS. But it was what it took to get me to the end. And I had been so busy leading the reader to that blackness that I had hinted at it again and again and again and then some more in case they had misread the signs... So that I had basically given the whole damn storyline away from chapter one!!! B-A-D-T-R-I-S-H!!!! It got in the way. It held up everything. It stifled my imagination. So something had to go! I think it's all too easy to be convinced that the premise of a story is great that we almost can't wait to get it *out there* where just *drip feeding* it is enough to make the reader wonder, you know??!!! But admitting that I had to make such drastic changes would maybe have somehow meant that the story wasn't as good as my wee brain thought it was - yes, just the kind of depressing news you wanna tell yourself mid deadline, right? It meant taking a deep breath. It meant following point three for a few hours, and it meant coming back in on one of my last editing forays to admit that things had to change - I had to be flexible and let go of some stuff - and I had to remember that again when my revision notes came back... Mind you - there's a fine line between deleting some stuff out in great chunks and throwing your hands in the air before you put the whole damn file in the recycle bin... Thankfully a deadline and a contract will nail your feet firmly down out of reach of the latter...

So there you go. The Return Of The Rebel was a testing experience - aka *a tough one to write* - so never for one second think that once you've been doing this a while it becomes a walk in the park! Cos it doesn't! TRUST ME! This was number twelve for me, so yes there are things I already know about the way I write and what works for me, but there are also still plenty of lessons to be learned - so I doubt this will be the last in this series...

I'm gonna re-start the Book With Trish series next week if anyone wants to try it again - I'm feeling brave... And I'll be running it as my contribution to The Pink Heart Society's FinDaBoo programme while my good friend Ally Blake also runs through her writing process at the same time as she starts her new book... Remember at the end of the Book With Trish Series we will also be having a competition here to win a critique!!! It'll be run as fairly as I can possibly manage and will be based on merit rather than on a lottery or raffle basis - so if you're hoping to join in come along and let me know and I'll get a better idea of how many of you might be interested in the critique prize... ;)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Weekly Weigh In



Yep so it's a week since I first blogged about dieting with the PHS Diet Club so here I am, eight days in and back with an update on how things are going...


Actually, so far so good. Though I know me well enough to know that won't last forever... So I'm riding the *so far so good* wave for as long as I can. And I'm also experienced enough in the world of dropping and gaining weight to know that this first weeks results won't be the same every single week - though they are encouraging! Just by eating what the GI plan tells me to eat, by making sure there's none of the usual nonsense in the house to tempt me, and by keeping to the exercise plan even when I don't feel like it I'm making a difference - and this first week will show the most dramatic results of that cos it's such a big change to what I've been doing for months now! Yes Trish, sitting on your butt writing and only getting up long enough to feed animals and snack from the kitchen and drink gallons of coffee and not exercising AT ALL will lead to you getting fatter by the millisecond. Planning your day, having specific breaks that allow you to make the food up or exercise or go ride your horse, not only has a dramatic effect - it also brings one back to the keyboard fresher. BONUS.

Food wise the one thing I am loving about this diet isn't just the fact that I'm never hungry (I actually have to force myself to eat everything the plan wants me to cos I've always been an eat when I feel like it kinda gal - and that has led to eating crap and slowing my metabolism down) it's the fact that I'm eating things I have never even tried before and am LOVING THEM. Sweet potatoe - love it. Couscous - love it (and deadly handy to make). Aubergine - Love it. Black Olives - mmm... like more than I thought I would. Hummus (or however it's spelt) - could eat it with everything! So not only am I eating healthy, I'm enjoying what I'm eating - and that means I'm more likely to stick to it, right???

Exercise wise - the Lateral Thigh Trainer - jolly handy little piece of kit... I get to use it while the TV is on so if I'm watching something good I'm distracted from the fact that I'm exercising until I start to really ache. And so far, what I'm doing is keeping going measuring the number of steps I do each day and if I ache lots I take a break and come back to it again until I've done the number I've set myself. Upping the steps each time. And when I can do it all in one go with ease I'll up to the harder setting.

Haven't used the ball yet but will this week...

And have been on my horse lots - which is actually causing me the most discomfort muscle wise. Though I am getting some solace from the fact that poor Charlie is feeling it as much as I am... Bless him...

I'll be back to continue this next week...

Meanwhile, I have a book launch party for a brand new author to attend this weekend in Dublin - so I'll be back with lots of pics from that and hopefully some from the wander round I plan on doing while I'm there... And before I leave I'll do that oft times promised blog about the lessons I learned from that last book before we start with the Book With Trish series again next week...

Monday, January 8, 2007

Le Plus défunt Dégagement De Livre En France !


La nouvelle année apporte également de nouveaux dégagements pour certains de mes livres dans des traductions étrangères ! Le premier de ce qui est en France...

Incroyable… Tara croit rêver en découvrant un matin sur le pas de sa porte, le sosie du personnage qu’elle vient d’inventer pour son dernier roman ! Pourtant, pas de doute : viril, musclé, doté d’un charme renversant, cet homme qui prétend être son nouveau voisin a le même âge et le même nom — Jack Lewis — que son héros…Peut-elle croire à cette troublante apparition ? La coïncidence est des plus étranges, et Tara redoute un instant que cet homme ait pu, par des moyens peu avouables, prendre connaissance de son manuscrit. S’agit-il d’une plaisanterie d’une de ses amies ? Tara est trop stupéfaite pour trouver la réponse à ces questions. Une seule chose lui semble évidente : l’attirance insensée qu’elle ressent pour cet inconnu pourtant si familier…


Le livre est le premier de deux histoires liées qui en France ont été libérées de nouveau à l'avant avec Le bonheur d'être maman ayant été déjà libéré comme Horizon en février 2006 - ainsi si vous lisez le Un homme idéal puis si tout va bien vous apprécierez l'histoire Tara et de Jack aussi bien et aurez l'amusement voyant la soeur Dana de Jack et son associé Adam avant qu'ils se soient même réunis !


Un homme idéal est disponible pour passer commande ici et Le bonheur d'être maman est encore disponible pour commander ici si vous le manquiez arrondissez la première fois...


LECTURE HEUREUSE ! ! !

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

First Days of The Diet Club


Well I'm 48 hours in now and I have to say the de-tox headache is marginally better than it was last night... Which is helpful I feel...

If you've been over to The Pink Heart Society's launch of their Writers Diet Club, you'll know that we're all taking different approaches to this - whatever it is we feel will work best for us and our lifestyles... So, I've gone with the GI Diet and a heavy exercise programme...

Now - there are several reasons for this. To me, GI looks like a fairly healthy option. It's a lifestyle eating choice change if that makes any sense at all. And thats the way I feel I have to go about now, cos since I took up writing full time it's been fairly damn noticable that my energy levels have dropped, pretty much to the floor just before Christmas as it happens - and I HATE THAT!!! I hate the feeling of being tired all the time - even when I sleep lots. I hate my head being all fuzzy. I hate relying on caffeine and pro-plus to get me through those few weeks before deadline... So I need to look more closely at what I'm throwing into my cake hole... And I know that cutting carbs a-la-Atkins had dramatic results for me before - BUT it also made me ill. So I'd already been conscious of my fibre intake and have lost my love for bread and potatoes that I had pre-Atkins... So GI makes sense for me. Hopefully.
Though, I should warn you that if it doesn't work I'll be back here to gripe about it pdq...

So that's what I'm following eating wise - along with drinking a tonne of water every day (why oh why is that such a damn chore???) - and converting myself to all things de-caffinated (the real test of my resolve for that one will come mid-February when I'm back in the deadline cave, trust me!)... So that just leaves me with the exercise part... Shudder.
Last year I forked out for a Swiss Ball if some of you remember.
Which was part of the Gunnar Peterson Core Secrets Training Programme so it came with lots of nice DVD's to play with. DVD's full of happily smiling, disgustingly well toned beings who just end up looking vaguely smug after the third time you watch them btw...I managed it for a while and was seeing definite progress (despite visiting neices and nephews who nearly pee-d themselves with laughter when they watched me through a window) but at some point it kinda fell by the wayside as I got buried again and again and again and, erm, again, in the cave... When the ball then became a useful foot stool/leg prop...

So it's now having to multi-task again I've inflated it properly (it was comfier as a foot stool with a little air let out), dusted off the DVD's and dug out the hand weight thingies... And there is the added bonus of getting to look at Gunnar for twenty minutes a few times a week again... Call me shallow...

But as I quit it so fast last time I decided to vary my forms of exercise so that I'll be less likely to quit. I just think that the same exercise day after day after day after, erm, day will bore me into a jelly like state of brain mush. So I've lumped for Tai Chi to help loosen me up a little - it's low impact and works all your joints which should help me to not strain anything to the point of Chiropractor visits again (it's an age thing - everything is so much harder to encourage into the zone of muscle memory and much easier to get to the zone of major muscle pain than it would have been ten years ago...) - but I foolishly believed it wouldn't be that hard to do... WRONG. I did my first session today. The moves were easy enough and made sense and all but I did end up sweating by the end of the half hour... Note to Self: Next time turn down central heating and wear a damn t-shirt!

Then there's walking. I used to do soooooooooooo much of this in my last job that I'd probably have made a pedometer implode. But not now. Now I sit on my Writers Butt for hours upon hours.... I'd be lucky if I even put said pedometer into triple figures on a daily basis. So, seeing as and how the family dog appears to be fifty stone after Christmas left-overs, on a few days a week I will strap the pedometer on and get out into the fresh air... I'll let you know what the recommended 10,000 steps feels like the following day...

I've also invested in a Lateral Thigh Trainer. Yes, I know, stay away from the TV Shopping... But again, this one makes sense to me.... It has a choice of either an aerobic workout or a slow toning workout (with more resistance) and it works thighs, waist and - wait for it - BUTT... Therefore attacking the one place I'm keen to make the biggest change, right??? It's also small. Which means I can set it to one side of the room and not have to rearrange my life to get around it. However, it also comes with another set of DVD's... I'll let you know how irritating those people are when it gets here...
Did I mention yet that I have a really cool itty bitty MP3 player with actual headphones that stay on your head rather than pop out of your ears every five seconds - so that I can listen to nice bouncy, fast music to get me through the walking and the other stuff once I've learnt what I'm sposed to be doing??? Nope, didn't tell you??? Just you watch me dig out the salsa stuff... And possibly pull the curtains in case of impending laughter...
The one workout I won't be able to use the itty bitty MP3 player for is the one I'm looking forward to the most... Yes, the gal is back in the saddle again... And her horse has been paying back her lack of attention to him by trying to dump her every time she sits on him. In fairness, he is feeling a bit good of his wee self. And there was the small incident of the storm that blew off his stable roof in the middle of the night while he was still in the stable - that may have spooked him a little... But I know him well enough to know when I'm getting attitude. So we had an hour and a half's Show Jumping session yesterday and I could barely move today (hence the Tai Chi to loosen me up) and tomorrow we're doing some flatwork. Now for this activity I should have muscle memory. I really should. I was fairly saddle fit for a long while at one point. But its been a loooonnngggg while. And that horse of mine is strong. So - I think I may include a weekly chiropractor MOT to the mix just to be on the safe side...
And then when I've loosened up sufficiently I'm off to the Gym. In Public. Gulp. But they have a swimming pool. And I LOVE to swim...
Think that should cover the exercise bit, right??? Something different every day to keep me interested and to work different muscles is what I'm aiming for. And a goodly selection of things to get me outdoor into the open air away from the keyboard so that my brain can have a rest. Cos light is good for you too, right???
I'll let you know when I can't move anymore, okay??? And the second my scales and measuring tapes arrive I'll let you know my weekly progress... with a counter thingie too...
So, that's my plan for the foreseeable. Feel free to let me know how you're getting on with your own plan if you're joining in... And don't forget to check in with Jenna and Natasha to see how they're getting on too!!!

Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year = Ideas & A Schedule

So here we are in 2007! And as part of my list of resolutions for this year I am looking to get back on track here at the Blog - so that means planning out what topics I'm hoping to cover this next month or so...

At The Pink Heart Society we are launching two great projects - one of them being the Writer's Diet Club, so I'll be blogging about my progress on here in the hope that public humiliation might help egg me on some... But at least I'm not doing it alone! Jenna Bayley-Burke, Modern Extra Author and Natasha Oakley, Romance Author - and fellow PHS Editors - are also joining in, each of us following different programmes to see what works best...

I've gone for the GI/GL Diet plans myself as I really need something that is very *healthy* based, non-fad, and filling! As a yo-yo dieter for most of my life I've probably done more damage than good, and have paid the price for it on several occassions... But with this plan I get to focus on putting good stuff into my body and hopefully upping my energy levels, which seem to have been flagging dreadfully this last couple of months... I'm also launching onto a fairly gruelling exercise programme, as this is the one thing that has made the biggest difference to me in the past, and the lack of one has done the most damage since I went Full Time at this writing lark... so no more using the flipping Swiss Ball as a foot rest while I write - NOW I have to actually use it for what it was designed for!!! I've also ordered my first set of scales (I've always gone by how tight my clothes are) and a teeny MP3 player to listen to music as I work out and walk and a measuring tape to try and keep track of any inches I'll hopefully lose... You see I'm really quite serious about this. It's been part of Phase 2 of my writing career *business plan* since the start that when I had a few books under my belt I would make myself over before I attended conferences - and as I have a full travel schedule planned for this summer, I have a time frame to dump these extra pounds of Writers Butt and to get into the best shape ever... Gimme a few days for the scales to arrive so I have a starting point and I'll put up a sliding counter thingie similar to the one we use for showing our progress on a WIP and don't forget to visit The Pink Heart Society's No Temptation Tuesday on the first Tuesday of every month to pick up tips and see how everyone is getting on... All words of encouragement greatly received...

The second topic is one for writers who aim to finish a book in 2007 - being launched at The Pink Heart Society on Saturday 13th as the PHS FinDaBoo (Finish Damn Book). Unlike NaNo which runs over the space of a month - FinDaBoo will allow writers to work at their own pace, on their own schedules, with the aim of making 2007 the year they get that book in their head onto paper. There will be guest authors handing over pearls of advice about the discipline of working through a story from start to finish and people who join in will be able to look for critique partners who are targetting the same lines and can check in once a month to share their progress... So, it seemed like a good time to go back over the Book With Trish series and continue on from where we left off... And when the series is finished I'll be running a competition for one of the participants to receive a free critique on their first three chapters from yours truly... (keeping in mind that it by no means will guarantee you a sale!!!) So, if you're at all interested in continuing where we left off before I got deeply bogged down with the book I was writing at the time, you can refresh your memory here before we start again...

My next book for the Romance line is due at the end of February so what I hope to do, all accidents and incidents permitting, is to write alongside you again... In the meantime I'll come back in the next couple of days and discuss some of the pitfalls I found in the last book that caused me so much difficulty as Part Two of the Lessons Learned post I did last month... How does that sound???

And don't forget the Big End Of Year Competition that is running until 31st January where you can win the four UK releases I had out in 2006 - which we will then follow up in February with a competition to win a copy of my second Modern Extra - Breathless! - which is available on the Mills And Boon website as of - NOW!
Woo-Hoo!