Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
This is just a quick note to apologize for the fact that Trish does not have her manuscript with her in class today as the dog ate it.
Trish is very upset about this, particularly as she told me she had just written a very wonderful scene where someone called Gabe was hit by a runaway Monster Bus and apparently squooshed like a big bug. Aren't children's imaginations wonderful no matter what age?
She will re-do the work if it doesn't reappear through the dog in natural due course.
Friday, June 22, 2007
And having left Gabe and Ash floating in the breeze in Getting Even for a few weeks and with the help of that Youtube vid and the song for it - I'm ready to wade back in and finish this damn book!!!
That has however meant doing something fairly drastic, though maybe not all that drastic in the greater scheme of things... Gabe is Gabe. There's no changing that man, let's face facts here - but Ash - well Ash just needed to be - more. And watching the vid again persuaded me that I had her right in name et all (just as well seeing it's a linked story!) but the visual image I had in my head was wrong. Yes - I can admit when I goof - so out with how she looked before and in with what should have been the obvious flipping choice before - DUH Trish!!!
I mean - it was where the whole idea was seeded in the first place so why did I feel the need to go messing with it? And muse obviously agreed seeing as and how she went and placed so many flipping obstacles in my way! See what happens when you ignore muse???
So back we go to what Ash should have looked like in the first place - and hopefully now we'll see a change in the word counter thingie and I can get this story sorted out once and for all!!!
Otherwise I may be back here to weep. LOUDLY.
It just goes to show that regardless of deadlines and bloody minded determination when something just ain't working it ain't working and when you're not happy with something as the writer then it's very hard to shift that feeling long enough to get the rest of the story told. Hence the block. Hence the procrastination to avoid going any further. Hence the book now being LATE and me having to wade back in to put it all right... WHY-OH-WHY do we do this to ourselves??? Huh? Huh?? Come on gang - W-H-Y???
And when I even had a pic of the *three of them together*(Gabe, Ash and Alex with fluffy hair - cos remember these three grew up together...) you'd have thought that might have helped me to see what was wrong too... But oh no. Sheesh.
So when you get stuck are you brave enough to change something and rip things apart or do you keep going regardless??? I'm always saying we have to be flexible but it would seem this time round I wasn't prepared to heed my own words... Are we just all masochists at heart???
Following on on this subject I'll try and do the next Book With Trish - which is on editing and polishing - this weekend - IF-THE-WORDS-FLOW... And I'm blogging at The Pink Heart Society tomorrow... about something... what you may ask??? Well - it ain't called Saturday Surprise for nothing... ;)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
This evening I'm chatting on the BBC Radio Ulster's Arts Programme... along with my lovely editor Jenny by telephone and the winner of the RTE Mills & Boon writing contest in the studio avec moi...
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
So my good friend Kate often talks about the seeding of a book - you know - where that initial seedling of an idea comes from...?
Well, I thought I'd let you in to where the idea for annoying-boy's book came from... actually not just his story either - cos Alex's story came from the same place.
It doesn't take much you see - sometimes a line in a song, sometimes a scene from a movie - and in the case of these two - from Youtube...Which I'm blogging about today at The Pink Heart Society funnily enough.
So just to let you see the kind of thing that got my mind working we first have one of the clips:
Watched it??? Anyone look at all familiar to you??? Yuh-huh. Now having watched it you'll also have noticed the interaction between these two characters - and THIS became my basis for the kind of relationship Gabe and Ash would have had when they were younger - the seed was planted - then I added and changed things round as my muse directed me. I made them childhood friends - I made him the son of the housekeeper and the groundsman and her the rich brat - I had him rescue her (yes - no seed at all from here for that theme either...) from all the trouble she got into during her rebel-without-a-clue teenage years - and even now, years later when they are *all grown up* I still have a tad of a Superhero thread going in varying ways; not least of which is the fact that Gabe is such a big strapping lump now that he can pick her up and carry her round like she weighs about two pounds... YUM...
Although this was my inspiration (along with the one clip I mention on the PHS) for my initial idea, I've digressed some - and this vid is great to look back on for a reminder of their earlier relationship even if I see them as older now in my mind ... Yup. Seeds can get planted from just about anywhere - it's where they go from that initial spark or flashing lightbulb above the head moment that makes the difference - or in my case digs the hole - maybe I should make Ash look more like Lois??? (Oh - and did anyone else spot Alex in there???) So come on then - am I the only one who got an idea from fanvids on Youtube??? Where was your latest idea *seeded* from - huh? huh? huh? Enquiring minds need to know!!!
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
Oooh, now where had I got to???
I'd left you at the point Natasha and I were beautifying ourselves for the main event, hadn't I? Well, naturally that took about five minutes...
Sorry - had a moment there. Anyway, once we were beautiful we headed downstairs to find everyone arriving and Kate looking truly stunning in all her finery and the most drool-worthy pair of shoes! We then meeted and greeted the likes of Jacqui Baird, Susan Stephens, Kate Hardy, Abby Green (again - swear - that gal is EVERYWHERE), Michelle Reid again, Julie Cohen again, Michelle Styles again, India Grey (who is entirely too beautiful to be let out I feel and along with her handsome husband I'm laying lots of money on their kids being beautiful on a whole new level hitherto unknown to mankind), Linda and Maddie from the London Editorial team (and can I just say to any Diet Clubbers from the PHS out there - Maddie looks AMAZING - if she wasn't so damn nice I'd have to HATE HER for doing so much better with her eating plan that any of us seem to have managed - her secret? Less food and exercise more - dammit!!!! NOT what I wanted to hear Maddie!!) - anyways it was a whose who of M&B-ers and that meant a queue at the bar and MORE TALKING...
After a very scrumptious dinner at tables sprinkled with gold hearts and *numbered* with book covers from a selection of Kate's 50 titles some of us then swapped tables to meet and greet more of the vast mixture of friends and family that Kate had mixed so well with her writing buddies. And this was a stroke of genius on Kate's behalf - cos she managed to choose people to move that she knew would mingle and TALK - especially after a couple of drinks (can't think *why* she thought I should be one of them...) So I was having just the bestest time and that was before Kate *got me and got me good*. That woman is *sneaky*. Lemme explain...
While staying at Kate's house we all lent a hand to get the twiddly bits ready for the big night and Kate appeared with some little pouches... Opening them she informed me that she had got them as presents for some of her RNA *Virgins* and people she had helped along the way and I said I thought they were lovely - because really they WERE! A selection of hearts in varing colours - some with beautiful patterns inside them, some just the glowing colours of the gemstones... and she then asked *in conversation* which one I thought was the nicest and I immediately pointed at the golden one that looked just like amber... And Kate said yes, she'd quite liked that one too... And then we went back to twiddling...
So I knew the gifts were being given out at some point and I got to smile smugly at faces around the room at the big event when all the wonderful poet friends of Kate and the charming BM gave their poetry readings (which were FAB BTW) and Kate stood up to give her speech... It's just so typical of Kate and the kind of person she is that she started her speech at her own flipping party by giving out gifts to OTHER PEOPLE and I'll admit to having a teary eye when Natasha received her heart... but imagine how I was when she then headed MY WAY!!!!! She said some lovely things and YES I DID GO TEARY AGAIN and YES I HAVE WORN IT PRETTY MUCH EVER SINCE... hence the pic of it round my neck!!! Now I'm no *virgin* (stop laughing in the cheap seats!!!!!) as I've never actually been to the RNA at all - but Kate was one of the very first people I ever spoke to on the eharlequin boards before I thought about subbing my partial for what became The Bridal Bet and I've remembered her advice to this day. AND since I became published she has been there every step of the way with sound advice and a pat on the back or a hug - cyber or otherwise - when it was needed. She's an amazing lady and a very very good friend now. So I wear this heart now as a talisman of sorts - or a badge of honour - and I was touched beyond belief (even with the sneakiness...)- you can see a pic of our hug on India Grey's Blog - and can I just point out how much better I look from THE BACK...
I managed to avoid cameras all over the place all weekend - it's a talent I feel - and fortunate for all those cameras really...
So another very very late night ensued and it was an AMAZING PARTY - if it hadn't been for my darn leg I'd have stayed up all night gabbing but by then both feet had swollen and my bad leg looked like a sausage so off to bed to prop I went... (doesn't bode well for the big trip gang!)
Sunday saw us all served breakfast on huge Kate Walker Inc tables as everyone caught up with the people they had missed the night before and then it was off to pack so we could head back to Kate's for more wine and more TALKING and another very very LATE night...
All in all it was one heck of a weekend and the kind of break all writers need to get together and talk books to reinspire the muse. Yes, we do end up talking work, there's no doubt about it - but you could see people's invisible light bulbs going off all over the place and I even had time to complain about Gabe and have Abby and Kate talk me out of the hole a little - so fingers crossed for that one... I think it should be an annual event myself - the Kate Walker friends and family weekend...
Now three weeks til I travel - EEK!!!! - paperwork and admin galore to do and this book to finish asap and the contest winner to do and and and and... three weeks is loads of time - right???
And just cos I knew you'd all be curious I've shown you pics of some of the shoes I bought... LOVE THEM...
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Julie Bonello - Cataromance
Sue - Romance Reviewed
Jenna Bayley-Burke - Modern Extra Author
Ally Blake - Romance & Modern Extra Author
Margaret McDonagh - Mills & Boon Medicals Author
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Well I'm home again and can honestly say I had a fantabulous time!
Friday, June 8, 2007
Just so you know I haven't forgotten you all!!! I'm now in sunny-ish England visiting the lovely Kate Walker for her 50th Book Bash and can I just tell you that when writers get together WE TALK...
Yup and then we talk some more. And that's only three of us together!!! Imagine what it'll be like when Natasha and everyone else meets up with Kate, Abbey and I come Saturday!!! I will have NO VOICE left by the time I get home...
And YES - GABE AND ASH ARE BLOOMIN WELL WITH ME!!!!
I'll pop by with an update asap gang...
Monday, June 4, 2007
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Friday, June 1, 2007
Well 'Indulge the Reader' is an Editorial phrase I've often found winging it's way to me in revisions notes - usually prefixed with the phrase 'Don't be afraid to...' So what does it mean? Well, here's my take on it...
Any reader will pick up a certain type of book with an expectation of what they'll find inside the cover - certainly in category romance. If you buy an Intrigue you'll go looking for that touch of mystery, if you buy a Modern/Presents you'll look for that element of glamour and sophistication, a Blaze - a sexy hot read... you with me? So when you start to write for a specific line, you should write with that expectation constantly in the back of your mind and then indulge the reader by fulfilling that expectation. Make more sense now?
Lets look at one of the lines I write for again:
Romance is: From the Heart. For the Heart.
Now I dunno if you lot have noticed but there is now a completely updated set of Guidelines for this line on the eharlequin site here - which outlines the changes in the line since it merged with Silhouette Romance back in September. PRINT THESE GUIDELINES OUT AND KEEP THEM CLOSE BY - go now - shoo - do as Auntie Trish says!!!
These notes are straight from 'the horses mouth' so to speak - from the people who have the market research at their fingertips, who talk to readers, who watch sales. THEY KNOW what works for a specific line - they KNOW the expectations of that line. It's up to us as writers to then indulge those expectations.
Let's break it down a little (and I'm fully prepared to come back to this again and again if you have any questions on it - cos it's quite a big topic!) Starting with:
Character driven: These stories must be character driven. We're not looking for standard, tried and tested hook-driven plots. Stories must begin with a set of unique, engaging, appealing characters. Their individual circumstances will drive the emotional conflicts and what happens in the story — and because they're unique, the story will be too. We are looking for fresh, appealing, innovative storylines and delivery.
What does this mean? Well for starters it means the obvious thing that I keep banging on and on and on about almost constantly in this series - The characters drive your story! Without believable characters and understandable reactions and emotions we can have the best gosh-darned plot that ever did grace a page but it's *still* gonna feel f-l-a-t. We have to give a damn about these people living happily ever after and we have to completely *get* what held them apart. And in Romance - in order to do this - the characters have to delve deep into their own actions, reactions and emotions - and they have to justify themselves to themselves and to us.
Let's say the heroine is snippy or cool or rude to the hero in the beginning then we need to understand why - and similarly for the hero. I'm not saying give away your entire conflict in the first chapter - but at the very very least you have to hint at there being a reason - maybe simply by showing us through inner thoughts that they know they're being snippy or cool or rude but that they have due cause to be and then later on revealing the deep seated cause for it. Never assume that just because a reader has picked up the book after they enjoyed other books in the line that they will therefore automatically love yours too. Give them what they went looking for - they paid hard earned cash for that book!!! So even when you've finished your manuscript and you're at the editing stage - look to see where there are places that you could indulge us a little more and remember above all things that when it comes to the ending we want all those little loose ends tied up!!! Unless you're planning on writing a sequel (which is a rare rare rare thing in Category Romance - I mean, DoDo bird rare - cos even in a continuity a story will always always have a stand-alone quality to it!) then don't leave your reader wondering 'But what about-?'
Heroine: She drives the story — the reader lives vicariously through her. This doesn't mean there can't be a hero point-of-view — this is important to give the hero depth and credibility. But the heroine is the vehicle through which the reader experiences the romance. The reader wants to be able to identify strongly with her, to like her, to want to be her, or want to be her friend. She must be a strong, convincing woman of the 21st century.
Now, you'll notice I've put some of this in bold lettering... Almost speaks for itself doesn't it? The art in this, though, is elusive - because let's face facts and be completely honest here - what one woman may find a wonderful quality in a friend may not be what the next person would look for. Women are notoriously critical of other women. The only way I can see round this myself is to make sure that the reader understands the reasons why the heroine does, says and feels the things she does. (and no - I'm not perfect - I might not always get this right myself) We might not agree with her, or do the things she does the way she does ourselves, but we need to understand why she does. So - I'm the reader - indulge me on this. I might be yelling at the page when she doesn't get what the hero meant when I can see it as plain as zebra strips on an elephant but if you make me understand why she's being such an idiot then I may forgive her by the time I hit the last page - you know what I mean? And the best writer's will show me - not tell me - she'll weave hints of it into the story that if she's disgustingly good I won't get until the moment all is revealed (when as a fellow writer I shall - naturally - have to hate her for a minute...just because...).
And for me - one of the best ways to indulge me as a reader - is to make sure that I *see* much more of that irresistable edge to the hero through the heroine's eyes than I maybe ever do of the heroine through his. If the reader is living vicariously through the heroine then at some stage they might want to fantasize they *are* the heroine - so I'm not saying make her invisible (cos we need to see her from the hero's POV, right?) but make sure the hero is described as often as possible and is as yummy as yummy can be! Indulge me. Make-me-want-him! Give me how he looks, how he moves, how his eyes sparkle with humor or anger, and so much more cos lets face it I wanna know! - and then give me how that makes her feel - and in a way I can completely get - cos you've shown me already how irresitable he is!
(And read what they had to say about the hero in the Guidelines to see what they have to say about him - then if you have questions we'll go over them - okay?)
Make sense so far???
Romantic fantasies: There are fundamental romantic fantasies that appeal to women worldwide, and stories in this new series can involve these fantasies — such as forced proximity, sheikhs, royalty, babies, cowboys — so long as they are executed in a fresh, original and character-driven way. These all should be firmly grounded in reality. Readers want to believe that this lasting happiness could actually happen — so this isn't the series for paranormal, mythical or fantastical elements.
Now here we get to LOVE-WHAT-WE-DO.
Again I've highlighted in bold some of the things I feel are most pertinent - and you can see where the term indulge the reader would slot neatly into this, can't you? Romantic fantasy is universal - and probably why the books we all love sell in their millions upon millions world-wide (Thank Heavens!!!) So what is it that makes a reader pick up a category romance again and again despite the frequent critique of them 'all being the same'??? Which to a very, very, very small extent is true - in that they all have a couple who fall in love and live happily ever after... Simply - we as readers continue to buy them because we want that happily ever after guarantee. The fact that a story can tap into a fantasy or two along the way - BONUS! So - indulge me - give me the against all odds story - give me a hero I can't resist - force me into close proximity with someone I might not want to be attracted to and then show me why I can't resist him... And yes, I'm afraid this does mean that to a certain extent you may have to subliminally tap into a fantasy or two of your own...
I'll hold up my hand and say that if you read every one of my books (which of course I'm gonna encourage you to do...) you could pretty much form an identikit for the kinda guy who would *float my boat* as the saying goes. All of them are tall, all of them are strong, all of them have a sense of humour, every single one of them is bloody minded enough to keep coming back no matter how many times the heroine tries to push them away. In fact if you could throw all of the personality traits of all my fourteen hero's into one package then it's safe to say I'd be married to him around about now... and blissfully happy. And by telling you that I'm kinda putting something a little personal *out there* but hey - we're all friends here, right??? Does that mean that all writers, deep down, want every single scenario they write about - hell no it doesn't - cos on the page we're talking fantasy and the power of imagination. But we, or the vast majority of us, are women writing for women - so that element of fantasy is a universal trait. What you have to do therefore is tap into it and indulge your reader along the way...
And you do that by not treating your reader as an idiot!!! This is where show not tell comes in again... Gimme all the ingredients I need - the yummy hero - the empathetic heroine - the fantasy element - the intense attraction - the circumstances that jell it all together - and then indulge me enough to let my imagination run free....
Until the end when you hand me the kind of Happily Ever After I want - the all singing all dancing all loose ends tied up version. So that when I close the book I believe those two people are still *out there* somewhere... together... living out the rest of their days... HAPPY. Make me believe guys, make me believe...
Yup - INDULGE ME = Gimme what I bought the book for. It's just that simple...
Now most of these pointers apply to both lines that I write for. But if you'd like to hear my thoughts on how Indulging the Reader applies to Modern Extra then we might have to do a second Blog on this topic... lemme know...
Oh - and again can I just say if you're one of the people who reads all the Blogs through my Writers Tips Page on the website - that I make no excuses for repeating myself from time to time. I like to think it just shows that I really believe in what I'm telling you. And remember also the mantra of IT'S WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU. YOU are special because you are UNIQUE and THAT'S WHAT WILL MAKE YOUR VOICE UNIQUE and THATS what'll make you sell guys! BELIEVE IN THAT.