Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Ikkle Update

You know the way bad things come in threes????

I'm not enjoying this week. Hence the silence and usual lack of usual Trish-wit. Tho knowing me and my uncanny ability of bouncing (it's my shape - I'm like a Weeble...) I am allowing this week to slide on by and normal service will resume next week... when I'll need lots of encouragement from the usual culprits in order to finish this book BEFORE christmas - insert manic laughter at will here...

Sooooo while I was here suffering (somewhat impatiently it should be said) with the cold from hell my Mother was in a car accident. She's grand but it was a bad accident and she's pretty bruised up and has written off the car she was in. We have a lot of car accidents here in Ireland so it was scary - especially when they thought she might have cracked her neck (no airbags) - and the fact that her accident was partly caused because she came over the brow of a hill on a dark and rainy night and drove smack bang into what was left of an earlier accident gives you an idea of how frequently these things happen... NOT GOOD.

But she's home and is being sat on to make her rest (it takes that - trust me) and I was starting to feel a little brighter so there was light at the end of the tunnel I felt... Erm... NOPE TRISH - THREES - and thats only TWO things...

So when my crown fell out and I couldn't get it to go back in I should have known I wasn't escaping with a mere 'glue-it-back-in' session at the dentists this morning, shouldn't I??? Yuh-huh .... I cracked the root in two. So out it came. And I have a mortal fear of needles so we got to have a humilate-oneself-panic-attack in the chair and then we discovered an infection after all the digging so we now have antibiotics. Which is fine - I can rinse and do antibiotics - no prob... Oooohhhh did I mention this was a front crown???? And that cos of the infection I can't have a new one sized up for EIGHT WEEKS??? Uh-huh. And did I also mention that meant I had to have a cast taken of my mouth so I can have a damn plate thing made?????????? So now I feel old cos I have a plate, I know I'm writing at least one book for free to pay for all the crown work I figured I may as well do all at once while we're there (it was that or dig a hole in my jaw I should add... *snort* yeah, I said we'd SKIP THAT ONE) and thanks to the temporary plate I HAVE A SPEECH IMPEDIMENT...

This week DID NOT HAPPEN - Okay????????

On a brighter note - come see me tomorrow at The Pink Heart Society where I'm asking Who Can Resist An Irish Boy... written Pre-Week-From-hell I should add... Sigh...

See you Monday!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ikkle Update

Yes I'm still sick. Yes I am drinking gallons of fluids and attempting to sweat the sucker out and yes, I am a teency ikkle bit brighter today but the timing truly does bite. And I have no patience with being sick. Trust me my darlings...

BUT I thought I'd pop in and let you know and to say thanks for all the 'get better soons' I've gotten and also to say YAY cos my editor sent me a *trigger* this last day or so...

What is a *trigger* you may ask??? Well, it's a bit like a *seed* except a seed is for a story and to me a trigger is something that can send that story off at a new angle or to a whole new thread that can add a new dimension to the story. And if none of that makes sense please keep in mind I'M SICK.

Anyhoos this trigger came from a few back and forth emails wrapping up the Dear Reader and Dedication for the last book and throwing around a few ideas for this new one. And in amongst all that we got round to chatting about Tiffany's - and engagement rings - as one does.... So, being as and how I'M SICK and can only manage short stints UPRIGHT before I have to go lie down and feel sorry for myself I Googled Tiffany's to see what I could come up with. I found the engagement ring I'll use and know lots more about the three c's than I probably needed to, I got a glimpse of the building in Modern Day NYC - cos a gal can't go on 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' alone... and I found what the gift packaging looks like. And THAT was the trigger. Cos from that glimpse of little boxes came a new dimension to Quinn's character and the ability to cause a big bit of a misunderstanding near the end of the book. Not a new story, not really changing what I already know about either character - but a brand new thread - and Tiffany's was the trigger. COOL. Gotta love it when that happens.

And the self confessed daydreamers might like to know that the idea came to me while I was lying in my sick bed bemoaning the fact there's nothing on TV and reading is giving me a headache. And I have slept like a pro for the last 48 hrs so I couldn't get a proper sleep... so in came the daydreaming...

Mind you it also pointed out that I've started the story in the wrong place - sigh - so I need to fix that just as soon as I can stay upright long enough to up my word count some. Hey-ho. Right - back to bed for me again then. Darnnit.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Spain Pics

Why MORE as opposed to the title 'Spain Pics'.... ahhhh.... funny you should ask... that's cos I already blogged some of them over here:

So over HERE we have the MORE and can I just say at this point they very nearly didn't make it at all today cos I'M SICK. Yes, I have a rotten stinker of a cold and am holed up indoors with medicine galore - large amounts of anything with vitamin c in it - blankies on the sofa - and eucalyptus oil in my wee burner so I can BREATHE. It's not nice. And I'm a BAD patient. Just so you know and can all feel sorry for me ;)
Okay, so Spain. Well I've said a fair bit about the trip over at the PHS already so if you haven't been you really should take a skip over there... over here we have some more of the pics and the trials and tribulations - cos this trip was NOT entirely smooth sailing this time out...

First up our flight was delayed. But after a three hour delay coming home from Natasha's in September a mere 40 minutes wasn't really that big a deal to me. What was funny was that for the second time in a row when I got to the top of the gangway there in the door to greet me was my sister-in-law's brother who's the 'in charge' member of the cabin crew if that makes sense. I informed him there are laws about stalking. I also bemoaned the fact I could never, ever have a secret affair could I? Not when the news would get back to my family within miliseconds of the plane touching down ;) It did however mean we had a fun flight and lots of chatter and next time I've threatened to bring score cards like you get in ice skating competitions so I can mark his safety presentation out of 6... And you guys have *met me* so you know I soooooo WILL...

So anyhoos that meant we were late touching down in Barcelona airport only to find no transfer waiting to take us to the hotel... so off to the train station and an hour and a half train ride for us - which was fine actually - but it did mean we were tired by the time we found the bus to our destination and the hotel at 11pm. WHICH WAS CLOSED. Now I don't just mean closed as in it was late and it was closed I mean closed for the SEASON. Now understandably this was a tad confusing for those of us who were BOOKED INTO IT but thankfully me and my friend are two capable women so we wandered off to another hotel and they were able to tell us that all the bookings had been moved. Nice if we'd been told - but there ya go. We did however comment that if we'd been mumbelty mumble years younger we might have felt the need to ring home and cry when we found the hotel closed in the first place... age apparently has it's good points ;)
So suffice to say an early night was had that first night. Well, early-ish considering it was nigh on midnight when we hit out room. So the next day we went for a wee bit of an explore. We discovered we were less than a few minutes walk from the bus station which was GREAT from the pov of our day trip into Barcelona on the Friday and like good ikkle girls we checked the times so we knew what we were at. And then we headed down to the seafront and found a path that wended it's way along the shoreline so off we went for an explore.... that lasted approximately fifteen minutes before the battery in my camera died... so we wended back for batteries and some food and some nice iced coffees...

Which is incidentally the first time I found a glimmer of an understanding of why Spanish heroes can sometimes be so popular with readers cos our waiter had SENSATIONAL eyes and was VERY cute. And yet - SHORT. Well, five eight or nine I guess, but still too short for hero inspiration for little old me I'm rather afraid. Still that's the beauty of the imagination. I made him over 6ft tall in my mind and then when we wended off along the coastal path again I took some pics of places where my new tall hero could live... and started wondering about a story for him... as one does...

Bit spoiled for choice with that really. Naturally in my imagination he'd be in the first cove I found but ooohhhh what kind of house to give him... there was a nice one in a fairly exclusive neighbourhood I quite liked... then there was one on the side of a mountain looking out to sea... and then there was - well, you can see my dilemma really, can't you???

And frankly if I'm placing him in a house and thinking about his height et all then the place I'm visiting is doing it's job, isn't it? After all, yes the breaks may be about winding down after a few books and being buried in the cave, but they're also to amuse my muse and let her think about possibilities *outside the box*. I guess since I've started to broaden my horizons in the real world it kinda makes sense my imaginary characters start to do the same (see PHS Blog about the 'write what you know' theory...) But anyhoo... back to Spain...

We wended all the way to the next resort and had huge big ice cream sundaes at the beach front before catching a bus to a larger resort even further up the coast. And there we wandered along a massive boardwalk that's probably bunged with tourists in the summer but in the winter time is lovely and quiet, with lots of dog walkers and locals strolling along by the sea. I kinda liked that. But by then it was starting to rain a little, so we decided to call it a day and headed back to the bus that took us all the way back to the bus station beside our hotel and then we just nipped in for some dinner and a couple of Bailey's before calling it a proper early night and lazing about our room reading until the wee small hours. Which was perfect, cos it let us recover from all the wending and wandering AND it meant we got a rest before our early start to Barcelona the next day.... more about THAT later on in the week... heee...
Cos in case I hadn't mentioned it - I'M SICK - So I'm off to lie down again...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ask Trish Almost Anything Pt6

Yes - I'm BACK from SPAIN. And yes - I DO have a gazillion and one photos and a tale or two to tell. And oh my yes - I think I do see a Spanish hero in my future...

But as I'm doing a Travelling Trish post at The Pink Heart Society tomorrow I'm gonna answer another Ask Trish Almost Anything for now (cos pre-loading obviously didn't work!)and then I'll post some extra pics here tomorrow at the same time as the PHS one with some goss on what I was reading while I was away before we go back to Q&A again, okay???

Here goes...

Dear Trish,

I found your advice to Natasha extremely helpful. Thanks.I do have a question of my own, though.Why is it that I can lie in bed, or stand in the shower, or make supper, or whatever, and the whole time, I am seeing and hearing my lovely characters interacting with each other, getting on each other's nerves, loving each other, etc., but then when it's time to sit down with pen and paper (or AlphaSmart or laptop), my brain stalls, and trying to get the tiniest drop of all that drama I've dreamed up down onto the paper is torture?

How do I get past that ugly, ornery wall that crashes down with a dusty thud every time I try to write?Help!

Thanks bunches!
Mary

Dear Mary

I'm soooooo glad you asked this one as this is yet another example of what horribly slippery little suckers characters can be!!! It's like trying to juggle jelly sometimes, isn't it?

The very fact that they're talking to you in such detail to begin with is a very good sign. It's when those voices in our heads go silent for a long time without so much as a whisper even when we feed and care for our Muses the way we're sposed to that you should really worry... But what it comes down to in this case is a little case of discipline - both of the mind and of those slippery little so-and-so's...
It's time to put on your teachers hat. Cos this is where that fine line between being a daydreamer and being a writer is about to get tested! And frankly it's where a lot of we writers will struggle - cos no-one ever gets round to telling us that there's a regular battle between the two things required of a writer; imagination and discipline - the ying and yang of writing. Not exactly like being free spirited and disciplined at the same time is an easy thing, is it? And when you become a writer full time oooohhhhh my can this become a test of will power!!!

So what you have to do in this case is re-educate yourself and your characters. A WIP alllll on it's wee ownsome...TRUST ME.

Let's look at the slippery so-and-so's first shall we??? Sometimes they not only blind us with a gazillion and one pieces of information at the same time, they also - bless their little cotton socks - like to jam pack into our heads like sardines in a can with more than the one flipping story at the same time. And I dunno about you - but there's only so much room in my head! Hmmm.... this may be why I struggle so much with working on more than one book at the same time... but for a change I digress...

What we gotta do is TRAIN THEM to only speak to us about ONE SCENE at a time. You gotta stand at the front of the classroom of your brain with your teachers hat on and raise your voice VERY LOUDLY to be heard over the noise of all the chattering. You can still be a pussycat at heart but you gotta make all those German Shepherds (aka your characters) do what YOU TELL THEM TO. (see pic for reference here...) Tell them to be QUIET for a minute and then, once you have their undivided attention ask them to tell you the ONE SCENE over and over until it's clear in your head. Treat it a bit like you're an actress rehearsing for that scene, okay? The shower is perfect for this... or erm... while on the loo... or while driving I spose... cos you can then speak their conversations aloud again and again like a mantra without being carted off to the funny farm - you can rehearse tone and emotion and see if the coversation sounds right... Maybe you could even speak the heroines words aloud and get the guy to speak his into your ear??? Hey - get an empty house and you could act it out with the body movements and everything...Try it. This blog may be titled 'and other sorts of insanity' but this one IS writing related and it all makes PERFECT SENSE to me. In my ikkle world anyhoos. And I've found it works!

Now for YOU. What you gotta remember first is that daydreaming or lying in bed awake before you fall asleep when you're hearing these voices and seeing these scenes inside your mind isn't like dreaming when you're asleep. They won't disappear if you open your eyes... fade a little, yes... get lost behind something else more important, yes... but they're still IN THERE. It's not like those horribly elusive wisps of dreams you get in that period between sleep and waking up - you know the ones I mean - horrible dastardly things that make you spend the whole day wracking your brains to remember them??? Yeah - I knew you'd know...What you gotta do with DAYDREAMS is narrow them down. Oh, and for the record I'm one of those 'meant-to-be' kinda gals - so if the scene does completely disappear then I tell myself it wasn't *meant-to-be* for this particular story. (Hey - if it keeps me sane-ish - alright?!?)

So think of what you're seeing in your head as a movie - think of yourself as the actress in that movie (cos as the writer we want the reader to walk in the heroines shoes, right? So technically you're doing exactly that!!!) - then concentrate on only the one scene until you have it clear - and think of the writing of it as you committing it to film - make sense???

This means when you sit down to write the scene it'll be clearer and the words should flow easier, yes?

Another thing people often complain about is that ideas won't always appear when you're close enough to a keyboard to set them down. This is where you'll hear writers talking about varying different methods. Like keeping pads and pens all over the place to scribble down notes or keeping a dictaphone or post it notes or whatever. That means the idea can never completely slip away or if you have an idea for a new scene before the one you're working on is finished you have the bare bones of a hint to get the voices talking again...

Now I'd suggest a short-hand type method for this so you don't draw your head too much outta the scene you're trying to nail down...just words that are gonna let you remember the idea - like the location; say coffee shop/outside - the gist of the scene; like heroine thinks hero misunderstands something she's done/said - or maybe something as simple as; 'takes hand and kisses' - you know what I mean? Just a very few words so you know what the idea was and that way when you've finished the scene you're working on you have a few reminders of that genius idea when you move on to it and begin the process of rehearsing and rehearsing all over again until you get THAT ONE pinned down. You with me?
This also works if a brand new story idea appears when you're already working on one - cos another problem can be the clamouring of voices in your head wanting to be heard... And again you've gotta discipline yourself to stick to the one story until it's done cos a common mistake is starting one idea then having a *better idea* and starting it and then running into problems and dumping that in favour of another new idea and so on and so on until nothing actually gets finished. Remember a great many unpublished writers have a problem actually finishing a manuscript so again it's about DISCIPLINE . You might never even sub your early work but what you did was teach yourself to write a story with a beginning, a middle and most importantly of all - AN END.

This is one of the chief reasons why you'll hear me talk about the time I need to change over from one story to another. I was talking to a friend about this recently and I likened it to living in a particular city for the duration of the telling of the story; it's like moving house lock, stock and a barrel to a brand new city - you need time to unpack and settle in - then you need to find where the local grocery store is and all the amenities - then you maybe make new friends and start to get to know them and form a social circle - then you start to feel like it's home and you drop into automatic pilot for a while - then just when you're settled in and everythings done you up and move again to a brand new city and start all over again. Only in my case rather than a city I'm moving my *head* from one world into another. Like in my last *world* my head was completely filled with a round the world trip and the problems faced by Ronan and Kerry. Now that they've gone I have to take a few days to *shift my head* out of that world and into one based in New York and the problems faced by Quinn and Clare...

To do this I'll spend several days just thinking and then I'll make up an outline/prop for my lovely editor and once it has the thumbs up I'll spend time making a new collage and adding to back story that won't go in the book and putting together a new soundtrack. And then I'll go into *daydreaming mode* where I'll rehearse key scenes over and over and over in my head - talking the dialogue, sometimes out loud - seeing where they live and thinking about who they are and seeing the way they sit or move (sometimes I'll look at the mannerisms of the actors/actresses I've mentally *cast* so I have a baseline to refer to on DVD's...) and only when I'm firmly in that new world do I sit down and write - by which stage the theory is I'll know them so well it'll all slot together and I can work through any brick walls by going back into the daydreaming stage. NOTHING but NOTHING else exists in my daydreams outside of that new world until it's done and revised and approved and then I'll move on again and start all over. (though this is something I'm gonna have to teach myself to overlap next year I think...)

FOR ME this is a big part of why my word count can go up at a rate of knots from time to time. Cos all the ground work is already done. Mentally I've *seen the movie* of the book in my head. So when I write I'm pretty much just doing a review. Also, FOR ME it means my form of discipline doesn't interfere too much with my muse - she gets to play regularly in daydreaming mode and the WORK part is in the discipline of sitting down and typing it all up... It works for me ;)

Remember we're all different. You just gotta find what works for you...

Hope that helps hun. Feel free to ask any questions!!! And tomorrow we're aiming for Spain pics and then more answers to Ask Trish Almost Anything - which you can still add to if you have a burning question ;)

Oh and I'm not sure of this pic is a sign that my cat Max looooovvveeesss my books or if they're soooooo bad they make him nod off...hmmm... I know which option I'd PREFER...I feel some extra pouches of fishy flavoured pieces coming along as bribary in his very near future just in case...

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Hero & Heroine


Yup, we've almost cleared up the back log of things we have to do and we've run a couple of suggestions past our ever-patient-lovely-editor and now have the go ahead on another new story... quite looking forward to this one actually... ;)

Mind you - this guy might have something to do with it...

So for another Romance line title we have Quinn Cassidy, third generation Irish-American, local bad-boy made good and not only my heroine's boss, but her best friend. He was also a friend of her ex. In fact he was the best man at their wedding - hence the working title. How cheeky does he look in this pic???? I just know I'm gonna have soooooo much fun writing him!!!

And living in the basement apartment of his Brownstone house near Prospect Park in Brooklyn NY is Clare O'Connor - a good old fashioned red-headed Irish girl who fell for the wrong guy and was taken under Quinn's wing when things went wrong. She's now his Girl Friday. And I'm gonna mess with them some. Bwahahahahaha...

This is another adventure outta the box for me so I can only hope it's as much fun as the last one was. Already I love the locations - yes New York and Brooklyn, what can I say - I LOVED my trip this summer. And even the small amount of extra research I've had to do for the set up has been fun. Plus as usual lovely Ed had some gems to suggest that sent my muse into over-drive. I'm really loving letting my Modern Heat contemprary fun loose on the Romance line so here's crossing everything that doesn't need a surgeon to untangle that the readers like it too!!!

And after this we're off to Modern Heat land with another Flanaghan... this time Tess, one of the sisters stuck amongst all those brothers... it's gonna take one heck of a guy to stand up to them really, isn't it???

Am gonna try and leave some Ask Trish Almost Anything answers ready for the rest of the week in the hope they'll automatically load - cos I'm off to Spain on Wednesday for a few days break and a little research for the future before I lock myself back in the cave to try and finish Quinn and Clare's story before christmas...hmmm... well one can but TRY...I promise to bring back pics, okay???

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ask Trish Almost Anything Pt5

Dear Trish,

How are your horses?As my daughter wants to know.

Michelle

Dear Michelle

A horses question!!! WOO HOO!!! Now I get to bore everyone in the book world silly with my other great passion in life! LOVE IT!!! Tell you dd I WUV HER...

So anyone not interested in horsey-Trish's-life as opposed to Writing-Trish's-Life needs to scroll down around about now til they hit the pic of the cat with the ball of wool ;) Cos this is all about horses and the chaos of my real life this one... mind you, the associated eye candy of a daily gathering of builders can be considered research I spose. Mind you, there are days when it's to research what Trinny and Susanna are to the *before* pics if you get my drift...
The horses question raises the current angst in my life. Outside of writing that is. Cos normally by this time of year we have all the babies nicely tucked up in their beds with nice clips to make them all look pretty and nice cosy jammies on. But this year we’re a tad out of whack.

Now there are a few good reasons for this. Not least of which is the fact that after a ridiculously wet summer we’ve had an unseasonably mild and so far fairly dry autumn. Which is just as well really – cos currently the babies nice new bedrooms are in a state of building chaos…

Welcome to the building site known as our new yard. Now last winter we had only three stables finished and a tin roof on. But thanks to some questionable attachment of the roof struts and a storm between Christmas and New Years, the entire roof was lifted off in the middle of the night and tossed into the field behind the stables. As one might understand the horses were a tad upset by this and the next morning were bouncing off the walls. So we had to transport them all to a friends yard where they spent the winter in livery – which cost a fortune – until spring when they could come home and go out onto the new grazing we’d bought.

In the meantime the rest of the stable block was built. It’s a square courtyard, with twelve stables and a tackroom and washbay and loo and then through an archway you hit a second smaller courtyard around which are offices and accommodation and a studio and training area for the radio station my brother runs – oh and a little house. Now the house is the bit that’s plastered and tiled and as you can see the rest of the yard still has a way to go. You kinda have to use your imagination a bit for me - see all the mud covered with nice concrete, imagine the smaller courtyard with a nice bubbling fountain running over the original mill wheel left from the water mill that once stood here on the land beside the river, see every wall as plastered the same as the house is and nice hanging baskets between the stables in the summer and and and... well - you get the dream here, don't you? It's just as tad hard to envisage at the minute...
BTW do we love how this pic has a little set of ears at the front??? Minature shetlands are very very interested in whatever those things with two legs missing might be doing... what IS that silver thing? Is it FOOD??? What IS a camera???
The roof struts are however due on this week and once the original three stables are tiled then the three larger horses can come in. (Charlie doesn’t see what the hold up and is already standing at the gate hinting heavily that he should have been in a nice comfy bed with food by now – he was a hunter for eight years and as far as he’s concerned this time of year involves all that and the fun of galloping for miles twice a week so he just doesn’t get why he’s still on holidayplus from his owners pov he looks like a huge hairy four legged teddy bear at the minute and that makes me INSANE when I know he's quite handsome underneath and ALSO AVAILABLE IN WHITE)

Oh and the pic of a digger inside some banks in a field is how our arena currently looks. Yuh huh, not much riding go on in there at the moment either…

Now as this is already the point of the year I hate most – the brown portion of the year as I call it, cos trust me, it is – all the extra mud and muck supplied by the building is a bit of a pain in the backside. And having all the ponies out in the brown stuff and rough ground can bring a whole new set of problems. (not that the hairy miniature shetlands seem to care much) But thankfully, we also put down a new section of *roadway* to the new fields, so they have a firm standing to go with the shelter from the trees and access to the river that borders us while living out rough until the stables are ready - and the ones that need them have their *raincoats* on. .. And you can see the distinct difference between the rough ground pics and the pics at the bottom of the blog of ground we’ve been saving for daily turnout when they come in – well hopefully you can see the difference – which is close to the stables as we’ll have less daylight to work with in a month or so and as so many of our boys are getting on in years we like them to get to stretch their legs as much as possible.

We are however on a ticking clock. So it’s a great source of angst to me. The millisecond the last tile goes on the stable roof, regardless of outside plastering or general prettying up, in they come. And when they come in they all get nice haircuts and new shoes and nice warm jammies on, and even if the arena isn’t finished we get to ride them out on the little narrow country lanes that surround us – which are but one car width wide for miles and miles over hill and dale, surrounded by trees and with the lakes in the distance… BLISS!

So when that happens I promise to come back with pics of CLEAN horses and all the nice lanes and views we get to see. I even promise to bring some regular pics of how the stables and arena are progressing if you're at all interested, how does that sound???

And no this isn't the time of year to visit Ireland imho and yes I do answer horse questions for people’s books ;) Oh and if any of the pics are blurry its cos I made the mistake of trying to take them while I had my neices puppy on the end of an extendable lead - who in heck invented those stupid leads??? Cos do the understand how puppies like to explore? Huh? Huh? I got tangled up so many times it wasn't even funny...
So there ya go Michelle and Michelle's dd... ;)
And we have more from Ask Trish Almost Anything next time...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ask Trish Almost Anything Pt4


Dear Trish

When it's time to edit, do you ever feel like you're being asked to cut parts of the book that you really love?

JackieToo
*hoping that question made sense :Þ*

Dear Jackie

It did INDEED make sense! And lemme tell you, editing is something nearly every writer learns - after time - is an art unto itself. Writing the book in the first place can seem easy peasy in comparison!!!

One of the things I do a lot as regular visitors here will know, is refer back to films. Like I do for instance in my Backwards Casting Method... And I learnt a lot about editing by watching those deleted scenes you get on DVD extras... Watch the movie/TV Show and then watch what they took out and it pretty much ALWAYS makes sense and you can understand WHY they made the decision to cut a particular scene. And the same things matter when it comes to editing... though editing for yourself when the book is done and editing it once revision notes come along can be two very different thing ;) TRUST ME.

When you're editing for yourself BEFORE the book goes it can be a bad case of *wood for the trees* cos you'll have lived with the story for so long you'll be emotionally attached to what you've done and won't want to let go of things that felt like pure genius when you first wrote them... HOWEVER once you read the story through from start to finish knowing more about your characters as one inevitably does by the end (mainly cos the slippery little suckers won't play at the start and then pop in to tell you something you DIDN'T KNOW half way through - bless their cotton socks...) you may well find that genius scene is unnecessary...darnnit!

So what goes and what stays??? I should admit at this point that I NEVER delete ANYTHING out of all existance. EVER. I keep an *editing* file for each book and I c&p my deleted scenes into there in the hope that they can be used again with a little tweaking. This is also jolly useful when you come to edit and discover one scene is in too early but would work later on ;) So when I'm working on a book I'll have three word doc files open - one with the story in it - one for edits - and one with the collage I made in it...
Next up I should mention I very rarely if ever go over word count in a first draft. So if a scene gets deleted it better have been from the *allow myself to write twaddle to get through the slump* stage of creation and it will then be replaced with something that makes more sense ;) Then I ask myself the usual questions:
1/ Does it reveal anything about the characters?

2/ Does it reveal anything about the characters that could have been revealed somewhere else by simple inner pov or through a conversation with a secondary character?

3/ Does it move the story forwards?

4/ Does it show a development in the relationship?

5/ Does it follow on correctly from the last scene or is it too much of a leap?

6/ Can it be shortened to do the exact same thing in 2k it had previously done in 4???

I work the whole way through the MS following those basic rules and then I remove the usual b-a-d-Trishism's which tend to be too many sentences starting with 'And' - the word AGAIN - and the word THAT which should be removed from the flipping English dictionary imho - oh and in times of crisis when close to upper limit word count we make all can not's into can'ts and do not's into don'ts etc etc etc...

That's PRE-read by lovely editor. THEN POST- read come the revision notes and we edit and revise at the same time which is a different process. THIS is where I will often feel physical pain and cringe and grit my teeth lots and force myself to let go of some things. Mind you - sometimes I love them soooooooo much I merely get creative ;) Either way I know my lovely ed is on the side of the best book so I do what has to be done. Hiding doesn't get it done at this point. I know. I've tried.

So now I will have four word files open when I work - the initial three plus one with the revisions bullet points which I high-light as I complete, working through from beginning to end so the book still makes sense. In theory. This is especially important if part of the revisions involve me removing a thread that runs the whole way through the darn book - which happens with me. Trust me again.
Nooowwww if the scene's gotta go its gotta go. But sometimes, when in your heart of hearts you know it matters you've just gotta sit down and have an ikkle think about how you can make it work with the revision notes. This can be tough when you're a newbie, but without tempting fate on my next set of revisions I do think your instincts improve a little as you get some experience under your belt. That's not to say you won't still get it wrong... Lemme give you an example of the bad and the good for me in the last two books I worked on - in Gabe's book Claimed By The Billionaire Bad Boy I had a scene where they made out on a swing (heads outta the gutter ladies they were childhood friends so it was symbolic - okay!!!) and in the re-write it got cut - much as it killed me. But on the revisions of the re-write my lovely ed suggested it go back in and she was BANG ON (which somewhat irritatingly she always is I should add) with a little tweaking - which naturally I was GLAD to do! But in my last Romance book we just sold - The Millionaire's Proposal - we had a scene she suggested could go that I kinda loved lots so I had to find a way to make it work so I could sneak it past... and with a look at her revision notes I GOT IT... aha! Ahahahahaha!!!
So we live and learn Jackie and the short answer would have been YES...but you've *met me*...
More answers from Ask Trish Almost Anything coming up... and you can still keep 'em coming if you like. Meanwhile I'm almost finished with competition winner Janet's partial and it's going GREAT and I have a collage and soundtrack made for my next Romance so I'm good to go soon as I *hopefully* get the nod on the prop from my lovely Ed... ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

No Not Here...


I'm over HERE today...
Where I'm blogging about Romance in the 21st Century. Come play. Make it look like I have friends... ;)
More answers to Ask Trish Almost Anything tomorrow...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ask Trish Almost Anything Pt3


Dear Trish,

Do you have a set goal for how many words you write per day? Do you have certain time of day? Any good luck charms?

As for Ireland, just from my observation on the other side of the pond it seems to have changed a lot in the last twenty years or so (from a place of economic struggle to a financial powerhouse). Would you say that's true or is that just a perception held by other countries? And if it has changed, how has that changed other things about it? Of course, you can always get out of this one by saying you are too young to write about the last twenty years!

Oooh, and how do you your heroes? You seem to create heroes that are nice guys (which I like!) and still have conflict. I've tried that and it is hard.

Jill

Dear Jill,

First up - HELLO!!! Welcome to the INSANITY known as my Blog... Now - wordcount target - yes, I do. Though whether or not I stick to it is something else entirely. I'm a 'runfaster as the finish line approaches' kinda gal - A sprinter rather than a marathon runner. A thrive on pressure so I get a chance to complain about it rather than a get off my lazy ass and stop procrastinating kinda writer. BUT in my defense I've learned I get better work that way...

Because when faced with a looming deadline I'm forced to completely exist inside the world I've created. Yup, laundry, dishes, seeing friends, answering the phone, leaving the house for anything more than the absolute necessities all become things of my dim and distant past for roughly a fortnight coming up to deadline. The characters become my one and only focus - like Ray-Anne I hear them speaking - as I live alone I have the luxury of sometimes speaking their conversations aloud - basically there is nothing beyond the world I'm in in my head. What I DO do is work out how many days I have left, divide it into the number of words I have left to hit target and aim to get at least darn close before I can't keep my eyes open anymore... maybe not as professional as some but another thing I've learnt over the years is I'm not good with too much *structure* (outside of the story itself that is). Guess that's why I'm such a committed panster ;) And why my recent *outside the box* writing experience was so - erm - exhilarating for me...


As to good luck charms. LOL. Cannot BELIEVE I'm fessing up to this - I have a blue/green agate stone I got in Cyprus a couple of years ago... which supposedly helps generate *creativity* and clear thought...And if times get rough I keep it in my pocket when I write so I can *feel it* while I think. It's smooth, okay?!? Kinda my version of worry beads - and hey - if some of that creativity does indeed rub off on me then ALL THE BETTER...Currently it's on the book shelf where I keep all the copies of my own books from all the countries they've gone to and two other stones I got from Cyprus... from the beach at Aphrodite's Rock... sentimental, me? NAH...

Now Ireland. Hmmm. It's so tough to visit this question from my end of the country without touching on the biggest change there's been in the last 20 years. Unfortunately I AM old enough to comment. Darnnit! But rather than get into ANY politics about it I'll focus on the town where I was born and grew up to highlight the kind of changes I've noticed...

I was born and reared as we like to say here, in Lisburn, (NOT at the time of this b&w pic I should point out...oh and these pictures are of the SAME street btw...) which is about a half hour by car from Belfast. And I grew up during the troubles. The only reason I moved away from the town in the end was that it was getting so built up and as I was working with horses by then and not a commuter-career-gal anymore it made sense to be somewhere greener. Horses tend to do better with a little more of the green stuff ;) But when I left Lisburn it was already a growing town and now it has City status. Over here to gain that accolade you have to at least have a Cathedral but even without that obvious tick on the criteria list it was growing soooooo fast it was only a matter of time. (we have very few places with City status in Ireland and to give you an idea I discovered this summer that there are more Irish people in New York than there are on the entire island of Ireland!) And in the north of Ireland the end of the troubles has created a MASSIVE growth. For a long time, understandably, it wasn't a *safe* investment to bring business to but with peace came a huuuugggeeeee marketplace and a workforce amongst the best educated in the UK (schools don't do the same league tables and the like as on the UK mainland and are regularly amongst the top ten scoring schools in exams). It's been amazing to watch, uplifting in fact and frankly - if you don't go somewhere for a couple of months and then return the chances are you'll find new houses, massive shopping centres, new roads and new businesses popping up all over the place. It's INCREDIBLY fast and VERY dynamic...

Amongst the great memories I have, yes I do have memories of the house I lived in shaking when a bomb went off in the centre of the town I was about to go into. And yes we did live with security checks and bomb scares and searches as we went in and out of shops and all the associated problems of the troubles but if there is one thing about the people here it's their ability to look to the future and to begin the walk up that slow road towards putting the past behind them. For me it shows that people have great spirit and heart - which let's face it is what Ireland is most famous for ;) The heart of the north is just a little bit bruised...but it's healing...

But the beauty of Ireland as a whole is it has that gorgeous mix of old and new. The very very lovely Sandra Marton asked me at the RWA Conference in Dallas this summer if I had to use just one word to describe the island of Ireland, what would I use? And my answer was pretty immediate: WISTFUL. Even with all the changes and modern life creeping it's way into the countryside the island retains a sense of history and beauty it's hard to compare to anywhere else on the globe. We have fairy rings and dolmens and ancient forts side by side with hi-tech companies and motorways buzzing with goods being transported from one end of the country to the other. We have traditional music playing in pubs and on the streets and huge outdoor concerts where thousands will gather for rock concerts. We have poets and artists and writers (Anne McCaffrey and Cecilia Ahearn and Maeve Binchy to name but a few of the internationally famous names) - some writers and poets still living on little islands and rural communities - some still writing in the traditional gaelic... And at the same time we have a thriving film industry (one which M&B's very own very lovely Abby Green is a part of...) that brings the likes of The Tudors actors Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Jeremy Northam and PS I Love You actors Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Gerard Butler all here to mix and mingle with the locals for a pint or two of an evening - I mean really, for such a small island with such a small population, we ain't doing too bad are we???

Yes Jill I'd have to say we're becoming a bit of a powerhouse in our own wee way!!!

But d'ya know one of the best things about Ireland on top of all that? It's the QUALITY OF LIFE. People here make time to wind down and family is still MASSIVELY important. We enjoy the countryside around us - here in Fermanagh for instance it's the norm to go sailing or horse riding or walking through the woods; people regularly take a ferry to small islands on the lakes to have Sunday lunches - long rows of cars honk their horns as they drive through villages with flags draped out the windows on their way to Gaelic matches... Work hard and play lots 'cos otherwise what's the point in all that working??? But one thing I've noticed in any of the cities I've visited away from home is that there isn't quite the same balance, you know? I guess it's one of the many, many, MANY reasons why I love home so much!!! And why I love to set so many of my stories at home too ;) See, you've started me now. I LOVE where I live!

Now HEROES. One of my all time other favourite subjects. And one I like to feel I've studied fairly intensively...

For me, no matter what, they HAVE to have that 'nice guy' honourable core to them. No matter what they may do to annoy or rile or make the heroine crazy, we have to believe he deserves her at the end of the day. For me a big part of them is always a healthy sense of humour - because the way to a man's heart may be said to be through his stomach but for me, the way to get round the most resistant of heroines is to make her laugh - even when she doesn't want to. So sense of humour has to be in there. Then there's inner strength. We all like a guy whose strong enough to *step up to the plate* and take charge when he needs to - even if the heroine feels she can do it alone - and especially if you have a strong heroine. 'Cos I mean that's pretty gosh darned sexy isn't it???One that's successful at what he does for a living is automatically sexy, one that perseveres despite the odds to get what he wants is sexy, one that can - even after one hell of a fight - admit to being wrong is uber sexy too, right?

So how do we make him this wonderful guy and still give him conflict??? For me it comes down to one thing most of the time; Male Pride.

Most of my heroes have one weakness, and that naturally is the heroine. But are they likely to admit to that? Are they HELL. They'll try justifying it or quantifying it or believing the attraction will pass and nine times out of ten they'll be battling with themselves in some way over what they WANT as opposed to what they NEED. And ultimately that need is the heroine by their side. Does that make sense???

There's nothing I love more than a heroine who can confound a hero, mess with his logic and firmly held beliefs and his head quite frankly - and vice versa from hero to heroine. I love seeing them work their way through misconceptions and doubts and outside obstacles to get to the point where they have that lightbulb moment. And for me a lot of that will come from the *Venus and Mars* theory of thinking. Men just don't think like women do and I think most of my heroes suffer because of it. So it all comes from INSIDE THEM if that makes sense. Inside their heads most of all...

If that DOESN'T make sense then feel free to ask me more on it and I'll see if I can pin it down a little more. Scary thought though... bit like messing with the fairy dust ;) Hope that all helps Jill and THANKYOU SO MUCH for popping in!!! GREAT questions!!!

And remember gang we're still working our way through the Ask Trish Almost Anything questions so more coming your way next time...