Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hooray For Hollywood!


I hope.

We're back outside the box again. Actually that's a bit too blase. Let me try and explain it better. I said to Natasha that when I was first invited to think outside the box I was nervous and excited at the same time. I'd gotten quite settled inside the box. Had it all done up nice and cozy. Even remembered to cut air holes in the lid just in the nick of time...

Then outside the box became an adventure. I wrote what I now lovingly refer to as the blind boy book. (Nothing if not irreverent me.) I LIKED IT outside the box. Heck I could barely see the box anymore.

During the book from hell I WANTED my box back. Thanks anyway. Where in heck was it? I knew I'd left it somewhere. But nope, couldn't find it...

For a while I completely lost the box. Now many people would say this is nothing new. If you've met me you'll know what they mean by that... So when pitching a new story to my very lovely editor I went for it. Threw caution to the wind. Closed my eyes and grimaced when pressing send on the email. And waited to be handed back the box. Possibly with a nice new ribbon. (cos they're genuinely lovely that way in the London offices. Ask anyone.)

I guess the the devil on my shoulder has decided to see just how far I can THROW the box. Hey - you don't know till you try, right? I mean, I've gained like a squillion (patent still pending on that word btw but I'm claiming it as MINE - remind me sometime and I'll explain why) pounds since I took up this writing full time thing so I don't need to eat. Ever again.

So I pitched a pair of screenwriters. And a movies/Hollywood backdrop. Oh, and a small child.

Then I waited to be hit over the head with the box.

Imagine my surprise.

Okay in fairness the small child would seem to have got lost somewhere in the ether of email-land but small children wander so it's her own fault. And I'm quite relieved truth be told. I always find it ironic when I - the one single gal writing for romance with NO children - end up with kids or pregnancies in a book. Still, just goes to prove I can write FICTION. And in fairness I do have a great deal of experience with O.P.Kids. The best kind. The ones you get to hand back when you've shaken them into a sugar fueled frenzy. I LOVE those kids. Their parents aren't always fond of me after the fact but there's a price to pay for every small pleasure in life, right?

Anyhoos. Not only do I get to keep my screenwriters. I get them in Hollywood and LA and Malibu avec stunning beach house. I even got invited to play with the red carpet if I could slot it in. And having had a moment or two when I came off the phone and blinked into the middle distance in surprise. I will admit I got quite excited. And then nervous. And then excited again. Then I had a small panic. And ate a cream cake in case the never being able to afford food again thing happened.

If I can't pull this off I think I may be NAILED inside the box. If I can? Well... I may hold a blog comments challenge to see what I CAN get away with while I'm out here. I can trust you guys not to ask me to pitch a billionaire seven foot three alien who owns his own galaxy far, far away, right???

So here we have my new hero and heroine. Meet Nessa Malone and Will Ryan, former screen-writing partners locked into a three movie deal they never thought they'd have to complete part three of. But what film two didn't make at the box office it made on the back end (see I'm learning the lingo already) and now they have to produce a script. Like yesterday. Just a shame they had a bad break up really. Oh yeah, and that their fictional counterparts are reflections of themselves...

Now I'm off back to sunny California with my working title of He Said, She Said. The outside the box book due before I get on a plane and go to...erm... sunny California... There's something in there about life imitating art or art imitating life or art imitating life imitating art. Possibly wishful thinking on the last one. If I do find myself a single script writer who looks like David Boreanaz and lives in a Malibu beach house while I'm in California I may never be heard from again. Just know I'll be happy.

Very very happy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just For Writer's...

This is one of these little clips that people who have never thought about writing a book might not understand the humour of... I find it HILARIOUS and so true in places... But what do YOU think? Anything sound at all familiar???

And I'm comfortably settled into the new Romance - will come back and tell you a little about my first every Hollywood story. Am having SO much fun with the research I tell ya! Rodeo Drive, Malibu beach and red carpets anyone???


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Then Along Came Adam...


So having struggled so badly with the book from hell you can understand how desperate I was for one that went a little more smoothly... and in the hopes of finding one I pulled out every trick in my bag...

Yes, I went LOOKING for the FAIRY DUST.

Now this is risky, cos fairy dust is an intangible. It's the one thing writers have no control over but we're ETERNALLY GRATEFUL for when it arrives! Trying to summon it on purpose was a bit like messing with the magic. But I HAD TO try SOMETHING.

So I looked back to books where the fairy dust had magically arrived before and tried to recreate what I'd done to help it along. With His Mistress: His Terms I collaged and went deep into background detail so this time I did the latter AND I went from collaging to story-boarding for the first time to up the ante. So instead of a single collage I had one for each scene. I'm a 'visual' writer so having little things to look at for each scene helped make it more real... I HOPED. And yes, I did another soundtrack... this one very very carefully selected with songs that had lyrics I could use and a real movie-like feel...

Then I thought about the fantasy/escapism element of it. Tried and true themes that have always fascinated me in both books and film. I really wanted something I could sink my teeth into and have FUN with. And while *casting* my hero I tripped over the theme of brothers, so I knew I wanted that to be a part of it too...

Once I had my hero pretty well nailed down I started to think about my heroine. (I've been finding these more and more difficult of late so I have to be careful with them.) I knew if I had brothers it would add to the problems if she was closer to one of them and got caught in the middle of an old feud. I knew if my hero was uber-sexy then adding a fairly inexperienced heroine would add to the conflict. I also knew that if he was a drifter and she was a homebody it would make things more difficult. So my heroine started to take shape...

Then it was time to look at setting. I knew I wanted this to be an American set book and family to stretch my wings some and get me out of any 'rut' I might have got into so originally I thought The Hamptons - rich, beautiful, close to New York which I already knew... Then again I thought fantasy land and fairy dust. The setting that gave me the most fairy dust in the past was the island in Bride Of The Emerald Isle so I started thinking islands. Closest island to The Hamptons? Martha's Vineyard. Google the Vineyard and not only did I get the kind of fantasy setting I'd been looking for I also got a glorious picture of a wooden walkway onto a beach.

Suddenly I could see my hero on that beach. In moonlight for some reason. And erm... skinny dipping...

How's THAT for an opening scene???

But once I had that scene in my head and everything else pretty firmly nailed down thanks to a brainstorming session with my buddies Donna Alward and Natasha Oakley online via MSN this book really started to take on a life of it's own. And finally... FINALLY... I started to remember what it is I LOVE about this job. Because the hero of this book my friends? OH-MY-GOD. I'm not kidding, he really does make Gabe look like a pussy cat.

I named him Adam because my third book had a hero called Adam and I really do think that book gave me my first taster of fairy dust. Not that I knew that or probably appreciated it enough at the time. But naming this hero Adam was possibly another way of searching for the magic - every trick, remember? And I knew when I did my short story for The Sun that I wasn't done with Jake so Adam is Jake's brother - his half-brother - the eldest son - and the black sheep of the family. Oh and just to keep things straight, this story is a prequel to the short story in The Sun...

From the second my heroine found a naked Adonis on the beach in the moonlight Adam Bryant had uber-sexy written all over him. He's an alpha hero with a capital A. He's smart and when I say smart he's S-M-A-R-T like genius level IQ smart; quoting the likes of Voltaire and Kerouac at seemingly random points in the conversation. I could just go on and on and on about how much I loved him by the end of this book, TRUST ME, but instead I'll give you a small taster of how very very sexy he is by directing you to a small excerpt of One Night With The Rebel Billionaire on my website (just click on the title)

I can tell you that the title is PERFECT for this book and that the main story happens inside a time frame of four days. Yup. Four days. Can two people fall in love inside four days and solve over a decades worth of family problems at the same time??? Ah now... that'd be telling...

But I CAN tell you that every single one of these pics is relevant to a scene in the book if that helps. Oh and that all the leather wrist bands and the ring you can see him wearing are also relevant to the story. And that Jensen Ackle's portrayal of Dean Winchester had quite an effect on some of the dialogue... Suffice it to say - my fairy dust was back. THANK HEAVENS!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chaos And Creativity versus Expectations


Now there's a heading for ya!!!

Before I get started I better get some business out of the way... I'm over at The Pink Heart Society on Monday with a gorgeous lump of hero inspiration emailed to me for the Hero Database by Sally - so THANKS SALLY for sharing!!! What a GIFT of a guy! My muse is having a field day with him!

What I want to know from my so called friends across the pond is - WHY WAS HE NEVER POINTED OUT TO ME BEFORE??? Huh? I tell ya - you think you have friends...

Next up my very very good friend Donna Alward has been driving clean across Canada with her family as they relocate to a new home and a new life so I'm hosting a cyber House Warming Party for them over at Donna's Blog - PLEASE STOP BY and join us in making them all feel welcome and wishing them well! I've moved house more times than I care to admit in my life but I've never done it clean across a continent or with two children in tow so I'm HUGELY in awe of their achievement and I'm sending them a gazillion hugs and kisses and best wishes for their brand new life - HOW EXCITING!

And last but not least for those of you who've been patiently waiting to see who won a copy of Gabe's book Claimed By The Billionaire Bad Boy over at Tote's, Bags N Blogs... drumroll please... It's Cheri2628!!! I'm posting this over at Totes too - so just drop me an email with your addy through my Website Cheri and I'll get the book in the post... I hope you enjoy it!

Now... about the title of this blog... and having waited this long to do this post I should warn you - it's gonna be War And Peace... But if you've read the posts I did at both Totes and The Pink Heart Society (links in the two posts beneath this one) then you'll know this year hasn't been the easiest in the world for me. The very fact this blog has been so quiet pretty much says it all if you're a regular visitor! The bottom line is, I think, that this year writing became much more of a job for me than it ever was before. Now don't get me wrong I still LOVE what I do and I wouldn't change it for the WORLD!!! B-U-T this year I've had to step up my game a tad and learn to cope with a million other things I hadn't had to do before.

It's made me feel distinctly like a shadow of my former self... and honestly? A little lost and unsure at times... SO I've been a little low... There. Brutal honesty. Well - it's what we agreed on, right???

So here's how it's gone so far in my experience. First step you go through is that glorious first sale. It's the MOST THRILLING experience ever!!! And then you get to struggle through your first pineapple and see your first book on the shelf and hit a high again and then start doing things online so that your poor brain gets tied up in knots over things like HTML code and rights and how much promotion to pay for/do and updates and yada yada yada...

This blog has followed most of those stages. The good and the bad. Some days with humour... some days? Not so much.

But THIS YEAR I hit a slump like no other in my writing while trying to step into the public eye at the same time as part of the Mills And Boon Centenary celebrations. Now don't get me wrong - the latter I've had a BLAST with and I still have plenty of it to go - BELIEVE ME. But there were times when I felt like a complete fraud. Here I am standing handing out advice and tips to people while back in the cave I'm struggling to write ANYTHING that isn't complete and utter twaddle.

I really genuinely did think I'd burnt out and I was DEVASTATED by that thought. Cos having wanted this to be my life for so long, the thought of losing it was horrific. (I'd be one of those better never to have had the dream than to have it and lose it gals) There's never been a time I haven't written or been imagining stories or daydreaming or fantasizing. It's kinda like breathing in and out for me. I guess that's why becoming a writer some day always felt like such a certainty to me. And I'm one of the luckier ones - I know that - there are people out there who have to study and learn and refine for YEARS to master their craft and I always feel like I kinda fell into it. Therein possibly lies one of my problems.... I'm constantly waiting for the luck to run out/the other foot to fall/the moment when everyone discovers what a fraud I've been by not serving my time...?!

So this year started out GREAT. I'd handed in what I consider to be one of the best things I've ever written in the form of The Millionaire's Proposal , I had my fairy dust book His Mistress: His Terms out on the shelf and strong books to come in February, May and September and I was scheduled to have not one but TWO Modern Heats go to the States as Presents titles. I was flying high. All my hard work from the year before was starting to come together I thought. PLUS I'd had my proposal for my new Romance line book approved and was all set to get going with all my usual background work done. Not a problem.

Now... I've known for a long time that when it comes to writing a book I do my best work when I lock myself away and write it by taking a run at it. It's why word count wars and tight deadlines work for me. That way I keep going when the words are there - I can get up to eight or nine thousands words done if I go without sleep - yes, SERIOUSLY. I'm convinced what does it is that for that period of time I'm completely absorbed in the world I've created and the people that live there. I AM them. The next thing they do and say comes pretty fluidly cos I'm literally living it. And the only time I'm NOT living it is when I can't stay awake anymore... This does mean that while I'm writing I'm a recluse and the rest of my world goes to crap but everyone eventually finds what works for them and flies with it, right? Right.

Then came the public appearances stuff. And again - I'm not saying I don't love this cos I do! BUT when it came mid-book it lifted me out of the world I was living in. And it's not even the one day that it lifts you out I've found... there's the days to go get your hair done in preparation... the clearing the decks with animal chores... the choosing clothes... the traveling back and forth... the phone calls and interviews over the phone... the scheduling of it all... AND the twenty-four to forty eight hours of nervous energy before you do what you're going to do and all the hours afterwards when you cringe at the things you said or did that you think you could have done better. THEN you need at least a day to get back into the imaginary world you were in... At this point I should maybe point out that in February (which was a short month to begin with) I had the only flipping Valentine title on the shelf in Centenary year which made me PR gold apparently ;) So on top of what I was already doing I had - wait for it - preparation for my first ever workshop in Dublin, the short story for The Sun newspaper, four newspaper interviews, three radio interviews, a trip to London for the launch party, a piece on camera for the BBC and a LIVE TV appearance... oh and my usual guest blogs all over the place...ALL while trying to write a book...

It was an AMAZING MONTH. I did things I could only have DREAMED OF when I was thinking about life as a full time writer. I was meeting INCREDIBLE PEOPLE. A great many struggling writers in the world would have chewed off an arm for all that free promotion and I knew that. I considered myself VERY FORTUNATE. But...

I discovered it was creative suicide.

You see I had naively thought during my writing journey that all that kind of work was something that didn't happen in the UK as much as it does in the States. In fact if you had asked me about it in November or December of last year I would have STILL said that. BUT this year is soooooooo important - it's the kind of milestone I'll never see again and I'm very very blessed to be part of that history and the legacy left behind by generation after generation of writers. And like I've said a few times I LOVE what I do - so to be able to share that with people and get the message out there that we're not writing formulaic trash with heroes capable of raping heroines was way way way too good an opportunity to miss!!! I will continue to do it for as long as humanly possible. I'll drag that good old soap box of mine out at the drop of a hat - you guys KNOW that. I will NEVER EVER not speak to someone who has been kind enough to come say hello to me - it's just not in me. And when it comes to encouraging people to read more and to never give up on their writing... well... I'll do it with my last breath quite frankly. So there.

BUT there comes a point when you do have to strike a balance between your writing and everything else. And bottom line - the writing has to come first. Without it - nothing else exists to begin with, right? And having talked to other writers about it this year I can tell you I'm not the only one who has been coming to this conclusion...

All I know is - had I been locked away in the cave with the book I was working on I would probably have still had problems. I'd been working and working and working for months on end as it was. And pushing myself more and trying to learn more and do more when it came to my writing. I think that's a very natural thing. We ALL experience it after we have a few books under our belt. We WANT to get better - for our readers as much as for ourselves. So I guess I had been heading for a melt down for a while. All the other stuff, well, it just kinda magnified the problem when I couldn't settle myself back into my imaginary world.

So for a couple of months, particularly the last few weeks - I suffered like I had NEVER suffered before. I wept over my keyboard on a daily basis. I slept to Olympic standards and we all know that not only is that not me; it's also a clear indicator of depression. By the time I finished the damn book I HATED IT. I didn't CARE if they lived happily ever after and that broke my heart, cos I LOVED these two and the premise of their story... It could have been sooooo much fun. And it WASN'T.

That's when the meltdown went nuclear my friends. Thats when I backed out of not only guest blogs, but this blog and pretty much ANYTHING ELSE that would take me away from my writing. And even when it was over and the book was done and dusted I not only had to accept the fact that it's not my best work ever and just let it go at that... I also had to drag myself out of the pit of despair and come up with ANOTHER ONE. On a SHORT DEADLINE cos the one before it took so much longer than it should have done. Yuh huh - welcome to life as a professional writer...

I can tell myself if it was easy everyone would be doing it... but I won't. Cos to me that's a cop out. See I think we all have to face what I've faced this year at some point. There are probably hundreds of writers out there who can pop in and tell me this won't be the last time I go through this. (please feel free not to do that btw) And I can tell you I'm stronger for the fact that after the book from HELL I had one that was HEAVEN and so HOT it overheated my laptop on a daily basis... But thanks to you guys and your support I can now tell you that the whole smiling from the wrist thing online? REALLY DOESN'T WORK FOR ME.

So get thee out of the wood work and share the angst!!! If I hadn't gone public with this and talked it through with writing buddies then I honestly think there was a point where I would have thrown in the towel and quit. I'd have HATED myself for doing it but I know me and I've always been a walker. I'm also a life's too short gal you see. So when things got particularly bad in jobs I had before and I couldn't cope I walked. Does mean I have a knack for rebuilding my life and I have plenty of life experience for someone my age but there does come a point where I think you have to slug it out. And luckily for me and the rest of us the romance writing community is THE MOST SUPPORTIVE on the web!!! So there's no reason to be locked in a garret suffering alone the way generations of writers did before us. And I do think new writers starting out and people trying to get into the writing game should be aware that as fantastic and wonderful and magical as this world is - it can also be soul destroying at times. There'll be days when you just can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, when words won't come no matter how hard you try to force them, when you look at what everyone else is doing and feel completely inferior, when you worry about being dropped and unable to pay for basic things like food...

You're not alone!

So if you've been having a tough time then I hearby declare this blog OPEN HOUSE for angst. Whether you're published or unpublished or just someone with stuff thats getting you down in real life then come on in and pull up a chair. I'll even bully some of my online friends into handing out any tips or advice they have from going through similar experiences - how's that sound??? Cos let's be honest here - I'm not the fountain of all knowledge - I'm still learning myself. But if we all share what we know then we're STRONGER FOR IT - right?!

Plus sharing means I know I'm not losing it...

Next time I'll tell you about the book that renewed my enthusiasm... and the hero that makes Gabe look like a PUSSYCAT. I jest you not...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Talking about Writer's Block...

Yes, am gearing up to talking about the book from hell experience earlier this year. Having talked about Fairy Dust over at Totes (see last post) today I'm over at The Pink Heart Society giving you some of my solutions to Writer's Block. So if you're stuck or you feel the Crows Of Doubt circling or you're just about ready to throw in the towel - STOP - and GET THEE THERE!!!