Friday, January 30, 2009

Bad Writing and Why It IRKS ME! (A long Rant)


I don't tend to blog on here about my Superman/Smallville obsession because:

a/ You'll all find out how much of a geek I am...

and

b/ I'd probably bore you senseless...

But since this is my blog and you all know how much I like a good rant from time to time, I'm about to go off on one...

Hold onto your hats. Baton down the hatches. Cover the children's ears. I'm mad!!!

Here's the thing. I'm a full time writer. I spend hours, days, weeks, months and years working at my craft and sweating - if not blood - then plenty of tears to try and do the best work I possibly can. Maybe it's a pride thing. I like to think a good chunk of it is being a PROFESSIONAL. And when I look at other forms of writing or I watch a Movie or TV show I automatically look at the writing. It's an occupational hazard. And it's a VERY RARE THING that I will come out and be overly-critical about someone else's writing. But when that writing is on a subject I care passionately about, I have to.

And this is where the romance fan/writer in me will show when it comes to Superman. To this day I will credit my early introduction to Superman as being the first stepping stone to where I am now. I love things like Pride & Prejudice and Titanic and Sleepless In Seattle and Moonlighting (with Maddie and David) and even the Little Mermaid. I LOVE a good romance. I also like sci-fi and thrillers and documentaries and autoboigraphies, so I like to consider myself fairly well balanced, all things considered... But Superman, along with the flying around and being a hero and everything else, had something that captured my imagination and I completely fell in love with...

So I ask you, my random blog reader at the keyboard (and innocent bystander) - tell me this - Who is the love of Superman/Clark Kent's life?

I can wait a minute... And don't be put off by the promotional poster you can see here either cos the person that replaced the woman I'm thinking of? ISN'T EVEN IN IT.

Okay. For ME it's Lois Lane. (that would be the woman standing beside Clark Kent at the front of this poster by the way!) They go together like Romeo and Juliet, Lizzie and Darcy, Maddie and David, and Jack and Rose as far as I'm concerned. And there are certain things about the legendary 70 year love story of Lois Lane and Clark Kent that are as ingrained in me as the need to breathe. One of them is the Daily Planet. It's hallowed Clark Kent/Lois Lane ground. Clark Kent or Superman kisses or flies with someone off the roof of the Daily Planet and who do you think that gal is? Uh-huh.

Now I want you to take Romeo and Juliet, Lizzie and Darcy, Maddie and David and Jack and Rose or any other couple in the annals of all time whose love story has meant something to you or touched your heart and I want you to have those men end up with ANOTHER WOMAN as the love of their life. How do you feel about that? Can you imagine any writer anywhere on the face of the planet taking that on and trying to sell it to the masses? A different journey is one thing, re-writing a story that means something to hundreds of thousands - if not millions of people - to the point where it's unrecognizable and you're made to feel the heroine is a poor second choice or worse still a rebound?! It just AMAZES ME that ANY WRITER can do that and look at themself in the mirror in the morning.

Last night on Smallville, that's exactly what they did. They took a young Clark Kent and his first love Lana Lang and they placed them on the roof of the Daily Planet. They had them kiss. They had the camera pan out to reveal a dramatic sunset and the Daily Planet globe recognizable to Superman fans all over the world. It was epic. It was beautifully shot. It was one hell of a closing scene. IT WAS THE WRONG GIRL. And from what I can glean from the internet and upcoming episodes, next week they will have the equivalent of 'Super-sex' and then for an EXTERNAL reason, Lana Lang will be unable to be with Clark Kent and we'll have a tearful farewell as he is FORCED to let go of the woman he loves. All very tragic and epic and everything but guess what - *insert my manic laughter at this point* - three episodes later? HE WILL HAVE FALLEN FOR LOIS LANE!!!

Seriously - and I'm about to swear here, so turn away if you need to - Who writes this shit???

When I attended Blake Snyder's talk in San Francisco last summer, he talked about how Hollywood could learn a lot from the romance writing community. We know what we're doing. We specialize in our field. Hollywood is hit and miss at best when it comes to romance on film. And I get that 97% of romance on TV can be mind-numbing melodrama riddled with triangles and affairs and any number of a gazillion other things to get mindless suckers like me to tune in. But the people on Smallville aren't just writing for the suckers, they have a great legacy and history in their care. And last night and with what they appear to be doing in the very near future - that legacy (or certainly the romantic part of it I hold dear) - is NOT in safe or RESPECTFUL hands. I've honestly never been more angry or upset in all my born days.

So from one writer to another, whether they choose to look down their noses at what I do or not, I say this: HAVE SOME RESPECT! Don't take something that meant so much to so many people for so many years and crap over even the smallest part of it. Do what you want to reimagine the story and put your stamp creatively on something that's been handed down from one generation to another - by all means do. But don't PURPOSEFULLY crush the hero and a love story that has so much meaning along the way! Seriously? The guy who will one day be SUPERMAN cares so little about a woman's feelings that he'll sleep with one and then turn around and move on to the next?! ARE. YOU. INSANE?! How the hell is that an epic love story?! How in hell is that a HERO?! If you can't write it with the due respect it deserves, you know what? LEAVE IT THE HELL ALONE. Go write someone elses story. Re-tell it beyond all recognition but don't even THINK about touching such a dearly held part of the original. Dear lord - does a paycheck mean so much to you that you'll slap fans of one of the greatest love stories of all time in the face along the way?!

Here's the thing. I have the greatest respect in the world for my readers. Anyone who invests time and money reading one of my books is helping me not only to make a living, but to fulfill the dream I had of being a writer. Without my readers I'm just a gal who sits at a keyboard thinking up stories. Is it so much to expect the same thing as a viewer when it comes to a show I love and characters I love? I didn't think it was. Maybe I was wrong about that.

It makes me oh-so-very-glad that I do what I do. That by the last page of a romance novel you can believe those two people will stand side by side and get through anything together. That they fell in love and knew how much that meant and they were better and stronger people because of it. That the person they fell in love MEANT MORE TO THEM THAN ANYONE ELSE EVER HAD.

Meanwhile, if you're a Superman fan like me and you love the Lois Lane and Clark Kent love story, if I were you - for the foreseeable (and I'll let you know if things miraculously change) - I would stay the HELL AWAY from Smallville. And I'm saying that as a fan of the show. How sad is THAT?! Shame on them I say. Shame on DC Comics for letting them do it. And shame on WB who have a huge stake in both for letting it happen.

In the Smallville writers universe, Darcy probably married Lydia!

How would you guys feel about seeing a love story you adore re-written to this extent?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Suck At Synopses


A few posts back the lovely Nina in Ohio *waves at Nina* asked about the stuff I send to my editor when I'm pitching a book and I said I'd come back and post something on it. So here I am!

Now in fairness I should start out by saying I SUCK at synopses or synopiss as I like to call them. I always have a clear idea of what I want to do in a story before I set out but when it comes to describing it in a succinct manner or even explaining it out loud to someone - I suck nine year old lemons - and always end up saying (or typing) the words 'or something like that...' at the end.

Thankfully, when it came to the very first synopiss I sent with my partial to M&B the editors were good to their word and the very lovely Kate Paice (who plucked me from the slush pile) made her decision according to my writing in the three chapters. (Which just goes to prove your voice will win in the end) Now that's not to say people submitting to M&B shouldn't work on having as tight a synopiss as they can manage, but it just goes to show it isn't a deal-breaker. Kate requested the full manuscript based on my partial, and the rest, as they say - is history. And I wish I could say over the years my skill in this weak area has improved, but four editors later my current lovely Ed could tell you... they haven't.

Every editor is as individual as the writers they work with, so everyone will have a different way of dealing with the proposal for a new book. The one thing all published authors (or the vast majority of them that I'm aware of) have in common, is that we have to have an idea approved before we start. There are several reasons for this. One being that an editor needs to look at the books that are scheduled for a particular month to make sure they're not all the same thing. They don't want six office romances, or six Sheikhs, or six secret babies or six friends to lovers or whatever... they want a mix to appeal to as many readers as possible. So that's one reason. Another being the last thing any working writer wants, is to waste weeks on end writing a book that isn't gonna fit inside a particular line. Personally I'd rather spend time writing a book I might sell than one that will languish on my laptop until the end of time as we know it. But then since writing is my only means of income that's probably not surprising... Anything that I write outside of the guidelines for the lines I'm contracted for tends to be for fun or to help shake my muse loose. That's not to say at some stage I mightn't attempt something new to try and sell, but right now, the paying work takes precendence. And that's the way it should be for any professional writer.

Anyhoo. Keeping in mind that I suck at this, of late what I've been doing is sending my lovely editor a story and character outline (complete with pics and location info). From that we then have a brainstorm over the phone - she talks to me about the things that concern her or she would like to see tweaked or maybe a particular theme that editorial would like me to explore (like a mini-series they have planned for instance) - I try and explain things clearer if I haven't put my point across on paper - we throw out what won't work and then we have a right old giggle as we bounce ideas around. And the beauty of having an editor like mine is she always, ALWAYS brings something to the table that sets my imagination on fire. Lord but I love her for that! I'll then take that initial spark and put my own twist on it and run with it. She never forces me to write something I'm uncomfortable with (I think she tried to persuade me once and discovered the whining voice wasn't worth the effort) and she always has the utmost faith (even when I don't) that I know what I'm doing and can deliver a manuscript we can work on together to create something I'm proud to put my name to. I have to say, this is one of the absolute JOYS of working with the editorial team at M&B. They don't buy books - they INVEST IN WRITERS. And I'm living proof of that. Because believe me, in my pit of despair last year, my lovely editor literally held my hand and coached me through the bad times. She went WAY above and beyond the call of duty to stop me from throwing my hands in the air and giving up.

The number five has always been my lucky number. (I was born at 5.25 on the 5th) And my current editor is my 5th. Coincidence? I think not. Because in my opinion, some of my best work has been done with this editor...

So for the book I'm working on now, I sent four odd pages of info. (so much for the SHORT outline theory you had my lovely Blog readers!) Some of it was pictures and some of it bullet points. Like I said - I still suck at this. But my editor knows I do, I know I do, so we kinda work round it. And over the next couple of posts I'll add some more if you want to see them. (Should hopefully be interesting for some of you guys who followed the initial thought process on this one and helped me out with ideas and pics) And if this puts folks off buying the book when it (hopefully) comes out, I'm blaming Nina ;)

The Reluctant Billionaire (Working Title)
for the Modern heat/Presents line


Olivia Brannigan works for a corporate law firm in Manhattan. She’s a workaholic, over-achiever, ambitious young woman of twenty-seven, with her sights firmly set on the position of youngest ever partner at the firm where she works. To help speed up that process she sees an opportunity to win favour with her bosses by encouraging the new owner of Warren Enterprises to continue the contract his companies have with her firm. Not an easy job, especially when no-one has been able to pin down the new billionaire for long enough to get him to discuss the weather, never mind anything business orientated…

Olivia came from poor beginnings; the eldest of five children she was determined from an early age to make something of herself and escape Yonkers for the high life in Manhattan. She’s very smart but also has a tendency to want to fit in more than usual because of her background. She’s so eager to please and forward herself that she has great difficulty saying ‘no’ and is almost obsessive about things like neatness, her appearance and controlling her surroundings. It’s her meticulous attention to detail and taking on the picky little cases that no-one else wanted in the law firm she works for that have made her as successful as she is and Olivia avoids chaos in any way, shape or form. She’s basically a control freak, but it’s a shield and losing control or showing emotion in public or in front of a stranger would be her worst nightmare. Underneath it all she’s vulnerable, scared of losing everything she’s worked so hard for and fearful of emotions clouding her judgement.

But by controlling her environment and her emotions the way she does, Olivia is suppressing a big part of her personality. She has sacrificed some of the closeness with her family, fun with her friends and romantic relationships and although she has a growing awareness and regret of those things, she still sees them as being something she can regain further down the line when she has achieved her ambitions. It takes a brand new multi-billionaire who sees life completely differently from her to shake up her life, loosen her inhibitions and make her re-evaluate what she wants out of life.

Character Notes:
  • 27 yrs old, five foot eight, blonde, blue eyes.
  • Raised in Yonkers, New York – father works as a refuse collector, mom is a part-time waitress. Has three younger brothers and a younger sister.
  • Friends: Melody (columnist for a fashion magazine) and Eva (works in an alternative therapy store) – who share an apartment with her in the Lower East Side.
  • Highly intelligent and an over-achiever she was valedictorian at High School and went on to do seven years studying law with the aid of scholarships and part-time jobs. Although deeply in dept by the time she passed the bar exam she had her sights set on a high flying position in Manhattan and ended up at Wagner, Liebstrahm, Barker and DeLuise in their corporate law department. Heading up the Warren Enterprises account would put her on the radar for early partnership at the firm.
  • Although her family is close, her new life in Manhattan, her work schedule and her deliberate choice to detach herself from her upbringing – particularly to friends and work colleagues –has combined to cause a growing rift she feels guilty about. Despite the continued best efforts of her friends to encourage her to have fun, she isn’t much for going out and partying the way they do. Basically life outside of work is passing her by, and her constant need to ‘fit in’ where a part of her still doesn’t truly believe she belongs means she’s almost lost in the persona she has created. But she has a ten year plan and she tells herself if she sticks rigidly to it there’s still time to meet the right guy, settle down and have a couple of kids.
  • Has a secret love for classic black and white romance movies, a weakness for desserts she constantly battles in order to maintain her weight and has yet to experience anything even resembling the hype about sex her friend Melody writes about in her column.
  • (Over) Thinking type: thinks thoroughly through a situation, figures out the problem and takes control to bring about a solution. Makes decisions based on principles, not on feelings (though struggles with the feelings part sometimes). Is logical, objective and methodical.
  • Intuitive typeinterested in future possibilities. Dreams new visions, plans and ideas, plays hunches (but only if they’re carefully considered and measured up).
I'll do the part about my hero in the next blog...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My ITunes Addiction Is Growing

I'm placing ITunes right up there with Youtube on my internet Spawn of Satan addictions list. Music at my fingertips day or night? I hear a song I like and I can have it in a matter of seconds?! I can download episodes of Smallville!!! Dear god. How's a gal supposed to get anything done...

The least they could have done is make it complicated. But oh no.

Did I mention I got an IPod Nano for Christmas? No? It's LOVELY. It can hold about a bazillion songs and it's teeny and light and shiny and a very pretty shade of blue. I LOVE IT. And once I figure out how to make playlists with the Genius sidebar thingie whatsit I'll be able to take my little book soundtracks everywhere with me without lugging my laptop around. Mind you I took the IPod with me to Liverpool last week, and did it make it out of my bag once? Nope. Chatty one that niece number one of mine. Don't know which branch of the family she might have got that from. Oh and part of her first year course at University has a module on scriptwriting. Another writer in the family perchance? Not sure I need the competition. I wonder if she knows the meaning of the word procrastination yet. I could teach her about it. Heck, I could do a University module on the subject! Starting with ITunes.

So today I bought The Lakehouse soundtrack. Am listening to it now and it's GREAT. Just enough of a mix of songs and beautiful orchestral music to make it good to write to. Watched the Movie again last night because it happened to be on TV. Had forgotten how much I love that Movie. It's one of my favourites from the last few years. Another one being 27 Dresses. I'm a sucker for a bit of a romance on-screen from time to time, aren't you? I have quite the DVD collection now. And I consider romance Movies research. Just like I'm telling myself ITunes is a writing resource...

Heard any music lately I should go plundering ITunes for? How about my DVD collection - anything I should add to it?

Started my little online Writer's Workshop today. Really hope people find it useful. And the book is still at the very early stages but I'm remaining optimistic. So far. Oh and I got my internet fixed after it played up - AGAIN. If helpful little fairies would come clean my kitchen and clip my horse for me life would be pretty darn shiny right now...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Free Online Writing Workshop Avec Moi

Been a while since I've done a series of Writer's Tips blogs and gosh knows they were always popular. But as part of my shake things up scheme for 2009 I'm gonna do something a little bit different...

I'm gonna do a kind of mini Writer's Workshop online at my Friends Forum based around one of the books on writing that I've read recently. You see it occurred to me when reading this book based on fiction in general, that as good as it is - there are parts of it that needed to be translated some into romance writing terms. So what I've done is a series of 'lessons'/companion pieces, and at the end of each there's a little something for everyone to do and think about. A mini workshop! And it's FREE! All you gotta do is join the forum ;) This is a bit of an experiment for me, but if it proves successful I'll consider doing more online workshops in the future and we'll take it from there...

From now on all my workshops and writers tips will appear on the forum first, with links from the website next and some may eventually make it here onto the blog. We'll see how that goes for a while but for now I'd like to keep the blog for announcements and news and updates on what I'm working on and my thought process and - no doubt knowing me - the odd rant...


And to end on a high-note for those of you who have been helping my muse with inspiration for a new book and have been patiently waiting to see the result of the pitch I sent my lovely editor last week... I have NEWS!

THE LOVELY EDITOR FROM M&B - SHE SAY YES!

The Reluctant Billionaire (w/t) is good to go. In fact folks, I'm starting tomorrow. So I'll pop back in a few days to show you what I sent her about my characters and the story, and to let you know how I'm getting on and if any of the demons have come with me into the new year... CROSS YOUR FINGERS FOR ME THAT THEY HAVEN'T!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Place For My Friends

As part of my list of things I'm trying in 2009 I've put together what I call a Friends Forum, where we can all get together and chat about anything and everything and you can all talk amongst yourselves when I get buried in the deadline cave and the Blog gets quiet...

I'm still building it, but my dream would be that it's a fun place for everyone - sorta like coming to visit at my house ;) So if you wanna talk books or writing or TV Shows or DVD's or trips you're planning on taking or recipes or life in general then I really hope you'll sign up and get the ball rolling. It's gonna be pretty lonely in there without you, put it that way.

If it takes off then I hope to have writer friends pop in to act as hosts, I'll run workshops in there from time to time, you can talk freely to fellow unpublished writer's about how you're getting along. We can also swap hero and heroine pics or recommend reads or music to each other - you know the kind of thing. It's also where I'll be posting my newsletter from now on and the first place I'll announce any competitions I have coming up.

So if you wanna give me a hand making it comfy and getting it going please sign up and let's see what we can do with it... And if you have any ideas for it please yell!

You can sign up HERE.

Meanwhile... we're still awaiting word on the pitch... and I'm off to Liverpool with my neice to check out a potential University before the end of the week. I wonder if it's any warmer there than it is here.... Minus seven last night - BRRRR!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sssshhhh I Think It's Falling Into Place.

Well, tomorrow's the day we pitch my friends. So think good thoughts for me, won't you? I've tentatively given it the working title of The Reluctant Billionaire - for now - and our heroine is Olivia Brannigan, our hero Blake Clayton... Locations are Manhattan, The Hamptons, with possible (small) appearances of places like Yonkers and Queens.

And what I'm gonna take as a good sign is the fact that over the weekend I found the perfect song for this story. You know me and lyrics and the right song. Lemme know what you think and remember to cross your fingers for me. I'll come back and let you know how I got on...

Like A Star by Corinne Bailey Rae

Just like a star across my sky
Just like an angel off the page
You have appeared to my life
Feel like I'll never be the same
Just like a song in my heart
Just like oil on my hands
Only to love you

Still I wonder why it is
I don't argue like this
With anyone but you
We do it all the time
Blowing out my mind

You've got this look I can't describe
You make me feel I'm alive
When everything else is so fake
Without a doubt you're on my side
Heaven has been away too long
Can't find the words to write this song
Oh...
Your love

Still I wonder why it is
I don't argue like this
With anyone but you
We do it all the time
Blowing out my mind

Now I have come to understand
The way it is
It's not a secret any more
'Cause we've been through that before
From tonight I know that you're the only one
I've been confused and in the dark
Now I understand

I wonder why it is
I don't argue like this
With anyone but you
I wonder why it is
I wont let my guard down
For anyone but you

We do it all the time

Blowing out my mind

Just like a star across my sky
Just like an angel off the page
You have appeared to my life
Feel like I'll never be the same
Just like a song in my heart
Just like oil on my hands



Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Thought Process For A New Book...


Happy New Year Gang!!!


So now that 2008 and all it's bad karma is gone, it's time to look forward. Some of your ideas in the comments of the last post have really helped get my muse thinking again so a BIG THANK YOU for that! Am thinking an Idea Repository is a great idea for the future as there's more than one book in there ;) So I'll have a think about where to put it (stop sniggering in the cheap seats!) and meanwhile, if you have any more ideas, feel free to keep adding them...

Wanna see what I've got so far? Now keep in mind I have till Monday to put together a pitch or two... possibly three... and once I get one approved I have, erm, not very long to get the book written. Have I mentioned how much catching up I have to do? No? Alrighty. It's lots. Yes, let's just leave it at that for now... LOTS OF CATCHING UP TO DO. And I'll be honest. The ideas pulled out of a hat plan? That didn't go so well. Take a look at the comments in the last post, imagine the most difficult, most impossible, not gonna fit in any line I write for scenario - and you'll pretty much get what came out of the hat. So I've decided to be more pro-active.

And to prove I can still multi-task. I'm gonna demonstrate in this post how my mind works as I approach a new story. I'm gonna take little snippets from your comments and show you what my mind did with them and then once I have it more firmly nailed down, I'll put together a pitch for my editor and we'll see if it flies. Fingers crossed!

Right. First up, thanks to Trenda I have a heroine. Isn't she gorgeous? Doesn't she look like a sassy Modern Heat kind of a heroine? I wuv her! She just leapt off the screen and demanded I find a story for her, so that's a good start I felt! So now she needs a name. I'm thinking she looks like a Libby or a Lizzy or an Izzie... which would give her a posh name of Olivia or Elizabeth or Isabel - maybe even Isabella... What do you think?

Then thanks to Nina and her fabulous comment on the last post, I've taken:

"I love stories where the hero has a perception of the heroine and then is smacked in the face with a completely different facet of her."

And put it together with:

"Or the executive who likes his legal counsel's smarts..."

And:

"sexy meet - the heroine is all business - she's seems uptight and straightlaced...so imagine her boss' surprise when he gets a sexy text message from her - and her dismay when she realizes that she's accidentally sent her suggestions for a sexy weekend meant for her sister to her boss!"

And my muse decided she could be a corporate lawyer. A high flier. An over-achiever. The kind of ambitious gal with her gaze focussed firmly on a partnership at the law firm she works for. I've even (while typing this I might add, so consider this as hot off the presses - literally) thought of a reason for her to be such an over achiever. This gal is fighting to get away from her past, she's trying to launch herself into a much better life - see how my mind works? And then let's say this girl can have fun, but it doesn't look like it to my hero when he first meets her... And since he puts her back up and she sees him as being an obstacle of sorts... Yay! We have the beginnings of some conflict! This is starting to have possibilities!

I'm actually starting to like this one. Must remember not to get emotionally attached to it just yet. Just in case.

Now. Hero. I looked at several suggestions, went for a little browse through my hero database, but I'm gonna have to lay the blame for this choice squarely at the foot of the fact I've now watched The Dark Knight on DVD approximately 25 times. Young, smart, playboy billionaire with a dark side? I mean c'mon! I don't think I could find a better study aid. So I'm gonna use that visual example for reference, but you guys know me - I'm gonna mess around with it some - it's what I do...

Hmmm. A name for this guy. A. Name. Right. We'll come back to that one then. Cos I'm not sure if I want one of those strong, straight-forward names I've used in the past or if I want something more... more... well, you know.

I'm thinking the initial meet between these two gives them both completely the wrong impression about each other, and I'm thinking my hero will play on that. I kinda love it when a hero does that. So at the start I want him to be a real wise ass, laid back, the kind of guy who doesn't seem to give a damn and is all about having a good time and not sticking to rules or a nine to five. Actually, I'm sensing a pattern to my Modern Heat heroes of late. I wonder how many rebels/bad boys/rogues I can have before I need to shake it up some. I'll do a little survey.... anyone not interested in a rebel/bad boy/rogue? Anyone? No? Okay. I'll go with the majority ;)

In the comments of the last post Daisy said:

"How about a modern re-telling of a classic fairytale? Like Cinderella, or Beauty and the Beast...?!!!"

So I had a think about that. Cinderella is kinda out for me, cos I've just done two of them in a row - one for Romance with His L.A. Cinderella and the other is my short story for eharlequin, Manattan Cinderella. That kinda narrows it down for me. So I thought some about the Beauty and The Beast idea. Now there's an obvious way of approaching this themes thing and there's the mess with it approach. Anyone wanna hazard a guess what I'm gonna do?

The beauty part is obvious in one sense as my heroine is beautiful. But the 'beauty' can be multi-layered. There's inner beauty too, and a beauty to the way people approach life and of course the beauty of love. The beast part won't work externally for one of my Modern Heat's so I have to dig beneath the surface for that. My heroine can obviously think of my hero as being a 'beast'. She could find him surly and unfocussed and uncontrolled and basically everything she wouldn't find attractive in a man (cos it's the opposite of her in every way possible) and to her that would probably seem 'ugly'. And if she's physically attracted to him, which c'mon, we know she will be - then that adds to my conflict. There's also the 'ugly' side to love when there are arguments and confrontations and misunderstandings and heartache - so that can add another dimension to my story...

So I can definitely use aspects of the Beauty and the Beast theme. And themes are incredibly important. Themes help your editor to 'place' your story within the line and title it and put together a back-blurb, and maybe even flag it in some kind of mini-series. So I have to think about themes. We all do. Anyone wanna hazard a guess what themes I've hit so far??? Have a think about Modern Heat titles of late. Mine have featured words like Billionaire, Mistress, Bad-Boy, Rebel... and all of those were taken directly from the text.

In the comments of the last post Ray-Anne touched on this very subject by saying:

"I did some research on popular themes and came up with this ref from Romantic Times - http://www.romantictimes.com/books_themes.php"

This made for fascinating reading! Go on, go take a look if you haven't already... but what you need to keep in mind when reading this list, as I do, is what is current within certain lines. I know for instance the obvious ones like paranormal and time-travel and Regency and the like won't work inside the lines I work for... but subjects like Rags to Riches/Riches to Rags and pretend marriages and childhood sweethearts and love on the job and runaway bride and holiday romances are all do-able...

For this one I'm gonna pick up the Rags to Riches/Riches to Rags theme and the love on the job theme I think. Mind you, I've just spotted emotionally tortured heroes... hmmm.... I can use that without it being too depressing I feel.

Now the locations mentioned in the comments of the last post were pretty much all holiday orientated. Thinking ahead to the summer much are we gang? I know for a Modern Heat I want glamour, and an urban setting, and of late I've been very America focussed. So I'm thinking New York again (cos I know it and wuv it lots) and this time I'm thinking of The Hamptons scheduled for One Night With The Rebel Billionaire that became Martha's Vineyard instead.

The Hampton's gives me a place immediately associated with money. It's known as a playground of the rich and famous after all. It's also fairly 'hip' and close enough to the city to allow me to bounce back and forth between the two 'worlds' which allows me some contrasts to play with. And really, the more I look at this story and the more I think about it, the more it's becoming a story about contrasts. I have the initial impression my hero and heroine have of each other and how the truth is gradually revealed as they spend more time with each other. Then I have the contrasts in their backgrounds; let's say I make it that she had a close knit family and still does, but she's been working to 'better herself' and her circumstances and maybe it's been starting to create a distance between her and her family... Then I'll probably contrast that to my hero's background, give him a family that's broken up, divided, one he barely has any contact with and doesn't want to. I can even use The Hampton's in this I reckon. I'll make it something my hero has been left and doesn't want while it's something my heroine has always dreamed of and would sell her right arm for...

Are we getting the way my mind works? And even doing this blog and working through the thought process is helping it come together for me. It's still early days but it's a lot more solid than the nothing I had a few days ago. Thanks to you guys and all your comments!!!

Now I'm gonna let it stew until Sunday and see what else my muse comes up with... So if you have strong opinions on my heroines name, or any ideas for my hero's name speak up! And let's see if we can nail this puppy down!!!