Monday, February 27, 2012
As a writer, too, I want to read more. I want to know more about the UK market, about what readers are enjoying, about where genres are heading. But where do I start?
Then the RoNA shortlist came out, and I realised my problems were over.
I have, now, what has to be THE best romantic fiction reading list ever devised by woman. I’m going to be reading my way through it this year, exploring genres I don’t often dip into, discovering new authors, and new books by old familiar friends.
To find the same reading list, click here. To find out more about the Romantic Novelists' Association’s Awards, go and browse around this site. And look out for RoNA stickers and shortlisted books in your local bookshop!!!
(P.S – my first two purchases off the list were Christina’s Highland Storms and The UnTied Kingdom by Kate Johnson. *wiggle*)
Friday, February 24, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
We Heroine Addicts were very happy this week to learn that the five lovely writers of Novel Points of View had given us the Liebster Award.
On looking up the Liebster Award and its affectionate journey around the blogosphere, I found a few varying takes on what the rules for it actually were, but everyone seems to agree on its purpose: it's given to a blog you enjoy and admire, and one you think deserves more recognition. So thank you, Gwen, Gill, Jenny, Mary and Linda, for making us feel very Loved and Appreciated!
When you receive a Liebster Award, you're supposed to list five random facts about yourself, but since there are actually six of us Addicts we're going to follow the lead of our friends at Novel Points of View and fudge the rules a bit by each listing one random fact:
Anna: I once played Grumpy in a school production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. In French.
Brigid: I can raise my left eyebrow independently. Like a female Sean Connery 'The name's Coady. Brigid Coady.'
Christina: I was once a Hell's Angel (or rather the girlfriend of one) but I wasn't much of a hellraiser!
Julie: I can touch my nose with my tongue.
Susanna: I was seriously into Taekwondo when I lived in Korea as a teenager, and I have a first-degree black belt.
Now, we weren't able to track Liz down in time for this post, she's been so busy, but we all agree she has the Best Fact of All, so we're going to share it for her: She has just been shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award for The Cornish House! (Yay!)
So that's us.
Now, as with all good things given, we are bound by the rules of the Liebster Award to pass it on to someone else. Well, actually we're supposed to pass it on to a few others, but again we're going to fudge the rules and pass it on to one blogger we all love: Sarah Duncan.
If you haven't ever read her blog, you really ought to.
Which blogs do you love the best? Do share.
And come back Thursday, to find out what Julie's up to.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
It has come to that point in my writing that I am ready to send my work out into the world. Revisions are done and now I need to see if I can get representation.
This weekend I will be drafting a letter or two plus polishing my synopsis! Here are a few examples of the drafts so far:
Please, please, please love my book! I have written the manuscript in purple crayon on pink paper and have sprinkled glitter over it so you can see it is written for the teen girls. Also I am sending a singing telegram who will be delivering my synopsis.
Love, hugs and kisses
Here is a book wot I wrote. My friends Julie and Liz think it ROCKS! If you don't agree you are just a hater. By the way I will KNOW if you give this story idea to someone else and will come and HUNT YOU DOWN!
Love, hugs and kisses (I'm watching you!!)
OK maybe a tad psychotic... think I'll have to work on this. Maybe I'll work on the synopsis instead.
"So this girl called Alex, like moves to Cumbria and then she meets this bloke and then funny stuff happens. The some weird stuff. Then something else happens..."
Hmmmm. This might take me longer than I thought.
Any tips will be gratefully received!
Come back on Sunday to hear what Susanna has been up to
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Obviously, he has to be attractive to today’s readers, so I’m subconsciously adding details that would appeal to us. But surely, a handsome man would always be a handsome man? Brad Pitt looked just as good as Achilles in a little skirt as he did in Ocean’s 11. But maybe that’s just me ...? Because if you look at the sort of man who was idolised in his day, tastes have definitely changed!
I recently attended a celebration in honour of Lord Byron’s (224th) birthday and it was clear that he was the Regency equivalent of our A-list celebrities. Famous, handsome, sought-after and “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. In other words, a bad boy hero, just like the ones in romance novels. But looking at the portraits of him, I couldn’t see the attraction myself. I guess you had to be there in order to fall under his spell? Or was it his superb poetry that did the trick? I don’t know.
There have been many such men through the ages, the kind everyone seems to find charismatic and attractive. I tried to think of a few and came up with:-
Henry VIII, who was supposedly very handsome as a young man, although it’s kind of hard to see from the later portraits. Apart from anything else, the fear that he might chop my head off would probably have killed any feelings stone dead for me!
Sir Walter Raleigh – yes! Now here’s a man I think I could have fallen in love with. Just look at those bedroom eyes in the miniature of him, they’re decidedly wicked.
Rupert of the Rhine – I think I’ve mentioned him before and apart from being tall, dark and handsome, well ... no, what more do you want?
In Victorian times, maybe Dante Gabriel Rossetti? Another poet – hmm, maybe there’s a trend here ...
Going forward a bit, Douglas Fairbanks Jr? – no, not for me.
James Dean – yes, maybe, I like the motorcycle and bad boy attitude.
It is strange though, how different the tastes were. So who, from the history books, do you think you would have fallen for? I think Sir Walter’s bedroom eyes are definitely calling to me, so I feel another day dream coming on ...
Please come back on Sunday to hear from Liz.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
I've always made up my own stories in my head. My first ever published novel came about that way. I had picked up a book that read like one of my own daydreams and thought, "blimey, I could actually write down one of my stories and someone else might want to read it...."
Blimey, they did.
When, like Julie (see below), picking something from the To Be Read pile seems daunting or unsatisfying, I will genuinely make up stories of my own as an alternative to reading them. The characters are fully-fleshed and well motivated, their dialogue comes easy. I go over and over a scene in my head, experiencing the mood and emotion, feeling my way around where the most captivating parts are, wondering where to go next.
I have taught myself NOT to mutter the dialogue out loud. This is sometimes interpreted as something less socially acceptable than a good imagination....
I'm not fussy about genre. Sometimes they're what you might call fan-fiction, taking a character or scenario from TV or film or PC game* and playing with that. Sometimes they're sci-fi or historical, thriller or romance. Occasionally I take a starring role, most of the time I'm building new characters.
When I'm not writing, life isn't quite right, but it's fixable. When I'm not daydreaming, either, life is in a bad way.
I've been daydreaming a lot lately. It's rather nice.
Are you a daydreamer?
*I always feel like I ought to be embarassed about this. But I'm just not. Skyrim** utterly rocks, so there.
** Ha! Now we have a Skyrim post label. I am content.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Last night the comment that struck me was tucked in his chapter about what to do when your story stalled, and among other suggestions Block wrote that it sometimes helped to talk that part of the book through with somebody.
"Not every friend will do for this process," he warned, "and you have to experiment to determine which of your acquaintances serves you best as a sounding board. Some people—well-meaning, certainly, and often creative themselves—serve only to stifle your imagination. Others prove enormously helpful, perhaps because they're capable of listening so attentively. The person you select may be an agent or an editor. It may as easily be someone unconnected with the business, someone who doesn't even read much. You can try different people to see who does you some good..."
The reason this piece of advice struck me is that I realized I do it a lot—all the time, to be honest. My mother's my sounding board.
We talk at least once a day on the phone, and whenever I'm trying to work out a kink in the plot, or decide what my characters ought to do next, I will often discover the answer by talking it through with my mother. Or to be more accurate, by talking to my mother, since she doesn't actually have to be saying anything back to me at the time of this discovery (and to be perfectly fair, when I'm talking on the phone, it's hard for anyone to get a word in edgewise to begin with).
The conversation usually goes something like this:
ME: So the characters are heading to the airport.
MOM: Oh, yes? That's nice.
ME: Unless...unless they stop and see her grandfather...
ME: Yes, they could stop and see her grandfather, and maybe he could give her something...maybe...
MOM: (Respectful pause)
ME: ...a book. Hang on now, what if she's already phoned him ahead of time, asking if he could loan her the book, and then they could stop on the way to the airport, and while they're there I could sort of bring out the complications of how they get along with each other, and then he could give her the book, and if it had maps and old photographs in it then it might come in useful to them later on.
ME: And maybe the reason he doesn't mind giving her the book is that he never really wanted it in the first place, because he doesn't want to be reminded of where he came from, and maybe it was a gift from her father...
And on and on it goes, until I've got a whole new scene I never knew that I was going to need, complete with new thematic threads and everything.
This only works, for some reason, when I'm talking to my mother. No one else provides quite the same kind of a sounding board (much to my father's dismay, since I usually phone while they're washing the dishes and he has to finish up all by himself while my mother sits off to the side saying "Uh-huh" for half an hour...)
I'm not sure why this is, or how the whole process works, in all honesty, but reading Lawrence Block's book last night started me thinking, and wondering...
Anyone else have a sounding board?
(Sorry I'm late with this post, by the way—it's been crazy at my house this week. Come back Thursday for Julie's next post).