Thursday, January 16, 2014

Forbidden Kisses... (and a giveaway)

Wet Kisses...

As you will remember way back in November we had a party to celebrate the first of my short stories, ‘The Last Kiss’. That was the first of ‘The Kiss Collection’. December saw the publication of ‘The First Kiss’ and today is the turn of my third kiss-themed short story, ‘Lipstick on His Collar’.

This one explores what happens when you kiss someone you shouldn’t… not that any of ‘The Heroine Addicts’ have ever done that. Or, of course, any of you… *coughs* 

But it can happen. Hormones and attraction can over take you and before you know it you are in a situation you could've sworn you would never be in.

So as not to embarrass anyone here, I'm not asking you to share those forbidden kisses. Instead I am asking you to share any memorable kisses you have had. Good or bad.  First, last, forever. The best entry will win signed copies of the lovely Liz Fenwick’s books, ‘The Cornish House’ and A Cornish Affair’ PLUS (hold on to your hats) copies of each of my Kiss stories.

How can you resist?

Please share your stories in the comments, the Heroine Addicts will contribute too. Liz and I will confer (over a glass or two of wine) to decide the winner.

Come on. Don’t be shy, it isn’t like you’ve kissed someone you shouldn’t?

You can download 'Lipstick on His Collar' here or any of the other Kisses here

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Tiny Cameo Role

It’s amazing how a very small addition can sometimes transform a storyline, whether it’s in a book, film or TV programme.  Tiny cameo roles have the power to make a story so much more memorable, even though the character featured doesn’t really influence the plot in any way.  It can be the one thing that sticks in your mind and makes you want to go back time and time again.  For me, this is epitomised by a dog called Sykes.

I’m a fan of the TV series Midsomer Murders which, for those of you who don’t live in the UK, is a murder mystery series set in a group of tiny villages in the English countryside.  Life there seems to be fairly idyllic (apart from the extremely high murder rate!), and it portrays a sort of “olde-worlde” kind of England that reminds you a bit of Agatha Christie or Enid Blyton novels, and times gone by.  It features winding country lanes, little oak-beamed pubs and lovely woodlands covered in bluebells or daffodils.  There are plenty of gorgeous mansions and stately homes too, as well as chocolate-box thatched cottages, but underneath the pretty exteriors lurk some very nasty things.  It’s a great combination and I would watch the programme just for the nostalgia, if nothing else.

(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
The series had run for many years with an Inspector Barnaby in the lead role.  I’m guessing he must have become very tired of it himself, and the episodes were becoming rather stale and “samey” – a change was clearly needed.  So the script-writers decided a new Inspector Barnaby was called for and they very cleverly introduced him as the old one’s cousin.  Not everyone has taken to this new guy, but personally I think he’s doing really well – he has a great sense of humour and started off with a very subtle approach.  But the absolutely best thing about the new programmes is his dog – Sykes.  If anything was guaranteed to bring in new viewers, Sykes was it.

The moment Sykes walked onto the screen, I fell in love.  Apparently, so did a lot of other people.  He only gets about a minute of screen time for each episode, but he totally steals the show.  A scruffy looking terrier of some sort, he’s an extremely clever and talented little actor, who has appeared in countless films (including some with Johnny Depp apparently!).  He also stars in several adverts on TV, all brilliantly done.  He never disappoints and somehow manages to make his expression just right.  Adding him was a stroke of genius.

Are there any other cameo roles that have delighted you in books, films or on TV?  I’d love to know.

(You can watch Sykes in action here on YouTube)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What's the point?

Before Christmas, I did a writing workshop at a school, with some A-level Creative Writing students. They spent an hour coming up with characters, using fun exercises. When I asked them to read their work aloud, I was pleased by how uninhibited these teenagers were as opposed to adult writers. Their characters were bold and surprising, in the midst of dramatic, thrilling stories.

Afterwards, we had a question and answer session and we got talking about how you decide what sort of thing to write. I talked a little bit about how publishers like authors to have a 'brand', so that readers know what to expect when they pick up one of your books. If you've got a publishing contract, I said, your publisher will want you to stay within the same genre and write the same type of books throughout the contract. They wouldn't be happy if you'd been contracted to write a mystery novel, and suddenly you came up with a high fantasy swords-and-sorcery novel without a mystery in it.

'If you can't write whatever you want to write,' said one of the students, 'what's the point in getting published?'

I was taken aback by his question. I'm so used to talking to writers who dream of getting published, who want to know the golden secret of getting published, who work and work and work and try and fail and try again, so that their work will be on a book shelf somewhere. And this student couldn't see the point?

Yet what he was asking was deeply profound. He was asking what was more important: a publishing career or creative freedom? He was asking, why would you create something that isn't exactly what you want to create? He was at the time in his writing journey where the story was what mattered—not who read it, or how much money he could get for it, or what the Amazon reviewers said about it.

Just the story. The story was the point.

I'm ashamed to say I didn't answer him the right way—I was surprised, and I said things about being able to publish different types of stories with different publishers under different names, and about authors taking pseudonyms or changing direction as their careers grew. But what I should have said was:

You're right.

It is so easy to get caught up in the writing business. To worry about contracts and promotion, to jostle for attention and readers and good reviews. It's easy to look at other authors and get jealous because their publishers give them more support, or because they're winning all the awards, or getting better covers, or getting more press attention, or selling more books. It's easy to angst over publishing trends, and the decline of book selling, and the lack of book reviews in major publications.

But the truth is: the story is the point. The writing is the point. The creation is the point.

There's no reason to write anything otherwise.

So I'm going to try to remember that student's words this year, this 2014. I hope that I can.

(There's a thoughtful post on this subject here)