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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Why Do I Write Medical Romance?

My w-i-p has been driving me nuts! I LOVE Kate and Matt, and it's not their fault that my writing hasn't been happening, it's all mine. You know those doubts and insecurities that we writers get from time to time? I've been engulfed by them and I've been letting them win.

It all started when I stopped writing again to research. Suddenly, I wonder who I'm trying to kid! How on earth am I ever going to know for sure that I've got my facts right? What if I'm not being believable? Question after question of doubt rained down on me.

Then I started wondering whether I was perhaps writing for the wrong line. Perhaps that's why I'm struggling? Maybe I shouldn't be writing medical? My first two attempts back in the '90s were for the Modern/Harlequin Presents line, so why wasn't I targeting them this time?

Write what you enjoy to read is what we're advised. But therein lies the problem - I love all the HMB lines! Modern, Romance, Medical, Intrigue... Then I read the extended guidelines from HMB that I'd requested and suddenly all made sense and I was confident again.

The reason I've chosen to write Medicals is because this line can pretty much incorporate all of the above. I want to write from the heart; I want to let my characters decide how sensual they are; I want to choose any setting... I also want to use my own experiences to a certain degree. I've personal experiences to draw from. I know about women's problems, miscarriages, having babies, post-natal difficulties, depression and lots more besides. I know how it feels to be a patient. I know what patients want from their doctors. I know bad doctors, and I know good ones.

For a while though none of these reasons felt enough. I froze. What if I wasn't getting the medical details right? After all I hadn't worked in the health profession.

Then I received a few emails:

One was from my CP (critique partner) yet again telling me how much she believed in my writing...

Another was from a writer who's become a good friend, with a timely reminder to get it written and stop worrying about getting it right. She assures me that these feelings and doubts are the norm - she gets them often as well. I need to plod on and finish the first draft because only then will I know what needs tweaking and be able to add more layers.

Finally, in a reply to an email I'd written to one of my favourite authors following another fantastic read, was another reminder - no matter what line I'm writing for always focus on the romance. This person has no idea how much I've been struggling or how down I've been feeling about my writing.

Combine all these emails
+ all the words of encouragement I've received from other writers at different times these past months,
+ my (ever patient) hubby's insistence not to dare even think about giving up
= something finally filtering through to this numb brain of mine.

So a note to myself (and every other aspiring writer engulfed with doubt):

It's all about the romance.

Until the first draft is written there's nothing to work on.


So there it is, my rollercoaster ride of the past week or so. Before I go, look what happens when I allow myself to believe all this advice:

Yesterday (still feeling yucky) I sat myself down in my cave and did some writing. I managed over 1,000 words before lunch!

And speaking of never giving up:

Next week (whether I'm feeling yucky or not) I'm away to have another try at seeing Patrick Swayze !

Coming Out From My Hiding Place

I didn't think anybody would notice that I haven't been around on the 'net so much these past few days - thanks Sharon, you've nudged me out from my hiding place!

Things haven't been so great on the health-front. My hands still haven't recovered fully and I'm hoping the symptoms I'm left with aren't permanent. But it's not just my hands that are causing problems, it's that I'm often feeling generally yucky and unwell. This then leads to me having a 'down' spell which has repercussions on my writing.

The good news is that today I have my neurologist appointment, and I'll finally get to talk to a doctor who understands a little more than I do about what's going on - that's me being optimistic. Or, with the luck I've been having lately, perhaps I should be realistic: I may come away wondering why I've wasted my time...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

WOOHOO! Another MEGA Congratulations!

Imogen over at Scribes' Sanctuary has had her book accepted by Harlequin Mills & Boon!!!!!

I wish I could tell you more, but I don't have anymore details. I'm sure once the news sinks in Imogen will tell us everything.

In the meantime why not pop over and congratulate her - I have a feeling there's a party on the horizon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In My Research Cave

Last Friday Michelle Styles posted a pic of her cave and challenged fellow bloggers to post a pic on their blogs of theirs.

Today begins Part 4 of Trish Wylie's workshop involving lots of research, so I thought as I'm going to be busy researching for the forseeable future, I'd be brave and post pics of my cave.

(that isn't wine in the glass but strawberry and kiwi squash). (Some research books and materials)

A few weeks before we moved house we were offered two large desks that were being thrown out, and I don't know how we ever managed without them. I'm now sandwiched (literally) between my corner desk and one of the freebie desks, with hubby working at the other freebie desk squeezed in next to my corner desk (note: he wasn't brave enough to post a pic of his).

To say we're cramped is an understatement, but we don't care because it means we now have a child-free and a dog-free zone and can write/study in relative peace. Not that 'peace' is the right word when we're both in our haven together - believe me it can become a very stressful place - suffice to say the kids have labelled it the 'war zone'!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Trish's Workshop

Can you believe that this workshop is working for me? I already had my w-i-p before it began, but it has cemented everything into place, and has given me confidence that I do know who my characters are and where I'm going with them.

Here's Kate and Matt


and this is where Matt lives.

I've surprised myself by how much having these pictures help me. On the wall next to my computer I now have a collage. I've even got pics of the interior of Matt's home as well as a floor plan, and it genuinely helps me make my writing feel more real and believable. It also makes the research lots of fun.

However, I've now learned that I did need to start the writing process beforehand. If I hadn't I wouldn't have known that this is where Matt lives. I wouldn't have known that it was the property he and his young wife fell in love with, and that she never lived long enough to move into her dream home with him. Consequently, I also wouldn't have known that lovely though it is, it hasn't been made into a home. Matt has merely been existing these past two years since her death.

Lots of things have fallen into place for me since starting Trish's workshop, and the scenes are finally beginning to flow. All because I've disciplined myself to sit down and get to know my characters.

It's making a huge difference to me knowing I'm not on my own with this process. Just reading other people's progress etc. helps spark off my own ideas. If you find yourself flailing about with your wip - regardless of the genre - I strongly urge you to drop by the workshop.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Congratulations Michelle!

When I woke up this morning feeling bright I knew today would be a good day. Before starting my writing goals for the day, I had a run through of my blogroll and discovered that the lovely Michelle Willingham is now a Harlequin Mills and Boon Historical author!!!

MEGA congratulations Michelle!

Pop along and join in her celebrations.

Friday, September 15, 2006

What a Day!

I should have known that I wouldn't get anything done, I had too good a day yesterday.

I ended up staying up late because I wanted to add a few hundred words to my manuscript, and I paid for it today. My day began sluggish, and every time I tried to load Blogger to read part two of Trish's workshop it wouldn't let me in. Then I spent hours trying to find photos of my heroine, without much success.

By lunchtime however, my day brightened up and I spent the afternoon making travel arrangements for another trip down south. I haven't received a reply from Patrick Swayze yet, but my wonderful hubby did get a reply to the letter he wrote last week to the theatre... we have been given two complimentary tickets to revisit Guys & Dolls this time WITH Patrick!!!!!!!!

The good news became tainted for a while though because hubby is busy preparing for his exams with the OU (October will see the end of his four years of study and he'll have finished his degree), so he's unable to accompany me this time :-(.

Then the day brightened again because I've now made arrangments with my mum. She is coming with me to see Patrick and I'm going down south for the whole week to spend some time with her. It's been years since I've managed to get down to Rochester (my home town), and I hardly ever get to see her, so this will be a real treat.

And just when I thought the day couldn't get any better my hubby found my heroine for me :-D! I'd considered Melissa George earlier but I wasn't convinced, that is until I saw her with none other than Clive Owen. The strange thing is they are in a scene that I have already written from Chapter Two!! Matt and Kate are having a humdinger of a row in the middle of a carpark, in a torrential downpour. Take a look at this:

Okay, it's night time and it isn't raining, but it's good enough for me :-).
I was going to post a couple more pics of Kate on her own, but Blogger's playing me up again and won't let me load any more. I'll try again tomorrow.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sticking With My Hero

I have no choice, it really is making my mind up time. Part One of Book With Trish involves casting our hero.

I've been having problems with my w-i-p from the beginning. This stems from where I didn't plan anything. Shocking isn't it? I was so eager to get started with the actual writing that I didn't spend enough time discovering who my characters were.

Some of you may remember that my hero started out as Goran Visjnic. This was my first mistake. Gorgeous though Goran is he can't possibly be Matt because Matt is British. For a while George Clooney tried to save the day, but Matt isn't George either - he isn't that cheeky nor so easy to look at all the time.

Matt has been through the wars emotionally and he's carrying around with him a lot of guilt and regret about the past. It's not easy to break down the barriers he's erected to keep people at a distance.

I posted a while ago that Clive Owen was now my hero, but if truth be told I still hadn't paid enough attention to him. I didn't even know for sure whether Clive portrayed Matt how I saw him. Until today.

I finally made a real effort to look for lots of different pics of Clive, in a bid to decide whether he was Matt or whether I needed to search for another hero. Here's a sample of what I found:

I don't need to waste anymore time wondering whether I have the 'right' person for my hero. Clive Owen is Matt, and I've found enough different photos to show him in every mood (these three photos are just the tip of the stash I'm hoarding).

I'm now going to go and complete my character sheet in detail, which I'm ashamed to say I was too lazy to do before.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Write a Book Workshop with Harlequin Author

Here's an opportunity that doesn't come along very often.

Trish Wylie is inviting us to write alongside her as she begins her next Harlequin book. Visit her blog and sign up for the journey - the more of us there are the merrier our travels will be.

The workshop begins tomorrow and will involve talking about characters, names, and making up character sheets as we build our synopses.

I can't wait for the motivation that I know it'll bring me, and I have high hopes for my word counter - p'raps I stand a chance of getting this book finished after all!

So, what do you say, are you up for the challenge?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Hugh Jackman Day

It's tough being a member of the Pink Heart Society. If I'd have known beforehand how difficult it would be to rise to their challenges I'd have joined a LOT sooner!!!!!

Today's challenge is a hard one - to post pictures of Hugh Jackman in all his glory. So here's my offering.

And now here's one just to compete in the war of Hugh Jackman in a towel. Sorry Kate, but I like this one more...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Childhood Memories

I'm 'it' again, thanks Jade. (I really must learn to run faster ;-))

I'm one of those people who have very early memories, and my long-term memory is much better than my short-term memory, so this is a toughie.

One of my first is having one of those swings that hang in doorways. I can 'see' my dad getting me up from my cot (where I'd been whinging - I know, no change there!) and swinging me...

Climbing in my younger brother's cot when I was four to wake him up to play (sorry mum!)

Going to the cinema to see Watership Down, and being able to stay on at the end and watch it all over again!

Re-enacting my 'Secret Two' story with my best friend. Okay, I might have pinched the idea from Enid Blyton's Secret Seven, but we all have to start somewhere.

Going blackberry picking with my mum, auntie, and nan. I kept pinching them from the tub on the way home and tried to deny it - I had blackberry stains all around my teeth and mouth - I never could get away with telling fibs!

Playing 'crocodiles' with my brother - we used to jump from one piece of furniture to another because of the crocodiles on the carpet.

Spending many an hour in the garden on my swing - and being brave (or stupid?) enough to jump off in mid air (note to my children: Yes, I know you used to get into trouble for doing that - what can I say, I'm a hypocrite!!).

Well I could go on for hours (anything to avoid chapter three rewrites... ), thanks Jade for the trip down memory lane.

Okay, here's my favourite bit - I tag Melissa over at Grosvenor Square and I'll drag Sharon J out from her water butt - to welcome her back to blogland.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Good Times Are Coming...

... I can feel them.

Firstly, my laptop's finally come home and it's in tip-top condition! So now when I'm unable to sit at the main comp for long, I no longer have an excuse not to write (I still have numbness in my hands which makes it difficult to put pen to paper). I thank God I can still type.

My story has been progressing, but be warned the wordcounter may not move for a while. I've reached a stage where I need to go back and rewrite chapters three and four before I can continue with the plot. I'm hoping the changes I'm ready to make will make the chapters longer in a natural way. I confess I'm even feeling a little excited because as it stands now I'm on Chapter Seven. I originally thought I'd need at least 16 chapters but I'm now hoping once I've implemented the rewrites I'll discover I'm closer to the end than I thought. I'm busy now trying not to count my chickens...

And the icing on the cake was to discover that Trish has posted a link to me on her blog :-0!!!

You know something else I'm learning - published writers really do love hearing from their readers. It's something I've only started doing recently, but in light of the comments Trish has made on her blog I'm realising it means a lot to learn they have achieved what they set out to do - give enjoyment to readers.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sexy Firemen and Trish Wylie

There's only one word to describe White Hot! and that's HOT!

This Harlequin Mills and Boon Modern Extra tells the story of feisty heroine Finn, and her efforts to resist the charms of rugged fireman Shane Dwyer. However, unpleasant circumstances thrust the two of them into the uncomfortable situation of sharing a house together. Even the strongest willpower in the world can't expect to hold out when the flames of passion are ignited...

Trish Wylie has a talent for creating characters that soon become real friends for the reader; you'll imagine that they have lives off the page, and you'll end up caring about what happens to them. From the get-go, Finn is a strong heroine; someone whom the reader will no doubt identify with. And Shane? Even an ice-maiden would melt when faced with this sexy fire-fighter.

The author pulls no punches and tells life like it really is. The emotion is raw and heartfelt throughout, resulting in a few wet tissues as the story reaches its climax. Aspiring writers could learn a lot from reading this book. Trish Wylie knows how to 'screw the punch', and then some.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Patrick Swayze

For the record I wanted to let you all know that I've forgiven Patrick Swayze for his 'indisposition'.

I saw a live interview with him yesterday and he is a genuinely gorgeous and kind guy. And he's been married to his wife Lisa for over 30 years! They were childhood sweethearts and listening to Patrick speaking about his marriage I could only think one thing: My hero!
Patrick & Lisa

Seriously. Patrick is true HMB hero material. I definitely have a book or two in the pipeline for him. He is the epitome of everything any heroine of mine could dream of - high morals, genuinely caring, faithful, and sexy to boot!

I wish I'd seen that interview before I posted the letter I wrote to him. Yep, you heard right. I wrote him a letter (at the suggestion of a friend), on the off-chance that he might send me a signed photo as compensation... Seriously, it was a nice letter, really it was. Okay he may have got a sense of my disappointment, but I was polite and wished him well for the rest of his stay in Guys and Dolls.

Just one problem. Since that interview I've become desperate to go and see him in Guys and Dolls. I'm now sending lots of vibes in the direction of my hubby...

I'll keep you posted as to whether I get a personal reply from Patrick.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Recommended Read...

The Italian Doctor’s Bride transports the reader to the remote Scottish village of Lochanrig, where the fragile Dr. Hannah Frost proves to be an expert when dealing with her patients – although a traumatic incident in her past has left her personal life barren and impersonal. Into Hannah’s life comes Dr. Nic di Angelis, a gorgeous Italian doctor with his own heartbreaking history. Margaret McDonagh’s book charts the trials and tribulations of the two doctors as they gradually build a relationship over a period of six months.

The strength of the story lies in the characterisation. Readers gradually warm to the icy heroine, Hannah, as her story progresses, and it's a delight to watch the Italian hero as he slowly thaws her cool exterior. In Nic di Angelis, Margaret McDonagh has created a stunning, well-rounded romance hero whose presence on the page guarantees a good read. Plus, he’ll doubtlessly melt the hearts of any female reader.

The book is very fast-paced and packs plenty of incident into the storyline. Margaret McDonagh exploits the dangers offered by the rural location well and provides the reader with all manner of accidents. These are balanced with the sometimes upsetting illnesses of the various villagers. However the medical setting of the story is rightfully kept in the background and never impedes on the blossoming romance between the two central characters.

The dialogue is sparky and the romantic scenes aren't repetitive. Margaret McDonagh provides a well-crafted and highly enjoyable read in this, her debut for Harlequin Mills and Boon.

Rating: 5/5

It's PARTY time at the Pink Heart Society

If you love reading or writing category romance, it's time to come out of the closet and declare it.

Pop over NOW and join the celebrations for the official launch of the Pink Heart Society - you'll be in excellent company.