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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Trish's Pineapple

I couldn't disappear into my cave without first mentioning this book. I finished reading it this morning, and as usual Trish Wylie blows me away!

Knowing just how much Trish struggled with writing this book made this read even more special for me. As a reader I would have wondered what had made this book a 'pineapple', because it flows so easily and is such a joy to watch the story unfold. As a writer, I can feel the pain.

This book is full of emotion from start to finish. I loved both Maggie and Sean from the very first page. IMO the fact that they are two wonderful characters, with nothing to dislike in their personalities, makes it a VERY difficult story to write.

Trish has been blogging on eHarlequin this month and if you want to learn more about how this story became the 'pineapple', it's well worth a visit.

And, if you want a read that keeps you riveted from start to finish, O'Reilly's Bride is the book for you. Currently available on eHarlequin, Amazon for UK Readers, and Amazon.com

*quickly scurrying back to my cave to work on my own pineapple...*

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A bit of a 'blip'...

... but normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

I've not been around the blogosphere or internet much the past week or so. Several reasons for this but I guess they all boil down to the same thing - I just haven't had the energy. I'm used to not having physical energy but I've been feeling drained mentally too.

It hasn't helped that the family have been full of virus over the past weeks, and Gray succumbed to it too. He's better now, but it's been a looong two weeks.

Thanks to real-life getting in the way (for a change), I haven't done ANY writing. I'm starting to notice a pattern - when I'm not writing I get 'down'. I'm hoping to get back on top of things during the next couple of weeks and back to the w-i-p.

If you don't 'see' me around for a while it's because I'm immersing myself with my writing. I'll still be reading blogs, but I might not have the time to leave a comment (especially as Blogger keeps playing me up).

I've decided the only way I'm ever going to finish this Med is to stay in my cave working on a self-imposed deadline. It's becoming more urgent than ever because Gray's nearly ready for us to begin our historical together and I don't want him to have to leave me behind!

In the meantime I'm handing over the blog to Gray so there should be no shortage of posts... (oops, p'raps I should've asked him first?)

Happy writing everybody, and have a safe Halloween and an even safer Guy Faulkes!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My New Hobby - Collecting People

The other day Sharon posted a valuable tip that is useful for any type of writer, published or not. Sharon explains that she has a file where she keeps a list of everybody she knows with a note of their past or current experiences, who could one day become precious contacts for research purposes.

What an inspired idea! As a result, Caroline suggested to Sharon that she should tag five other writers to share their experiences, who could then tag other writers, and before we know it we'll all have possible contacts we can use when we need to research.

Great idea or what?!

Here's my contribution to the list (five things that aren't known to everybody):

* I have (as some of you already know) multiple sclerosis *

* I've worked as a unified grade in H M Prison Service - (one of the UK's top security men's prisons.) *

* I've been divorced TWICE *

* I could've died two weeks after having my first baby - I had a retained placenta that wasn't dealt with at the time of the birth. *

* I'm a Christian who doesn't do 'religion' *

I'm now going to ask April, Stacy, Karen, Magnolia , the three Scribes, Melissa and Gray to join the list.

Message from Sharon:


Remember that it isn’t always the sensational stuff that writers are looking for, it can just as easily be something that you take for granted like having raised twins or knowing how to grow beetroot. Mind you, if you know how to fly a helicopter or have worked as a film extra, do feel free to let the rest of us know about it :-)

May I also add to that - if there are any doctors or midwives out there (including students), please let me know ;-)

Edited 25th October:
From Gray:
Hello Guys,

Apologies for the delay in responding - I've been ill in bed since the weekend before last (yes, I know, no excuse but...).

Here are my five things:

1) I'm a collector. Films and books are my weakness. Our home is overflowing with bookshelves and books, the tattier the better. I've watched about 3000 movies over the past decade and I still have 300 sitting here unwatched. I guess it goes without saying that I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of movies and books - usually the trashy ones.

2) I have a good understanding of what it's like to live with somebody with a disability. My father suffers from clinical depression (and has done since before I was born) and both my mother and Sue have M.S.

3) I'm no stranger to the operating theatre - I bear three scars from fairly major operations. The worst of these is from when I had something called pyloric stenosis as a baby - where the stomach muscles are so tight, it's impossible to digest food. Unfortunately the surgeon messed up and left me with a massive scar across my abdomen and the scar tissue still hurts sometimes. My most recent scar is across my neck, from an operation in 2004. I had some mystery tissue build up in a saliva gland so the doctors excised it by cutting my neck open - right next to my jugular.

4) I'm a bit of a computer geek. I love researching the 'net and I have a passion for retro-gaming - i.e. computers and consoles from the '80s and early '90s. My Spectrum is my pride and joy.

5) I haunt libraries, charity shops and car boot sales. These places are a second home for me :^P (Sorry, couldn't really think of a good one).


Friday, October 20, 2006

Found: His Family

This is the second book I've read this year by Nicola Marsh, and as I previously discovered with Wife and Mother Wanted it was unputdownable!!

Nicola tells a heartwrenching story about single mum Aimee's struggles to cope with her little boy, Toby's, devastating illness. In desperation Aimee has to find Toby's absent father, Jed, for a chance to save their son's life.

To say this book holds a myriad of emotions and is a rollercoaster ride would be an understatement. If you love to read about heartfelt, true-life situations then you will LOVE this book. Be warned, tissues are a definite necessity!


A little behind with my reading, this was an August 2006 release from the UK Harlequin Tender line. However, Found: His Family is currently released in the US as an October Silhouette Romance. UK Readers should be able to track down a copy via Amazon.co.uk.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The "Critters"

Soon after I began my Blogroll this morning, I discovered a comment from my nearest and dearest saying "Fortunately (or unfortunately) chihuahuas are very much real life for me; I have a couple of the critters."

When Gray married me I came as a package - not only did he inherit two teenagers but two chihuahuas as well, and I must say everyone welcomed him with warmth and enthusiasm to the family.

I thought I'd use this opportunity to post a few pics of Rocky & Rambo. Yes, you heard right, I confess I did name them after Stallone. What can I say, we all make silly decisions sometimes...

Okay, so Rocky (the long-haired white one) does like to show his affection by kissing - frequently! But, how else is he to show how much he loves the master of the house?!

And, Rambo (the short-haired one) is the biggest wimp of the K9 world - he cries at anything and everything! He leaps into his master's arms at the slightest 'scary' thing.
This pic was taken a couple of years ago on a trip to the seaside and this is one very wet and bedraggled Rocky (who incidentally is the naughty and mischievious one of the two)!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

WARNING! Mills & Boon books a danger for your health!

I decided to have a browse of the web recently, seeing what M&B and Harlequin-related information I could come up with. And boy, did I find a lot of hatred.

The title of this post refers to a comment on a discussion board, where the poster argues that M&B books are dangerous to readers, apparently because real life doesn't always have happy endings like in a category romance (really? you could have fooled me!). This means that unsuspecting readers of Mills & Boon might end up getting confused between fantasy and fiction (wow!). In a nutshell, some poor reader might get it into their head that the romances that play out in our favourite books are REAL, and thus they might be ill-prepared for the harsh realities of the modern world as a result.

Excuse me?? Who on earth would get confused between a FICTIONAL romance and real life? Nobody I know, that's for sure! I foolishly imagined that any sane person would understand that these books are written for the purpose of ESCAPISM. There's nothing better than escaping from the oft-depressing modern world and curling up with a pleasant, happy and rewarding love story. Mills & Boon books are no different to any other genre fiction. Chick-lit makes you laugh, horror makes you scared, and thrillers have you on the edge of your seat. A category romance makes you fall in love - all from the comfort of your favourite armchair. These books have their place in society (and have had for hundreds of years) and can in no way be considered harmful to any reader.

Elsewhere on the web we have people gloating over the fact that thousands of M&B books were pulped to serve as foundations for the M6 Toll Road... but MY question is, how sad can you get? If you don't like M&B books, then don't read them! It's as simple as that.

When I first met Sue, I'm sure I was as disdainful of Mills & Boon books as most guys who know nothing about them are. But I could see for myself that Sue loved them, so I wasn't about to ask her to stop reading them in favour of some more 'worthy' work of literature. Of course, things have changed, and now I've begun perusing them myself, I can see where the attraction is - these books have a magic that it's hard to find elsewhere.. .

But my point is, why are people so outraged and furious about the humble category romance? Is it because, perchance, they're FRIGHTENED of it? That they can't possibly understand that we LOVE reading M&B and that these books often bring pleasure to people's lives? Could it be (gasp) that they're actually a little bit ENVIOUS of the enduring success that these books have??

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jane Eyre: BBC1’s latest travesty

The BBC has a good history of making period dramas. I’m thinking of their 1996 miniseries of PRIDE & PREJUDICE, which succeeded in many places where the recent wishy-washy film with Keira Knightley failed. Mainly the central casting of Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, who have to go down in history as one of the most romantic pairs seen on screen. EVER. So I always keep my eye on the schedules for more literary adaptations…

…and so we come to this year’s 4-hour miniseries of JANE EYRE, which concluded last night. Unfortunately, this JANE EYRE is more in line with the moronic kiddie-fare of the recent ROBIN HOOD and DOCTOR WHO programmes than the quality of P&P, and only bears about 70% resemblance to the classic Brontë novel. I found that it was partly made with US funding, which may explain some of the liberties taken; while I enjoy many American productions, they’re not particularly known for getting their facts straight (take, for example, the new and apparently awful MARIE ANTOINETTE film, directed by Sofia Coppola, she of LOST IN TRANSLATION, a film both Sue and I despise).

Anyway, I digress. JANE EYRE wasn’t all bad. The unknown Ruth Wilson was passable as the titular character and quite good in all the crying scenes. You can’t help but acknowledge her as a little bland for the most part, though. Good news for the ladies is that Toby Stephens (best known as a baddie in DIE ANOTHER DAY and SHARPE’S CHALLENGE) makes for a fine romantic lead, even if his chiselled features are a far cry from the novel’s ‘ugly’ Mr. Rochester. I mean, Stephens is a good-looking guy. So the scenes of him asking Jane “Do you still think I’m ugly?” really don’t make sense.

As for the bad stuff… are you ready? The sets felt ‘settish’ and the flashy camerawork just got in the way of the story. The creaking doors and other haunted house clichés belong elsewhere and nowhere was suspense or atmosphere built up. All of the important scenes are rushed through and the viewer’s left scratching their head as a result. Take, for instance, the death of Helen Burns, a deeply affecting part of Brontë’s novel; Jane only knows her for one afternoon, according to the BBC! Similarly, this adaptation excises Jane’s begging scenes from the beginning of Episode 4; instead, she’s found unconscious on the moor by her own cousin, who just happens to be passing. Jane’s discovery of her relatives was implausible in the book; here, it’s incredible.

Supporting cast members seem far too young and inexperienced. Familiar faces like Tara Fitzgerald, Pam Ferris and Francesca Annis do their best but their efforts are in vain. Laugh as Jane tries to put out an inferno with a little jug of water and keep an eye out for that zombie in the red room. When the miniseries concentrates on the relationship between Mr. Rochester and Jane, it does pretty well, although I’m sure that pre-marital relations in Victorian society were never this… steamy? I don’t remember that in the book either – I think the pair shared a single kiss compared to the bedroom fumbling in this adaptation.

Although Claudia Coulter makes for a spot-on Bertha, her death scene – a fiery jump from Thornfield’s battlements – is ludicrous and laughable, so underwhelming. Mr Rochester doesn’t appear to be bothered in the least that the building is burning under his very feet and the whole sequence has an unintentional air of bathos about it. As for Grace Poole – how the heck did she show up for the overtly sentimental ending, when she would either have been fired by Mr. Rochester or burnt alive in the inferno? And since when was there a ouija board in use at Thornfield, or a book called The Beast Within for that matter??

At least there’s one good thing about this adaptation – Mr. Rochester’s dog, Pilot, is just as I pictured him from the novel :^)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

"The Dirty Dancer is on his knees..."

... Now, here's a surprise. In today's Mail on Sunday, Katie Nicholl says:
West End show GUYS AND DOLLS appears to be a tough act. Sarah Lancashire pulled out last year because of illness and I hear Hollywood's Patrick Swayze is having difficulty filling Neil Morrissey's dancing shoes.

When he started in July, the 54 year old DIRTY DANCING star, who plays Nathan Detroit, missed a number of performances after developing 'respiratory problems'. Now he has missed several more shows because of a sore knee.

"The cast think the excuses are pretty poor and audience members have started complaining, too," a source revealed. "One woman came to see the show three times last month just to see Patrick but he never showed".

I'm told bets have been laid on how many more shows the actor, who starred in the film GHOST, will miss before the end of his run next month.

Hmm... shall I try and make it third time lucky to see Swayze? Let me think for all of 0.001 of a second - NO WAY!

I talked to many lovely people on my last wasted trip to the theatre, and the general consensus is that Swayze should have quit graciously the first time he became 'ill', instead of taking all the kudos for a show that he rarely stars in.

Let's face it, not only is he past it, but he's also arrogant and uncaring of the trouble many people have gone to time and time again to see him. What's worse is how he's letting the rest of the cast members down. Every show they have to perform is in front of people who are usually seething by Swayze's absence.

All credit should go the cast, because once the show begins the disappointed audience soon get swept away by the professionalism of the real stars.

Friday, October 13, 2006

£18,000 Bursary Cancelled!

We've just learned from Ezee Writer, a free newsletter from The Writers Bureau, that the £18,000 Bursary from MCNA (as advertised in many UK magazines and on the RNA website) has been cancelled.

Here's what MCNA say on their website:

"We regret to announce that we cannot proceed any further with the MCNA Writer's Bursary.

We apologise if you have recently seen our Writer's Bursary advertised in either the Writing Magazine, a newspaper or on the internet.

Following increasing difficulty with administering the bursary, we carefully considered our options and sadly, reached the decision to bring the bursary to an end.

For those candidates who have applied, we will be writing to you very shortly and returning your administration fee in full. We strongly advise you to email us if you have applied under a pen name.

We would like to thank everyone who applied, expressed an interest or encouraged our initiative. We are very sorry we cannot proceed any further with the project and we wish all candidates the best of luck with their future creative-writing pursuits.

If you have any urgent questions please contact the Bursary Administrator, Michelle Sheppard.

Email: bursary@medicalcasenotes.co.uk

Tel: 01843 232 859"

It's strange because we were just discussing submitting a proposal when the email came through. Oh well, we should've known - if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

An Introduction...

Hi Guys,

I'd just like to introduce myself as 'Gray', aka MsCreativity's other half. I know that I will already be familiar to some of Sue's regular readers, and on that note I'd like to thank everyone who offered their well wishes for the exam I took yesterday. I'm not a very prolific blogger but I'd like to pop up here every now and then to offer my two cents worth...

Anyway, one of my overriding desires is to increase the status of genre fiction in the publishing world. I'm sick and tired of people looking down on non-literary works of fiction, labelling romance stories as "rubbish" and horror novels as "crass". While I enjoy literary fiction, I openly admit that genre fiction is a lot more fun to read and often highly entertaining. My tastes have always run towards the darker side of writing - I'm talking crime, detective, thriller, horror etc. - but recently Sue has got me into Mills & Boon, and I have to say I'm loving them. Why shouldn't a guy enjoy HMB stories too? After all, there's always a heroine to fall in love with and a hero to root for; it's just kind of like reading the stories back to front when compared to a female reader. Plus, if an author can get a guy to enjoy her book as much as a woman, then she's definitely doing a good job.

My introduction to the genre was THE ITALIAN DOCTOR'S BRIDE by Margaret McDonagh and I have to say that I absolutely ADORED it, containing ALL of the qualities I wanted to find in the genre. I'm hoping to find many other stories of a similar quality and in the meantime I'm going to start working on my own HMB novel, to be co-authored with Sue. Things are strictly confidential at the moment but it's going to be a sweeping historical romance with the emphasis on the ROMANCE. Watch this space :^)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Apparently I'm a Midnight person, according to the test I followed on Liz Fielding's blog. It's testimony to my willpower that I never succumbed long ago when I saw this quiz on Kate Hardy and Natasha Oakley's blogs too.
You Are Midnight

You are more than a little eccentric, and you're apt to keep very unusual habits.
Whether you're a nightowl, living in a commune, or taking a vow of silence - you like to experiment with your lifestyle.
Expressing your individuality is important to you, and you often lie awake in bed thinking about the world and your place in it.
You enjoy staying home, but that doesn't mean you're a hermit. You also appreciate quality time with family and close friends.

I had to chuckle when I read this, because nowadays I'm snuggled up in my bed long before midnight! Go on, tell me what time of day you are...

It's Almost Over!

My hubby and I can't believe it, but it really is almost over. No, not my manuscript, but his studies.

Tomorrow my hubby sits the very last exam for his Honours degree. He has been on a four year journey with the Open University, and it hasn't been an easy journey to travel.

I still have three years of my degree left. I took a year out this year (supposedly because I wanted to focus on writing a book!!), and I'm due to continue my journey with them next year - although I still haven't decided because I might give myself another year off!

Two years ago, DH decided he wanted to finish his degree sooner rather than later, and since then he's studied two courses a year. Tomorrow is his last day, and ends with a FINAL exam. He's so nervous, it's almost putting me off any more study - ever!

Please join me in wishing him the best of luck. He's going to do brilliantly, I can feel it. But regardless of how well he does, we'll be beginning a new life together on Thursday. Watch this space to learn more...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Groundhog Day!

Guess what?

I went to try to see Patrick Swayze for a second time in Guys and Dolls (the theatre gave me complimentary tickets after our last disappointment), and once again Patrick was INDISPOSED!

It still hasn't quite sunk in. The Box Office have already offered me some more complimentary tickets to go again, but at over £100 travel expenses every time, I'd be a mug to believe it'd be third time lucky. Hmm... let me think for a second, to date, Patrick Swayze has cost me £350.

What most disappoints me is the lies being told. Last time we were told he was ill, yet on the day he should've been performing at the theatre he was filming The Sharon Osbourne Show (I know this for a fact because my mum was in the audience for Sharon's show the same week).

For this last missed performance a lovely lady I was speaking to had been told that Patrick had sprained his ankle but that it was the FIRST time he'd not performed!!!

For anybody planning to see Patrick next week w/c 9th Oct, it's only fair to warn them that Patrick won't be performing then either - he's on holiday in Spain!!! Hmm...

On a positive note, I thoroughly enjoyed the show this time. I knew all the songs and the cast were FANTASTIC, and d'you know what? They don't need Patrick Swayze at all...