~ Join us on a journey of passion and adventure ~

Monday, December 31, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Home Run?

I'm almost too scared to believe it but I think we're on our way to having a completed manuscript! This will be a first for both of us, although Gray's going one better as he's almost got two completed manuscripts.

I need to work my little socks off if I'm not to let us both down. Real-life messed with our equilibrium of writing the same chapter, albeit different scenes, at the same time. This means that while Gray is in the middle of chapter eleven I'm waay behind in the middle of chapter eight.

It's important that we get this book wrapped up in time for Christmas - not least because I'm hoping we can try out hands at writing a synopsis for the new Harlequin competition in the New Year. Plus, we need to get cracking on the plot for our next Medical, AND I''ve also got a dreaded OU Assignment to deliver in the New Year, and... the list continues.

But guess what? I'm LOVING every second of it! We really are living the 'writing' life which is something we've both always dreamed of doing. We might not make a sale in 2008 but one thing I know for certain is that we'll have submitted a few completed manuscripts (all to HMB).

Gray has taken on my mantra of 'Never Give Up' and I'm now back to believing just that. No matter how long it takes, no matter how difficult the journey, we're never going to give up on our goals.

So here's a reminder of why we're likely to be bad Bloggers for the remainder of the year - we've got a deadline to meet... wish us luck!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB

A film review
by
Gray


THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB is a feel-good film based on the popular book of the same name by Karen Jay Fowler. It’s a rom-com at heart, detailing the lives and loves of a disparate group of women (and one man) who meet up every month to discuss one of Austen’s novels. Fans of the 19th century author will enjoy the way the various plot and characters from all six of Austen’s novels are discussed and the way in which the various fates of the modern-day characters resemble those found in the literature.

With decent direction, assured performances and a witty script, there was no real chance of this film going wrong. It does a grand job on what it sets out to do, which is to provide a fly-on-the-wall look at relationships in both the 19th and the 21st centuries. Topics such as infidelity, the break-up of marriages, younger men with older women [Sue says, "that'd be me then ;-)" ], adultery, teacher-student relationships as well as overbearing parents are the order of the day, and there’s a liberal sprinkling of comedy along the way too.

The cast is decent with a good mixture of familiar, experienced faces (Jimmy Smits, Lynn Redgrave and Nancy Travis, for instance) with fresher talent. Emily Blunt bags the meatiest role of the young French teacher tempted to sleep with a high school student, and she has some really poignant moments throughout the film. Yet other actors, such as Maria Bello, Kathy Baker and Amy Brenneman are also equally good in their parts and Hugh Dancy is delightful.

There are some heartbreaking moments and a truly touching ending, and as a whole the film is thoroughly engaging with hardly any false steps. We’re looking forward to the DVD when it comes out...

Why I'm not really here...

For the time being we've lost our wifi connection. It's made me (and the rest of the household) appreciate how blessed we all are to have it. It's not a great time for it to go kaput, not that there ever is a 'good' time, but I'm fighting another of my health blips where I have difficulty getting to the main computer.

That said, even once the wifi is replaced/repaired, I'm spending an awful lot of time sleeping right now, so I'm unlikely to be around much anyway! Since I have now made it to the office I'm going to use the opportunity to share with you one of the many reasons why I feel so blessed to have Gray in my life:

An appointment I attended yesterday was particularly hideous for me from an emotional perspective, and if truth be known, I couldn't wait to get the day over with. After dinner the long, dark evening stretched out before us. I couldn't get into writing, reading, or watching tv .

At 7.20pm Gray's face lit up and he said "Hey, do you fancy going to the cinema to see The Jane Austen Book Club?"

Now, the showing at out local cinema is at 8pm. There was no way we'd make it in time - I wasn't even dressed to go out! But, then I looked at him. I'm usually the one to make sudden and spontaneous decisions, and yet here he was not only looking inspired but confident that we could make it if we hurried. Couple this with the fact that I'd forgotten I'd even mentioned that I wanted to see this film and that I was feeling SHOCKED that not only had he listened to me but he'd REMEMBERED too. WOW!

I've never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth so I zipped up my fleece cardigan, not caring about my attire (shock, horror!), stood up and said, "You're on. Let's go!" With a few rushed instructions to the Teenagers, who for their part stood mouths agape, we flew out the door and made our getaway to the car.

We'd done it - we'd escaped! The short journey took us minutes - which is a miracle in itself, not a single traffic light turned red! - and I bounded up the two flights of stairs to the cinema. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little there, but you get the picture. We turned into an EMPTY foyer and I assumed everybody else must have gone in. That is until the guy at the till cheekily said to Gray, "There's only the two of you - make sure you behave!"

Dazed at our good fortune, we discovered that despite leaving things to the last minute, we really were the only couple there! Alas, it didn't last but we didn't care because we'd already cosied up in our favourite seats.

I've been having one of my 'duvet' days this morning but while Gray was watching a film with his Dad, I thought I'd sneak into the office and check my email. There in my Inbox was an email from Gray - with a review of the film we'd seen last night, with instructions for me to post on here if I want to. Don't ask me where he found the time to type up and send this to me because I have no idea. I usually have to beg him to contribute to this Blog...

So, that's led me to this post (that I genuinely didn't know I was going to do). I just wanted to let you all know that there'll be a review to follow soon...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What's Going On...

I won't pretend that things haven't been too great for a while now - particularly last week when a young man lost his life in a tragic accident. It will be a while yet before those close to him will get over this loss and it's breaking my heart to see/hear what this young man's family and friends are going through. Heartfelt hugs and prayers going to everybody.

On the health-front I've also had the results back from my MRI scan. Until I have an appointment with my neurologist I won't understand exactly what they've discovered. What I do know is there's been a fair bit of myelin damage, but I guess I already knew that. It's a relief that they can now see exactly why I'm experiencing the symptoms that I have felt progressing - primarily with my vision, balance and dizziness.

It's no surprise that with everything that's been happening I'm very behind with my writing and studies. I'm trying to get back on track but progress is s-l-o-w. It's also eating into my time to visit blogs etc., for which I apologise.

Now I'm going to do something very selfish. It's likely to be a while before I can post again so I'm posting the video (that's now allowed to be embedded) of the wonderful LEE MEAD's debut single. It means I'll know where to come when I need a few minutes 'me' time.

I hope there are others who also enjoy Lee's performance as much as I do (I won't feel quite so selfish then ;-) )

Until next time, keep safe and happy reading and writing (and watching potential hero material ;-) )

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thoughts and Prayers...

It's been a difficult couple of days - my heartfelt prayers and hugs go out to somebody very close to me and her friends who are in shock and trying to come to terms with the sudden death of their friend who should have had a long life ahead of him.

This morning I also discovered a loss that is reverberating throughout the romance community - the recent death of Anne Weale. Please go here and here to read tributes to the life of this amazing woman.

Thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all who are grieving, and may those who have departed this world rest in peace.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dreams CAN come true!

Okay, it's my turn... JOSEPH really was wonderful! You know when you look forward to something SO much that there's always a risk that it'll fail to live up to your expections? Well, the musical and LEE MEAD were truly FANTASTIC!

I admit that I've been in the Joseph and Lee zone for a good part of this year but despite this I attended the musical with an OPEN mind. Joseph was the first West End musical I experienced back in 1991 with Jason Donovan, and I have VERY fond memories. Joseph was also the musical that first inspired and motivated me to try for my dreams - writing for Mills & Boon.

Oops, I digress, back to the 2007 production: From the moment the Narrator, played by FIONA REYES, entered the stage I knew we were in for a SPECTACULAR show. She had a LOT to live up to for me because in the 1991 production the Narrator, Linzi Hateley, was fabulous (better than Jason). FIONA REYES was AMAZING and a great match for Lee's strong voice.

Now, on to Lee... *deep breath* we-ell, the only thing I can say is that if I wasn't happily married... As a Romance Writer, and from a research perspective only, ;-) Lee is PERFECT hero material - he has charisma, a 100 watt smile to die for, a toned physique and a genuine warmth and sincerity for the heroine to fall in love with.

And I'm afraid that's all I'm going to say on the subject. A good writer doesn't reveal all her sources. ;-) BUT, because I love you so much I'll share something very special:

Here's a picture of the BACK OF MY HEAD...

(Photograph © Gray 2007)


and here's another one...

(Photograph © Gray 2007)


... but I'm invisible because I'm too busy remembering to breath (j/k).


And, one more...


(Photograph © Gray 2007)


... yes, that's my NOTEBOOK being signed (Jess, you know the one I mean)

and, lastly here's a message for LEE MEAD

"I'll tell you again -
You were fantastic!
Thanks for the special memories."



Sue & Gray
xx

P.S. Apologies for shouting but Blogger is playing up (for a change!).


Umm, did I mention yet that I've met LEE MEAD? ;-)







Our JOSEPH experience...

...So, we've made it into the theatre and as I walk into the foyer I find myself heading straight towards Adele Silva who's there with her mother. I felt a strong sense of deja-vous because I'd previously bumped into Adele a few years ago while shopping at Bluewater. I came so close to actually speaking to her this time but I felt so embarrassed because for the life of me I couldn't remember her name - only her character's name of Kelly who she played in Emmerdale. Adele was recently runner-up in this year's Hell's Kitchen on ITV.

We made our way to our seats (seven rows from the front :-) ) . As I sat down I remember feeling a little overwhelmed by the fact that I'd actually made it after everything that had happened. I'm going to pause here, to paste Gray's official review:


A clash of drums, a flash of light... and so Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new staging of JOSEPH and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat comes to London’s West End, complete with new effects, a new cast and a new lead actor fresh from BBC1’s talent show Any Dream Will Do, LEE MEAD.

(Photograph by Tristram Kenton © The Really Useful Group Ltd 2007)

It’s a musical that zings with energy and never lets up from the word go, packed with familiar songs and plenty of dance routines. The story, of Joseph’s growth from a vain young man to a wise ruler, is adeptly told and the supporting actors are all very good.

(Photograph by Tristram Kenton © The Really Useful Group Ltd 2007)

The production is laced with humour and colour and the special effects, including moving scenery and a hydraulic platform that lifts the star into the air over the audience, are fantastic. But the star of the show is the fresh faced Lee Mead, who makes the role his own and banishes any memories of Jason Donovan or Donny Osmond. Mead is vibrant, energetic and powerful and really comes into his own during his many solos, when the power of his voice rings out through the auditorium.

(Photograph by Tristram Kenton © The Really Useful Group Ltd 2007)

A dull moment never goes by and the production is a resounding success. Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a real treat for the senses and wholeheartedly recommended to all.


A VERY special surprise to follow...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hospitals, Hairdressers & 'Falling' for Lee Mead

... what a rollercoaster few days we've had! I've been very careful not to tempt fate by announcing what our plans for yesterday were, because I SO didn't want anything to go wrong. The past six weeks have been the best I've had in years (healthwise). For the first time since my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis I even began to wonder whether maybe, just maybe, I was experiencing a bit of how it must feel to be in remission.

For MONTHS Gray and I have both been looking forward to an overnight trip to London to see the new wonderful JOSEPH production, starring LEE MEAD. Everything was looking great and going to plan. On Friday I was feeling so well, that I made a last minute hair appointment with a salon in Covent Garden - a stone's throw from our hotel and the theatre.
I was as excited about getting my hair cut as I was seeing Lee because it's been a whole TEN MONTHS since I've been well enough to even make it for a trim at a local hairdressers!

Saturday was my last day working on our book and my studies. Sunday was going to be devoted to relaxing in preparation for Monday's trip, and packing an overnight case etc. But Sunday was the day our well-laid plans began to unravel...


The ENTIRE DAY was spent rushing my DD between two hospitals. We thought she was going to be admitted at least for the night, and possibly loads longer (if she needed the emergency operation they'd prepared us for). London, haircut, Lee Mead, Joseph was suddenly no longer important nor an option. DD went through numerous different tests, the operation was eventually ruled out BUT they still wouldn't discharge her until late at night (because of lack of organisation in the NHS more than anything else). DD had been Nil By Mouth all day and the intravenous drip she'd been told they were giving her never materialised. I'm going to cut a long story short because otherwise this post will turn into one BIG rant.


Suffice to say all turned out well by late that night :-) and she was finally discharged - only problem was I had walked into the hospital ward earlier that day, but left in the evening needing my wheelchair :-(. DD was adamant that her pain had lessened enough for her to still go to college the next day, and although I wasn't happy about it she is 18 years old and I had to respect her decision. I got up early on the Monday to grill her further before I let her go off to college with my blessing, and by this time I really didn't feel up to coping with a trip to London :-(. DD had insisted that we mustn't miss the show because the first time I bought tickets I had to pass them on because she was in Egypt - and she didn't want to be responsible for me missing Lee again.

Suddenly, our plans were back on - we were going to London; I was getting my haircut, we were going to see JOSEPH and I might even meet Lee :-D. With only an hour to get packed and ready, we finally made it to the train station and the journey was stress-free. :-)

The hairdresser was worth every penny and even Gray was thrilled with the results :-D. We'd even planned on having him take a new photo for the Blog... (can you can hear the 'BUT' coming...?)

We'd just walked around the corner when on a particularly bad cobbled street/uneven path I fell down like a sack of potatoes!

Luckily we'd gone down a side street so we weren't quite in the centre of Covent Garden, but it was still awful - and packed with people sitting outside a Bistro. People, who I hasten to add, sat watching my embarrassment without any intention of helping... (to be truthful in many ways I was grateful for this but all the same it would've been nice to have had the offer.)

The next ten minutes or so I passed in and out of consciousness (safe in the arms of my real-life hero :-)) and we eventually made it back to the hotel. We had an hour before we had to leave for the show and slowly but surely my strength came back and I was determined to still go. No way was I going to let anything stop me (not even my real-life hero's concern).

Monday, October 01, 2007

Study, study and MORE study...

...and I'm LOVING it!

Right now, I'm studying two courses (yep, you heard right): My next OU course has begun in earnest and, all being well it'll bring me 60 points closer to finishing my Honours degree. I'm praying that I'll have more success completing this course (A215 Creative Writing - YAY!) than I did with the English course earlier this year.

I was also in the right place at the right time (and that's very unusual for me!) and I was given an opportunity to join THIS course. How could I not jump at the chance? I'm so excited because today, coincidentally (or not ;-)) I had an Amazon delivery of THE WISDOM OF THE ENNEAGRAM - how about that for timing! Not only are Enneagrams a good source of adding depth to fictional characters, BUT they are also a source for spiritual growth which I'm very much in to.

So, as well as writing our Medical EVERY day (except yesterday as I was otherwise engaged with an MRI scanner), I'm studying EVERY day too. All of this is leaving me with even less time to procrastinate. Yep, you also heard that right - I've lost my crown for being Queen of Procrastination. The scary thing is that I'm not even missing it! I feel like self-discipline has finally taken hold of me - personally I blame Kate and Julie for motivating and inspiring me. (And it's Julie I also have to thank blame for the discovery of the above-mentioned Enneagrams book and technique for writing).

I hope you're all having as much fun as I am!

Bye for now,

Sue

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where has the time gone?

Has it really been two weeks since my last post? Amazing! We've been really busy and if I'm being truthful I need to slow things down a little - chronic fatigue is setting in.

Loads of exciting things have been happening - a couple of which I'm not going to mention for fear of jinxing them.

I've had my critique back from the NWS and, while I cringe at a couple of silly mistakes I hadn't spotted, overall it was positive. It's given me a lot of food for thought and all being well I'll revise my plot and the hero's character arc before Christmas. But first, Gray and I need to finish our Medical (we're hoping to complete it before the end of November).

On the health front I have an MRI scan coming up (on Sunday - 08.30am!). I haven't had an MRI since 2001, so while I'm a little nervous about what the results will be, I'm feeling positive that it will at least show what's been going on, particularly with my eyes, this past year.

I'll leave you with a few of our short-term goals:

November - complete Medical.
December - Brainstorm new plot/character arc for my Romance.
Gray to work on his Historical.
January - Both Gray and I to apply for RNA's NWS
February - Gray to submit his Historical to NWS
Submit Medical to NWS
March - Submit my new/improved Romance to M&B (EEK!)

So, as things stand right now, it's all good.

How are things going for
you?


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Brainstorming!

We have finished the outline for our Medical Romance! The past nine days have seen us brainstorming, arguing oops, I mean debating, and generally having heaps of FUN!

Seriously, neither of us knew when we embarked on this project (pumped with our knowledge attained at Julie & Kate's Workshop) that we would actually be able to do it - but it's WORKED!

Well, at least I think it has. This is where we're at:

Neither Gray or I have ever used this method of plotting before. For my last wip I tried using Gray's method of filling in Excel sheets on the computer but I never quite gelled with it. I can remember seeing this noticeboard method blogged about (on Fiona Harper's I think), and I loved the way it looked.

I should confess that I do have a stationery fetish, so I've been dying to have a 'real' reason to buy the different coloured record cards and gel pens for ages now! Gray wasn't intending to work from my plotting board, favouring documents on his computer, but we were BOTH surprised when we discovered that actually it's a FAB way of brainstorming/outlining. :-)

Firstly, we broke the structure down into twelve chapters, using columns for the beginning, middle and end sections of the story.

We used pink cards for scenes that are from the Heroine's POV, and blue for the Hero's. Later, we also used green to show us where there's a medical part. THEN, (remember I also needed a reason to justify buying different coloured gel pens), I used blue to write external bits that the reader is being shown, red, for the emotional conflict (yayy, it's got heaps) and feelings that the POV character is experiencing, and of course the green gel pen is for info briefly outlining the medical parts.

As we finished the outline for each chapter we also provisionally decided who's going to write the individual scene(s).

PHEW!

We both now plan to have a couple of days distance from the book, (Gray's also waiting for an additional research book to arrive), and we're going to try and get on top of the household chores (at least, I'll be delegating!). Then, we're going to come back to our cave and write out a full draft synopsis. *NEWSFLASH* Dare I say it, but synopses aren't scaring me at the moment - long may this contine (please)!

Once that's done and dusted I'm probably going to panic because we'll be ready to start... *deep breath*...Chapter One...

Monday, September 03, 2007

PHS Hugh Jackman Tour 2007

Remember last year at the Pink Heart society?

No? Really? How could you forget!

Well, here's a couple of pics to jog your memory, because it's THAT time of year again...



Oopsie, did I say two pictures?


I LIED!



:-D


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Our New Project

When I sent my Romance off to the NWS earlier this week I planned to tackle a rewrite of last year's unfinished HMB Medical U:MN.

Every writer knows what a lonely business writing is, and with the added stress of my chronic fatigue and other MS symptoms, I struggle more often than not. I've always secretly harboured a dream of writing with somebody else, after all a pain shared is a pain halved, right?!

Gray and I have even entertained the idea of collaborating and writing a book together from time to time, but for whatever reason it's never taken off.

Until now.

Imagine my surprise when Gray told me a couple of days ago that he felt ready to give it a go. I was all poised to work on last year's manuscript when he stopped me with his suggestion. I almost didn't believe it was going to be for real this time, but as of yesterday we now have our characters and a setting!

Our journey has begun!

He's still going to work on his Historical Romance, but we're also going to write a HMB Medical Romance together! We are both SO excited. We've yet to discover whether we can really write together because we both work completely differently - Gray's a plotter while I'm half pantser and half plotter. I also prefer visual images to help me capture the story, while all Gray needs is his Excel document. I know one thing for sure - it's going to be one heck of a challenge, and if yesterday's brain storming session is anything to go by, it's also going to be heaps of fun!

Watch this space (and that little guy up there^^^^).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

IT'S ALL GOOD!

I've had such a brilliant day!


  • Gray posted my NWS submission - EEEK!

  • My grown-up daughter returned home safely from EGYPT!

  • I received an email notifying me that I'd won Philippa Ashley's new Little Black Dress release Wish You Were Here!

and, as if that's not enough,


after spending ALL DAY yesterday (from 9am) cleaning and organising our office, today I worked in there - ALL DAY!


Note to self:



  • I'm going to try and work in there for at least a part of every day (apart from when a relapse forces me into bed).

  • I'm going to ensure that I take proper breaks to stop my muscles from ceasing up (more than usual!).

  • I'm going to WRITE every day (even if it's just a Blog post or an email).

Did I mention yet that it's all good? :-D



Sunday, August 26, 2007

Synopsis

Oh.My.Goodness...

...I think I've completed my first EVER synopsis!!!!!

I can hardly believe it. It was a necessary evil that I had to do for the RNA's NWS. I was dreading it, not least because I haven't even finished the book!

Not only do I now have a real synopsis, but it's filled me with confidence for finishing my manuscript - I now have a real template to work from!

*Happy Sigh*

Now all I need to do is find the courage to press PRINT for the 139 pages I have written of my book.

HELP!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Erasing the Guilt-Trip

One of the hardest lessons I've been trying to learn is to STOP feeling guilty.

In this post I'm going to refer to the guilt trips I have where my writing's concerned. They mainly occur:
  • When I'm NOT writing
  • When I AM writing
and they even surface about:
  • WHAT I'm writing
Thankfully, something inside of me is now screaming for me to:


Reasons to heed this instruction are:

  • Why should anybody feel guilty when they're not writing? EVERYBODY deserves a regular break, don't they?
  • Why should anybody feel guilty when they are writing? Writing is good - for EVERYBODY, even people who don't consider themselves to be a writer. It is especially good for those who are seeking publication - no writing is EVER wasted even if it never sees the light of day.
  • Why feel guilty about what you are writing? Okay, so I'm writing on this Blog for fun, but it's still WRITING. Even, responding to emails is WRITING. And the more you write (no matter what the content) the more you NEED to write. In fact it can become an addiction, but for WRITERS this is a GOOD habit to be in.

What do you think? Do you experience guilt-trips?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Learned Something Today...

... The Story of an Aspiring Romance Writer (or two) is over one YEAR old and I never even noticed!!! On its birthday (Tuesday 18th April) I suspect I was too busy enjoying (not!) my second MS relapse of 2007!

Back on my first day's blogging in September 2006 I said:

‘‘I don't even know whether I can complete a whole novel.
The good news for everyone else is that I believe if you can see me struggle, little by little, word by word, and eventually finish it, it will motivate you to give it a go
too.
’’
Well, what can I say? I wasn't exaggerating when I said the word struggle, was I?!!

Okay, so I STILL haven't finished a complete manuscript.

Am I disappointed? In a word,

NO!

How can I be?
I'm still TRYING
and
I haven't given up.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that there is a right time for everything. With the benefit of retrospect I can now see that there's no way I'd have been ready to make it with my writing last year, or even this year. As for next year, I don't even want to think that far ahead!

I may not make it for a long time yet, but one thing I know for sure is that I'm having heaps of FUN trying - and I'm no longer in a rush. It's more important to enjoy the journey, because who knows what's around the corner (i.e. real deadlines and pressure..?).

If you too are struggling please don't be tempted to give up. Take a break frequently and don't ever feel like you're failing.

ALWAYS remember one thing:

NEVER GIVE UP

you WE

CAN do it!

Monday, August 20, 2007

WARNING: I'm on my way back..! (Sshh)

Okay, so I'm changeable! But as I keep reminding Gray, I'm a woman and women are allowed to change their minds!

I'll be honest, I'm still not where I need to be, but the important thing is that I'm on my way and I'm no longer where I used to be. I've discovered how much I MISS YOU GUYS and that my 'net friends are as much a part of my life as my real friends.

A lot of things have happened since my last post and these have included TWO exciting events in the last two WEEKS.

Firstly, Gray whisked me away for an intense week's holiday - our first in over two years. I'd dreamt of getting away from it all but nothing could've prepared me for the fantastic and PEACEFUL time we had. We started in the Pennines and travelled a loop encompassing Northumbria's National Park, the Scottish borders, and back down towards Northumbria (using the coastal route), ending more or less back where we started - Catherine Cookson country.

No sooner did we arrive home than we were off again - this time to the exciting opportunity of attending a workshop given by Kate Walker and Julie Cohen! To say that Gray and I had the best time EVER is an understatement. I'll leave you to visit Kate's Blog (and Julie's) for more details of the wonderful time we've all had.

I'm going to go again now while I recover from the intensive two weeks I've had (which I didn't dream I'd ever be well enough to manage), and then I've got to settle down for some serious writing to meet the RNA's NWS deadline (of which I only have ONE WEEK left!).

I'll be back more frequently in September (when I hope to become a regular visitor to your Blogs again), and I even anticipate actually adding a few posts here about WRITING (!!).

See you all again soon.

Sue :-)
xx

P.S. I'd like to give a HUGE thanks to both Kate and Julie for being so lovely and generous with their advice, and THANK YOU to everybody else who attended and made the memories so special (and funny!). Most of all, I'd love to give GRAY a huge THANK YOU and millions of hugs for making everything possible (along with the Arts Council), as well as being brave enough to accompany me into the lair of a dozen women talking about SEX (which we blame Julie for!!). Oh, and I'd also like to thank HUGH JACKMAN for looking so gorgeous in his yellow towel!!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A not so temporary hiatus...

... Hm. Where to start?

I've been doing lots of thinking (for a change). And also lots of not thinking, i.e. relaxing, and enjoying it. I've come to a conclusion (one of many) - I need to go into lurkdom in my virtual world. This means stopping my visible presence.

I've been on one heck of a journey since 2006 especially where my health's concerned, and it's a journey that isn't going to get easier any time soon. I'm learning heaps along the way - not only about myself but about other people too.

I am blessed with so much. I have so much to be thankful for. I have met some wonderful people in Blogworld and made some wonderful friendships with people I've genuinely grown to care about. This place has changed my life - in a good way.

I'm not stopping the blog and, indeed, MsCreativity may well crop up from time to time. Even if she can't be seen, be assured that she'll still be here - lurking - somewhere.

I'm also not stopping the writing - as if I could even if I wanted to! Wordcounters will still move from time to time. And, you never know, books may even get written!

I will no doubt see you every now and again on the various writers' groups/forums and for those in the RNA community I may even get to meet you in real life too.

In the meantime, thank you ALL for your wonderful support and encouragement, and I pray that you stay safe and happy. May all your writing dreams come true.

Lots of love,
Sue :-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

ANOTHER Temporary Hiatus...

...BUT I WILL be back.

I'm trying to be kind to myself. This has been a tough couple of years where the multiple sclerosis is concerned and while I'm NOT giving up I AM giving in - for a little while anyway.

I used to think it was the steroids that made me feel so ill, but no, it's the ms and part of the relapse. I'm not allowed to have any more steroids, and to be honest, as this is my THIRD relapse THIS year they don't do an awful lot of good!

So, instead of fighting this damn disease I'm giving IN (not up) and letting it take its course with as much grace as I can muster.

All prayers and good thoughts welcome.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Jinxed - again!

I had plans for this evening. I was so looking forward to tonight that I tried not to breathe a word to anybody about it for fear that I would jinx it (as usual).

Well, guess what happened?!

This evening I was due to go to a talk with the wonderful Katie Fforde but since two days ago I've gone into another relapse - my THIRD this year!!!

Not only have I lost my legs again, but I have double vision - which I haven't had since the onset of this disease back in 2000.

I must say, I've wondered many, many times whether I should give up trying to live the writer's life, but you know what? I'm not going to.

This year I've also been disappointed because I'm unable to attend the RNA's conference.

Something else I've also not mentioned is that I've been looking forward to meeting Kate Walker and Julie Cohen on a weekend workshop they're running together. Reality tells me that I'm going to have to drop out of this too :-(.

I also still have at least another 20,000 words of my manuscript to finish to meet the deadline of the RNA's NWS - but you know what? I'm done with worrying!

Even if I have to send them a partial manuscript I'm NOT GIVING UP! I'm going to do my best to accept this latest relapse gracefully and be grateful for everything I have got - especially my wonderful hubby. Gray couldn't be more supportive and I'm blessed to have him in my life.

Things could be so much worse, and in reality I am very lucky. I am lucky in my virtual life too - I have made many wonderful friends - and I appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you.

With much love,

Sue :-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Looking Forward

You may have noticed that once again I haven't been around for a while. To be truthful I've been struggling - and my recent fall set me back again too.

I've had two medical appointments this week and I'm pleased to say I can once again see light at the end of the tunnel.

I've been treading treacle with my wip but I think it'll be okay - the problem's me more than my characters, so I just need to remember to be kinder to myself. When I'm fatigued and have other health stuff going on I just don't have the energy to add the required conflict to my writing.

Thankfully, the remainder of my plot is now unfolding and there's heaps of conflict going on. The best thing is I now can't wait to finish the first draft because I'm getting inspiration for the rewrite. I've discovered something that I can do to crank up the conflict at the very beginning of the story. If I can pull it off it will have loads more conflict.

I'm looking forward to becoming a regular visitor to your Blogs again soon.

Wishing everybody a great weekend!

Sue :-)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lee Mead IS JOSEPH

Thank goodness the Any Dream Will Do competition is now over! Thank goodness that the right guy won! Thank goodness Lee Mead is JOSEPH!

IMHO, Paint it Black is the performance that showcased the amazing talent that Lee Mead has. But throughout the gruelling weeks it's been Lee's grounded attitude that has shown him for the true professional he really is.






MEGA CONGRATULATIONS LEE!!!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

OOPSY-DAISY!!!!

The past few weeks have seen me having numerous stumbles/near-falls, but the security of fixtures and fittings around the house have been there for support and have saved me... until last night, that is!

Suffice to say my luck run out!! It could have been a lot worse but my body still took a huge jolt and it's triggered off a few of my MS symptoms - in particular vibrations/tremors.

The upshot is I've got to take things very easy for a while - which means my writing may not progress much over the next few days :-(.

The good news is that I have some fabulous reading to keep me busy - starting with Kate Hardy's ModX Breakfast at Giovanni's :-).

I'll be back again before too long, when (I hope) I'll be adding to my word count.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Lee Mead - Daydream Believer



Okay, I admit I'm guilty as charged - I've been dreaming again..!

Sue :-)

P.S. Did I mention yet that Lee Mead HAS to win the role of Joseph?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What Works for Me

I've found my comfort zone where my writing's concerned. My target is to write 500 words a day /3,500 a week on my WIP. No matter how hard it is for the words to come I know that this is achievable.

I've learned (the hard way as usual!) that when I have a
bad writing day - when the words just will not flow - it's usually because there's something wrong with my plan/outline. For example, the thing that I planned is going to happen, doesn't, and this is often because it's wrong for the character.

BUT
, even on a bad day, if I force myself to spend time working on the problem, I've discovered that I can often turn bad into productive - and this in turn can lead to the next few days being good days.

Take the past two days for example. I've been letting fear of hitting the
sagging middle freeze my brain. I refused to put fingers to keyboard/voice to software/pen to paper (I'm a typical stubborn Taurean) until I was clear what I had to do to avoid the sagging middle becoming part of my next chapter. Trish Wylie helped by talking about this on her Blog last Friday.

So, I've written very little on my wip
but I've kept my head in the story. And, I've finally realised that this is the key. Even these non-writing days haven't been wasted because my subconscious has been working on the problem 24/7. And I now have a plan. I know with a certain amount of confidence that I have enough to take me through the next chapter, and before I get to the end of that chapter I should have a fair idea about the next.

As you can see, I've spent the best part of today establishing this. I then procrastinated some more and worked out just how long it'll take me to finish my first draft working on the 500 words a day scenario:

TUESDAY 10th JULY

For the eagle-eyed among you (*cough* Gray *cough*) you will have noticed that I've tampered a tiny bit with my word counter. I've suddenly lost 2,000 words and gained 1% into the bargain - how did that happen?! *whistling innocently*

There IS a perfectly logical reason for this. I've figured I only need 48,000 words for my first draft because I need to leave room for plenty of rewriting/layering on the polished version. Makes sense, right?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Eight things you really don't need to know about me!

I've been tagged by Jess to reveal eight random facts/habits about me. This is a tag that comes with rules:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts or habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their eight things with a copy of these rules.
3. At the end of your blog you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a note saying they've been tagged.


*Deep breath* Okay, here goes:

  1. I hate breaking rules... but I realise *some rules are made to be broken starting with rules 2-4 above! (hehehe!)

  2. I'm more of a starter than a finisher as my many unfinished works-in-progress, embroidery cross-stitch kits, unopened water colour palette, knitting patterns, unused baking ingredients, half-a-diploma (need I go on..?) will testify!!
  3. I always have to be doing something creative... I can even be seen to make an art out of doing absolutely nothing (and this has taken me years of practice to make it believable!).
  4. I fall in love easily (especially with my latest hero/favourite song/book/chocolate...) .
  5. Once I've fallen in love I am the most loyal person ever... until I'm hurt...
  6. See 5 above and believe me, you do NOT want to see me when I'm angry! ;-)
  7. Since I've habitated a 'virtual' world I've also been known as NeverGiveUp and Spanishdreams
  8. Listening to or watching Joseph (the original soundtrack with Jason Donovan or the Donny Osmond musical), makes me cry every time! (Btw, I will NOT continue watching BBC's Any Dream Will Do if they eliminate Lee (who is fast becoming another of my prospective heroes for future works-in-progress).
*I will not be held responsible for encouraging anyone else to break rules in whatever shape or form!!!! DS and DD, yes, this means YOU!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

An Interview With Jeanne Whitmee


I am thrilled to be able to post an interview that was kindly given to me by a long-standing friend of mine, Jeanne Whitmee. I first got to know Jeanne back in the mid-‘90s when I began aspiring to write for Mills & Boon. It was Jeanne’s advice of NEVER GIVE UP that has held me in good stead over the past thirteen years.

Jeanne, can you tell us what kind of career you had before becoming a writer?
I trained at drama school in the hope of making a career in the theatre, but only worked for a short time before marriage and children took over! I always had the urge to write since childhood and once I had a little free time that was what I turned to.

Who/what were your early inspirations?
My early inspirations were wide and varied - from Dickens to Enid Blyton. Later my favourite authors were R F Delderfield and H E Bates. Writers who knew how to tell a good story.

When did you become a published writer?
I first became a published author in the early seventies.

Can you take us through your journey – when you made your first sale, what it was like when you first saw your name in print and how long it took you to go from aspiring to published?
Wow! What a tall order. The first thing I ever sold was an article on the history of cosmetics to the local paper for a special edition. I received the princely sum of £1.00. My first short story came much later - probably a couple of years. It was to a woman's magazine and I was totally over the moon and thought I was made. However, the fiction editor who bought that story left the magazine and it was back to square one for me. Try and try again, though eventually I did sell regularly to several women's magazines; short stories and later romantic/suspense serials. My first novel was written during this time and by then I had acquired an agent. The book went the rounds for two years before it sold. If it hadn't been for my agent's perseverance it would have been thrown away long before then!

How would you describe the kind of novels you write?
I've written historical romances, from the eighteenth century to WWII and the fifties. I've written a couple of contemporary mysteries and for ten years I wrote Mills and Boon romances with medical backgrounds. At the moment and for several years past I've been writing what are loosely termed 'sagas'.

What type of writer are you - a planner or a spontaneous 'pantser'; plot-driven or character-led?
I like strong characters and meaty plots and I find that the two go hand-in-hand. An idea usually comes first, then I find two characters and they take over from there. My years of writing for magazines taught me to plan carefully - magazine editors always wanted to see exactly what they would be getting and old habits die hard. I still work that way.

How much research do you do and what kind?
It really depends what kind of book you're writing. Historical detail is important and I feel I have to get it right. There are plenty of books on period, food, costume etc. And plenty on historical fact. When writing the medical background books I always found there was nothing like asking the professionals. They always seem happy and willing to share their knowledge with you and love to see their names in the 'credits'.

At what pace do you work?
I like to work what I refer to as 'office hours'. I find a book makes its own pace and I like to beaver away while it's flowing. A lot is said and written about 'writers' block'. If the words won't come I find it is folly to force them. I just pack up for the day and work in the garden or wash the kitchen floor. I usually find that the reason is that something I've written recently isn't quite right and doing another job usually triggers the memory. Once that has been put right the words flow again. It's all a matter of the subconscious giving you a dig in the ribs.

Can you give us an idea of your typical working day?
As I've said above, I like to have a routine. I don't believe in 'waiting for the muse'. The brain seems to get into gear when you sit down at your desk at nine o'clock. If I waited for the muse I think I'd wait a long time! I just take the phone off the hook, make a strong cup of coffee and get down to it.

Can you tell us about your latest release, *Wishes and Dreams?
Wishes and Dreams is set in WWII and follows the lives of two girls, one struggling to make a life whilst caring for a sick and cantankerous father, the other a young aspiring actress who works as a hairdresser to pay for acting lessons. When she sees the chance to join ENSA and entertain the troops she jumps at it, but things do not work out quite as she had hoped. Both heroines have a long, hard struggle with disappointments and tragedy along the way, but both finally win out in ways neither could possibly have foreseen.

What are you currently working on?
I've just completed my next novel. This one has a contemporary theme and has to do with a surrogacy that goes wrong and the effect it has on the lives of seven people two decades later.

Who are your favourite authors?
The authors I admire a lot at present are Philippa Gregory and Ken Follett. I tend not to read writers who write the same kind of books as me.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
This is a tough one. When I started out there were a lot of magazines that published fiction and it was a wonderful training ground. Nowadays, sadly, there are not as many. I'd say just write what you want to write. Everything is good practice. Don't aim too high to begin with. But if you want to sell your work make sure you are writing what editors want. Invest in a copy of the Writer and Artists' Year Book and look for your own particular genre and who is publishing it, whether it be magazine articles, stories or novels.

There are also agents listed and once you get an agent interested you're in with a good chance. The trouble is that agents need to see some proof of success - at least one sale. I'm afraid it's something of a 'catch twenty-two' situation.

There are quite a few writers' summer schools around nowadays. They are always good value and it's great to share your experiences and hopes with fellow hopefuls. I can recommend them. Professional writers are the most generous people - always happy to share their knowledge.

Don't expect to make a fortune at writing unless you become an international best seller. Do expect disappointments but whatever you do don't give up!!!. I actually wrote for five years before that first sale!

Having been brutally frank about the down side of writing I'd like to add that if you're a true writer and love what you're doing writing is its own reward. In spite of all the pitfalls I wouldn't want to be anything else.

All the very best of luck to all aspiring authors.

Jeanne, thank you so much for taking the time to share your wealth of knowledge and experience with us!

* Many of Jeanne's titles are available here

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tuesday is the new Monday

Over in the UK we've just enjoyed a long Bank Holiday weekend. And something weird happened to me. I relaxed!

Then today, being Tuesday, was back-to school/college/work. It felt good. There was none of that Monday feeling (although I'm speaking for myself and not my DS or DD). I awoke feeling bright-ish, and by 9.30am I had read my daily Bible reading, finished my few minutes of physio exercise, checked my email AND had a shower and miracle of miracles even spent time/energy blow-drying my hair!!!!

As I'm writing this, I have also had the pleasure of updating my word counter - again! Yep, it's not even lunch-time and I've already achieved my daily word target of 500 words. WOW! I'm stunned. What's changed? My health? Nope. Since my birthday I've had major problems (again) with my eyes/vision, and they're still not back to normal.

I think I'm realising what has changed though - my attitude. It's about refusing to feel stressed out no matter what, and instead, becoming determined to have a Positive Mental Attitude. Let me tell you, PMA is a much better experience than PMT - and it's one I intend to practise from hereonin.

I'm now off to treat myself to watching one of my many new DVDs I've been given, knowing that I've accomplished (for me) lots today (including*whispering* heehee, my percentage overtaking Gray's :-D).

Wishing everybody a productive week.

Sue :-)