~ Join us on a journey of passion and adventure ~

Friday, December 19, 2008

Remembering...

Mistletoe Miracles


This is one of the (many) books I have inherited. It belonged to my Grandmother who died recently. I shared her love for Mills and Boon and in my early teens I used to love delving into her huge collection.

The bulk of my grandmother's books are still in boxes - yet this morning I came across Mistletoe Miracles sitting on the side table next to my sofa. Last night I finished the M&B I'd been reading and I'd planned to read the next M&B on my TBR pile (one that I'd purchased a couple of months ago).

Sitting here, looking at this Christmas book with the spine showing how well-read and loved it has been by my grandmother, I know I have to read it next. I know that I'm in for one emotional but enjoyable read and during this Christmas period I'm going to feel close to my nan...

Friday, December 05, 2008

WHAT I'M CURRENTLY WRITING:

MEDICAL ROMANCE: Beth & Josh's story


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

When you can be too patient

There are many times when I can be very impatient. For instance, when I want something I want it now (note to Gray, as in the Christmas wrapping paper that's hidden somewhere precarious...). I don't like waiting (unless of course it's to finish the h-u-g-e pile of ironing that never seems to go down, even though the kids aren't around anymore :-/).


There are times however, when I have patience in abundance. Like when I finally submitted my manuscript. Now, this never used to be the case - in the old days I used to sit around waiting for the postman for a sign of my stamped addressed postcard acknowledging the safe receipt of my manuscript. Nowadays, of course, (:^P) I'm so busy with other writing projects that I barely notice...(okay, that might be a teeny little fib). I do notice a little bit. BUT, it's only for a second before I get on with my other writing projects.


These past weeks I have learnt the hard way, that you CAN be too patient - even when submitting your manuscript to M&B. Mills & Boon are so helpful to their aspiring yet-to-be published writers that they ALWAYS take the time to acknowledge each submission no matter how inundated they are.

If weeks go by (as they did in my case) and you haven't received an acknowledgement and/or reference no. it's very likely that your manuscript hasn't been received. It took me ages before I contacted M&B to ask if they'd received my ms. I was too scared to bother them knowing how busy they are. It turned out that they never received it and I was asked to email it to them again - which I did. Only I never learnt my lesson - weeks later I still hadn't received confirmation - but did I contact them again? No! I was still too scared believing it was pestering them and their silence was merely a sign of how busy they all were.

WRONG! Once again, filled with a moment's courage, I pushed send on an email to ask the dreaded question...and a reply immediately came back telling me they still never received it. The upshot is that I emailed my manuscript a third time and yesterday finally received the magical letter confirming their receipt of my manuscript with a reference no..!

The moral to this story is (and there sort of is one - for me anyway) I could have saved myself weeks and weeks of waiting - and if I had I might have been halfway through 'the' real wait by now, IF I hadn't let the fear freeze me.

I'm now, once again, HAPPY to be patient. Yes, now the waiting REALLY begins, but that's okay because at least I KNOW my manuscript is sitting on an editor's desk.


How patient/impatient are you?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sharpe's Peril

Sharpe’s Peril (2008)

Genre: Historical/Adventure


Stars: Sean Bean, Daragh O’Malley, Amit Behl, Beatrice Rosen, Michael Cochrane, Steve Speirs, Velibor Topic


The “Plot”


Sharpe and Harper run foul of an opium smuggler in India and must devise a way to beat him.


The Real Story


Sharpe’s Peril follows on from Sharpe’s Challenge. Sharpe and Harper are still trying to find their way out of India, although they keep getting sidetracked. They join up with some soldiers currently escorting a prisoner cross-country, and they soon find themselves caught up in conflict after running foul of an opium smuggler. Action, ranging from swordfights to gun battles and a siege, soon follow. Sharpe’s Peril was broadcast in two separate episodes. The first sets up the action, and is quite talky and heavy on the explanation. The second half is pure action and thoroughly engaging.


The two episodes combine to make this one of the best Sharpe adventures yet. Sean Bean has never been better, here playing a grizzled Colonel who’s seen too much of warfare and just wants to be out of it all. Daragh O’Malley brings a deft comic touch as Harper, while the other, new cast members are superb. Amit Behl turns what could have been a caricature into an affecting portrayal of a wronged man who retains his dignity, while Velibor Topic is a hateful villain. Beatrice Rosen is a particularly appealing love interest, and gets to show greater depth than most. Kudos also to a returning Michael Cochrane, who looks to be having a ball.



With spectacular Indian locations, some excellent stuntwork, colourful costumes, a cast of actors and actresses prepared to give it their all and plenty of emotion to go along with the action, Sharpe’s Peril is the best that television has to offer. A splendid outing that doesn’t suffer in any way from not being based on one of the Bernard Cornwell novels.


Review written by Gray

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Michael Crichton has died


(photo taken from Washington Post)

The award-winning American author, best known for his television series E. R. as well as his blockbuster novel Jurassic Park, has died at the age of 66 after a long, private battle with cancer.


Crichton first hit the literary scene at the beginning of the 1970s with the release of his novel The Andromeda Strain, a science fiction effort written while he was still a medical student. The novel proved enormously successful and a film version followed, cementing the author’s reputation as an enormously intelligent writer who managed to make both science and medicine fun and interesting.


Over the years, the author worked on dozens of novels, many of which were later filmed. Successes include Westworld (he also directed the excellent adaptation with Yul Brynner), The Terminal Man, Rising Sun, Disclosure, Sphere, Congo and Timeline. Two of his most popular works were Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World, books and films which dominated the 1990s and which gave dinosaurs a level of popularity they hadn’t enjoyed in the mainstream media since the heyday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book, also entitled The Lost World, in 1912.


Crichton also put his medical training to good use. He wrote the screenplay for and directed the 1978 classic Coma, an intense thriller about organ harvesting starring Genevieve Bujold. He also devised the hit television series E. R. in 1994 and served as executive producer up until the time of his death.


With his many books, Crichton helped to bring respect and credibility to the science fiction genre. Some of his books may have been better than others, but they all achieved an important principle: they remained realistic and believable, not matter how outrageous the storyline.


I doubt any other author, living or dead, could have created a frightening, pulse-pounding read about a theme park full of dinosaurs. Rest in peace, Michael.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

FINISH your manuscript!

For me, this is the first time I’ve ever had a completed manuscript to work on, and I have to say that I now understand why the best advice an aspiring writer can ever receive (and we often don’t want to hear it) is to FINISH the book.


This in itself is a major accomplishment for any writer (published or unpublished) and it feels FANTASTIC. I now feel confident enough to share my experiences with other writers who are also aspiring to publication.


No matter how long the writing process has taken you or is yet to take you (and I’ve also learned that there are no hard and fast rules) it’s still a BIG MASSIVE achievement when you can finally sit back and say (with a relieved sigh!), that yes, you’ve done it. You’ve finally WRITTEN a book!!

You’re probably already aware that the path of writing hasn’t been a smooth one for me. While I’ve been writing on and off forever, I never took myself or my ambitions as a writer seriously until 2006.

I can now look back and realise that this was definitely my first turning point. I did something I’d never done openly before - I acknowledged (to myself as well as others) that I AM a writer – and a ROMANCE writer, no less! And, to be honest, from that very moment I’ve never stopped being a writer.

I have many moments when I’m assuaged with insecurities but I now understand that pretty much every writer goes through this – although not everyone (thank God) is as sensitive as me - and I’m not unique with my struggles. I think there’s something about wanting to believe (as an ‘aspiring’ writer in the midst of these struggles) that things WILL get easier – one day. But sadly I am realising that this will never happen (sorry guys). The very essence of being a writer is struggling with these insecurities for a large part of the time.


That’s when you know you are indeed a WRITER.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Story of an ASPIRING romance writer

I’m going to start Blogging posts about WRITING which is what, all those years ago, I always planned to do (however infrequently).

But first…

*WARNING: RANT ALERT*


…let me start with one of my gripes.


If you are a writer who hasn’t (yet) been published, does this make you a ‘wanna-be’ writer, or a ‘would-be’ writer?


One thing I’ve acknowledged of late is that I’m a sensitive kind of girl. I don’t like the term ‘wanna-be’ in any field (unless, of course, it’s for the new era of kids who only ‘wanna’ grow up to be famous). I mean, before I had my children (only example I can think of at this time) did that make me a ‘wanna-be’ Mother? Did my aspirations make me a lesser person than somebody who already was a mother? No, of course not. But I digress.


I personally think that if somebody has a passion for something (be it writing, painting, music or whatever,) and they spend their life wanting, yearning, working towards their goal then they ARE a… (writer/artist/musician – you fill the blank). I can’t help but feel that the term ‘wanna-be’ or ‘would-be’ conjure up a negative image and somehow undermine (in this case) the writer who has been working darned hard (often for years), and aspires to be published. So, for this reason, from this point forward I’m out I’ll never use these terms out of respect for fellow ‘aspiring to be published’ writers. ‘Aspiring’ sounds so much nicer, don’t you think?


Published or not, you/we ARE writers! Glad I’ve cleared this up – no offence intended :-).


You may have noticed that I’ve also (finally) discovered that this is MY Blog, so I can say what I like, can’t I? Oh my goodness, I’ve spent far too much time with my teenagers (rebellious…who, MOI?)!



Monday, October 20, 2008

Quick Note

If, like me, you’re at the point of revising your manuscript, head on over to Julie Cohen’s blog where a very interesting discussion has been taking place. I love reading about other writer’s processes and it’s always great to discover that I’m not alone with my fears or struggles.


Pop back tomorrow when I’ll be posting again…

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update [3]

Okay, I'm going to try and cut a very long story short:

Gray and I both knew a lot of life-changes were on the horizon but neither of us were prepared with just how many there'd be.

Firstly, my DS made a life-changing decision to fly the nest - something that at times I still feel emotional about.

Then circumstances dictated that we needed to move (downsize). Initially we embraced this notion by planning to move to Cumbria/Northumbria/Scottish Borders and live our dream 'writing' life. This all fell through at the last minute and (now that I have the benefit of hindsight I thank God that it did).

The downsizing still took place but we found a gorgeous (if tiny) cottage in a rural village less than 10 miles away from where we were.

Still in the process of moving (*shudder* a d-i-y move that Gray insisted on *shudder*) we received confirmation that (see Update [1]) I needed a major operation to sort out additional health problems to my MS.

With less than a week in our new home (with all the problems that come with it) I was admitted into hospital for the operation.

And here I am...
...almost two week's post-op and recovering well.

I still have a while to go before I fully heal/recover from the operation, but already I have resumed my writing. I'm aiming to finish polishing/editing the M&B Medical for my NWS deadline (end August).

I'm not back in the true sense of the word - either in the real-world or virtual - yet. But I'm on my way. I'm currently typing this with one finger while I can't use my laptop as a LAPtop (typically my wonderful Dragon software is still packed somewhere)!

Before I end this post I'd just like to say that these past four months have been hard, and then some. I almost reached the point where I wondered whether I would ever write another word again. But, my previous difficult times (healthwise) have shown me that my writing will return in its own time.

In fact, I now understand that being a writer never leaves. Even when I'm unable to put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard my mind is always processing the next plot line, new story or reading.

The important thing for all of us writers to remember is that whatever life throws at us, we must NEVER GIVE UP!

Much Love,
Sue xx


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Update [2] From Gray: ALL CHANGE!

Things have been pretty busy for Sue and me in the past month or so and we’ve had to work hard to avoid getting too derailed. Along with the usual health worries and situations, we’ve had to sit back and take stock of the situation. One pressing matter was the issue of money coming in the door – there’s no way we’re giving up our writing for Mills & Boon, but we realised that it’s a long and winding route to publication. I’ve decided to change route and expand my horizons a little to encompass more than just novel writing, which is why I’ve set up my own website to offer just that. From now on, my timetable encompasses all types of writing!

The second surprise of the month was all thanks to Kate Walker, who kindly put us in touch with a lady named Julie Moggan – she’s a freelance documentary film-maker, currently putting together a film to celebrate Mills & Boons’ centenary. In a nutshell, Julie came to see us both, and we spent a very enjoyable day getting filmed and talking about our love of reading and writing together. Even if nothing comes to fruition, Sue and I still found it a great chance to get our thoughts together and refocus on our writing goals.

So the plan now is just to work, work, work. We’re facing plenty of change in the coming summer months, but hopefully things will work out for the best – and we’ll both end up all the stronger for it. Back to Word!



~ Gray ~


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What are YOU reading?

Jess has tagged me:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open it to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you've posted your three sentences.
As is often the way with me, I make things complicated! I created a dilemma for myself because the nearest book to me was *cringe* my own that I'm polishing for the NWS. So, here it is:

At various times during the week he’d tried to approach her, concerned about her wan, lack-lustre complexion. But Beth had met each attempt with cold rejection. She’d made it clear that Josh’s help was the last thing she needed. Or wanted.

Now, for a REAL book - the one I'm reading at the moment. For the first time in ages, I've had an urge to read a new-to-me Jane Austen novel. A film on TV a couple of weeks ago Miss Austen Regrets, pulled me in and I was hooked by the portrayal of Jane's character. It showed her writerly thoughts, and was set during the time she was writing Emma. As soon as the film ended (after putting a spontaneous order in to Play to order my own copy of the DVD) I went straight to the bookcase to find the book itself, which I'm almost ashamed to admit I've never read, despite having owned all Austen's works for years.
The weather was most favourable for her ; though Christmas Day, she could not go to church. Mr. Woodhouse would have been miserable had his daughter attempted it, and she was therefore safe from either exciting or receiving unpleasant and most unsuitable ideas. The ground covered with snow, and the atmosphere in that unsettled state between frost and thaw, which is of all others the most unfriendly for exercise, every morning beginning in rain or snow, and every evening setting in to freeze, she was for many days a most honourable prisoner.





I'm LOVING this story. For me, Miss Austen Regrets has shown me just who Jane Austen was, not only as a writer but as a woman living in Regency times. As I read Emma I'm recognising traits that most likely reflect those of Jane herself. I now feel a hunger for learning all things Jane Austen, and I'm looking forward to reading all her other novels that are waiting for me on my bookcase.

I'm not going to tag five other people because I've been out of 'the loop' in Blog World for far too long. If, by some miracle [vbg], there is anybody reading this please consider yourself tagged!


~ Sue ~






Sunday, May 11, 2008

Update [1]


On the health front there have been many things going on with me
in addition to my usual MS symptoms. I'm still undergoing various tests to determine whether my visual problems are associated with Glaucoma. I won't know until the middle of June at the earliest. However, several weeks ago my eyes became the least of my problems.


For the first time in my life I've had the threat hanging over me of a possible blood transfusion. On top of my 'normal' chronic fatigue from the MS I became even more wiped out than usual, and close to fainting whenever I moved. I won't pretend I wasn't scared for a while. Being stubborn and loathing the necessity to see a doctor I tried to wait things out, hoping that 'this too shall pass' [King Solomon]. However, when the situation worsened still further I was left with no choice. My locum GP immediately put me on a course of iron tablets while blood tests were taken and I was left with strict instructions that if the situation progressed I must get back in touch with the surgery immediately.


The blood test results came back in a couple of days and were better than I'd hoped. I was anaemic but at that time it was only minimal. The transfusion situation had been averted. My relief, however, was short-lived when the situation worsened again. Thankfully, by this time, my own GP was back from her maternity leave (and my goodness, have I missed her!) and she immediately took action which controlled the immediate problem. The upshot of everything is I am in the progress of having a few more tests over the coming weeks but I'm no longer worried. I'm confident that, back in the hands of my wonderful GP, whatever is causing the problems, I'm in good hands.


At the same time as having these health blips, Gray and I are also in the middle of several other exciting (to us) developments. I will reveal more in a future post or three!

~ Sue ~

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Literary or genre?



It’s a fact of life that highbrow literary circles look down on genre fiction. Literary novels are the official badge of creative writing in the UK and elsewhere; they’re studied at universities, championed in the media, make the book award lists and more.

Yet what about genre fiction? It easily outsells literary fiction in bookshops and online, and it produces millions upon millions of sales, worldwide, each and every year. From the humble detective novel to the sassy chick lit book, genre fiction is where it’s at in terms of the money. You’ll never get rich writing literature, unless you’re one of the elite few. Whereas the money’s spread far wider in genre writing, allowing hundreds of novelists to make a living from it.

In the end, it all depends on point of view. And my point of view is that literature IS a genre of fiction, just the same as horror, romance or fantasy. Why shouldn’t they all be categorised? I’d wager that the number of books sold in the crime genre equal sales of all those literary books that come out.

In any case, categorising fiction has its own pitfalls. Cross-genre novels are becoming increasingly popular, whether they are romantic-fantasy tomes or comic westerns. Where will it all end? Do these joint ventures become genres in themselves, or must they remain unclassified?


I just wish that more respect would be given to the humble genre book. There seems to me little point in academic institutions teaching a new generation of writers to create a type of literary output that is essentially niche in nature. Why not start putting genre books – thriller, romance – on the syllabus? At least there’s more opportunity to get published with genre fiction, by the simple fact that there are more publishers. People know what they like and read what they like.

Let’s end this unwanted snobbery of the humble genre novel.


~Gray~


Monday, April 28, 2008

Creative Writing

Amazing. I knew it'd been a while since I last posted here, but WOW, over a month?!

Well, fingers crossed, I'm hoping that this will be the one of the first regular posts about writing. So, where have I been? We-ell, if I told you that I'd be breaking my first new rule. Suffice to say things have been more than hectic in that thing otherwise-known-as 'real-life'. Nuff said.

On the writing front things have been just as hectic, particularly as my latest course towards my BA (Hons) degree with the OU is A215 Creative Writing. I still have one assignment left to do, and the end-of-course assessment (the equivalent of an exam), but already I can thoroughly recommend this course.

If there's one thing my studies with the Open University have done for me, it's taught me to write to deadlines. In the past, during MS relapses, I've needed to apply for an extension of a week, or as on one occasion, withdraw altogether. But four years on, something seems to have shifted within me, and for this Creative Writing course I've (so far) made all the deadlines.

As those familiar with this Blog will know, I primarily write Romance and I didn't expect to be very interested in the academic studies associated with creative writing. How wrong I was! I have thoroughly enjoyed all the assignments except the first one which involved freewriting. My problem with freewriting is that my internal editor won't switch off and I find it impossible not to rewrite as I go along. Perhaps if I'd been new to writing I'd have taken full advantage of practising this technique.

The main surprise I have learned this year is how much I've enjoyed writing poetry, and also life writing. I've found the whole course beneficial and it's opened my mind and made me braver to try lots of other writing styles and techniques that I otherwise might not have considered.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My New Discovery

Yes I know, I'm slo-ow BUT better late than never, right?

I have discovered something to enjoy an afternoon cuppa with and it costs less than the price of a weekly magazine! It's the Harlequin Mini story - shorter on pages without skimping on the quality of the romance - what could be better?

In the past I have shied away from reading eBooks mainly because of the dizziness/vertigo and double vision problems I experience on a day to day basis. So, what's changed? In a word nothing! I guess it's a sign that I've learnt how to 'normalise' my condition. And, since learning that my vision problems are here to stay, I've been looking for additional ways to read.

While for the past year I have subscribed to Audible, I have to confess that I often fall asleep to my lovely pink iPod! This means it takes me even longer to listen to a book than read one (unless it's a ridiculously funny book like Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series), and that is not what I call progress! Falling asleep can, of course, be a good thing when listening to a relaxation book such as Eckhart Tolle . Although perhaps Gray won't agree seeing as there've been many times he's needed to untangle me from said ipod before it's strangled me!


So, where was I? Oh yes, discovering new-to-me ebooks. Well, I was brave enough to download my first from the eHarlequin site yesterday. The first book to tempt me was Karen Templeton's (how great is it that all the Silhouette books and others that aren't so easy to find in the UK, are suddenly there waiting for a simple click). Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I could download with Adobe which means not only can I enlarge the text to make it easier for my poor eyes, but I can add notes too! Wow, no, I mean W-O-W! As somebody with an awful memory, who is also discovering that writing reviews is becoming a hobby, this is FANTASTIC! Okay, I should probably point out that reading on my laptop doesn't make me a faster reader, but it means that when I've earned (or *cough*not*cough*) a break from my wip I can reward myself with a ten-minute read. But what's more, it's a read of a book which is not only cheaper, but has no delivery charge! *dropping voice to a whisper* which means that one day I might be able to put one of those new reader thingies on my birthday/Christmas wish list *clears throat*.

Right, anyway, what I was blogging to tell you about is that I have my first ever eBook review


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

In the name of *RESEARCH*

More for the Hero files:



It's a tough job,

but somebody's got to do it.


*sigh*



Back soon...

maybe...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Rewindinghttp://romance-writer.blogspot.com/

Gray has just received a wonderful critique back from the RNA's NWS. As aspiring writers we couldn't ask for more help

Friday, March 07, 2008

Getting Serious

I DON'T BELIEVE IT!

GRRrrR!

I will say just ONE word (because I don't trust myself to say anything else)

BLOGGER!

****************************************************************************
****************************************************************************

Okay, calming down, you will no doubt notice a BIG difference over there

No more visual inspiration to look at, not even Lee Mead *ohh, that hurts*. However, I am reminding myself that change is GOOD.

When I started this Blog, waaay back in 2006, I was dabbling with being an aspiring writer.

In 2007 I became more serious about my writing but my health kept holding me back.

Now, in 2008 I am DEADLY serious about my writing.

Yes, I'm still an aspiring writer BUT there is one HUGE difference - I'm not on my own. I now have a writing partner who helps me through the tougher health times. Both Gray and I are already noticing the difference, my stamina is slowly increasing. I am WRITING and I am STUDYING and I am COPING. I no longer feel embarrassed to call myself a WRITER. What's more, published or not, I have never been so HAPPY!

So, back to that over there. What am I going to do?

Well, I'm going to be making this Blog more serious - to look at, if nothing else. I'm pretending that it's my choice, but in truth it's Blogger that's made me tamper with it to try to fix the problems and now? Well, now that I am a DEADLY serious writer I just don't have the time to put everything back.


The sacrifices we make in order to write!










Thursday, March 06, 2008

Relaunching...

... Romance (and other books) Reviewed!

Warning: I will also, occassionally, post the same/similar review on other sites (although they will be much smaller version on sites like eHarlequin and Amazon because they keep the copyright). No surprise either, that I simply don't have the time to rewrite them.

Enjoy!


P.S. Has anybody been watching Neighbours on Channel Five? I never thought I would ever find this Aussie soap so upsetting to watch, for reasons I can't bear to go into right now. Suffice to say one of the main characters has displayed the signs and has received a diagnosis of MS (multiple sclerosis).

Oh no...

I was reading my favourite Blog posts via Feedblitz (don't ask me why but I don't feel so guilty reading email, as opposed to Blog-hopping) - they're my first treat of the day, accompanied by a strong, hot, sweet cup of tea. Then, Gray phoned down (yes, I was actually UP and DOWNstairs!) with some awful news that I was also about to discover on Nicola Marsh's post, see HERE:

In short it concerns Patrick Swayze - yes, a former hero of mine who I posted about in 2006. The same hero who let many of his fans down by his no-show in Guys & Dolls time after time. Back then, I was angry no, furious, not just because of the money I’d spent, but the price I also paid with my health.

I’ve long since forgiven him (Gray recently bought Ghost because I’ve raved about that film forever and he’s never seen it). I don’t mind telling you I feel bad, no, AWFUL, not least because I outed my disappointment with Patrick on my Blog.

Sad to say Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer a month or so ago. BUT, with the experiences of my own health struggles, it leaves me wondering just how long he’s been feeling unwell.

I have learned a lesson, one I should have known better about, we should ALL be careful, VERY careful when judging somebody. Nobody EVER knows what he or she might be going through.

Sending heartfelt prayers to Patrick and his family at this difficult time.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Onwards & Upwards

I received some news yesterday, and while leaving me feeling a little scared, it was also fantastic to hear. The double edged sword.

Back in 2000, it was an optician who made my GP finally sit up and take notice that, as I'd previously tried telling him, there was something wrong with me. It was thanks to a simple eye test that I began what would become the very long road to an official diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

Some of you may remember previous blog posts in 2006/2007 when I was particularly unwell. My vision, as well as the acute vertigo/dizziness have been my primary symptoms and they became loads worse thoughout last year.

It has been very frustrating because my symptoms have been impossible to describe. The best description I've ever been able to give is that I feel like a blind woman. Although I *can* see, I can't see. I know, it's confusing and to say it's weird is an understatement.

Then, yesterday, everything became clear. The wonderful optician picked up glaucoma. He also related to my definitions of the symptoms and explained why no other medical professional could. There isn't any description! What's more, only an expert in the field of vision can interpret the signs - and these don't show up on an MRI scan. Suddenly, ignorance from other 'professionals' no longer mattered because I'd found somebody who UNDERSTOOD everything.

I feel so blessed. I am no longer alone in the medical world. Somebody has had their eyes opened to the truth (thank you, God). I am now waiting for the appointment to come through for the hospital ophthamologist. Now is the time when I wish I could afford to go private. The thing that scares me the most is the thought of how long it will take on the NHS. So long as I'm seen in the next 2-3 months it'll be okay.

The worst bit that's only now sinking in is that the MS has already damaged an optic nerve and this is irreversible. I've been referred to the specialists and I'm hopeful that any further damage will be able to be prevented. I guess, the scariest thought is that the MS might in the future continue to damage my optic nerves (optic neuritis), and if this happens... well, I don't want to go there right now.

But, whatever happens in the future, I am thrilled that Gray and I are now embracing the writing life. We both live for our writing, and now prioritise our 'work' over EVERYTHING else (not withstanding serious family emergencies, of course). Watch this space, because in the future we are going to be attending some exciting (to us) writing-related events - I can't wait!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Story

I'm not sure how it's happened, but Gray and I seem to have found our stride with our writing life. We are now always working on two manuscripts at a time.

Way back when, when I first began to dream about writing for Mills and Boon, the first piece of advice I read which has always stuck with me is that to achieve publication you need to 'eat, breathe and read' the genre you were targeting. For me, I took those words to heart because they made complete sense. And because of that in retrospect I think I must have been aware (without even realising it) that writing for M&B would have to remain a dream for the foreseeable future.

Why? Because I knew that while I was addicted to reading, I would only be able to devote my time to writing in small snatches. I was in a turbulent marriage back then and my energies needed to focus on my two children. I feel very thankful that my first two partials were rejected.
Not that I realised this at the time, of course!

There was no choice, and when I think back, I realise that I never resented it.

Gray is also researching future projects, and I am also studying towards my degree.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

UK Government PLR Petition

"Dear All,

Following the announcement that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport plans to reduce Public Lending Right (PLR) funding, I have initiated a 10 Downing Street e-petition to protest at the cuts.

Public Lending Right is the right for authors, illustrators, photographers, translators and editors to receive payment under PLR legislation for the loans of their books by public libraries. More than 23,000 people are entitled to receive payment under this scheme, and for many the annual PLR payment is an important part of their income. PLR is particularly valuable to those people who receive little or no royalty on book sales - their books are more often borrowed from libraries than bought in shops.

Please spare a minute to sign the petition. Click the following link (or paste it into your browser window) and add your name.


http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/plr-funding/

Please do not delete this email. Instead, forward it to as wide a group of people as you can. It is in everyone's best interests to support the work of Britain's creative talent.

Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerely,
John Malam"

Apologies (again!) for being a lazy Blogger, but I figured it was easier to just paste a copy of the above email I've been forwarded. Please take the time to sign the petition.
--Sue
xx

Friday, February 08, 2008

Eduardo

I wasn't planning to post again so soon but I had to share this:



to find out more about this erm... guy visit here

Trust me, you won't regret it.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

An Early Valentine's Update:

I have now submitted the synopsis/first chapter for the Harlequin Presents Instant Seduction Writing Competition and I don't mind telling you that I have never worked so hard on my writing before.

It's the first time in FIFTEEN YEARS that I've submitted my writing directly to Mills & Boon, and it feels scary. And exciting. And scary again. I know it's not quite the same as submitting a full manuscript or even a partial, but believe me when I say that this contest is HUGE! For the winner it's the equivalent of winning the lottery - and that's the reason why I'm not going to get carried away and think for a second that I'm in with a chance, although it hasn't stopped me dreaming .

Over the past few weeks it has finally sunk in that a writer WRITES, which is what both Gray and I have been doing non-stop. Simple as it sounds it's something that I've never grasped until now and that's only because I'm doing it!

On top of the writing I'm also busy studying, and on top of that I've been on a steep learning curve when it comes to being a mother of two teens (15 & 18).

Then, of course, there's the daily battle I have with the MS.

There is one reason I'm able to cope with all these things and it's simple now that I've come to think about it:
LOVE.

Love is the foundation that holds everything in my life together.

Love is the reason I'm able to cope with the relentless 'real' life stresses and struggles.

And I feel like I'm finally living my dream:
I'm watching my children grow into confident adults;
I'm sharing mutual support with my wonderful hubby, who is also my soul-mate;
and I'm loving the writing.

Can life get any better?

This Valentine's Day, Gray & I will be celebrating LOVE and all the blessings it has brought us.
We have two COMPLETED manuscripts behind us and another two in progress.

How are you going to spend Valentine's?




Sunday, February 03, 2008

Men and Harlequin Mills and Boon

While having a belated lunch break I discovered an article (see here) that adds more proof (if any were needed) that MEN do read these wonderful books.

Do you know any men who aren't ashamed to admit they read these fictional treasures?

Apologies that this doesn't constitute a real Blog post (again!) but I wanted to share the link before I go back into hiding to work on my competition entry - I may not come up for air for another 10 days! If you're also entering this amazing competition, please stop by and let me know how you're getting on.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Romance, Romance, ROMANCE!

see HERE.

Still not a 'real' blog post but everything's happening/changing with our writing projects and

I don't want to jinx our plans by revealing them just yet.

Suffice to say, we've both totally fallen in love with writing romance and are LOVING every minute!

Hope all's well with everyone. When life is a bit less hectic on all fronts I really will get back to Blogging and visiting loads.

Lots of love,

Sue
xx

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Tears of Triumph! (Part Two)

HE'S DONE IT!



Two hours ago, Gray gave William and Olivia


their Happy Ever After!

WHOOHOO!

CONGRATULATIONS, GRAY!

Here's to the next 80,000 words+...