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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.