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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Books, Books, BOOKS!

Are you addicted? I know I am to books...as is Graham, although I'm not sure that he sees it as an addition. Films/DVDs/Videos on the other hand...

I haven't made any New Year's Resolutions this year, because truthfully, what's the point? We all know the pressure of them doesn't last five minutes let alone 12 months. What I am doing is making a few life changes...and one of them is about books and the reading of them.

I gave myself a bit of a hard time during the latter months of last year. I didn't understand why I couldn't read romance any more with a passion full of enjoyment. I was horrified with myself. How could I expect to write romance when I could no longer bear to read it?

Thankfully, Graham sorted me out with this awful dilemma that had begun tearing me apart. Listening to him it sounded so simple. We've known each other since 2003, married 2005 and he calmly pointed out that ever since he's known me I've devoured romance after romance. But, and here's the crucial bit, I hadn't only been reading them for pleasure  but with a learning mind...wanting to figure out how to write this wonderful genre that I love so much. So, unbeknown to me at the time, my reading had been primarily for RESEARCH rather than pure escapism.

Then came the hard bit to accept. I've read M&B for most of my life and subconsciously I know that I know what's required to write one. Therefore, I no longer need to drown myself in reading them to the same degree. That's when the mysterious mist lifted and I saw what'd happened.

I still need to read for pure pleasure and escapism but I also need to give my mind time off from working. Even though I didn't realise it at the time, that's why I dug out a few new-to-me authors from my bookshelves - Nicci French etc. The strange thing is that I'd never read them before because I thought they'd be a 'dark' read and I loved my happy-ever-afters - especially as 'real' life was often difficult.

The result of all this analysing is that I'm allowing myself a break from only reading the genre I'm writing. My attitude to reading has become far healthier for this decision. Now, when I come to reading my favourite romance authors I endeavour to read them as a READER, and not a writer. I'm also luxuriating in the return of reading other genres for escapism and I'm led by reading what I WANT as opposed to what I think I should be reading.

It's already become a win-win situation. I'm once again in love with books. I'm happier allowing my subconscious to do the hard graft for me and to luxuriate in each and every story I read, whatever the genre.

In fact by giving myself this permission it's made my writing feel much fresher and there's a lot less worry and fear about accidental plagiarism. I still LOVE romance, I still READ romance and I'm still WRITING romance, but the BEST thing of all is that I've opened myself up to all different genres too.

An addiction to books is something I've become proud of.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My last post for 2009

Just a quick post to say that with the time flying past so quickly, and with lots of commitments between now and the New Year, I'm being kind to myself and having as much rest as possible before writing up a storm in January 2010.

I have a book review scheduled to be posted every day this week on the other blog (read here). Gotta love Blogger for giving us the opportunity to be visible when we're not really here.

I'm making this my last blog post for 2009. So, on behalf of Graham & myself, we'd like to wish you all


and all
for the coming year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Land of the Living by Nicci French

Book review: Land of the Living by Nicci French: read it here.

Let me know if you've read the book and whether or not you liked it (leave a comment here or on review blog). :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being in two places at the same time

This morning as I was browsing through one of my email feeds I discovered this interesting post written by author Ann Aguire. It's about working on different manuscripts and having your head in more than once place at the same time. It particularly resonated with me because I've been worrying recently about whether it's possible for me to do this.

Gray has his new Historical Romance in the research and plotting stages, while I'm getting deep into my contemporary Romance. Although the historicals are primarily Gray's turf and the contemporaries are mine, we still work together on both manuscripts during the inital plotting and first draft stages. For the first time we have both reached different stages of our respective books at the same time, and until now this has concerned me.

Then, as I was reading Writing in more than one world I realised that if it's approached right it is possible. I'm now seeing it as an advantage that Gray and I are at different places with our mss. I'm currently reacquainting myself with Kate & Matt and the structure of the plot before revising/rewriting. For this I need to work alone and immerse myself deeply with their backstories and motivations for their actions. Gray needs to continue with his deeper research and draft ideas on his own until the characters and setting become vibrant in his mind.

We're still talking to each other about our progress and brainstorming the odd plot point, but for the historical I'm not 'in deep' and likewise Gray with the contemporary. By the time Gray needs me for the writing of the historical's first draft, I should (hopefully) be done and dusted with my current revisions.

The good thing about this is I'll know enough about the historical and I'll be ready to go deeper with the historical on the emotional level.

Complicated - in writing, yes but in practice, no.

How do you work and deal with different works-in-progress?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Next Step

What I'm currently working on for Kate & Matt's story:
  • Ensuring that the plot is (and remains) character driven.
  • Decide what's going to happen to push Kate & Matt together.
  • Plan how I'm going to go even DEEPER into the emotional conflict.
A real light bulb moment for me is realising that going deeper into the emotional conflict is that elusive EMOTIONAL PUNCH that M&B require.

Finally!!! My very first rejections from M&B (many moons ago) told me that my stories lacked emotional punch. It's taken me forever to understand what that meant. Even though I've come a very long way from those cringeworthy first efforts, I still never really 'got' it.

Until now.

(image courtesy of  geopolicraticus.wordpress.com/.../)


So there we have it. That elusive, mysterious ingredient.

To think that I thought discovering it was the hard part (well, it took me long enough, didn't it!). I was wrong. The hard bit has now arrived...PUTTING THE BLOOMING INGREDIENT INTO PRACTICE!

Anyone got a spade I can borrow?


Monday, December 07, 2009

RNA'S NWS Report (Part 2)

The Plot

Although my critique is tailored to M&B Romance all the advice I've been given is relevent (imo) to most genres.

Facts to remember:

  • In a character-driven story the plot needs to be constructed around the hero and heroine.
  • What events are going to happen to push them into facing their demons?
  • What events are going to create conflict and resolution for these characters?

I think you have done this to a certain extent, carefully foreshadowing events that have a later pay-off, but I think you need to go deeper into the emotioonal conflict between your hero and heroine and construct your plot around this.

RNA'S NWS Report for Kate & Matt's story

It's taken a while for me to share my critique [understatement] but here's the summary from my Reader's Report (which contained six pages of gold nuggets).

  • It's obvious you've done your homework
  • The tone, sensuality and type of story are all a great fit for M&B Romance line
This first para had me whooping with joy, particularly because the Reader felt that the story is a fit for the Romance line - my biggest fear being that it might not be suitable.
  • You have a nice writing style & I found your book easy to read with hardly any technical writing issues pulling me out of the story.
Again, this fills me with relief. The Reader then explains that 'showing, not telling', point of view and using scenes haven't been included in this report because they aren't needed.

  • You are a competent writer and you handle these matters with skill.
  • However...
and now begin the lessons to learn:
  • ...M&B Romance requires a highly emotional read...this is where your story needs further development.

By this time I'm very excited. I'm still only half way down the first page of the single-spaced critique and I know there's another six pages to go! This Reader has read my manuscript twice and on the second reading marked up the manuscript focusing on the main issues she wanted to address.

Before getting down to the nitty gritty of the book the Reader reminds me to:

  • ...be encouraged: your writing shows promise and my aim is to help you develop further...

I LOVE this Reader! She has obviously spent a lot of time on Kate & Matt's story and I'm so hungry for constructive criticism that I can't wait to read on. Instinctively I know that this is what it's all about and I'm impatient to LEARN.

So, that's where I'm at right now. The crux of my edits/revisions will be to dig even deeper into the emotional conflicts between Kate and Matt. This sounds simple but when it comes down to the actual process it's tougher than I imagined it'd be.

My plan is to get the book restructured by the New Year with the intention of re-submitting the manuscript to the NWS by Easter.

Incidentally, if any aspiring writers are wavering about whether to join the RNA's NWS I'd say


Edited to add (thanks Louise!) please click here for info on the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme