Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peace on earth - I'll have me some of that!

Discovery Channel ran a documentary this week on that famous First World War incident where a truce was called on Christmas Day and both sides joined in a game of football. What I found especially interesting was the comment that after that day the officers in HQ struggled to come up with a way to get the soldiers fighting again. Because after they'd spent a day getting to know one another, they were loathe to fire on each other. Fancy that.

So that's my wish for this lovely little planet of ours this festive season. That we all use this time to reach out to others and make peace, even if it's just for one day. Whether it's individuals reaching out to family and friends, or nations reaching out to one another, that single day of ceasing hostilities can make all the difference.

Here's wishing peace and joy to you all.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thank you, Mills & Boon

The Mills & Boon editors have posted a crit of my New Voices entry, Once Upon a Time, on the NV site. You can read it here.

Both writing this entry and the editors' feedback, have given me an ah-hah moment regarding cliches (the art of using and avoiding them) which I've blogged about over at The Minxes' blog today.

To all the editors and other worker bees at Harlequin Mills & Boon thank you for running this contest, and thank you for taking the time to give feedback.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Exciting Moments

I'll publish my September Challenge update here tomorrow, but in the meantime I thought I'd share one of my favourite writing moments with you. It's that moment when something just 'clicks' in a story, taking you in a whole new, exciting direction.

I've been struggling with a scene in my ST novel in which my heroine, Vivian, goes out on a boating trip with one of the heroes. I've written this scene in three different ways, placed it in different places in the manuscript, and still it wasn't quite working. I know this scene still has its place, but it needed something more.

That something more happened at about 11pm last night. Suddenly my heroine did something that took me completely by surprise, and everything just clicked into place. I won't give details as I'd hate to spoil the surprise before this story is even published, but clearly Vivian has a way better grasp on this story than I do, and knew exactly what was missing!

The boating scene, now nicely slotting in after this new plot twist, no longer feels like it's lacking.

Has this happened to you?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top 10 reasons to become a writer

How have I never heard of Kristen Lamb before?

Thanks to Rachael Johns, I just read the funniest blog post on the Top 10 Reasons to Become a Writer. Some of the blog comments are pretty funny too. Though I think I'll go with #11 - the desire to be rich and famous, and having no other skills than words to achieve it with.

I'm so glad I've discovered Kristen. Not only does she have a wicked sense of humour, but she has some very useful advice for writers on her blog. Kristen is the author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It's me, Writer, both published by Who Dares Wins Publishing.

Which brings me back to: how have I never heard of Kristen Lamb before, when I devotedly follow Bob Mayer, self-publishing guru, warrior writer extraordinaire and the power behind Who Dares Wins? I'm off now to correct the mistake, and follow Kristen on Twitter.

And May the Pants be with you.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Keeping my head down

About this time last year I started a blog post "another week, another shoot." The sentiment is just as apt now as it was then. I've been rolling from one film shoot to the next, without a break between, hence my disappearance from the virtual world.

I'm also desperately trying to steal moments to finish a novella for a TWRP anthology, the deadline for which is less than 2 weeks away. So I'm keeping my head down, and working hard.

What are the rest of you up to?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Where I work - some of the time

My apologies that I've been AWOL for so long. I've been rolling over from one film shoot onto the next, and as I've said over on the Minxes blog today, I'm currently on Day 3 of a 5 day shoot.

Which makes this the perfect time to show you where I work when I'm not at a desk ... this is today's office:

Usually my office is a camp chair in the VT tent (known as the Video Village on larger shoots), and usually set up in some cow field or on a sidewalk:

but on my previous shoot I had a rather more civilised set up in a professional ballet studio. At least it was out of the elements!

But sometimes being on set offers real challenges ... this is my production co-ordinator (and former book editor) Ceridwen Morris on the Santam shoot I worked on in Cape Town earlier this year. Can you believe anyone would give up working with books to do this?

If you'd like to see the Santam commercial, click here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thank you!

Thank you so much to everyone who sent me birthday wishes via Facebook and email. Having all those messages streaming into my inbox really made me feel special and was the cherry on the top of a very pleasant day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Where I work - Part 2

This is the office where I spend most of my days. I don't get much writing done on the day job, but this is where I read blogs, do my research and email endlessly to all my wonderful writing friends.

I'm in the building on the left:

The offices are glass boxes with screeded concrete floors, so not the most pleasant place to be mid-winter!

And my current desk (we tend to play musical chairs, depending on which project we're working on at any given moment).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Where I work

Here's a little sneak peek into my life. This is where most of my writing happens: my home office.

The room is not very big, but it contains everything I need: desk, bed, cupboards. The books, naturally, have an entire room of their own in the house!

And yes, those beautiful landscapes and gorgeous heroes on the desk are inspiration, not reality. The heroes (notice, the plural) of my WIP, When September Ends, are right at the top of the board.
Any guesses who they might be?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


For those of you not (yet!) on Twitter, this is the hash tag used by writers for a writing challenge in which writers challenge each other to write a thousand words in one hour. I started doing these a week ago, and in one week I've gone from an hourly average of 450 words to around 1,200 words an hour!

The nice thing about a challenge like this is that you're not alone, you're forced to unplug from the net for an hour, and at the end of the hour you report back to the writers you've done the challenge with, so there's accountability! And everyone's a winner, no matter how many words they achieve.

In the last week I've added about 8,000 words to my 'Just For Fun' manuscript, now titled When September Ends. And I've also done a film shoot in between and worked some really stupid hours!

But sometimes you also just need to take a breather. I discovered, doing Nanowrimo three years running, that just pushing out words doesn't really work for me, unless I have a really clear idea where I'm going with a story. Since this 'Just for Fun' story had no clear destination, I was starting to write scenes that really didn't fit the bigger picture.The literary equivalent of scenes that end up on the cutting room floor.

Since just adding words isn't enough to write a publishable novel, I sat for an hour this morning and made a list of all the key scenes I envisage for this story. Yes, it's the plotter in me rearing her ugly head. Now I'm armed with my bullet pointed list, my road map of where I'm headed, I'm ready for the next challenge.

So who is going to join me on my next #1k1hr?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Loads of prizes up for grabs!

This week is the final week of the Minxes' Birthday Bash. Up for grabs this week are a copy of Sally Clements' Catch Me a Catch, which was shortlisted for the RNA's Joan Hessayon award, and also a RIVA! bag made by Minx Lorraine.

Grand Prix Contest

In order to enter the Grand Prix contest, you'll need to be a follower of the Minxes Blog, and the question you need to answer is simple: How old is Minxes of Romance?

The first prize will include:
  • A signed copy of Sally Clements' Bound to Love
  • A "Careful or you'll end up in my novel" t-shirt
  • A personalised Minxy notebook courtesy of Minx Jo P
  • An Amazon gift voucher valued at $10 courtesy of Minx Sri
One runner-up will also win the following:
  • Claire Robyns' historical novel Betrayed
  • An Amazon gift voucher valued at $10 courtesy of Minx Maya
This contest will close on Sunday 29th May, and the winners will be announced on Monday 30th May.
And where is all of this happening? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

RNA's Joan Hessayon Award

I was hoping to be hot off the press with congratulating the winner of the Joan Hessayon Award at the RNA's Summer Party this evening, but sadly I'm still waiting. (Come on ladies, enough with the champagne now ... spill the good news).

The reason I'm on tenter hooks is that Sally Minx is one of the five nominees for this distinguished award. GO SALLY!

As it's now nearly 11pm here in South Africa, and as I have a tech recce starting at the crack of dawn tomorrow, I'm going to have to try to sleep without news. But I'll be online tomorrow as soon as I possibly can to share the joy with you - and the shoes.

PS: Sadly (for the Minxes) Sally Minx did not win. The JHA trophy went to Charlotte Betts. Congratulations, Charlotte!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A copy of my novella is up for grabs!

As part of the Minxy Birthday Bash, I'm offering one commenter on today's blog post a chance to win a copy of my 1920s novella, Let's Misbehave. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on Maureen Child's interview here.

Each week in May we're running two contests, and there is also a Grand Prix contest that runs all month. You can find out more about how to enter these contests here.

Happy birthday Minxes!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The April Challenge


Okay, so I failed rather spectacularly at this challenge. It's not like I set myself an impossible goal or anything (20,000 words should be do-able in the best of months, let alone one as filled with holidays as April had!)

The plan was to add about 6,000 words to Innocent Abroad, finish editing and polishing it, then start a new novella for The Wild Rose Press.

I may have added about that many words to Innocent Abroad, however since I also cut a great many, and the edits still aren't done, that's a FAIL.

As for the new novella? Nada. Zip. Zero. What I did do was about 5,000 words on a single title that I really hadn't planned to write, which has no plot or direction, and which is not part of my Master Plan. (Yes, I have a plan, not that it might seem like it most of the time!)

On the plus side, I am writing again, and I am really happy with how Innocent Abroad is finally shaping up. My original goal of submitting it no later than mid April has long gone, but my new goal is to send it out into the big wide world by the end of this week? Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Wild Rose Press' 5th Birthday Bash

Today sees the start of a 5 day birthday bash at The Wild Rose Press as they celebrate their 5th birthday. Sadly, I'm away on holiday this week, so I won't be popping in, but I urge you to drop by their Yahoo reader loops to see what's happening. There will be lots of prizes for anyone who gets involved, including gift certificates.

You can find the two reader loops here:
The Wild Rose Press for romance readers
The Wilder Roses for erotic romance

Have fun, and I hope you all win lots of goodies (then you can buy my novella!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Head Full of Cotton Wool

Not the title of a new novel, but my state of being. Thanks to the changeable weather in Cape Town, and returning to a very wet and chilly Johannesburg, I now have a cold. Actually, it's not a very serious cold, except that my head feels ... well, full of cotton wool!

While I dose myself full of Vicks Medinite and sleep it off, I'll leave you with a few images of one of our film locations from last week: the beach at Noordhoek, not unsurprisingly known as Long Beach.

PS: Sadly I took no pictures of my own, so I owe thanks to Google Search for all these pictures.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Quick Quote

Characters bring emotion to story, and emotion is what attaches readers to books.
- Bob Mayer, Write It Forward

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quick Quote

"There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking."
- William James

Friday, February 11, 2011

I did it!

I hit send yesterday evening and the partial of Beneath the Ionian Sun is now hopefully, finally, sitting in the editor's inbox. And not in her spam filter. Or email heaven. Or the hundred and one other places lost submissions go. Me, anxious?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chapter Three

I’ve been toiling away at polishing Chapters 2 and 3 of Beneath the Ionian Sun for what feels like weeks now, in anticipation of finally getting another submission out there. The reason for the toiling was because I just couldn’t get Chapter 3 to sparkle.

This is the all-important end point the editor is going to read up to, so of course I want this chapter to end on a high note. Except that the sparkly dialogue and pivotal decision were sitting at the end of Chapter 2, and Chapter 3 was more of a bridging chapter.

Re-write after re-write just hasn’t worked, so in pursuit of a solution I re-read the third chapters of all my favourite category novels. Without exception, every single one had a pivotal point in which the stakes were raised.

It took me until just a few days ago to realise what I had to do: swap the chapters around.

So simple! Why couldn’t I have figured that out weeks ago?

Now I’ve cut and pasted sentences all over the place, rewritten so that the chapters flow nicely and Voila! It works. Chapter 2 now bridges the gap, as the characters get to know one another better. Chapter 3 has them facing a major decision and ends on a high point.

Expect news of a submission in the near future.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Willkommen 2011

My parents gave me a gift in my early teens, a poster of a beautiful ballet dancer that hung on the back of my bedroom door for many years. Beneath the picture were these wise words from William Arthur Ward:
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.
If you can dream it, you can become it.
I have no idea what happened to that poster, but those words will stay with me for life.

This is my resolution for the new year, and my hope for all of you; that we will all dream big. But remember: you need to believe in the dream for it to come true.