Friday, November 30, 2012

Shouting from the rooftops: NEWS!

For the first time ever I get my own name on a book!

The Minxes of Romance have released an anthology of eight scorching hot stories featuring the fire fighters of Coombethwaite.

This book was a fun collaboration that started as one of those silly ideas that happen late at night, but which turned into something with a life all its own.

Please, please buy a copy, read and review it. I guarantee that there is something for everyone in this book, from sweet to sensual to scorching, light and flirty to downright intense.

 Blaze is available from Amazon and Amazon UK.

Also on the good news front, I'd like to congratulate Jennifer Drogell for her So You Think You Can Write win. Well done, Jen, and I can't wait to buy my own copy of The Divorce Party.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kernel ideas and dreams

Two of the blogs I follow have both had posts recently that dove-tailed together really well to remind me of just what inspired me to write my last two stories.

Bob Mayer did a post on the kernel idea of every story, and Sue Moorcroft has also been running a series of guest posts about dreams to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Dream a Little Dream.

The characters of my Nano novel, Waking up in Vegas, first came to me in a dream back in 2009 in which a Prince made a stirring coronation speech, and watching in the crowd was the great love of his life, a very ordinary young woman. Yes, very Prince & Me.

Once Upon a Time, my previous book, also began as a dream, in which a young woman with a super rich Daddy works for a charity that occupies space in her father's building and who is very 'off' men as she is constantly being hit on by men who only want her for her Daddy's money and favour. The story changed a good deal from there, but the characters remained the same.

What is the kernel idea of your work-in-progress? What image, idea or dream kick-started the story?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

#Nanowrimo Inspiration

This is really more my inspiration than yours, but here's the song that started it all...

I'm having so much fun writing this story, and can't wait for you all to share it with me!
Do you have a song that inspires you, or one you listen to often when you write?

Friday, November 16, 2012

#Nanowrimo Progress Update

I'm guesting over at the RNA blog today. Please stop by and say "hello".

We're half way through Nanowrimo and I've reached the halfway point in Waking up in Vegas. I'd love to be further along, but really, what with a day job and kids, I should apreciate how far I've come in such a short time!

The best thing for me about #Nanowrimo 2012 is the help I got up front from the Entangled Press editors. Having a clear idea of the story, the characters, and their conflicts and motivations before I even started has not only prevented me from going wildly off track as I have in previous years, but it's also kept my interest and motivation up. Because I know where I'm going, I'm not staring at a blank page and freaking out.

I'd like to thank my team-mates on the Entangled Smackdown. You ladies motivate me, and I won't let you down.

Also, to all the ROSA Bootcampers - your friendly support of each other is so inspiring, and some of those word counts are truly awesome.

Keep it up!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Freda Lightfoot, bestselling author of family sagas and historical romances, invited me to take part in a blog event entitled THE NEXT BIG THING - a series of questions and answers about what’s happening next in my writing life.

The Next Big Thing 

What is the title of your book?
An Innocent Abroad, which went on sale yesterday!

How did you come by the idea? 
This novella started life as a single scene: a young woman standing at a window, looking out through a curtain of rain at an Italian landscape. The scene is still in there, though the landscape became a seascape.

What genre does your book fall under?
Historical Romance

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?
Ooh, this is a hard one, and I don't really know. 
Isobel is blonde and blue-eyed, and very young, sweet and innocent. Stefano is a little older, rugged, typically Italian and swoon-worthy.
Perhaps my blog readers could offer up suggestions?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young English woman travels to Italy to stay with relatives, and instead of falling in love with the eligible aristocrat her parents have chosen, she falls for an enigmatic Italian.

Will your book be self-published or traditional?
The book is traditionally published as an ebook by The Wild Rose Press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
To be honest, I started this story so long ago that I no longer remember!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is so hard, since romances set in the 1920s are few and far between. Recently I read a book entitled Vixen by Jillian Larkin, the first in her Flappers series, which also features young people, cocktails, jazz music and forbidden love in the 20s.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write something hotter and more risque than anything I'd written before, so I pushed myself to go beyond my usual comfort zone with this one. I'm not sure if that counts as inspiration or motivation, though?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The book is set in Italy in 1922, just months before Mussolini's March on Rome. It was a turbulent time, but the ex-pats enjoying the Italian sunshine mostly remained far removed from the hardships faced by their host nation.

So who's next in the chain? I nominate Louise Rose-Innes, Kathy Bosman, Rae Rivers, April Vine, Kiru Taye and Jennifer Shirk.

PS: If you're history obsessed, do check out Freda's blog. She's a mine of fascinating information.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why I’m real big on Law and Order

No, I’m not talking about the justice system, or crime in South Africa, but the TV show.

I share a house with my mother, who is a big fan of cop/crime dramas. If she’s not watching Monk or Rookie Blue or Flashpoint, then she’s on the Crime & Investigation channel, getting an extra dose of grit and gore. And I have to admit, I’ve been known to waste more than a few hours on The Mentalist or CSI.

Recently we’ve been watching Law and Order, and I have to tell you that this is the most incredible script writing imaginable. If you haven’t seen an episode in the 20 years they’ve been running, then do yourself a favour.

This evening, I caught a piece of an episode of the British version which appears to be just as awesome as the original US version. The one scene I caught crystallised just why this show is so brilliant: it is unflinching.

How many times have we seen this scenario in a cop show?
Young woman is murdered. There are several suspects, her (married) lover chief among them. The evidence against him mounts, some provided by the lover’s unwitting wife. Then in a dramatic twist the wife turns out to be the cold-hearted killer, having known for some time of the affair. The husband is shocked his demure, suburban wife would do such a thing.

In most shows, this is the point where, the investigator having displayed his/her magnificent sleuthing skills, the end credits begin to roll.

Not on Law and Order.

This is when it just starts to get good.

The shocked husband turns to his wife and asks “Why did you do it? She meant nothing to me. You and our son are all I ever cared about.”
Wife: “you gave me herpes.”
Husband: “you got a few sores so you killed her?”
Wife: “I was pregnant at the time.”
The husband and wife have a brain-damaged child.

In just a few sentences the entire balance of this episode has shifted. It’s no longer about a murdered woman. It’s about a mother, not knowing she has herpes, passing it to her unborn child and that child’s life being changed forever.
Just like that, the viewer’s sympathy shifts.

That is the power of brilliant writing.

I’ll admit I’ve cried in many an episode of Law and Order. And those that didn’t make me cry have made me think. Every episode pushes the viewer to re-look at a situation, to shift an opinion, or to feel for a character you wouldn’t normally feel for. Every episode is a challenge.

Any chance the Law and Order fairies could wave their magic wand over everything I write and make it just as powerful?

Friday, November 2, 2012

To prologue or not to prologue

In the build up to Nanowrimo, we had a discussion on the South African romance writers' Yahoo loop about opening scenes and the use of prologues.

At least one member admitted to skipping prologues completely. I tend to read them, but then I read everything, even the fine print on cereal boxes. Which is probably why I wear glasses.

The discussion reminded me of the one prologue that was not only well worth reading, but a must read. Two friends independently recommended the book to me, and both also commented on the prologue, so of course, I had to read it.

The book is Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

It's the only time a prologue moved me to tears. It gives the back story in a way that hooks you in so completely you cannot put the book down.
Don't believe me? Download the sample chapter from Amazon and see for yourself.

While I do like a good prologue, don't get me started on epilogues. If the book ends with hero and heroine a year later cooing down at their newborn baby, I feel an urge to throw up.

Fortunately, no two readers are alike, so I'd love to know - do you read prologues and epilogues? What do you think of them? And have you read Lord of Scoundrels?