Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Finding inspiration

After complaining about my deflated ego, I did bother to read the RWR. And this month, it wasn't so bad. Gayle Wilson had a lovely inspiring piece about Writer's gifts. These include Patience, confidence, imagination, balance, courage, support and above all self-discipline.
The article is the sort of thing, I should type up and put on my wall behind the computer for those moments when the crows of doubt circle.
The other great article was the Progress column by Barbara Samuel entitled stay the course. Funnily enough she was talking about the very things I was feeling and the need for mental training, to prepare for the long haul of making a career out of romance writing. I loved her points from It is always going to be hardto get the work done to There is never going to came a day when you have it made to There will always be someone just ahead of you. and 4.Some books will kick your a$$. But that is all about staying the course. She says -- if a book is hard to write, it probably has something special to deliver. Which is a great way of thinking about things.

So in the end I felt better about myself and more positive about my outlook. Sure nothing else happened yesterday except I decided to look at the glassbeing half full.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Deflating one's ego

The post brought this month's ego deflater also known as the RWR. Some parts of it are interesting, but mainly it serves to remind me exactly how far it is that I have to go. Equally, how many other writers there are out there, each seeking the same thing.
In the first sales column, there are always multiple books sales, by someone who has just produced their first full length mss. Well, it took me 7 full length manuscripts before I got a sale. And although I have options on my contract, it is not the same thing as being a multi-book contracted author. I am somewhere down the ladder there.
There is always advice about agents. A slight sore point, if I am being honest. Yes, I know at the moment, I don't need an agent, but I have dreams of writing single titles and getting on best selling lists. I am going to need an agent at some point and this is going to mean writing the single title and sending out, hoping that it and my past track record will tempt an agent. sometimes this is an exhilerating thought and others, absolutely terrifying.
Then there is the helpful advice generally includes someting about people not selling books after they have made their firstsale. Not necessarily what I want to hear as I wait for my editor's thoughts on the one sitting on her desk.
finally there are the contest wins. Sometimes, I think great but I sold, will these sell? And others I think, but I wonder if I would have even placed in the contest, and well...are these the mega best sellers of the furute and where does that leave me?
But all in all I think it is good for me not to be comfortable, too sure of myself. Every now and then I need to be reminded of the competition and that I can not become complacent. I have to stride forward and keep trying.
Now I simply have to attack my current wip, and strive to make it the best it can be, all the while knowing that there is another person just like me, trying to do the same thing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday musings

My word count was better this week. 6k or 25 pages. Not bad considering I tok a day off to write a blurb for TMI.
I reached a point in my mss, took a look at my synopsis to find out what comes next and have discovered that I have taken a leap away from the synopsis. I am of two minds if it is better this way. I think it is, but it did mean that I had to do some hard thinking when I was cleaning the kitchen this afternoon. Exactly what is going to happen next and why? This is one book that keeps insisting on going its own way. Most annoying when I get stuck. And of course I can't decide whether or not this is a good thing. It does seem to be working, but it is a rather new experience for me.
I found yesterday that one of the regular visitors to this blog --Pam Cleaver died on 23 Nov. She was a very kind lady who had the grace to be interested in my ducks as well as many other things. Although she had suffered from ill health, the end was sudden. She leaves behind a world made better because of her small kindnesses.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

No snow

Wales, Cornwall all had snow. We didn't. Northumberland had a beautiful clear and then rain. Now the forecast is for snow on Monday and I am praying the same thing will happen -- mainly because I hate driving in the snow.
Liz Fielding who is a writer I very much admire has started a blog and she also has a must buy book, The Marriage Miracle out this month. From the sounds of it, it is a three tissue box weepie. Read the extract. It sounds like just the thing to treat myself with.
Anyway, I am going to WHS this morning and checking to see if they have put out the HMB early as is their wont. The problem with popular authors and WHS in Hexham, unless you are quick, they are gone. sold out. What that says about Hexham I am sure I don't know but it does make me buy my favourites promptly.
Hexham has won the Favourite Market town 2005. I could be mean and say that I can't understand why. Familiarity breeds contempt. But I know many people have worked very hard to win this award and Hexham has improved over the last few years. As I live in the area, and have no plans to leave and in fact could not think of a more pleasant place to live, I suppose it is my favourite market town as well. Now if they could just get the hospital sorted out....

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Over the past year, I have had much to be thankful for. It is easy to go from day to day, not really thinking about your blessings and joys, which is why I like Thanksgiving.
Take away the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce and all the trimmings and you are left with a day to thank your family and friends, a day to mull over the good things in your life.
Some of my ancestors were at the first Thanksgiving. Some arrived in the US much later. All came to the US to make a better life for themselves and their families. On the whole I like to think they succeeded -- although the criterion for success has not always been measured in material things.
The basis of Thanksgiving dinner stems from what was available to the first European settlers in the Northeast of the US. The Turkey is the native game bird. Cranberries grow wild in swamps. Potatoes, corn, and pumpkins are native plants. In the South, things like oysters and pecans form part of the feast.
It is a chance to reflect that the harvest is safely gathered in and people are safe.
It came as a great relief when I was able to get the fresh ingredients that I need for my thanksgiving over here. We will not go into my dismay when I discovered that canned pumpkin was not available in Newcastle or my joy when due to Delia Smith, fresh cranberries became widely sold.
From its humble beginnings, the idea grew and took root in the American pysche. It is different from an English harvest festival and it transcends religious boundaries. It is a time for sharing in the bountiful harvest.
I won't bore you with those things I am thankful for, but suffice it to say my life overflows. And I always think of those Pilgrim fathers, having survived a terrible winter, and giving thanks for the new land.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Large Print cheque

The post brought my cheque and contract for the Large Print version of The Marriage Inheritance. Fair enough. A very striaght forward contract. The LP book will be mainly sold to public libraries, hospital libraries, Institutions for the Blind, Schools for partially sighted children etc. Something that is fairly close to my heart, so I am glad about that.
They also want a 70-8p word synopsis of the thing. Do they mean blurb?
I am sending a 172 word synopsis plus a blurb of 80 words. Please note I have not read this book for over a year but hopefully will come up with something suitable by culling the old synopsis.
It is harder than I thought. Writing blurbs is another art form that I have not mastered. I am totally in awe of my HMB editor who seems to do it effortlessly.
I have also transferred my synopsis/outline for PBB on the computer. I had a handwritten one in my lovely pink and yellow binder. Problem was that I needed something staring up at me as I work, becoming coffee stained and scribbled in pen. Also, my problem is that I keep wanting to lift my game. First drafts don't have to be lifted. They simply are.
I feeling more on an even keel, even though my word count will not advance much today. There again, sometimes one has to do other writing related tasks.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Misty moisty morning

Wonderfully misty this morning, so that all the spiderwebs glistened.
Sela stated that normally I blog about craft but have been blogging about my life. So this entry is more on craft.
Last night I pulled out my tattered copy of Writing the Breakout Novel workbook to see if it could offer any insight into where I have gone wrong. Note I am not sure if I have gone, it is just that at the moment, it can feel like pulling teeth and the way ahead at times seems shrouded in mist.
I know what I want to happen at the end. This is always a good place to start. I also know where certain things need to happen.
The thingsI have to remember is that things can always get worse. The rock I chuck at my characters haveto be boulders not mere pebbles.
There was two ways you can make things worse for your characters -- raise the barriers they have to hurdle or make what they are about to lose more valuable to them. Peaks and valleys rather than rounded hills and troughs.
One of the secondaries provides an antagonist role in a subplot. I know what needs to happen at the end, but needed to know why. Sitting and thinking about hte anatognist's outline and what plot developments are going to help his overall goal should help me be able to move the plot on.
There is a lot in the workbook that I need to think about because the wip is in its first draft stage, rather than its final draft stage.
Personally I like revisions (hence the reason I am looking forward to hearing my editor's thoughts) Generally speaking revisions are fun. You can play around with the story, decide what the essential elements are and how you can make the story stronger by incorperating the editor's suggestions but still retaining the essence of your story and characters.
TSD has the potential to be a very powerful story but without my editor's help, it will never achieve its potential. My fingers are firmly crossed that my editor sees the potential. Actually I know she does or she wouldn't have asked to see the full. She seemed fairly relaxed about the whole thing. As editors go through this all the time, they are relaxed. Authors how ever can get much more uptight.
Anyway, back to the word mines.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Damp Sunday

The forst has lifted tobe replaced by a cold damp that seeps into every pore of your body and stays there. Sometimes, I wonder if deciding not to put on the central heating this winter (except for when my mother is here) was such a good idea after all. I am sure if I had a fireplace in my study, I wouldn't mind, but that particular fireplace was blocked up years ago. My dh did make noises about unblocking it and putting a new fireplace in BUT the children's computer is there. Besides, how often would I use it?
My writing this week is been bitty piecey. Yes the total is not very high butI did revise the first three chapters, including chapter two where I knew there were problems. So although I have increased my word count by a mere 4k or 15 pages, the mss is stronger for it. Or at least I think it is. Yes, yes, I know I have to banish the crows of doubt. I do think there is a real conflict between these two and that it may be my best yet (I always think my latest is my best yet) but I keep being slow and easily distracted. Perhaps it is because I am waitng for my editor to get back to me on TSD which is bound to have lots of revisions (they always do) or maybe it has to do with my eyes. Or maybe it has to do with wanting this to be so good that I am scared to write it. But it is going slow, terribly slow.
Tomorrow won't be much better. My youngest will be off school -- a bad cough and cold. Then in the late afternoon, I have to pretend to be terribly important and official and do the governor type things for my school. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are taken with different school matters. Thursday is Thanksgiving. But these are simply excuses. If I am efficient and dedicated there is no reason why I can't get a serious amount of writing done. I simply haveto prevent myself from being distracted.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Eye operation

The date for the right eye is 20 Dec.
The consultant is from New Zealand, and has connections to Stanford which is where my mother had her eyes done years ago. We had a dicussion about multi focal lenses but decided to go with one eye being slight short sighted, and the other long. The consultant thought it was best. He was wearing one contact in his right eye to simulate the experience so that he could better advise. The problem with multi-focal lenses is that with the lenses many people find their vision is not as good as it once was.
My eyes once done should be that of a healthy 65 year old's. As you get older you lose the ability to have your eyes multi-focal. Hence why many people use reading glasses.
At the moment, my eyes are dilated, so I am typing without my glasses. An interesting experience.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Christmas is a coming soon

This morning, the horrible realisation dawned. Christmas is fast approaching. I have to post packages to the US. I have purchase the dh's presents. He had made a helpful list. can I find that list? No. I am improvising.
Actually we have agreed on his main present, but it doesn't count as it is something he has to buy for himself -- ie an expensive watch. Last time I tried getting him a watch -- he did not like it. Since then, the watch issue has raised its head very few years...
Hopefully this will solve it. He is rapidly discovering just how expensive a watch can be. Most expensive discover thus far as one by IWC -- 133,000 pounds. Houses cost less than that. You'd have to have armed guards standing around you. I would be frightened to breathe. The only thing such a watch would be good for would be smuggling money out of the country. How many customs officials look at watches? Who would ever imagine a watch could cost that much money?
I believe he has lowered his sights considerably, and says that he is now looking at something we can actually afford without taking out a second mortgage.
On the writing front, I have made it to chapter five. My crows of doubt arealways circling. I went back and checked where ch 5 was in Gldiator's Honour and TSD (the one currently sitting on my editor's desk), both were in fairly dramatic places. I am hoping this one will be fine. It is slightly more domestic but still dramatic. Nevertheless, I manged my quota of words and the conflict seems to be simmering along nicely.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A better writing week

This week's total of 6 k is much better than last week's total of 2.5 k. I also managed 25 pages. They are solid pages, I think, not junk or at least at the moment I don't believe they are junk (thisis always subject to change) I find the longer I write, the less I like simply writing anything to get words down on a page. At some point, the pursuit of words per diem can become junk words. What is the point of typing the aliens have landed? Aliens have no place in my mss and are more than likely to take my mss off in a place where I don't want to go, then I have to scramble back, slashing and burning as I go.
One innovation is that I have taken to wearing the silver heart Kate Walker gave me to celebrate becoming a Mills and Boon writer. By putting on the heart, it is a signal to me that I need to start writing with my heart and concentrating on my writing, not on the internet, a big time waster for me.
Thus far, it seems to be working. I feel that I am getting somewhere, rather than nowhere.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What most women look for

According to The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease, the one thing that attracts most women to a man is his voice. A deep richly trimbred voice does a lot. After that, women are fairly evenly split between bums, chests and legs. With a tight firm buttocls taking first place of 40%. Even in the 21st century, research shows that women overwhelming want a man who looks he can wrestle animals and fight off invaders (and also kill spiders)

For men, one of the biggest turn on is women with hourglass figures with a wiast to hip ratio of 70-80%. If a woman is overweight but retains the curves, she is morelikely to be attractive to men than her rake thin sister.

Research has shown that despite media hype, the people who are most successful at attracting others, aren;t necessarily model thin and beautiful. Studies have found people prefer mates who are about attractive as they are (ie mates who are likely to stick around and not look for a better offer) They are the people who can display and use the courtship signals to their best advantage.
Women improve their attractiveness to men when they use the courtship signals.

Oh yes, lipstick was invented by the Eygptians. back then as now, the favourite colour is bright red, wet looking lips.

One display tact is the pelvic tilt orwriggle. It is said that Marilyn Monroe cut a bit of the left heel of her high heels to make it easier for her to wiggle. The reason men are attracted is because the wiggle implies wide hips that allow for childbearing. Men don't need such things, women do.

Fascinating stuff. Now to treansulate it into ancient Rome...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Body Language

One of my new enthusiasms is body language. It came to me when I read manuscripts for the RNA's New Writer Scheme that sometimes something was missing. Also that after writing a number of manuscripts, I didn't want to repeating the same gestures time and time again. So a little research was needed. I bought Desmond Morris's Peoplewatching and Pearce's The Definative guide to Body Language. Absolutely fascinating stuff.
There are definite gender based gestures, and gestures that dominant males do (display?) There is also a definite courtship ritual that couples go through. At each stage, it is possible to break off. Sometimes, the courtship ritual is condensed, and sometimes prolonged, but if the writer misses out on the subtle stages, it can leave a sour taste in the reader's mouth. For example, the hero and heroine barely meet, and he paws her breast. Several stages are missing. If however, they see each other, he helps her across the street, they speak a bit, his hand flicks back of a tendril of hair, the gaze deepens and he kisses her, the reader can see the progression.
With male gestures, I now know there is a definite reason for my editor's dislike of grinning heroes. Grins are much more common in nervous or young males, not so common in dominant males. A similar situation exists for winks. Dominant male gestures are more likely to lead the reader to believe that the hero is an alpha male rather than a submissive one.
Why do people speak of bedroom eyes? Because when people are aroused, their pupil dilate. It is one of the reasons that prostitutes used to use belladonna to make their pupils become larger. Larger pupils give the impression of attractiveness. One this was figured out, Revlon changed its marketing, and by simply increasing the pupil size in its catalogue, it managed to significantly increase sales.
There are certain signals that women give off in social situations to show that they are approachable. However, different cultures have different concepts of intimate space, and what may look like acome on may simply be a cultural misunderstanding. Men have varying degrees of success at reading these signals.
The next thing will be to translate this information into a workable tool for my writing.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Away to Stratford

It is my mother in law's birthday on Monday so we are going down to the Midlands to see her.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Vet Emergency

WIP + Who are you kidding

This morning I stumbled downstairs to discover the Border Collie was not well. Blood in his stools. Cue panic trip to vet. The vet who is wonderful has decided that it is a mild infection and the Border Collie is on sensitive food for awhile.Fingers crossed that this is the end of the matter. His lacerated paw from last week however has nicely healed.

While I was there, I got to peek at the kittens again. When the BC first cut his paw, seven one week old kittens were brought in. A car had run over the mother. They were a mess. One of the vet nurses is being a foster mother. The kittens have really improved and are no longer squeaking so loudly. Instead of being drowned rats, they are flufy balls of fur with their eyes open. However, we don't need a kitten. My two cats would get in a huff.

At the moment, I just want everything to settled down. The youngest's blcoked slavia gland is getting better. My eldest is coming to terms with his broken arm. The novelty has worn off, but the pain still appears and he is facing up to having a cast on for another month.

I just want to get through a week with no upset now. A small goal.

I did enjoy ROME last night. It was very authentic. I was glad to see the colours and the diversity. The plot at times left something to be desired. BUT hopefully it will get a few more people interested in the period. I was a bit disapointed as the BBC have decided to combine the first three episodes into two and so things felt a bit choppy. Then of course the dh switching channels to get the Man UTd score did not help either.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


WIP: PBB word count = 11.75 k

Last night I had an email from Thorpe. They want to published The Marriage Inheritance in Large Print for their Linford Romance line. It is soft cover, but it will get it into the libraries both over here and in North America as well as the British Commonwealth. I am very pleased as it was by no means a done deal. Yes, I know they often take MWSC, but not every one. It is a flat rate payment, but Thorpe did for The Lady Soldier as well.

Halloween was pleasant. My dh came home bearing gifts as he had time to shop in London. He went to Winston Churchill's old time makers --Tunball and Asser and purchased a silk knit tie. It could have been worse. He also brought some lovely Turkish Delight. The children were all pleased, especially when informed that this is what Edmund had in the Lion, the Witch and the Warderobe when he met the White Witch for the first time. My main problem was how to eat it without creating a snowstrom of icing sugar. My method needs perfecting.

As it is the begining of a new month, I need to buckle down and write. The younger two are still off-- another teacher training day. The eldest made noises about doing PE. A note was promptly written. Uh not a bright idea to do any sort of sport with a broken bone.