Warm, Witty and Intimate Historical Romance.
The blog of a Harlequin Mills and Boon Historical Romance Author based in the North East of England -- her ups, downs and in betweens as she juggles life with her fiction.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Beware of the werecat!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
We then went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I loved it. Yes,Harrison Ford is older, but they have made Indy age. He just is. SIGH. There were a few parts that could have been cut for pace, but for sheer non stop adventure, it was great. I loved that Marion came back, and I loved the ending. Now when is the dvd out?
My sister says Prince Caspian is excellent, better than the book. So we shall go and see that when it opens in the UK -- mid June, I think.
But now I shall start my single title in earnest.
Amazon has the cover for An Impulsive Debutante up. You can see it here. This reminds me that I need to get the excerpt up on my website. I was going to redo my website but events have over taken me. Anyway, I am very pleased with the cover and think it perfectly illustrates a scene from the book. I have no idea if it is areused cover or not. That doesn't really matter, but what matters is that it gives the feel of the book.
It is my dd's 15th birthday today, so I am enjoying that. Lots of cake and presents.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Blogging today at the PHS
I am knee deep in revisions but the story is becoming better. I seem to have suffered from my usual scourge of repetition with this manuscript. When will I learn that repetition kills pace!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Beekeeping and the Observer
Do I believe the dire predictions about no bees within a decade? I do not even want to think about it, because without bees, human beings have huge food production problems. I just wish the government and their senior civil servants would start taking the concerns seriously.
On a happier note with beekeeping, my two hives seem to be increasing nicely. I suspect there will be a lot of oil seed rape and so I will have to spin the supers earlier than I would normally. Oil seed rape produces lots of honey but it crystallises rapidly. Once it crystallises, the bees have difficulty using it. It is also almost impossible to get out of the comb. Last year, I ended up having to cut the combs and then gently heat to get the honey flowing. Fingers crossed that this year, I do things at an earlier stage.
It would also be great if this summer was normal. With a cold spring, the bees have been building slowly and I worry about having another rainy summer where the bees can not fly for days on end.
And a small plea -- if you have not tried your LOCAL honey -- do. Locally produced honey tastes far different from the honey found in the supermarket. England produces about 10% of the honey it consumes. And yes, I do know that the Third World honey does help to stimulate development, but I still think local honey is something special.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Characters and imagination
The Lygon family certainly had a huge impact on Waugh. He used the setting of their house, Madresfield in several of his books, including Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust. The Lygons were approached but refused to have the 970s tv series of Brideshead filmed at Madresfield. Waugh also wrote to one of the Lygons to explain that the characters might be seen to be certain members of the family but they were not. Certainly similarities could be drawn, but he wanted it to seem to be a product of his imagination.
Until I read the article I had not realised how much Waugh had drawn from the Lygons and others in his circle. I assumed that most of the situations etc had come from the melting pot of his own mind. But does it matter? As surely the characters he created were his wherever he got the inspiration?
As a writer, my characters are not really based on anyone. This is why I use things like Jung, Myer Briggs, archetypes, ennegrams, astrology, birth order and a number of other pop pysch methods to try to get to the core of a character. And I used research as a jumping off point, but I do try to imagine my own meals and my own decor. What would my characters notice is a far more important question rather than what would I notice or what should I be trying to faithfully describe...
My problem with trying to base a character on someone is that my perception of that person would come to the fore rather than the character I was trying to create. I think it does say something for Waugh that he was able to move his characters about while closely basing them on certain people. However, perhaps it is easier to do if you are writing a contemporary, and bit harder to do if you are writing a historical as you do have to be conscience of the historical mindset.
Anyway I am not entirely sure which is the easier task for the imagination -- to create entirely new characters ho move about the landscape of your mind, or to have inspired by real live people characters moving about that landscape. And what if the landscape is inspired by the landscape they naturally inhabit? Is there a fine line between reporter and novelist?
I s till remember a professor asking me where I had seen a specific image, and I had to admit in my mind but it was such a striking image that I thought it worthy of inclusion in my journal of images that I was keeping for the class. The professor and I did not get on...
Saturday, May 24, 2008
The 99 percent perspiration of writing
I am in the editing the part now and that statement rings true in many ways. It is the working through of things that are not quite right and the trying to up the emotion and keep the focus on the romance. It is the going through and looking at each sentence and trying to see if there is a better way to say it. Is the POV strong enough or can it be sharpened? Am I happy with the word choice? Can I decipher my gesture of the book -- always different and always repeated far too often.
I know I will do it all again at the revision stage but in many ways there is a certain amount of satisfaction in polishing. It is about making the book better. I do love the phase but also it is a short phase for me.
Some people get stuck at this stage and never submit. They use it as a kind of hurdle. But generally I have other characters calling me and I want to get on to the next story. There comes a point when I think -- okay, I have done my best and now the story needs the independent eyes of my editor. I bravely send it off and about five minutes later, I suffer attacks of the crows and why didn't I do things another way thoughts. It is part of the process of letting go.
Anyway, I am in the second phase of editing -- the going through at random to tighten POV and heighten tension phase.It is quite satisfying in a way, but at the end I always feel that I have had enough.
What is ironic is that in revisions, I will look at the same work and see how I can really bleed on the page...
It is bank holiday weekend here and memorial day weekend in the US. Memorial Day came about after the US Civil War so that people could have time to go to the battlefields and tend the memorials to the fallen . Gettysburg for instance is covered in memorials. It was orignally to honour the fallen of the Civil War but was changed after WWI to honour all the fallen from all the wars. It was at least this point that many Southern states began celebrating the day as they used to remember Confederate dead on a different date. Much as the British do on Rembrance Day, it was a day for wearing red poppies and the VFW still has this program I believe.
It is supposed to be a day of remembering, but because going to tend memorials often meant a picnic, it has turned into a day of barbecues etc. This came about particularly after 1971 when it was made into a three day weekend, rather than simply being 30 May. And in some ways that is good as the soldiers fought to preserve American freedoms. But it is sad that the real meaning has been forgotten.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Fireplaces and football
It was a fantastic display of the talent in the English premiership. And hopefully, will go a long way to show why the game is so popular.
Sir Alec Ferguson said later that it was the first penalty shoot out that he had won in a big match. I suppose the odds are there, but I also suspect that he did not dare hope.
For me, the 1999 game is still incomparable. My eldest refused to believe that they had won and had to be physically carried in to see the scoreline...This time, he went upstairs and had to be called down. Although both he and my dh reported that the sound of my dd's squeals meant they knew...
The fireplace in my study is in. But for some reason the Aga went out and I shall have to get the Aga man out this morning. SIGH. I have taken pictures but need to download. And I have definitely decided that blocked fireplaces are better when they are unblocked. This one was blocked up on 3 January 1951 -- or at least that is when the Daily Express paper found in the rubble was from. Ironically it featured an article about Manchester United.
Equally, by going back and cross checking the newspaper with the old deeds, it shows that the fireplace was blocked by the Chases rather than the Middlemasses as the Chases sold the house in May 1951. I had rather thought that the Middlemasses had done the renovations, but perhaps the Chases did a few things and then sold the house. I think the Aga was put in around the same time.
The winners for my May Reader contest have been drawn -- Joy and Eva. I have sent them a private email. And will be posting off their books. I will be doing a similar contest for June -- it is for my newsletter readers, so if you are interested, sign up for my newsletter. It is free. I also always include a recipe.
Today is more editing of my current Viking and trying to get my study back to normal. I always feel upside down.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Viking Warrior,Unwilling in stock at Amazon
Michelle Styles is historically rich in detail from customs to religion and this adds an atmospheric detail to a capturing tale. The basic plot is a human one and what made me dig deeper in the couch is the fact that VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE evokes the feeling of reading a Viking story with all the classic elements I will forever enjoy.
Vikar is a man of his time, bold, cunning, and powerful and knows how to wield this too. That is a combustible combination with a woman who knows what she wants and will fight for those she loves. There is a subtle but undeniable passion between Vikar and Sela and of course is provoked by their very natures. Along with heated arguments, longing and unresolved issues it becomes a pleasure to see their journey progress and watch their feelings ignite again.
There are three elements that come together in this story: a historically well researched background, a fun and entertaining secondary cast of characters like Bose the Dark,- the maid Una, Kjartan and Ivar which provides an intriguing setting for the main hero and heroine to play upon. It all leads me back to the times of the Viken which I can’t get enough of.
Michelle Styles wields her talent once more to spin a Viking tale of long ago, filled with strong willed personalities, compelling love and secrets to uncover. VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE will give the reader a few enjoyable reading hours in the times of Viken!
Managing my time
It made a certain amount of sense. Everyone has the same number of hours in a day, but what they accomplish is down to themselves. Trying to manage time is a tautolgy as you can stop time slipping through your fingers.
You can however choose what you do and how you do it. The second article pointed out that sometimes jugglingtwo jobs at once is possible -- for example ironing while watching tv, or even three -- ironing, listening to music and thinking about your book. But for non routine tasks, you can not juggle and you end up spending more time on both. Learning where your priorities lie is important.
Goal setting is good.
Busy people often get jobs done quicker as they are more aware of the time. My mother always said that her house was far cleaner when she worked, than when she had all day to do it. And somet imes, it is the antcipation of doing the task that is far harder than the actual doing...
Anyway, I have a long list of tasks to do today including doing my editing of the next Viking, cleaning out my stoudy, going into the bees and seeing what is happening there etc etc. Right now, I just sincerely hoping that I do not drop any balls. And I sincerely hope these things less time than I worry it might take.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Blogging today at:
The subject is the 4 D's and 1P. Hopefully it will inspire someone to finish their manuscript and submit it, or follow a dream. Anyway, all comments welcome.
I also have done a post on Unusual Historicals about Viking Inheritance laws. This is a subject close to my heart as I had to research it -- both for Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife and for my current Viking.
Editing goes slowly but the current Viking is better than I first thought. It does need some opening of veins and bleeding though.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Anyway, my dh decided on Friday that even though the work would not begin until next Wednesday, the room had to cleared as he had the time. Cue mass panic as I am trying to finish my revisions. We did get the grapevine moved and it is now planted in the vegetable patch and has been trailed through into the green house.
Also on Wednesday, the man is coming to open the fireplace in my study and put a cast iron surround with Mucha tiles in. The theory is that I will be able to have a fire and thus will no longer have frozen fingers as I type. I have not yet begun to empty my room. I think this is going to be messy. But while it is happening, I will not be around on the internet much.
Eventually I shall also be getting book shelves in my room as the current IKEA bookcase is about to fall down. In fact, I am pretty sure that it will not survive the move. This is NOT GOOD.
And yes, I will post pictures.
But I hate building work even if I love the end results...
Saturday, May 17, 2008
It is a day for children and there are children's parades up and down Norway, as well as those organised elsewhere by the Sons and Daughters of Norway. I suspect that my sister and her family will be involved in one of the parades or will be doing something. She is like that.
So hooray for Norwegian Independance. (Norway achieved full independance in 1905)
I have been reading the Chambers Book of Days and also discovered that 14 May 1796 was the date that Jenner first gave cow pox to a boy. Hence the name -- vaccine. Before that, the type of innoculation used was from live small pox. This procedure was introduced to England in the early 18th by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Her story is absolutely fascinating. She campaigned because she had survived the small pox with much disfigurement but her brother had died. Earlier she had eloped after being dissatisfied with the man her parents wanted her to marry. She was also an early feminist.
Eventually, the live small pox innoculation was outlawed. People reacted in different ways and of course some caught the disease and died.
I always find small pox vaccinations interesting as I caught cow pox from my vaccine when I was a little girl.
Anyway, today I start editing my latest Viking and so my head is being filled with useless knowledge.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Tomorrow I begin editting the next Viking.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Shakespeare and me
Your Score: Midsummer Night's...
You scored 13% = Tragic, 41% = Comic, 33% = Romantic, 63% = Historic
You are A Midsummer Night's Dream. Blending elements of comedy and romance, A Midsummer Night's Dream tells the story of mischievous fairies who conspire to make everyone fall in love with everyone else, often with disastrous, yet humorous consequences. You are most likely haphazard in love, but good natured and friendly. While you may also have a mischievous side to you, it is most likely all in good fun. We have no doubt that you are an outgoing person, who may also be a bit of a klutz. And while you may not always get it right, you always try to do the right thing. We applaud you!
|Link: The Which Shakespeare Play Are You? Test written by macbee on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test|
View My Profile(macbee)
Openings veins is never easy
Poignant moments as it is all about emotion.
I had thought that I had put my characters through the mill, but now see that I haven't.
It is easy to up emotion in many ways but difficult in others. It is also about getting the right emotion at the right time. You don't want to peak too early. Or to overload the emotion so much that the ending becomes washed out. Also if you do not connect the inner conflict and growth with the inter personal, you risk a soap.
As my editor said -- good to hint but at some point, you have to tell and if you have been hinting BIG, it had better be BIG.
Still, it is improving, I think and hopefully it will be a great read, once it hits the shelves.
Monday, May 12, 2008
It is no good saying -- have this on a calender. The meeting was there. I just forgot to look.
I do love revisions and the whole moulding process. It is just sometimes I do not love dropping all the balls I am juggling.
But at least I was in for the builder and it will get started soon. We are getting the sun room redone as when it rains, the roof leaks badly.... Oh and I am getting the fireplace reopened in my study -- this happens on 21 May. This is fine because it is now marked in red on my calender. Hopefully it will mean that my fingers no longer go blue in the winter.
Central heating is a luxury.
But the revisions are going all right. Hopefully I am being able to get a few more poignant moments, opening a few more veins and bleeding. Upping everything. Repetition phrase of the manuscript is clenched fists. It always varies. But this time -- it is definitely clenched fists. I am not sure why I do this -- the phrase changes each time. I ma very glad that my editors can see the promise in the manuscript. It is quite a skill to be able to see the promise.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Mother's day hits 100
It grew from there.
In 1909, Mother's day services were held in churches in 46 states, Mexico and Canada.
In 1912, West Virginia became the first state to have an official Mother's Day. And in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the bill declaring the second Sunday of May to be Mother's Day. The bill emphasised the role of the mother within the family, rather than her role as an activist in the public arena.
This was all the work of one woman -- Anna Jarvis to honour her mother. And by honouring her mother, she sought to honour all mothers and promote peace. She worked tirelessly to secure the day -- lobbying congress, church leaders, businessmen, anyone with influence and she won.
Unfortunately, the story does not have a happy ending. Anna Jarvis was soon disillusioned with the increasing commercialisation of Mother's Day and denounced it. She opposed the selling of flowers, even though she had started the movement by handing out white carnations. She felt she had created a monster and the day had stopped what she envisioned. Anna never became a mother herself. She died penniless and alone and is buried next to her own mother.
I know that I was guilty of not understanding the how or why Mother's day came about until last year. It is important to remember and to honour Miss Jarvis's efforts.
But I think Anna was wrong to denounce Mother's Day. It is a day that gives many women pleasure and serves to remind us that mothers are vital. It is up to people to decide if they want the commercialisation or if they want to do something homemade and personal. In my view, flowers are always great. Sometimes, a mother just needs to be remembered. And a mother is always a presence in her children's lives. She has influences them and future generations.
And it is worthwhile remembering that Mother's Day
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers -- past, present and future!
Friday, May 09, 2008
Yes, I know I have been waiting since late January, but thoughts like these are worth waiting for. They are clear and precise. She has picked up on inconsistencies in the back story, and shades of meaning. And it does not look like there will any big shifts in scene order.
This means I have done my usual -- namely print off the manuscript. Now, I will go through and reread the story so that I know what I wrote, and as I read, I will hold the revision thoughts in my mind. Then I will go through and make the changes. Then I will reread and see if anything else needs to be changed. Finally I will go through at random twice more -- once to tighten on tension and once to tighten on Point of View. Then hopefully, it will be ready.
Revisions are fun because they are about making the story stronger. They are probably my favourite part of writing. No, I lie -- my favourite part is when I know the story has been accepted for publication. And I am just pleased to be working on this one again...
I had a great post from Anna Louise Lucia -- an advanced copy of her book Run Among Thorns. It looks great. Unfortunately my dd has started reading it and has hidden it as she says that I have revisions. My dd does not agree that the female model looks vaguely like Anna. She says that Anna has a far pretty face and much more interesting hair.
Should I watch North & South again as Richard Armitage helped to inspire my hero? The last episode is so fantastic. Hence the photo from BBC's Robin Hood.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
More on character creation
Thus while a person may be a number of different influences and impulses, a character is more likely to display or follow a certain arc of behaviour. He or she will have a finite number of motivations whereas a living and breathing human being will often have an infinite number of motivations. The more important a character, the greater the likelihood of many contradictory motivations and impulses.
Anyway, I like to keep things simple and to think along the specific type mode, rather than doing a pick and mix.
Ultimately, I want the characters to reveal their inner selves once they have been put under extreme pressure. It is the choices they make under pressure which defines them. But there has to be a certain amount of internal logic, and the use of astology/ennegrams/Myers Briggs does give me insight into the why and the choices they might make.
In other news: my newsletter and contest went out yesterday. The contest closes on 21 May ( this is the date I should be getting a fireplace in my study) and if you have not signed up, but do so before then, I will send you out the latest newsletter. It also has a recipe for Eccles cakes. And Eccles cakes are far better when they are freshly made, or if they are store bought -- at least warm them up. They date from the 17th century and are a mixture of currants, raisins, cut peel and spices encased in puff pastry.
Anyway, it is back to the current wip and the heroine who is revealing herself slowly. I do worry in some ways that I know more about the hero except that each wip is different and places different demands on the writer.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Astrology and my characters
My problem is what is my heroine. She needs to evenly match him. She is not a pushover and she has her reasons. And she needs to have left him, and at some point, she will need to forgive him. This is highly unlikely for another Scorpio. A Leo or Aries would not accept the situation either. I suspect she might be an Aquarius. It is a very dangerous thing to do to leave a Scorpio and expect to get away unscathed. The hero deserved it, but no matter.
So I have been busy reading my Linda Goodman Sun Sign and Love Signs books. They are providing insight and I have eliminated a number of signs for my heroine. In other words, I know what she is not. I am just not sure I know what she is. I know some of this has to do with moon signs as well. And so she could have modulating effects, but I know the sort of woman I want...
Creating characters can be difficult, particularly when the characters are stubborn and not whisper.
This should be a fun manuscript to write...if my heroine would just open up a bit. In fact, if she doesn't, she might get fired and more interesting one hired.
One of the more liberating things for me when I was first starting to write was when a more experienced writer said -- sometimes the character does not want to work and has to be fired. In other words, sometimes, you have loaded the character with too much baggage or the wrong baggage for the story.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Chocolate day -- recipe
Monday, May 05, 2008
n starting a new wip
The latest Viking's draft is finished and just wants tweaking, but I want to see my editors' comments on the other one before I tweak. The tweaking should take about a week.
My next HMB is not due until end of September (or at least that is what I vaguely agree with my last editor). I know the time period and the subject and the characters, BUT first I want to start writing a longer more complicated story. Just to see. If I organise my time well, it should be doable. I know I am not Kate Hardy, but I also spend a lot of dead time.
Anyway, I now FINALLY have a working title -- The Viscount's Vengeance, and while the title might not stay, it gives me some straw to make bricks with. After reading Ally Blake's piece on working titles for the Pink Heart Society, I realised that I ALWAYS have to have one. I have no hope or expectation that the title will remain (that is a decision for TPTB in marketing) but I need something to remind me what the story is about.
So amongst other things that I did last week, I spent time thinking about the working title. It came to me late Saturday, so I was pleased as simply calling the wip by the hero or heroine's name does not inspire my daemon.
I think though this hero is going to prove difficult. He has already informed me that he is a Scorpio. I know vaguely what he looks like from Natasha's sheik pictures. But it is the intensity...any way it should be fun. My heroine is being quieter, but I suspect she is no less determined.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Amante del Vikingo, a review for Taken and other bits
The blurb for La Amante del Vikingo (aka Taken by the Viking) is: La amante del vikingo (VIKINGOS)
Los vikingos llegaron diciendo que venían en son de paz, pero pronto Lindisfarne se encontró en llamas. Annis de Birdoswald huyó presa del pánico, pero no logró escapar de los guerreros nórdicos. Sin embargo, un hombre la protegía: Haakon Haroldson. El arrogante vikingo se llevó a Annis consigo a su tierra, alejándola de todo lo que ella amaba. Y ahora se veía obligada a elegir entre el humilde trabajo que le correspondía a una cautiva o una vida de placer pecaminoso ¡en los brazos del vikingo!
You can buy the book and see more of the covers in the series here.
I also had a wonderful review of Taken by the Viking from Melissa Fowler of the Romance Reader Connection. I loved: Ms Styles' vibrant descriptions of the viking world will no doubt carry the reader away, but it is the intricacies of the relationships of the main and supporting characters which I found to be the most haunting.Without a doubt, one of the author's best to date. very highly recommended! 4 1/2 stars.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
In more modern times, May Day has been seen as a day to celebrate the Worker's movement. According to Chambers Book of Days, this practice originates from the 1867 Illinois celebration of the fact that the working day had been changed from 10 hours to 8 hours. 1May 1867 was the first official date of the change in Illinois. From here, the movement spread around the world and it is the origans of the early May Bank Holiday in Britain.
Today is also Wellington's birthday. He was born 1769. It is also the date of the Act of Union between Scotland and England (1707) and the date Queen Victorian officially open the Great Exhibition in 1851.
Today marks the official publication of Taken by the Viking in the US, So it should be in all the retail shops. It also means that it is now available everywhere on e-books, including kindle. Diesel is doing a special offer of 20 % off.
If you wish to take advantage of the offer, you need to key STYLbf5a4 into the special offer code box at Diesel e-books.
Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife is now available for purchase online at Mills & Boon.co.uk. This is the second book in my Viken mini series. M&B is the quickest way to get your hands on a copy. It will be in the UK shops on 6 June. US publication remains to be determined.