Monday, June 30, 2008

Disappearing Bees

I had to laugh when I watched Dr Who last Saturday and they mentioned the problem of the bees going. Following the bees helped them.
One of the more outlandish suggestions for Colony Collapse Disorder is alien abduction. One inspection there are there, and the next, the colony is empty with the few remaining bees having all sorts of diseases.
However, they just do not know the cause. Other theories include giving far too much fructose, a new parasite, moving colonies about too much, requeen with foreign queens etc etc. The vast majority of CCD has happened to commercial bee farmers who move the bees about following the seasons. Because these tend to be large producers, the loss of 90% of their bees shows up far more quickly. If the problem was confined to hobby beekeepers, it would not have shown up as quickly. Commerical beekeepers though are responsible for most of the pollination of the major fruiting crops. They move bees with the seasons and the crops. from blueberries in Maine to peach orchards in Georgia.
The US congress has just allocated $10 million for research. I believe the British government cut funding. Certainly the British Beekeepers Association are trying to raise awareness of the problems.
The major problem is without bees there is little to no pollination. Modern farming methods of fruit and nut crops can not exist without the humble bee. Yields would collapse.
On a happier note: my bees are doing well. Thus far, I have avoided swarming. I suspect it is due to having the right sort of Queen excluder and enticing the bees up into the supers by allowing the queen to lay for a little while before shaking her down and putting on the excluder. It could also be dumb luck. But we used to suffer greatly from honey clogging in the brood nest.
They appear to be busy and I am hoping for a good harvest of honey this year.
I must get around to making more candles as a load of wax from last year still needs to be processed.
The papers have been full of the New Survivalists (actually they simply look like smallholders). But I would point out that bees are good for the environment, provide honey and wax for candles. The only problem is that they are a hobby with a sting.
But it is good that people are noticing that bees are disappearing. I only hope that they discover the cause before it is too late as somehow I do not think we can rely on Dr Who to fix this problem. But I was pleased the problem got a mention in the programme.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Backwards logic

One thing I love about writing is that you can use backwards logic. You do not necessarily have to understand all the motivations when you begin a story. You can get sudden insights as you write and then you can go back and foreshadow/weave bits in.
Sometimes, the bits are already there, and others you need to offer a few more hints.
When an editor is looking at your work, she will be using logic forwards. In other words, does it make sense from the beginning?
But writers are not editors. Writers create and the process of creation can be messy.
Often the insight into why does not come until the last page of the first draft. Sometimes, it takes longer.
The simplest reason for this is if a writer knows all the twists, turns and motivations, the story is told and the writer may become bored. I love the fact that Ian Rankin has been known to write in capital letters things like THE GIRL FROM PAGE 20 COULD BE IMPORTANT. His books are tightly plotted but even he allows his daemon to play.
In other words, sometimes knowing too much can destroy creativity. If you understand the motivations, you might lose focus of the purpose. Objects can take on symbolism as the story progresses, rather than having their symbolism telegraphed.
In early drafts,everything is fluid. Lose that fluidity and your wordscan harden like concrete.
For me, I prefer I sketchy road map. Some authors like to have every blade of grass detailed. It just depends. It is another great thing about writing -- there is no correct way to write, and each manuscript throws up different problems.
In other news:
My cold is getting better -- hooray!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

An updated cluster map

My cluster map has been archived. Once a year it is archived and then I start collecting dots again, but they do keep a running total from the beginning. The old map is still there for the moment. It has nearly 67,000 dots on it which is amazing. I wonder how many I will get this year... Hopefully my visitors have enjoyed my blog or found what they were looking for.

I find the whole exercise interesting. Once the cluster maps alerted me to the fact that I had a Spanish release, so I do think they are worthwhile. Because of the way Harlequin works, it is rare for authors to know in advance that there are books are coming out in a particular language/market that is not their home market. It is just the way the system is set up. Sometimes, I do not know for months afterward and then my copies arrive. It is one of the reasons that on the first of every month, I do check various Harlequin websites -- to see what is happening.

Generally I suspect though my editors would prefer it if I just concentrated on writing the next novel. I am doing this. It will be good, but at the start sometimes, it takes awhile. Julie Cohen has been having this problem as well and is detailing it on her blog and how the use of images and metaphor help to define the character.
The one point I would make is that you do not have to get the metaphor right the first time. Many things in writing are backwards logic -- you get insight and layer it in. Editing however, is frontwards logic as it needs to make sense to the reader.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Viking Warrior ,Unwilling Wife US publication date

I have found out that Viking Warrior, UnwillingWife will be published in the US in December 2008! It is currently listed for pre-order on Amazon. Sometimes, authors do not find out about these things until they discovered them listed...Editors tend to busy with other things...

But still it is great news.

It has totally made my day. it will be intersting to see if they keep the same cover or if it changes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More on A Week at Waterloo

I have now finished reading A Week at Waterloo and cried buckets. It is the contrast between shadow and light. The sheer ordinariness admist the horror. The despair when she thinks he is dead, and her refusal to believe that he is alive.
When Lady De Lancey is going to her wounded husband, thinking that she would be happy if only she could see him for an hour, and then her grief at his death about a week later. How she waits in vain for a cross word because he has said that when he is getting better, he is a terrible patient, but he is always sweet to her.
To modern eyes, the sheer primitiveness of the medical treatment and the knowledge that now, he might have survived. Bleeding and leeches. But they thought they were doing the right thing. And it is possible that his lungs had been punctured. In any event, the doctors at the time did the best they could.
What sings above the horror is the love Lady De Lancey bore for her husband.
It should be read by more people. But have a box of tissues handy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On not getting writing craft books

Cheryl St John posted a comment on my blog about not getting The Writer's Journey. Cheryl, in case you have not read her , writes wonderfully clear stories that if one is to analyse them probably do follow the exact pattern of the Hero's Journey. But she does not need to know what the journey is to make it.

Some books speak to you more than others. Some teaching methods/explanations work better at one time than others. Some days things seem to be blindingly clear and other days the same words can be a fog. It is the nature of things.

I was reminded of this yesterday when my middle was struggling to understand her math. It took her awhile to figure out that K simply means a constant number, and then to come up with a method for finding K and figuring out the formula. We worked together and the clouds disappeared from her eyes. My fingers are very crossed that her test goes fine today.

The post brought a reprint of A Week at Waterloo -- Magdalene de Lancey's first hand account of the battle and her fight to save her husband's life. They had been wed only a few weeks before the battle. The account is said to have inspired Thackerey. Dickens wrote that he should never forget the lightest word of it. Part of the proceeds from this edition goes to support the AFF (Armies Families Federation) Andrew Roberts has written a brilliant introduction.

Anyone who is interested in the Battle of Waterloo should read this book.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rereading crafts books --The Writer's journey

Because I remain ill, and unable to sleep due to this stupid cough, I have been rereading some of my craft books. Also i want to get a handle on this governess wip.
The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler is a book that bears rereading every so often. Some of elements are old friends, but sometimes, the words take on new meanings and twists. In other words, my own appreciation of the craft has grown enough to make me understand more of what he is trying to say, and to grasp the thoery behind it.
It can be helpful when planning a story to think -- which mask is each character wearing. Which archetype? Which role? And have I done enough to lift the character from the archetype and breathed life into them? Sometimes, the character has such a small part that is not worth it. Bit part secondaries by their very nature will be unable to display more than one or two characteristics. The time is better spent rounding and shaping the main characters. When you narrow your cast, inevitably, the number of masks each character wears increases. This adds to the complexity (or at least that is the theory).
But various threads are starting to come together in my head and this is good. I trying to figure out mentors and threshold guardians, plus shapeshifting.
I have also spent sometime writing my latest Dear Reader letter. This is for Simon Clare's story as I think the prelims will be next week. I am also redoing my biography. Some people think of Dear Reader letters as a chore but I enjoy them. I recently had a very letter from a reader who had been touched by the Dear Reader letter in Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife. And that is what it is all about -- touching readers, connecting with them.
Anyway, hopefully this cold/thrachea infection will improve.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cataromance on Viking Warrior , Unwilling Wife

One of my more important rituals when my new paperbacks arrive is to send a copy to Julie Bunello of cataromance and the Pink Heart Society so she can review the book. I then wait with bated breath. Because for some reason the postal service decided to take the s-l-o-w route to Julie's house, Julie did not receive Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife as quickly as she normally does. However, she has managed to review it and the reviews made my day.

I loved: Michelle Styles is an extraordinary writer of historical romantic fiction who can make any period of history her own! Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife is a sensational historical romance that is fast-paced, action-packed, engrossing, emotional and romantic!

You can read the rest of her cataromance review here.

Or if you would prefer to read the Pink Heart Society take, you can read that here.

One thing I do know is that I will be keeping up my ritual of sending Julie my books to be reviewed. It is one of those things that gives me confidence...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

contests, Byron and governesses

The contest winners from my newsletter contest are: Caroline and Lois. I have contacted them privately . Many thanks to everyone who entered.

I have finished reading Other People's Daughters. While interesting, it did not give me as much of a background about governesses as the Victorian Governess did. It did however explore the life of Claire Clairmont, the woman who seduced Byron and lived in a complicated menage a trois with Shelley and her step-sister Mary. Clairmont bore Byron a child -- Allegra who died of a childhood illness. Bryon comes across as rather a misogynist pig and utterly selfish. Mad, bad and dangerous to know can certainly be applied to him in this instance. And I did find it ironic that he did not hold much store by an educated woman and yet his daughter Ada was such a brilliant mathematician.
Clairmont had an eventful early life to say the least. While she is waiting for her legacy from Shelley's estate, she ends up as governess. However such was the notoriety of the family that even in Russia, she had difficulty and lost lucrative positions.
I suspect that some of the problems for women of that era and class was that there was no other real option. What was possible in the 18th century became closed to them. And do not get me started on the lack of life insurance or the Married Women's Property Acts. Or how they were expected to provide for their brothers and rarely do the brothers appear to have come through.
The problem with studying the governess is that really there is not much primary source material. It is interesting that much of the governess literature revolves around the governess as Cinderella.
Anyway, I now have a good handle on the governess as an institution. Its myths and mythologies as well as its grim realities.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Twenty years ago today

Twenty years ago today, it was the hottest day that San Francisco had seen for a hundred years. And I got married. The cake had to be brought inside as its white chocolate icing started melting... Oh and I fainted during the ceremony, just after I said I do. I did go down gracefully, but smelling salts always make me ill. My dh was a real hero and supported me through it.

On this day in 1815, the Battle of Waterloo was fought. It was a close run thing.

Currently I am suffering from a cold and have lost my voice. And it is just as well that we are not doing much. We are going to Italy in the autumn...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Demystifying the editorial process

Editors are mysterious people. I mean love my editors very much, but really I could not do what they do. Scheduling, for example, is a black art.
I prefer to write my stories, but the thought of trying to figure out precisely what is wrong with a story or why it works or does not work, plus all the other things that go on in publishing would soon have me heading for the nearest exit.
But I am very interested in learning about the editorial process and publishing in general. It is one of the reasons why I love reading Isabel Swift's blog, and why I am interested whenever I come across articles on editors.
My college alumni magazine recently published an article on Cheryl Klein who among other things served as the Scholastic continuity editor for Harry Potter. The article was interesting as far as it went. I was amazed but not surprised that HP had a continuity editor.
Anyway, I went in search of her website to see if she had any thoughts on writing continuities. Natasha Oakley had just made my head ache with how she figured out her characters' ages. It read a bit like a logic puzzle.
Klein does not have any articles on continuity but she does have several interesting articles on the theory of line editing as well as a letter to a would be editor. The line editing article is worth downloading and reading. Some things are different in the series book world -- for example the amount of time an author has to do revisions, but most of the things she says are pertinent. I know I have done some of the things like -- apologising for my copy editing mistakes.
But if you are interested in knowing how an editor works, and why and what they want, this article should be a must read.
In her letter to a would be editor, she describes how her boss Arthur Levine acquired his own imprint in Scholastic. Basically he discovered -- Redwall, The Golden Compass and Harry Potter...thus leading TPTB to suspect that he possessed a certain amount of skill.
So if you wish to demystify the editorial process or get an editor's take on where she is coming from...I suggest taking a look at Cheryl's site.

And now I have to do the creative thing and actually write my Governess story. Right now, my editors can't wait to read my next story.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cafe society

Risky Regencies recently had a lovely post about ice cream and the Regency. The post linked to an essay on the ice cream cone and its date of inception. The relatively famous print of Le Cafe Frascati by PL Debucourt from 1807 is cited as proof as in the lower right hand corner a woman licks something that looks like an ice cream cone.
I pulled out my La Rousse Gastromonique to find out more and became immersed in the world of cafes.
A few of the long established cafes exist -- Caffe Florian (1720) and Caffe Quadri (1775) St Mark's Square Venice, Caffe Greco(1760) in Rome (which I have been to) and Cafe Procope in Paris. It should be admitted that Cafe Procope was reestablished in 1952 on the same site of Cafe Procope.
But what of the other cafes? Is there any trace?
Frascati was the most famous gaming house in Paris during the Directory and Second Empire, according to La Rousse. It was founded in 1796 and it did indeed sell ice cream.
Cafe de Foy (1725) is where Desmoulins harguaned the crowd before setting off the next day for the Bastille. It remained fashionable until 1820. Grimod de la Reyniere cites "smoked wood panels, dim gothic chandeliers, cups without handles and cracked glasses..."
Cafe des Paris -- the first one was opened in 1822 on Boulevard des Italiens. the owner of the property , the Marchioness of Hertford specified that its doors had to close at 10pm. It was regarded as a temple of elegance, but closed its doors in 1856. A second Cafe de Paris opened on Avenue de l'Opera in 1878 and finally shut in 1953. Its patrons included the Prince of Wales (Edward VII).
Cafe Hardy which opened in 1799 served the first English breakfasts in Paris after 1804. According to La Rousse, customers would select their choice of meat from a buffet, the waiter would skewer it and have it broiled on a silver grill in a white marble fireplace. Cambacres said -- You need to be very rich to go to Hardy and very hardy to go to Riche ( another cafe).
And finally I will stop with Cafe du Caveau (1784) in the Beaujolais gallery at the Palais Royal, a haunt of artists. After 1802, it was possible to the table where Bonparte had eaten. It closed in 1885.
There are of course others. But I was intrigued. I like learning about old restaurants and hotels.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Are we that different from the Victorians?

Because I am doing research on Victorian governesses, I was interested to read Rachel Johnson's article about middle class neglect of children in this week's Spectator.
With a few changes, it could have easily been written in the mid-Victorian period. then as now, women were expected to outsource childcare. Now it is for economic reasons, then it was for status and confirming economic status. Now children are expected to have a range of accomplishments, then they were expected to have a range of accomplishments.
Then, commentators worried about the effect of having a working class woman looking after children, now it is Eastern European. Interestingly, in the Victorian age, the nanny appears morel likely to have been English, possibly working class, where as the governess was more prized if she was foreign as then the children could learn another language. Then there was an obsession with homeschooling (in the Regency period there were boarding schools for girls), now among certain sections of society there is a return to homeschooling. How much longer until the governess does make a reappearance?
In other words, the obsession with the neglect of children is nothing new. The guilt women feel is nothing new. The fears about over indulgence by parents who see little of their children is nothing new. There are variations in the terms, but I read the article and thought -- oh, I have heard these arguments before and very recently, but being applied in a slightly different context. I think it is interesting. Are we entering a new Victorian age? Or is it simply that commentators do get worked up by the same things? Or that the problem of balancing childcare against external societal expectations never really goes away?
Oh the other great article in the Spectator is on the demise of the swashbuckling novel. I love swashbucklers and a good adventure story... The swashbuckler is not actually dead. Think Guys with Gear who go novels. Think James Bond. Think Alex Rider. It is these sorts of novels that turn children on to reading.
He has just changed. People still want that sense of adventure.
I love seeing echoes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sometimes a story is out there waiting

I am about to start my next HMB Historical. Now my editor and I have spoken about it. We have agreed that it is to be a governess in the early Victorian era. governess heroines are popular heroines for HMB. Actually they have been a popular for novelists going back to Brontes. Jane Eyre is an absolute classic and one of my favourite books. It has been ever since I discovered it at my great aunt's house and spent way too long into the night reading it.

I also used to be a big fan of the gothics -- Victoria Holt in particular delved into this genre.

But for a number of reasons, including my just accepted book, I did not want to go down the gothic route. I had thought of different scenarios. What could I do? And more importantly did I want to do it?

One of the research books that I purchased yesterday -- The Victorian Governess by Kathryn Hughes -- has provided a clue. Suddenly the whole story is unfolding in my mind and it is not going to be a gothic. Actually, the Victorian Governess has sparked several ideas, and I may have to figure out a way to write them all, but I am going with the one I am most excited about.

The other research book I bought -- Other People's Daughters --The Life and Times of the Governess by Ruth Brandon also looks good. I adore the cover, btw. And the combo of the two have sent my brain whirling.

Anyway, I am taking Anne McAllister's advice and starting this story. The other story -- well that couple will have to remain stuck in the at home for awhile longer.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pictures of the nest box

Juvenile blue tits just before they fledged.
Several of the young birds have left the nest but two are still being by the parents. Three had died in the box and they have been cleared out. All in all a success. (And yes, I know about google searches)
It feels good to be thinking about this new story, and I used it as an excuse to order a couple of research books. Sigh. Research books. Happy sigh. It will be a good story but I do not wnat to go towards the gothic.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On being slightly stuck

Anne McAllister has an excellent blog over on the Pink Heart Society today. It is all about being stuck and why, and sometimes writing another book while letting the characters stew.
urrently there is something wrong with the book I am trying to write. I keep finding excuses why I shouldn't be writing it. I suspect it might be because I am trying to do too many things with it. Or that I loast my orginal synopsis and am not quite sure what I want. Or that I can't really think of structure that works for this couple. Or whatever, but it is not ready. The heroine does not really want to talk to me. I know bits and bobs. But it is not there. Perhaps, I should write the other story that I have promised my editor for the end of September. That one I know about. I suspect I will write that synopsis today.

Or maybe, if I start, my current characters will start screaming at me. That can happen as well. But my muse has gone on holiday for awhile.

In other news: we have a box of blue tits that are fledging today. I am hopeful of getting a few more pictures before I put them on the blog. They are very cute and fluffy at the moment. The downside is that the nest is directly on the path to the car and so we are having to park, and then walk up the road a bit.

The petrol station was crowded today. The strike is supposed to go ahead this weekend, and I reckon people are starting to fill up. I was nearly out and so had to. The price of diesel is eye watering. Apparently Tynedale has some of the most expensive petrol in England.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Playlists and my books

I was talking to my dd about inspirations and influences. She pointed out that I never seem to speak about my playlists and the music that I listen to incessantly when I am writing a particular novel.
Like any good inspiration, it changes with each one. Some songs set the tone and just seem to speak to me.
For example, going back to Gladiator's Honour, it is Boden and Spears "Prickled Eye Bush". For A Noble Captive, I listened to "Holding Out for Hero" from Shrek 2. Every now and then, my youngest will say -- put in C minor. For some reason, I don't remember S&S's song. I think it was from Disney's Hercules. "A Star is born" With TRVM, I know I was listening to Eva Cassidy --"Fields of Gold", and then the album for "What Women Want". With Taken by the Viking, it was the Runrig live album which has since disappeared. I suspect my children have hidden it. My eldest who now works on the weekends at Langley Castle came back recently and stated: the wedding had Runrig and he had to grit his teeth. Also the theme song from Disney's Tarzan. For ACWW, it was some of the wassail songs. Then we come to VWUW, and I started off by listening to Runrig but rapidly became entranced with Les Miserables. My dd had just been in Les Mis. In particular, "Bring Him Home".
My dd says that there are a few others, and she now actively aids and abets me. We tend to listen to things while I take her out to her riding. When she does her riding, I write in the car. My youngest and eldest have the habit of hiding the cds!
And when the copy edits or the finished version of a book comes, my dd says -- okay one last chance to play xyz.
SO does anyone else have this habit of listening to one song over and over again?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Influences and me

One of the things that has been going through my brain recently is that people want to know where ideas come from. Why did an author write a particular story? This is one of the reasons why people comb through archives.
And because nothing is new in the world, except the way things are combined, what things influenced the writer. Is it possible to follow logic backwards and read the influences? As I have been reading lots of Icelandic sagas and have seen how close some of it is to Tolkien and Wagner, I can understand the appeal.
I have touched on this before. If you go back to July 2007, you can see my influences for The Roman's Virgin Mistress for example. To briefly recap: they range from the Anna Nicole Smith trial to Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer (a firm favourite of both mine and my then editor btw -- read it, if you haven't) to a scene from the movie Howl's Moving Castle to Catullus to Ovid to Julius Cesar's experiences in Baiae etc. I should have perhaps included movies from the 1930s/1940s and 1950s. I have great fondness for Western movies with gambling scenes for example.
I did a blog on Sold & Seduced but can't find it. The one major seed was Kate Walker's Antonakos Marriage (or rather hearing Kate talk about it and mishearing certain aspects) and Beauty and the Beast, plus Roman marriage plus piracy in the Roman world. Actually all of my Roman books deal with various aspects of piracy in the Roman world.
Anyway, I think the best way to approach this is to be totally open and to do an individual post for each book etc. If I then put a link on my website. This may prove how magpie my mind is. Anyway, it should prove a benefit to any researcher who ever makes the mistake of studying me.
My blog and website are now being archived by the British Library, hence my obsession with at least trying to get where I think my influences came from, rather than having someone guess.

Friday, June 06, 2008

BBC Radio Newcastle, Mills & Boon and me

BBC Radio Newcastle is doing a piece on the Mills & Boon centenary on the Drive By show with Martin Emmerson and Anne Leuchars today at 4:25 pm. As part of the piece, I get to be interviewed. BBC Radio Newcastle has a listen again feature, so if you want to hear the piece you can do.

It should be great fun as today is the official publication date for Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife.

I am always delighted to talk about Mills & Boon and why the books are so successful.
The centenary exhibition And then he kissed her... opened yesterday at the Manchester Central Library btw. You can read about the exhibit plus see the poster here.

I have sent my latest newsletter out and it does have a contest. Over the weekend, I will be blogging at Tote Bags n Blogs and at Unusual Historicals. There will be a contest to win a copy of VWUW (or whichever of my published books the winner prefers) at both those blogs.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Taking another look at secondaries

Tomorrow marks the official publication of Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife in paperback. This means my local Tescos should have it out on the shelves. They tend to stick to the publication dates. WH Smiths often has it out earlier. Seeing the book on the shelf in person always fills me with a sickening combination of horror and anticaipation. And I do feel much better when I see that a book or two has sold.

Anyway, one of the aspects of VWUW that I enjoyed writing about was the different way characters can be portrayed. If anyone has read Taken, Bose the Dark is not a very nice character at the end. He is ruthless, manipulative etc. In VWUW, the heroine, Sela is his daughter and she worships him. She sees only her father who has kept her family safe. Her blind trust in her father led partly to the failure of her marriage. Some of the book for me was about how Sela learns that her father has feet of clay and how she is still able to love him. In other words, how things stop being painted black and white for Sela and how she was finally able to grow.

One of the things I did have to do was to examine how different people perceive other characters and their motivations. The saying that no one is a villain in his own mind helped me. But one of the temptations as a writer is to always portray a secondary character in the same way, never to show the other side. This can result in cardboard cutouts. One great exercise is to start thinking about the villain's journey. Or the secondary character's journey. What are their goals/motivations? Or can you eve reverse the motivation? What sort of conflicts can you show? How does that alter the character? How has the role changed from the last book? If the character's role is exactly the same, then your book may have a repetitive feel to it.

All this held me in good stead because the next book that I wrote was An Impulsive Debutante. Lottie Charlton was the Mean Girl of A Christmas Wedding Wager, but she also had a lot of life and spirit in her. And I had to spend time in her skin and get toknow her and what drove her, rather than proceeding with Emma's perception of her. My editor did mention that I had never done a heroine quite like her before. I think had my dd not begged, I would not have been tempted, but I am pleased I did. She became one of my favourite heroines.

Taking another look at characters and their motivations is one of the fun parts of writing linked books.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


There is an article in the RWR this month about the importance of archiving. Of saving things. Apparently some day, someone might want to study an author's work and how they develop ideas.
Jennifer Blake contributed to the article and also pointed out that it can be helpful for the author. For example, she thought her method had changed but then she went back to her old ms and discovered that she did as much rewriting as ever.
My problem is lack of storage space. I can not keep all the physical copies. I do keep my black moleskines which have my early thoughts. (Currently with my room having been changed around, my latest notebook has gone AWOL -- most disconcerting. ) And I do keep my electronic copies. But I do not tend to keep my revised scribbled on copies. I suppose it would be useful to see how ideas develop...but I guess I am only a demi-pack rat. After awhile, I do like a good clear out.
The article was interesting as it did point out that even though the author may save to disk, diskette or what have you, the nature of technology has changed and there is much that can no longer be easily accessed. The article recommends -- opening up all your files when you get a new computer and making sure...
Other things to think about saving include -- reader letters, correspondence from your editor, newspaper articles and the like. Badges from conferences. Some of these things get saved and some are just clutter.
But when does clutter become important to researchers?
I still remember the conversation with one author who used to look after the Byron archives, they had even saved his slippers.
I do not think that I will ever rise to that height. And most of the time, I am not even aware of my own thought processes. If I thought about why I changed a word to another one, I would not be able to write.
It was Browning who once said --God and Browning once knew the true meaning of that poem, and now God knows.
But I suspect that I should get more methodical about saving things. Now if I could just find that moleskine, I would know how the next part of the story should go...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Neil Diamond and inspiration

Neil Diamond has been touring the UK as well as appearing on television over here. I managed to catch his Audience with Neil Diamond on ITV 1. As well as his fantastic songs (and I had forgotten how much I like them), he answered a few questions.
I will admit to not knowing that much about the man. Neil Diamond is his real name, for example. But what interested me most was his take on song writing. He spoke to Tim Rice about it, and I think his words could be applied to most writing. He was asked if it had become more difficult and replied as time went on, he had become technically more proficient, but you should never underestimate the passion one has when one first begins to write. In other words, he spoke about writing from the heart.
Without passion, it does not matter how technically perfect or clever you are, you will lack something. With passion, you can speak to lots of people, even if you might make a few mistakes.
My dh was then very kind and went out and bought the Best of Neil Diamond for me. Oh the childhood memories! And he is as good as I remembered.
Anyway, it took him five long years of trying to be a songwriter before he became a hit. Those years have held him in good stead. He learnt his craft and his trade, but he never lost his passion for song writing.
It is easy to see only the hits and not the strength that lies behind.
In other words, he has desire, determination, dedication, discipline and perseverance.
Oh and he has a new album out which sounds very good. Particularly Pretty Amazing Grace.

Monday, June 02, 2008

An Impulsive Debutante

I have put the excerpt for An Impulsive Debutante up on my website. You can find it here.

I had a great deal of fun writing this story. It is the sequel to A Christmas Wedding Wager and follows Lottie Charlton as she learns several important lessons.

The book was written after my dd begged for Lottie to have her own story, and I agreed. Lottie more than held her own, and became one of my favourite heroines. One piece of advice though -- when creating secondary characters, it is always best to figure out the full names,rather than simply use the nick names...No parent would ever name their child Charlotte Charlton. Hence, the Carlotta. Or as Lottie says -- the Dreaded Carlotta.

I adored Tristan Dyvelston as well which made things easier.

Viking Warrior Unwilling Wife should be out in the shops -- official publication date 6 June.

This means I will be doing another contest and newsletter for the 6th.
And I have no idea when either of these two will be available in the US. Amazon Canada carries the books, though.
Right I need to start seriously working on my longer historical, so that my shop front window does not become empty. There is a maxim about one of the best ways to become successful in publishing is to make sure that you have another book coming out...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

It's June and so Anna Louise Lucia's launch month

Today marks the long awaited launch of Run Among Thorns by Anna Louise Lucia. The RT gave the book 4 1/2 stars and it is a wonderful romantic suspense book. Once I prised it from my dd's hands, I enjoyed it very much.

Anna is a very dear friend of mine. She is the writer that I am most likely to have lunch with, and the sort of person who just is -- a good friend and a good writer.

I have known about this book since about the time I started to frequent eharlequin. Anna was waiting forever on a first read and then revisions. (We met for lunch when she received her second round of revisions) Ultimately, it was not a good fit for SIM, and Anna reworked the book. She then submitted it to the very first Romance Junkies contest and won a read through by the Medallion Press. It then went very quiet as the ms was lost and eventually found. But Anna never gave up. We went out to lunch after she sold.

And for the sake of the reading public, I am very glad. It is a wonderfully escapist read. If you like romantic suspense, you will love Anna Louise Lucia.
Anna is having a contest and several other things. If you are in the UK, you can purchase Run Among Thorns at Then next June (far too long a wait imho) her second book --Dangerous Lies comes out.