Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goals for 2009

It is the dying hours of 2008 and therefore, it is time to think about 2009 and what I want to accomplish.

1. Keep and maintain a regular programme of exercise. I love my Indoor Rowing Machine, but when I was so ill and the builders were in, I stopped rowing. I have started up again, but it is hard. Also I need to not be tempted to take shortcuts or simply do the minimum. This is about getting on top of my weight, rather than letting it control me.

2. Be more systematic about my approach to writing. I have been spending too much time frittering my writing time on the Internet. This is part of the reason why I did not write as much as I had planned to in 2008.

3. Revisit my writing goal plan and make sure I am on track. It is very easy to let things slip by without keeping my focus on what I want to achieve. It is about building a career.

4. Redo and update my website. After my computer crashed in September, this has been on my to do list. It has not been done and does need to be done.

5. Visit and enjoy Venice. The tickets are booked and paid for, so I am going. But I am determined to enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Northern Lights

Yesterday, we watched Joanana Lumley and the Land of the Northern Lights. As my youngest's dearest wish is to go Svalbard, there was a vested interest. A number of his Christmas presents revolved around Svalbard, including a treasured map of the area. His savings fund is called his Going to Svalbard fund...The current screen saver on the computer is the Northern Lights. Thus we could not miss the programme.
It was a lovely programme and Joanna Lumley showed a genuine enthusiasm for her subject. Rather like my son, she had wanted to see the Northern Lights since she was a child. ( I saw them once when I was at university) At the end of the programme she had seen them and had also travelled to Svalbard. The extreme cold she experienced has not dampened my son's enthusiasm one bit.
My middle child immediately declared that she also wanted to go and had wanted to go ever since she read a book with a girl and a polar bear on the front. Cue mass angst as she could not find said book and decided to accuse my youngest of hiding it. As his cubbyhole in the attic could probably rival the ice hotel for warmth, she did not spend a long time searching...However she did find another book that she has been searching on and off for.
It did make me think about childhood dreams of places. I know I used to want to go to England where I now live. Pompeii lived up to its billing for me as did Crete. And I adored Rome.
I do think there are certain places which capture the imagination. And right now, my fingers are firmly crossed that my son will someday get to see the Northern Lights and Svalbard.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Memories of student life 1985

Over the Christmas period, the BBC screened the delightful Starter for Ten (2006) with James McAvoy, Dominic Cooper, Catherine Tate, Benedict Clumbatch and the man who writes Gavin & Stacey (James Corden?). It was a great ensemble piece. It show why Catherine Tate is such a good actress. Although most go on and on about Dominic Cooper from the History Boys, I have been very impressed with James Corden and his sense of comic timing.
It was set at the University of Bristol in 1985. As I was at university during this period (including being a Junior Year Abroad student), it did bring it back.
They did get the period right and the various different parties with the fancy dress and alcohol. At the time, it seemed to me that for some men, it was any excuse to dress up in women's clothes. There was a stage of Tarts and Vicars or Lumberjacks and Schoolgirls. I was sort of surprised that they did not show the ritual playing of Nellie the Elephant...And there are reasons why I came to prefer a quieter existence... And I would doubt a pre med from Minnesota would be over there as a jya. This is more because of the courses needed to get into med school in the US, but I thought having an American JYA was a nice touch.
It does seem strange that British nostalgia about student days has reached the time that I was a student. But it is a pleasant movie and the acting is good.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The dwindling days of 2008

We are now in the 12 Days of Christmas. It is as good a term as any to describe the period between Christmas and when the world starts buzzing again. Many people are off. Businesses maintain skeleton staff and people reassess their lives and what happened over the last year.
It tends to be a dreamy time as you are often not really certain of the day of the week. Far too much food is consumed as of course the new austerity will start in January and left overs need to be used up.

So did I accomplish my goals for last year? In some respects yes, but in others no. I did finish 3 manuscripts, but the second one is proving to be a pineapple. I predict with some degree of accuracy that I will see it come back for another visit...and hopefully this time I will understand what the editors are trying to say. And I had wanted to write 4 including a single title. The single title is proving problematic and I seem to keep changing my mind about what I want to write about. I think I have finally sorted it though.

But on the whole it has been a good year and a year to be proud of. I am moving into the middle part of my career as a writer. By no stretch of the imagination can I call myself new any longer. Yes, there are many who have been around longer than me, but equally there are many who are just starting out on their journey. I have a readership (which is hopefully growing and looking for my next book).

What it means for me is that I need to be very clear about my goals for next year and not simply let everything drift.

Anyway, here is to enjoying the last days of 2008, before worrying about 2009.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

10 November 1969

On 10 November 1969, I famously pulled a sickie from kindergarten. My best friend at the time, Tracey, also decided this was a good idea. She then convinced her mother that maybe I was ill and so she came over to visit. I cannot remember where our mothers went but we settled down and watched the pilot of a new show aimed at children -- Sesame Street. We had decided not to take any case it was not on at kindergarten. We were a bit like that. I think Tracey is now involved in school adminstration as a principal...which is slightly ironic.

A number of years later, one of us coughed to the incident.

I am reminded of this as my eldest gave me the dvd of Sesame Street Old School for Christmas and I rewatched that first episode. It brought back memories of sitting on the couch and waiting to see what happened next and who showed up. For some reason, I remember missing Big Bird. As I had only seen it in black and white, it surprised me that Oscar was orange.

Many years later, my children all watched Sesame Street when they were little. My eldest really enjoyed it. It is wonderful to think that it is still going strong...although I doubt anyone pulls a sickie from kindergarten to watch it anymore.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My husband and Mamma Mia

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog may recall in the summer when my dd and I went to see Mamma Mia, I thought it was not a film my husband would enjoy.
However, I was proved wrong. My dh loved the film and thus proved yet another reason why he is a keeper.
His only comment was that it had been far too long since we watched Educating Rita. When he was a mature student, he credits Educating Rita with keeping him in university and has been a huge fan of Julie Walters ever since.

BTW the boys flitted in and out of the room as they were building models of tanks and thus were not too interested in the film. They however enjoyed Love Actually which we watched last night...and perhaps there is hope for them after all...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

It is Christmas eve and everyone is busy getting things ready for the Big Day tomorrow.

The presents have all been wrapped, the cards delivered and all that remains is to wish everyone who happens on this blog -- a Merry Christmas.

Many thanks for all your support this year.

May 2009 be absolutely fantastic.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter solstice

We are now deep into mid-winter. Since time immemorial, many civilisations had mid winter festivals or festivals of light to coincide with the solstice. There is a theory (and it makes sense to me) that Stonehenge is not a mid summer site but a mid winter site as once you know when mid-winter happens, you can count the days/moon cycles to planting. Mid summer does not tell you much about the planting/harvesting cycle.

The reason why Christmas or the Mass of Christ's birth is celebrated when it is, is that it was offered as an alternative to Saturnalia or other light festivals. The Coptic Christians used to celebrate the feast of Christ's birth in May and this sort of date makes far more sense given when the Romans did their census taking...New Year for the Romans on the legal side of things was April. January as the start of the new year was religious.

The early Christians were quite good at providing alternative festivals and making things easier. In this case, the celebration that Christ was born to bring light into the world. The whole point was not take over fesitvals but it make it easier for new Christians...It is just through time that people began to assume that Christ was actually born on that day. And does it truly matter? It does give people a pause for thought and a chance to remember and reconnect with others. I think whichever priest first thought up the idea deserves a vote of thanks and praise as it is one of those inspired brilliant ideas that has captured the imagination and has enable people across the centuries to take time to remember the story of the nativity and what happened.

So however you celebrate, (and hopefully you do celebrate in some form), take time to think about all those people many thousands of years ago who were celebrating the same thing.

In other news:

Kate Walker brought to my attention that Mills & Boon India are running a contest to find an Indian author for the Modern line. I think this is a wonderful opportunity. Also I would urge any would be entrant to read Kate Walker's book -- 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance if at all possible as it is full of tips and hints for any would be Modern writer.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


As several people have asked, my cold is nearly gone. I feel far more human and ready to take on the world. It has taken about three weeks.

Luckily I am blessed with lovely children who helped and a husband who when he was not busy dying from The Cold also helped.

Nell's suggestion of honey -- a teaspoonful taken every time one begins to cough really helped.

My hope is that the family will be well for Christmas. There have been rumours of the Winter Vomiting Bug in the village... My fingers are firmly crossed that we avoid it. Been there, done that one about seven years ago.

Currently I am busy working away on my latest wip. I ended up abandoning the one I start before the flu in favour of this one. But it is starting to come on and I am excited about writing it, even if it is slightly morphing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

revisiting Myers-Briggs

One of the things I have been doing in recent days is to re-read David Keirsey's Please Understand Me II about the Myers-Briggs system of personality typing. I go through various stages of using different personality typing to help develop my characters. Often I will go to ennegrams and occasionally astrology or birth order but I have used Myers-Briggs in the past.
Because Myer Briggs is Jungian based, it dovetails well with the Joseph Campbell/Christopher Volger theory on the hero's journey. Ennegrams are more Freudian based.
Switching things around helps to keep me on my toes. And I suspect that with this current wip, I will be using Jungian philosophy more to develop the characters.
There are two ways you can go about using Keirsey -- one is to create your characters and then use the personality test taken from the Point of View of the character to help determine the character's personality and how they would react in a given situation. Or you can chose one of the 16 personality types and mould your character around that. There are pros and cons to both approaches.
When you are integrating into a Vogler framework, then you also need to make sure you are aware of the archetypal role the character will be playing and how that role will effect the personality or vice versa. Every personality type can play every role but they will do so in a slightly different way as their world view is different. For example if a character has a Rational Architect type personality then they will approach the role of guardian of the gate in a different manner than if they have an Idealistic healer personality. Guardian of the gate is Vogler's way of saying that at some point along the journey, a character is going to point out to the hero all the problems they face and why they are not equipped for the journey. For example in Romancing the Stone, the publisher takes on this role when she tells Joan Wilder that she has problems negotiating department stores.
Anyway, I am enjoying going back and re-reading these things to see if I can polish up my characterisation. It is one of those things. Writing is not about standing still. You (or at least me) do not reach some magic plateau where all your skills are honed and you never need to think about craft again. It is always the polishing up of the clock face, practicing and relearning of skills so that you can use them better.

In other news:
Having had my dh decide to play a Christmas elf and do wrapping, we ran out of tape. The tape situation has now been sorted and I can make further inroads on the present mountian. Currently I am hoping that I have enough paper...The worst is when you suddenly discover a stash of things that you carefully hid away in the early autumn and then promptly forgot.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The annual Christmas wrapping fest

A roll of tape sits on my desk. Piles of wrapping paper lie in the room. It has come -- the great present wrapping day. Somehow, the role of Christmas present wrapper has devolved to me. My dh early on declared that as he never wrapped gifts professionally, he does not have to do any except mine...It has been no good me protesting that at I Magnin's mostly all I had to do was put the gift in a box and tie a ribbon and it was when I was a teenager. There again, the amount of tape he uses...
For a number of years, I tried to interest him by bringing up all the presents and wrapping after the children had gone to bed...BUT no luck. It is just easier to do it during the day with the carols on full blast and a cup of something warm by my side.
Thankfully, I only tried making my own wrapping paper one year -- potato prints on wall paper lining paper. The children were all under ten and had a great time making paper for Daddy's presents. It is though a rather messy job. Now I stick with the store bought paper.
The other snag in the system is that he likes the presents to appear as if by magic on Christmas Eve. This means not only do I have to wrap them. I have to make sure they go back to their hiding places/find new hiding places...There was the year where I forgot some of the hiding places...
The children break up from school tomorrow so the deadline is fast approaching.
Of course my characters are talking to me, whispering their stories to me, so I keep having hold that thought moments...which can be difficult when you are wrestling wrapping paper into submission...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kick starting writing

Kate Hardy has found a new toy to help concentrate your mind when writing the first draft --Write or Die Note to Kate whose soundcard does not work: it is a grating sound and you are forcibly reminded...

The basic premise is that you set your word count, and time. Then you set Dr Wicked as either gentle -- a small reminder, normal -- blazing lights and sound, or kamikaze -- will eat your words. You type your words into the box. When you falter for more than a few seconds, you are met with your reminder. The only way to stop it is to start writing again. Apparently there is a surprising demand for the kamikaze mode. So a step up from the alarm clock trick as it actually senses when you are not typing.
This is all about writing, rather than editing.
Bad pages can be fixed. Blank pages need to be written.

Does it work? Short answer: yes, it focuses your attention and forces you to write rather than worrying about the correct word. However, when you are a terrible typist like me, it comes as a shock that you just have to keep typing and not worrying about the spelling etc. It does make for interesting editing, but once I got the hang of it, quite enjoyable.
I am going to try using it for my current wip and seeing if it helps bring some of the joy back into writing as I was amazed at how much time I spend editing, rather than simply writing after doing the exercise properly. But it is only a tool. And it is only good for the first draft.

In other news:
After being ill for two weeks or so, yesterday, I finally started rowing again. Even though my time was slow, it felt good to be doing something again. The Cold has really knocked me around.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Newsletter contest winners

I pulled names out the hat this morning.

Avi J won the first prize of a hardback copy if Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife plus a paperback of A Question of Impropriety.

Vic W won a signed copy of one of backlist.

Judith Dennis won the writer's prize of me critiquing a partial and generally being a sounding board.

All winners have been contacted.

My cold is much better and I am starting to feel human again. However, waking at 3:30 am with my head buzzing about a story is not quite what I had in mind. Still, I did get quite a lot of plotting done. Sometimes, plots just happen and the knowing why is good.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

At Risky Regencies today

Nearly forgot to say but Risky Regencies is having an Unusual Historical weekend. I am posting over there as is Ammanda McCabe and Michelle Willingham. There are three books -- a copy of each of ours latest up for grabs. So please stop by and say hello.

Christmas Tree 2008

Yesterday as the builders finally removed all their bits and pieces, we trimmed the tree. For once my dh heeded my plea and bought a shorter tree. Even still, things needed to be done to it -- bottom branches cut, and the trunk trimmed so that it could fit in the Christmas tree stand. Why does putting up a tree cause so much angst? It is in tight and is not about to topple over or lean... The saga of the leaning tree has happened more times than I care to remember.

The carols were put on the cd, and the ornaments were put on. So many are old friends. The children, despite their advancing years of teenagerdom, were excited as well. A variety of ornaments have been given to each one. They were determined to put them on the tree and to make the others knew which ornament belonged to which. When it came for putting on the chocolates and candy canes, the children decided they needed to be sampled...someting never change
My youngest decided Chile the Labrador needed a friend and so took this picture. The Santa Claus was made by my mother --starting in the early1970s and finally being finished in the late a present for my youngest. He is now carefully stowed away and comes out at Christmas. I am not sure where his shoes have gone or his sack that used to be filled with chocolate...but it is a welcome sight and proof that projects can be finished!
The Cold is getting better but this could be because I actually spent yesterday morning in bed asleep and have been taking neat honey at regular intervals as per Nell Dixon's advice. My chest no longer feels as tight and I have actually started to think about story ideas again...

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Cold

After hearing a number of reports including from Julie Cohen, and India Grey I have decided that this cold is not just any cold but The Cold, something worthy of a proper title. It is easy to scoff, but it starts with aching limbs, a sore throat of cut glass proportions, a sinus headache and as a final insult a chesty cough and runny nose. It is the sort of thing that sends grown people to bed for weeks on.
I have been battling through, thinking I was getting better and then my chest started to ache like a nasty chest infection is coming on. I did try my aunt's sightly odd suggestion of putting Vicks on the soles of my feet as it is supposed to help with a cough. It made my feet nice and warm but I am not so sure what happened with my cough...every so often it wracks my body...
I have now read Rubenhold's The Covent Garden Ladies which examines the milieu of Covent Garden in the mid 18th century -- looking at the rise of the high class bordello/nunnery as well the life a courtesan. Fascinating stuff. And some men did marry their mistresses... Rubenhold is definitely a non fiction author to watch.

But right now, I simply want to be well for Christmas.
We are supposedly getting our tree tomorrow which means suddenly Christmas will be in high gear.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

E harlequin open house today!

It is the 7th annual Open House for Eharlequin today. The Harlequin Historical post party has already started and you can find it here. Through out the day various authors will be popping in and out. The UK edited lines also have post parties as does the single title MIRA/HQN/Luna. Please come and join the fun. There will be book prizes for random posters and just generally a lot of good cheer.

Later, there will be live chats from the US edited lines. It gets fast and furious, but it is an event not to be missed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

Last night on BBC 4 Stephen Fry hosted a lovely programme about the little things he enjoyed, entitled Guilty Pleasures. One of the things he listed was Georgette Heyer novels which he loved for her use of language. I will agree with him about Heyer novels but do think he should expand his reading to include more Regency novels...
However, I digress. The programme got me thinking about things I enjoy and take simple pleasure in. Indulgences if you will. They are not especially worthy, but all are fun and there is a certain frisson of excitement when I indulge.

So I am going to list seven.

1. Mills & Boon Romance/Modern/Historical -- Yes, I know I write for them but it is because they have always given me so much escapist pleasure. I love the whole escapist reading and reading for pleasure. When you hold one in your hand and you know, you are going to escape somewhere nice for a few hours. And the fact that my mother used to sigh and wring her hands, telling me that I would never do anything in my life if I read them, only added to the pleasure.

2. The Smithsonian magazine -- my very lovely sister started me on this and I love it when it arrives. I can sit down and read its plethora of interesting and intriguing articles. Bits of information that I may never use again but is fascinating none the less.

3. ripe olives -- I have always loved them. A can of open olives in refrigerator does not last long in this house.

4. A box of chocolates -- assorted -- either Thorntons in the UK or Sees in the US. I love the whole concept of choosing a chocolate, passing the box and hoping against hope that by the time it returns to you, you will still be able to find a chocolate to match your mood. I am never sure if it is fair to look at the guide that comes with the box or simply to dive in. There is a certain frisson about -- did I choose right or will I get the brandied cherry nougat ( a sort that always seems to be included but one that I have never enjoyed)

5.Scrabble -- this a firm favourite of all the family, and brings out the competitive spirit. It does not matter how many times it has been played before..what matters is the fun.

6. A cup of hot cranberry juice or hot Ribena. There is something so comforting about drinking it. It warms you down to your toes. My dh does not understand its appeal but he has never been able to break me of the habit. It says comfort when you are cold.

7. A girl's night in -- an evening with a rom com movie. My dh and the boys really prefer action adventure movies and so generally we watch them, but occasionally my daughter and I have a girl's night in with a fun movie, and more than likely we eat in front of the tv. It could be clam dip or sharing a tub of lemon sorbet...but it provokes a certain amount of illicit pleasure. As to even hint at such a movie would bring howls of agony from the masculine quarter.

If anyone wants to do their own list of indulgences on their blog, I would be interested to read them... Just tell me in the comments... Life should be about taking joy in things.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Thinking about casting a hero

Right now, having pitched the idea to my editor and had the vague approval, in addition to writing my single title thriller thing, I am currently thinking about my next M&B H. It is going to be Robert Clare's story. Robert is the son of Simon Clare and the nephew of Diana Clare. He has a big role in both A Question of Impropriety and Impoverished Miss Convienent Wife. When my then editor first read QI last year, she kept going on about how she loved that little boy. Well, now I get to have him grown up. I am a bit over excited about this.

It is just as well that I have made a timeline and I have kept notes. I want this new wip to happen in (or at least start in Sorrento/theKingdom of the Two Sicilies). I had initially thought about using the making of the first railway in Italy, but when I went back and checked my notes, the timing would have made Robert slightly too old at 35. I want him around 30. Luckily another way of doing this (an even better way to my mind) came to me yesterday. It will make far more sense and will mean that I can have a very fiesty heroine as Robert is such a strong character.

My other problem is that having used Richard Armitage as inspiration for Simon, Robert's father, I now need to find an actor who reminds me of him but is different. Cue the Sunday papers and I discovered Edward Norton who is the new face of Breil Watches.
Now all I have to do is to discover an actress who can inspire my heroine...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Streaming colds and contest

I am currently suffering from a bad head cold. I blame my dh as he caught the cold first. It has been a long time since I have had one this bad. I have been inhaling Vicks and generally trying to keep my liquids up.

One very good thing was that the long delayed parcel from Donna Alward arrived yesterday and I was able to spend the afternoon in Larch Valley, Canada instead of thinking about how truly dreadful I felt. Her hero Brody was very melt worthy and she has a real sense of place with this book. The end of the book was truly magical and I can't wait for her next Larch Valley.

Thankfully being a critique partner has a few priviledges and so I can bug Donna and ask her to make that certain characters get a mention... I do think that Donna keeps getting better and better.

My Q&A should be up on Unusual Historical today. It is a leave comment and be put in for the draw type contest. The prize is VWUW but I am always happy to send one of my back list.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Exploding lightbulbs and other mishaps

Yesterday, my life was being its generally chaotic self. The children are all involved in the local high school's play --Return to the Forbidden Planet and had all gone down for the performance. My dh was busy dying from a cold and I was attempting to clean the kitchen, when the lights went out and there was a loud bang.
The street lamp was on, so it was us. I figured my dh must have switched something on that was not earth properly. I began to isolate things on the circuit board as he swore he had not done anything. I go to switch on the hall lights circuit and there is another bang. My dh who is trying to get the head torches swears there was green flash from one of the hall lights.
Right I figure -- time to blame the light bulbs as one of the hall lights went this morning. It must be the other one as lights with dead light bulbs do not work. The first light is very hot and I use rubber gloves. The second light ( the one that went out in the morning), I change and then go to put the glass light shade back on. The new light bulb explodes in my face, literally jumping out of the socket. Luckily all the shards go into the glass light shade. I swear at the terribleness of light bulbs, go and get a new packet and change the bulb, making sure it is firmly in place.
Then I turn on the hall lights. Another explosion and a green flash of light.
We go to plan B.
I keep the hall lights off and go to the play -- planning on calling the electrician in the morning.
My dh stays home, nurses his cold and makes supper. I arrive back to the news that the refrigerator is off. Was the motor blown by the fun and games earlier? Were we faced with eating a ton of smoked salmon? This is easily solved when I check the circuit board and see I hadn't switched on some sockets. This is after I change the fuse, read the manual and swore...
A hurried phone call to the electricians this morning. They come out and discover that somehow the wiring has worn away and the earthing wire is now touching the live wire. For some reason it burnt through. It has now been rewired and I am thankful that we did not have a fire!
Moral: if a light bulb explodes, or you get a green flash and the mains is tripped, it is probably serious and best left to the experts.

In better news,
I had a lovely review from Chrissy at Romance Junkies for Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife. Among other things she said: 4.5 ribbons Ms. Styles’ storyline depicts much of the lifestyle present during this particular time period including some folklore and Viking laws. Incidentally, the laws regarding children brought tears to my eyes – but I’m sure you’ll understand why when you read this book. VIKING WARRIOR, UNWILLING WIFE is a book I’d highly recommend for fans of historical tales – especially if you enjoy reading about Vikings.
You can read the rest of the review here.

I am blogging today at Totebags about cyber holiday traditions. Basically I blame the exploding lightbulbs if it doesn't make sense. There is a contest with it though.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife copies arrive

My author copies for IMCW have arrived! It is always interesting to see the cover for the first time. It is the sequel to A Question of Impropriety btw.
The blurb reads:
His unexpected bride…
Wealthy landowner Simon Clare shuns Northumbrian society. With his son gravely ill, the last thing Simon needs is an interfering woman assuming command of his household and nursing young Robert – no matter how sensuous her figure, or how tempting her luscious lips.

Phoebe Benedict knows what it is to struggle, and finds herself drawn to the badly scarred recluse. Despite his tough exterior, she knows that Simon is a father who yearns for his son to recover – and a man who misses the tender embrace of a woman…
And the teaser at the front reads:
Will you be silent?’ His hands gripped her shoulders. The heat of him burnt through her clothes. ‘Or do I have to stop your mouth?’
‘Someone has to say these things.’ She stared at him. His mouth was inches from hers. His mouth swooped down and claimed her, branded her, and she knew her words were a lie. She did want something else. Phoebe stilled as warmth pulsated through her. Searing her with its fierceness. His lips called to something deep within her, turned the warmth into a raging inferno. Her hand sank into his hair and held him there.
The kiss lengthened, deepened. Her lips parted and he feasted, devoured her like a starving man. This was no gentle persuasion or chaste kiss but the sort of kiss a pirate captain might bestow. Plundering and taking. And she wanted more. His arms went around and held her body against his, her breasts crushed against his chest. Her melting softness meeting his body. His lips trailed down her throat as he entangled his fingers in her glorious hair. Held her there.
The mantel clock chimed the hour, bringing them back to reality. He stepped away from her, a stunned look on his face.
‘Miss Benedict...I...’
Phoebe looked at him, turned on her heel and fled.
It is my tenth novel for M&B. Hopefully it will do well...

Genius v grinds

One of my problem with the movie Amadeus is the notion of the grind v the absolute effortlessness of Mozart. It belittles Mozart. Mozart may have had the ability but that ability was honed and polished by his father. From about the age of five, all Mozart did was play music. He grew up in a household where music was played and encouraged and that helped him.
The music flowed from his fingertips because he practised. He practised and played music because it pleased his father and because he had an aptitude for it. If Saliari had practised as much as Mozart and had grown up in the same environment, it is more than probable that he would have achieved the same level... In other words, Mozart worked hard, harder than most people realise and he did not just pick up a violin one day and compose music.
I can remember reading the autobiography of John Denver where he attributed his success at music to the hard work he put it. He spent hour upon hour during high school playing his guitar. He then toured and toured. This is not unique. Time after time when you really look at someone who has been a great success, you see that they may have had the predisposition towards something, but they were also willing to put the hard hours in.
Malcom Gladwell has recently written a book called Outliers: Is there such a thing as pure genius? You can read an extract of it here. But basically, he concludes that once you have the desire much of success stems from determination, dedication and discipline.
Twyla Tharp in her book, The Creative Habit also touches on this. The prima ballerinas always are the ones who are the first to the barre and who constantly practice and practice. They do not take their success for granted. It is a question of clock face polishing and striving to improve.
So what about romance writers? If you speak to any successful romance writer, they will tell you how hard it is. All the romance writers I know write because they love writing and reading. They have put the hard hours in. Some of it includes reading the genre and understanding the demands of the genre.
It is what gets me so cross about programmes about writing. Or having a go at writing a M&B. Do those presenters realise how long and hard the top talent have worked at it? Or how hard they do work at it? One of the reasons for M&B's success is that they have very hard working authors who are working to tell stories to the best of their ability. It is all about putting the hours in and honing your writing.
Over the long term, there are diminishingly few grinds.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Snow and moles

There is a light dusting of snow on Mt Molehill this morning. Even my dh who is partial to moles has agreed, it is time to call in the mole catcher. At least a quarter of the lawn has now been turned over to the mole's excavations...

My dh's one condition is that I wait until the cold snap is over. So we continue to level the hills and I hope Mr Mole decides to find a new place of residence. Of course, he could be busy inviting his friends and relations in for the holidays as well...

The new wip (which is not a M&B) is going slowly. As it is a bit more plot heavy, I have had to do a lot of thinking and rejigging.

This has been compounded by the fact that I discovered Lady Worsley's Whim An Eighteenth Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce by Hallie Rubenhold. It is thoroughly fascinating account of one of the first celebrity divorce trials and happening as it did at the end of the American Revolution and with one of Lord North's most loyal supporters embroiled in a sex scandal, it may have influenced when the end of the war came.
My imagination has been sparked in many directions, BUT this is also when I have to apply discipline. There are other ideas who are screaming to be written. On the strength of this book, I did get Rubenhold's other book -- The Covent Garden Ladies which tells the tale of the Harris Book of Courtesans and its beginnings. Research can be fun. It is one of the reasons why I write historical romance.

Monday, December 01, 2008

VIking Warrior Unwilling Wife published (officially)

This is the official date of publication for Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife in North America -- although I understand that it has been spotted in several places over the weekend. I gather that Harlequin Historical are in a better place than usual. This may be another sign that the historical genre is doing well.

I have sent out my latest newsletter which has details of the TWO contests -- one for readers and one for aspiring writers.

I will be at Unusual Historicals on Sunday, Tote Bags on 5 Dec and just confirmed Risky Regencies on the 14th as well as the E harlequin Open House on 11 Dec. There will be a chance to win a signed copy of one of my books at each of the places.

Also on 10th December my excerpt from A Christmas Wedding Wager will be up on the Writer's Vineyard. It is out this month in Australia as part of A Yuletide Invitation with Blythe Gifford's The Harlot's Daughter. There is a chance to win some of my books there as well. I like the cover but it is not very Christmasy. I think I preferred the UK Christmas by Candlelight cover or the US A Christmas Wedding Wager cover.