Saturday, February 27, 2010

Steramy but acceptable books

The new managing director of Harlequin Mills and Boon, Mandy Ferguson gave an interview to the BBC's Today programme last week. You can hear a repeat of it here. I had the pleasure of meeting Mandy last autumn and was very impressed with her. She has experience with bringing energy and vitality to National Treasure brands. She worked miracles with Ryvita and I can't wait to see what the autumn brings...Content is fine but the covers need updating seems to be the message. And anything that is going to sell more of my books is fine by me!

It always makes me laugh when interviewers think HMB should be worried about not winning any Booker awards. HMB is all about POPULAR women's fiction, not high brow fiction that appeals to a very small section of the population. HMB prints books that deliver on the promise of being excellent page turners.

Right now, I am reading aloud my latest ms and trying to get it up to a page turning read. Then it is trying my hand at an Undone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Noble Captive's US cover

I spoke too soon. I thought they would use the cover that was created for the book, but they have decided to go with a different cover altogether! It makes life interesting. You think you have it all figured out and they change things! A Noble Captive has just on pre-order at eharlequin ebooks.

Anyway, you can read the excerpt here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Modem Kitten likes to live dangerously

I am not sure why Heathcliff climb the firegrate and then walking on top of it was an amusing pastime...Luckily this time the fire was unlit. He has done it when the fire is going...

Mr Darcy prefers to take the tablecloth off the table. He enjoys swinging on it. Fine if there is nothing on it. Less good if set for supper.

In any case VBMK are not fed at the table...despite looking cute and adorable and doing little leaping routines.

They are kept in my study and look soulful. Do not be fooled. They want fish!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Very Bad Modem Kittens

Last week it was electrical appliances 0, kittens 1 as they managed to break wires to the stereo speakers. This makes three different electrical items with broken wires or cables -- the telephone, the video, and the stereo.
They have also learnt to open my daughter's door at night and spend hours racing up and down the hall.
At 6 AM, they come and stand outside my door, waiting in anticipation. If I fail to get up, they begin to meow which wakes the dogs downstairs who bark. It is proving more effective than an alarm clock.
There was the 5:15 AM incident where somehow, some kitten had managed to move the alarm dial forward. Do not ask me how!! And the alarm went off. I was not best pleased...
Heathcliff is in his mid morning position in the sun room. A kitten has to have his priorities.
They also enjoy watching the Winter Olympics, and sit looking at the tv, following the skiers as they go down the hill.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lifestyle changes

After reading all the literature on lymphoedema, the beekeeping is going. I can not take the risk.
Sigh. Neither is there an option of having my youngest take over as I'd get roped into doing something and there are bee lines to think about...
It is quite possible that the bee stings contributed to the overloading of my system in the first place.
When God closes a door, he opens a window, but it can be hell in the hallways of life.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oedema update

The Lymphoedema therapist has been for my first appointment. Because lymphoedema is often related to the treatment of cancer, she is a Macmillan therapist and so gave me a leaflet from the MacMillan Trust. After taking my medical history, she decided that the best guess is that I have a poorly developed or sluggish lymph system. It is rare but not unknown. And over the years, I have had a few different infections etc that indicate my lymph system might not be the best. Certainly there is scarring. It coped for a long while. But some trauma happened and it is out of balance.
Treatment for oedema is therapy led because really there is no magic tablet. It is a combo of things to try and put my system back into some sort of balance.
First up -- I have to moisturise and attempt to keep my skin soft. The biggest problem for oedema sufferers is infection. There is excessive fluid and celluitus is far more common. If I get an infection, it is 2 weeks of antibiotics.This means wearing gloves when I am washing up, gardening or doing general housework. Making sure that I wear insect repellent and sun cream. I need to avoid getting burnt and insect bites. Animal bites are of severe concern...Anything really that can trigger an infection.
I am also supposed to avoid carrying heavy bags with that arm...
I have been shown two simple exercises that I have to do after every 30 minutes of writing time to exercise my forearm. And I need rest my arm on the arm of a chair when watching tv.
The next time I see her, she will give me a whole series of exercises.
I need to lose weight as I am too heavy for my lymph system. And the weight loss will take the strain off the system. It is a factor, not a cause.
I get to do a Michael Jackson impersonation as she is ordering a compression sleeve and glove for me to wear. The idea is to get the oedema under control quickly and so we are using a number of different tools.
Anyway, it is going to be an on going thing and I am going to need to make lifestyle changes...
And did I say how much I love the NHS (even with all its problems!)?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sent my revisions in

I have sent my revisions in. The manuscript is stronger and hopefully I have done enough.

On to revising the next manuscript, but I will say that the Manuscript Makeover has given me plenty to think about as has The Heroine's Journey. The whole question of illusionary v true romance. It is something where I think a lot of hard core feminist fail. They forget that true romance is where the partners end up equal, rather than in an abusive relationship.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Impoverished Miss Convenient Wife wins CataRomance Reviewers Award

I just found out that Impoverished Miss Convenient Wife won the Cataromance Reviewer's Choice Award 2009 for best M&B Historical! I am over the moon because as readers of this blog will know I really rate the reviewers at Cataromance. They read a lot of romance and try very hard to give interesting reviews. You can see the rest of the list here. Congratulations to all the other winners.

And thank you very much Donna, Ally and Julie. I am really honoured!!!!

A Noble Captive -- April 2010

I found out yesterday (via Amazon) that A Noble Captive will be released as a Harlequin Historical Direct for April 2010. It is the second book that I wrote for HMB, and so I am very proud of it.

I adore the cover which was especially commissioned for the book. I am hopeful that the inside front cover will be in the book as well. My editors gave me a copy of it when I went for my first author lunch and I have loved it ever since.
Someday, I do hope to write a book that uses the inside front cover as a front cover.
Judy York did both covers. She is one of my favourite illustrators... I love the way she captures the feeling and sensuality of a scene.

So you can see why I have to write the Roman Undone. The ending scene I have in mind would suit the cover perfectly! And the picture has been hugely inspirational to my work!
Anyway, I have to finish my revisions and then finish the editing before I can write it!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Do you have coffee with a canine?

Recently I discovered a wonderful quirky blog called Coffee with a Canine. It is all about authors and others and the dogs in their lives. Lots of lovely dog pictures. And it is addictive reading.
Anyway, my offering is up there now. So there are pictures of Tess, Hardy and Chile in the snow etc.
When is the best time to have coffee with a canine? Anytime!

And what drink would you have with a feline?
Heathcliff and Mr Darcy are shocking as they keep trying to drink my tea. The Very Bad Modem cats have been micro chipped and completed their vaccine course.
They have also discovered how to climb the coats and sit on a hook as well as deciding that my purse with its large inside pocket makes the purrfect nest.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I had forgotten or drawn a blissful veil over how much a shot takes out of you and then there is the whole question of antibiotics.
My finger is getting better but remains bruised. Mice have a severe bite.

The feed shed still needs to be cleaned out but the food is now safely stored in bins with tight fitting lids. So hopefully the mouse population will decrease significantly.

My revisions are coming on. I can see why they will make the book much stronger and more significantly I think I can see how to improve up coming books. It is like coming blinking into the light after being in a very long and very dark tunnel.

My Rita books are almost all read and I have discovered a new to me author which is half the point of the Ritas.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Mouse Wars: a new front

Yesterday, a mouse bit me.
I had already dispatched one large rodent (presumed mouse) from the dog food feed bin at dog feeding time. I captured that mouse and my youngest did the honours. As I let the dogs out for their night time ablutions, rustling resounded from the feed shed. Sure enough, another rodent (presumed mouse) was in the dog food bin -- looking for its mate or merely seeking to steal food? Who knows? Who cares? But I disliked the thought of my dogs eating mouse droppings.
I put on rubber gloves and grabbed a plastic bag. My youngest was on standby for dispatch as well for torch duty.
I managed to inexpertly catch the creature and when I was attempting to put it in the plastic bag, it swivelled and bit my hand -- drawing blood through the rubber glove. I let go. The mouse escaped. My husband commented that mice have sharp teeth. I was unimpressed.
I bathed the wound, put antiseptic on and still it was red and swollen this morning.
Thus far I have had a tetanus shot (last one 1989! You only need a total of 5 in your life but better to be safe). The doctor has also given me a course of antibiotics. Any animal bite with breaks the skin must be taken seriously.

Oh and a mouse was caught in the mouse trap this morning in the basement. It was summarily dispatched with a shovel... I wore thick leather gloves. I now have proper respect for mice and their teeth.

Task for this afternoon: clean out the feed shed, including replacing feed bins with bins that have tight fitting lids.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Blogging at Borders True Romance

As the ever so lovely Sue Grimshaw visited the Pink Heart Society a few weeks ago, Sue invited the editors of the Pink Heart Society to visit the Borders True Romance blog. Our post is there today and Donna, Jenna and I would be delighted if people went along and commented about their favourite line or why they like series romance...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

You can't argue with every reader

I am working through my revision notes. Some of it I can see and others I think why didn't she see? There again, I can not argue with every reader and it is my job to make certain things are clear and upfront. My editor highlights problems. It is up to me to solve them, not to argue her around to my way of thinking.
Various characters might miss things but the reader should not be confused.
It involves rethinking and sometimes approaching things from a different angle.

Oh and subtext is king. The undercurrents need to be there. Sometimes as a writer I think they are there but from comments from my editor, she has missed them. And if she misses them, then the reader is going to miss them.
It can be about thinking what is on the page to actually having it on the page.

I am enjoying the Heroine's Journey and there are definite elements of it in series romance. In many ways because it is a psychological journey rather than a physical journey, it is helpful to think about the stages. I had never really thought about them before.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Revisons and a great review

First of all, Sold & Seduced has a wonderfully enthusiatic reivew from Enduring Romance. The overall evaluation was 93/100, so this was a great boast to my writing ego.

My editor burned the midnight oil and sent through 6 pages of revision notes for my revised manuscript. They are tweaks and the book will be much stronger once I have worked them through. Her thoughts also lead me to conclude that I am on the right track for pinpointing my problems after reading The Manuscript Makeover. Sometimes it feels like coming out blinking in to the sunlight after being in a long dark tunnel.
Anyway, it is so important to get the book to be the best read possible and my editor has a great eye. I may wish she was a bit quicker, but ultimately it is the quality of the editing that counts and I do believe that she pushes me in a good way!

So it is revising HRG and then finishing the editing of TPE. After that, I will write a Roman Undone as I know the ending to that one.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Subtext is all

If a scene is about what is on the surface, then I am in trouble. A scene needs to be about more.
And emotions need to shift and change during the scene. The characters cannot just travel full circle.

I am as you might guess deep into editing. The wip is getting better and the focus is getting stronger.

Has anyone read The Heroine's Journey? It is apparently what the vast majority of single title women's fiction is based around, particularly psychological novels. The reference in The Manuscript Makeover intrigued me and so that has now been added to my TBR pile. Again it is linked to Joseph Campbell but it is supposed to be easier. Campbell is rather dry and great for insomniacs.

Oh and I am going the RWA National Convention in Nashville in July. I have registered. It is tremendously exciting. Another reason why I need to get fit!