Monday, November 29, 2010

Chapter 3 of His Stand In Bride up

The third chapter of His Stand Bride is up. You can read it here.

In other news:
Lots and lots of snow around so the school is closed and both children are home.
I have revisions and want to get them done.

I am currently glomming Susan Elizabeth Phillips and can thoroughly recommend her. I adored the workshop she gave at the RWA and thought I ought to read her. She is excellent and her work is providing insight.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

US cover for Impoverish Miss, Convenient Wife

The cover for the US edition of Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife is now up on eharlequin. It is the same picture as the UK edition. I happen to like it.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I have my Christmas carols on and am doing the Thanksgiving dinner for tonight. It is one of the US traditions that I insisted we keep when I moved to the UK. There is always a lot of be thankful for.
My health, my family's health, having a roof over our heads and the fact that I get to write stories that I love. I am blessed with my family and friends -- both old and new.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chapter 2 of His Stand In Bride

Chapter 2 of His Stand In Bride is up.  I would be interested to hear what you think.

The first stage of my mentor contest is now closed. Any hook paragraphs now submitted will not read or commented on.

I will send out little critiques by the end of this week to everyone who entered as well as letting the five people who get their first 3 chapters critiqued know.  As I am also working on my revisions, I thank everyone for their patience.

Many thanks to all who took the time to enter. Every single one of you has talent and it is how you best showcase that talent which is the important factor.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Goodreads giveaway of Viking's Captive Princess

After the success of the A Question Of Impropriety  Goodreads giveaway, I am doing another giveaway through Goodreads. This time for The Viking's Captive Princess.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Viking's Captive Princess (Mills & Boon Historical) (Histori... by Michelle Styles

The Viking's Captive Princess (Mills & Boon Historical)

by Michelle Styles

Giveaway ends November 30, 2010.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

And by popular request, I included a few more countries in the giveaway. At the moment once I get my author copies for Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife, I plan to do another Goodreads giveaway and if your country isn't listed, let me know and I will try (but can't make any promises...)

Currently thinking about revisions and how I am going to make the changes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Interview at Joanna St James's blog

Joanna St James asked me nicely about doing her  an interview  for her blog and I was delighted to accept the challenge. The results are up there now.
There is a copy of A Question of Impropriety up for grabs and I'll be stopping to answer questions when I take a break from thinking about the revisions and deciding how I will tackle them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Perfect Concubine -- Roman Undone

The Roman Undone has a title -- A Perfect Concubine which encapsulates the story very well. It will come out in February 2011.

The revisions for my latest one have also hit. My editor does like to push and inspire her authors but I feel really energised by her suggestions.  Normal service of this blog will resume AFTER I get the revisions done.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First glimpse of Breaking the Governess's Rules cover

Yesterday the UK hardback version of Breaking the Governess's Rules arrived. It is loosely linked to Compromising Miss Milton and the hardback comes out in January.  I love the feel of the cover but the costume is wrong. Some day, I will get an Early Victorian cover for an Early Victorian set novel!
The blurb reads:
‘How delightful to meet you again, Miss Louisa Sibson.’

Jonathon Lord Chesterholm’s eyes bored holes into Louisa Sibson’s back. The former fiancĂ©e he’s thought dead is very much alive…

Louisa has rebuilt her life, after being dishonourably dismissed from her post as governess for allowing Jonathon to seduce her. Now Louisa lives by a rulebook of morals and virtue—the devastating Lord Chesterholm will not ruin her again!

But Jonathon will get to the bottom of Louisa’s disappearance – and he’ll enjoy breaking a few of her rules along the way…
I will get an excerpt up for my next newsletter which will go out 1 December. No prizes for guessing what the Reader's giveaway will be!
I am blogging today at Tote Bags about writing the Online serial His Stand In Bride and some of the challenges I faced.

Monday, November 15, 2010

His Stand In Bride -- up on eharlequin

The first chapter of His Stand In Bride is up now on Eharlequin. A new chapter goes up every week until 3 January. You can acces the whole thing from here.

The blurb reads:

Tyne Valley, 1813

When her sister eloped with someone other than her betrothed, Lady Anne Dunstan knew two things. One, that she completely supported her sister's making her own choice about who she would marry. And two, that Anne—the responsible one—would have to clean up the mess
What she didn't know was how her sister's intended, Jason Martell, would take the news. Or how Anne would respond to the force of his presence, his rugged good looks, his less-than-gentlemanly advances.
Or to his proposal of marriage.

Anyway, I really enjoyed writing it and I am anxious to see how people like it...There is going to be a thread on eharlequin for discussing the story and I will be happy to answer any questions.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good Reads Giveaway of A Question of Impropriety

Goodreads is giving away 5 signed copies of A Question of Impropriety (ends 18 Nov)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Question of Impropriety (Mass Market Paperback) by Michelle Styles

A Question of Impropriety

by Michelle Styles

Giveaway ends November 18, 2010.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Perfect Pawz and Hardy

Hardy completed his Obedience Level 2 training last night, getting a gold envelope with his certificate for his trouble. (He refrained from eating it as he once had done with his discharge papers from the vets)  And while he is not perfect (yet) he is much more under control and well on his way towards getting better manners. 
Anna Bradley who runs Perfect Pawz has been absolutely brilliant with her advice about how to get him to stop pulling so much and how to work with him instead of against him. I really like her training ethos. Lots of treats and praise. Behaviour Modification. She is currently working towards her kennel club accreditation and will become the only trainer in the North East to have it.
It was great to see how well all the dogs in the class performed under her guidance. Last night, I suddenly realised that Hardy was not the worst behaved and that ALL the dogs had their unique quirks. Poppy the Boxer who would not recall, Midge who won't sit and stay and Kobie who just wants to play and turn over on his back. Hardy simply likes to pull and refuses to heel. Hardy is brilliant on stay and can do recalls. It is going to take time and working with the walking on diagonals but after one week of trying this, I can already see a difference.
Anyway,  Perfect Pawz covers the Tynedale, and Newcastle area and is based in Hexham Auction Mart. The classes are small and Anna takes the time to talk to everyone about their dog. The dogs really seem to respond to her. If you are looking for an excellent trainer in this area, do consider contacting Perfect Pawz.

I know I am glad I did. And Hardy did enjoy himself (particulary the high value treats of sweet chilli and port sausage) One great tip was to have a variety of treats and move up or down the scale depending on how  Hardy was responding.

Perfect Pawz runs a variety of courses and Hardy may yet go on another one...

My Roman Undone has finally been scheduled. February 2011. Title to be decided. But hooray!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rules and Story

When it comes to Story and rules -- there is one cardinal rule -- The Story Rules All.  The Rules don't rule the Story.
Get your mind around that and you can see why certain published authors are able to *break* so many cardinal rules. Their story telling talent is such that they are able to hold readers in the palm of their hand and make them turn the page. And when they have finished, the reader wants to read MORE.
It is one of the big problems with writing, particularly when you are learning to work with your voice and talent  -- how do you showcase your talent.
You can write a story that follows all the rules but feels flat and someone else can write something that on the face of it should not work but does and works really well.
The question becomes why.
And the technical answer is that it has a lot to do with how the micro tension is presented and how questions arise in a reader's mind. The reader needs to want to turn the pages.
The non technical answer is : A lot of writing is instinctual and therefore impossible to give an exact paint by numbers. It works because it works and the author has made the reader care.
Can writing be taught? Or can talent merely be honed?
Some of it is about learning the why behind the best practice and understanding how things work but still loving the mystery of the process. A good exmple is a rainbow -- I understand why a rainbow happens and what it is made up of, but I still get a thrill every time I see one. I still appreciate the beauty of it and I look for rainbows whenever I can.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Blogging at PHS

Today I am blogging at the Pink Heart Society about Mallorca and how it provided me with the epiphany that not only did I want to write, I wanted to write for HMB. If you have never been, it is a great island to visit and offers so much more than simply high rise appartments and badly designed resorts...

I managed to get an eye infection and so have been spending time away from the computer. Golden eye ointment works. However, it does need to be a new tube and you throw it away once the infection clears up.

Thankfully I am waiting on my revisions and simply doing the self-imposed ones for the very nice agent I met in Orlando. I do have time.

The weather here is dreadful and we have had to put the central heating on...

Friday, November 05, 2010

Good writing books

A couple days ago an aspiring author asked me for a few recommendations of good writing books as I had sent back a critique highlighting a few things like Show, don't tell and Resist the Urge to Explain also 1+1 = 1/2.

How did I know these things? the aspiring author asked as her critique partners had never really highlighted them before.

Short answer is through reading how to books.

I divide my how to books in several categories.

First there are the writing romance books -- my go to books here are Leslie Wainger Writing Romance for Dummies and Kate Walker's 12 step guide (3rd edition coming out soon!)  Do not underestimate how much is actually in this genre and how rusty you can become on the basics! I did and had the serious revisions to prove it.

Then there are the books on structure:

Robert McKee Story  (almost of  the Harlequin editors have attended his seminar)

Blake Snyder Save the Cat
Donal Swain Techniques of the Selling Writer 

Then there are the books on editing

Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King -- This is a great primer on explaining about things like Show Don't tell, Easy Physical beats, Resisting the Urge to Explain and why 1+1 = 1/2. They also explain why an adverb isn't necessarily your friend. I like knowing the WHY behind the practice. You can know about a rule but if you don't know the theory behind it, you won't why it works when you break it.

The Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon -- it is excellent and full of helpful advice on creating 3 d characters

And the Donald Maass books -- Writing the Break Out Novel plus workbook and The Fire in Fiction. he is brilliant on creating mirco tension and looking for low tension traps. Plus identifying points of change in a scene and really making them standout.

I do read other ones but those are my go to library as it were. 

Above all though it is important to look at the Doughnut (the story) instead of the hole.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Newsletter and Hook Paragraph contest

My newsletter went out yesterday with details of my  Hook Paragraph contest...It is ONLY for my newsletter subscribers. My newsletter is free but I do like to reward them.

Trenda emailed and asked if this contest was open to published authors. My only stipulation is that people are newsletter subscribers. In the normal course of events, I would expect pubilshed authors to be working with their editors. However, I do understand some people sell to very small press and wish to see if they can improve...I would emphasize - -I am only an author and as it is MY contest, it is MY choice.

  Loads of things in this business are subjective. I learnt that in the last year when I changed editors and suddenly could understand some of the things I had been doing wrong. It can be the way people put them.

The desire to write shows you have talent. How you utilise that talent is up to you.
I heard neil Diamond speak on Jools Holland recently  and he was asked how anyone becomes a song writer these days . He said -- Same as it always has been -- passion and persistence.

Alice Cooper was also on the show. Alice Cooper is still touring. Apparently Halloween is quite big  for him. He and his band rehearse 10 hours a day. 2 hours on the theatrics and 8 hours on the music. And he is utterly passionate about the music. He agreed with Neil Diamond -- passion and persistence.

 With romance wiritng, the same principles apply -- you need to be passionate and persistent. In other words, desire, dedication, determination and discipline. You have to be ready for the Luck.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Made my deadline

I have sent the full of my Sinai one off to my very lovely editor for her thoughts. I expect revisions as I firmly believe that every manuscript can be made better with an editor's eye.  I do really believe in this story and think that once it is done, it is going to be absolutely fab.

One thing that was different about this book is that I finished it several thousand words short. By the time I had done the edits, I had add an extra 10k to the story. If I had made that word count in the first place, I would have been cutting furiously. So it is a lesson for me. I actually found this to be true of the Online Serial as well. I finished under the word count and trusted myself to layer in the emotion etc that was in my head and not on the page.

I will get my newsletter out in the next day or so and have decided it will be a pitch type contest (ie the middle paragraph of the query letter). I promise to comment on all entries... More in the newsletter...

Both A Question of Impropriety ( on eharlequin) and  The Viking's Captive Princess (on Mills & Boon) are on sale today. You can browse The Viking's Captive Princess here  and read the first chapter of A Question of Impropriety here.