Saturday, April 23, 2011

Revisions and The Game of Thrones

First off I am busy with my revisions. My conversation with my editor on Thursday helped clarify matters and really set my mind turning over. She made several good suggestions. Part of the trouble with the old scenario is that to do it justice, the word count would have been too long. Word Count is important in series books. It is part of the economies of scale. I tend to be on the high end in any case.
So it involves re imagining things. Basically deciding I am a Banus (to use Diane Wynne Jones terminology from  Hexwood). A Banus is a type of a highly intelligent computer which runs various game playing scenarios with real people. The scenarios change until the Banus gets the desired outcome. Sometimes, it is not about changing motivations, but changing events if the characters are set. I shall have the illusion of keeping some things but basically have to write two new chapters. On the plus side, I do get to move the action to London.
I have figured out how to do so. Finally and why that triggers other things.

I have also managed to watch the first episode of The Game of Thrones. It is interesting to see Martin's influences. for example he cites George MacDonald Fraser author of the Flashmen series, and Bernard Cornwell as influences. My daughter originally thought it was George MacDonald who is one of my faves and heavily influenced Tolkien and CS Lewis and a host of others, but no I checked on Wikipedia. It was Fraser who wrote about the Border wars.  Martin is apparently heavily influenced by the War of the Roses and medieval history as opposed to Norse mythology. The problem is a bit like TremeGame of Thrones is difficult to follow precisely what is going on and who precisely is who.  Luckily they do use some of the fantasy land cliches -- for example, a woman wearing red is generally up to no good. Finding of small animals or eggs generally is a sign that they are symbolic and will bring good fortune if looked after. If you have a map, you can figure on going everywhere -- particularly to the remote places. Lots of sex, incest etc but that is to be expected with a HBO production. It is difficult to follow. However my teen aged children really enjoyed it and want to read the books as well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Revisions hit

My editors felt that things could be improved on my manuscript so I get to revisit the world again. The important thing is to ultimately give the reader the best read possible. One of my mistakes was to make an important confession triggered by an external event, rather than an internal to the relationship event. The external event happened to the heroine BUT the whole thing didn't move the relationship forward. I also had a two seperate turning points that would have been better as one turning point.
Sometimes, the mistakes in a manuscript can't been seen until they look at the whole thing.
Disappointing -- yes in a way but on the other hand I want to give my readers the best possible read. It is good to know that my editors care enough to send the manuscript back and say -- we know you can improve on this.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reshaping my writer's bottom line and celebrity eating

One thing I have learnt over the past few weeks is how hard you have to work at keeping fit. If you want to get fit, you have to SWEAT.  If you want to keep being fit, you have to SWEAT. Yes, you can eat treats but you always have to balance things. For various celebrities to proclaim that their favourite indulgences are a variety of fried foods (as reported in The Times) is unhelpful in the extreme. They may eat them in public but in private? It reminds me of how someone once said the Astors ate -- huge  multi-course banquets on the weekends when they entertained, tea and snippets of toast when dining alone. It is not a new trick but a rather old one.
The bottom line is that for many actresses their body is literally their fortune. They have a greater need to look well. But maintaining a myth that they do not have to work at it is far from helpful. To look that good, they have to work. They have to put on the slap, wear the right clothes and exercise plus watch their diet. They are human beings rather than androids. They also have to worry that someone else is coming along or that they will fall out of fashion...And they don't want to seem neurotic as eating disorders are bad news.
Know you are going to eat a lot? Plan for it.  Increase your exercise before and after. Cut back at other meals. But above all enjoy and live in that moment. You deserve it if you plan for it. And indulgences make life much sweeter.
But to pretend that you are blessed with a better metabolism than other people is wrong. Admitting that they work damn hard and take pride in their accomplishment but are not afraid to splurge is much better.
It is a bit like pretending that as a writer, you never have to revise or that every book comes easy. Some do. Some don't. But hard work does pay off. And people should celebrate their achievements more.
For me, I have to force myself to make time to workout. I know the dvds will make me sweat and will work on getting me fit. If I do a 40/50 minute and end up marinated, I know I can eat more than a lettuce leaf. If I worked out for  4 hours a day which some celebrities do when getting ready for a part, I could eat much more. But really, life is too short!
 It is a simple equation about calories in and calories expended. And it is HARD for everyone.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It WAS the monitor

I took both the monitor and the tower in. It was the monitor. The technician was very nice. When I explained, he said he'd try testing them both. To his surprise, the monitor behaved as I said it would. I have a new monitor. The fan has been replaced on the tower and all is right with world.
However, I now know about backing up to external sources places (thanks Ros) and various other little lessons such as not having things saved in bookmarks means I spend less time faffing on the Internet...

The wip is calling...

It might be the monitor

The computing saga continues...I managed to run a diagonostic report and everything passes according to my Norton 360. Everything is fine except the screen goes black when the account user notication comes on. And then continues to be black. The computer itself seems to work fine. I kept it on to se if it would automatically shut down etc.  You can switch the monitor off and on and get about 5 seconds. My daughter and I used that time to transfer various files to the external hard drive. Her A level coursework is now accessible!
So this morning will be taken up with another trip to the technicians and I will hopefully get it sorted!

I have started my next wip as I wait for my editor's verdict on the current one. It is something that I feel very excited about. I just prefer working on my big machine. For one thing, it has my music on with various playlists. Equally my daughter keeps telling me that the Acer netbook is really hers...umm no not precisely. It will be returned to her once my computer screen is back...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Computer woes

My normal computer is out of action for a little while. The fan went. It overheated and now there is a problem with the monitor staying on. A trip to the computer store got me the new fan. Only the same thing happened with the monitor when I returned home. SIGH. It is NOT just the fan.
Everything is backed up on the media drive -- auto back up EXCEPT do I know where the cable is to connect to this computer?
Luckily, I have been able to get hold of the full I sent my editor last week, so there are no worries there. Simple expeditent of forwarding my email to my editor back to myself and downloading that. My daughter will be able to access her history essay in the same fashion. To the children's relief I have finally caved and put Windows Office on the Acer.
I have several critiques to do. They were half done when disaster struck but I will get to them. I can access the bits that were sent! 
It will be good to get the thing sorted.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Border Collie adventures

Tess has managed to sprain her elbow. She started hobbling about and had to visit the vet. Tess decided that the vet who actually is the Border Collie loving vet was in  fact the Devil Incarnate and attempted to hide underneath the chairs in the waiting room. After extracting her, she deigned to have her leg looked at. The vet explained  she'd jumped wrong and would have to be kept quiet for a few days. A common occurance apparently. She has nothing in her paw. He gave her an injection. Tess then decided she had had enough and attempted to bolt of the vet's office, nearly tripping a cat carrying lady in the process.
Tess does not do quiet. She does life at double speed. Her greatest love is a game of fetch, preferably one which involves leaping. It is going to be a long few days...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guilty Pleasures -- The Mills and Boon Documentary

Guilty Pleasures, the documentary on Mills and Boon will be shown on More 4 at 10 pm tonight. It follows the lives of five people touched by Mills & Boon including Roger Sanderson who writes as Gill Sanderson. Part of the bit they filmed was Roger attending the annual Association of Mills & Boon Author lunch. That year was the last year I was in charge and the cameras did roll as I did my welcome bit. Right now I hope that it ended up on the cutting room floor. If not, then hopefully people will see that Mills & Boon authors are a family and we do actively welcome new authors. The amount of effort and sheer hard work plus determination that goes into selling to Harlequin should not be underestimated or valued. In fact it should be celebrated and that is one of the things AMBA does try to do. That year, new authors were given glass pendants in the shape of a leaf to remind them they were a part of a much bigger tree.
I didn't get to go last year as my daughter was ill but I understand the event was again warm and welcoming. I am looking forward to this year's event.
I just hope that the documentary does not mock the readers, the people who derive so much pleasure from the books.   The books are escapist fantasy but they do provide a ray of sunshine in people's existence. They can help people through troubled times.

In other news, I had a lovely review from Julie Bonello of cataromance for Breaking the Governess's Rules. She gave the book 4.5 stars and wrote
Written with class, skill and flair, Breaking the Governess’ Rules is a beguiling historical romance by a true virtuoso of the genre. Michelle Style sure knows how to pen a breath-taking, heart-pounding and dazzling Regency and Breaking the Governess’ Rules sparkles with her particular brand of powerful emotion, intense passion and poignant romance.
You can read the full review here.

Julie has reviewed all my full length historicals and she has also recently started her own review site -- Bookish Jottings. She is a true lover of the genre and a tireless reviewer. And her reviews have provided a ray of sunshine in my life.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Finished and in

The full of my latest one went in yesterday, in a haze of champagne enduced euphoria.  I really like this manuscript and hopefully my editor will as well. It made me cry in places, even when editing which I suppose is good. I only hope everything is on the page, rather than in my head. There is the 90% rule -- 90% of the readers will only get 10% of the emotion I as a writer feel. ANd some times I only think things are  on the page...
Time will tell what my editor thinks and if she can see room for improvement.
I have started thinking about my next one because it keeps me from worrying about this one. And it is one I have been thinking about on and off. I know the heroine but the hero  only came to me last week. So as they are knocking hard on my door, it seems the most sensible thing to do.
Over the weekend, particularly on Friday, I was  ill with some flu thing. Beecham's Powder was the only thing that worked. I ended up sleeping most of Friday and Saturday. That sort of half-dozing, half-waking. But I did manage to get the full ms edited. Perhaps this is because I stayed off the Internet!
This week I need to catch up on a few critiques that I owe people and other admin. Housework should be done as well but right now I am going to do one of my Jillian Michaels dvds as it needs to be done.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Wasting Away

Over the past two days, I have had two separate and very dear people comment that I am wasting away. I beg to differ. I am sweating away. And it is NOT finished yet, despite the temptation of cake, crisps and other high calorie food as I wrestle this manuscription into submission.
Have I said lately how much I do love my characters? And how good I think this story is going to be?  I did get to the end yesterday. This is the fun bit! And I pray that my editor (and eventually my readers) will love it as much as I do... The new method does seem to be paying off, although it seemed very frustrating at the beginning.
Last week in reshaping my bottom line, it became clear that I could no longer ignore my top half. My weeks of doing arm circles and oblique stretch exercises had caused a realignment.  Plus I needed a sports bra with proper support... My bra has gone from a 40DD to a 34E. Thankfully my modiste is Rigby and Pellar trained and knows how to measure properly. Apparently I suffer from the same problem as my daughter -- small back with a sizeable frontage. Who knew?  It may be that the proper fit has resulted in my waist looking smaller as well. I do know that exercising in a properly fitting sports bra makes a lot of difference.
So if you have lost weight recently (particularly through doing Jillian Michaels), I would urge you to get your bras checked by someone who knows what she is doing. Bras should not cut into breast tissue. And the right underpinnings can really help.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Made in Dagenham

For Mothering Sunday, my family gave me Made in Dagenham -- a feel good comedy about women's rights in 1960's Britain, in particular the machinists at Ford's Dagenham factory. Because of their efforts, Britian enjoys an Equal Pay law (something I am not sure the US as a whole has yet). The movie had Bob Hoskins who is brill as the shop steward who got the fact that women deserve to paid the amount as men. The character was brought up by his widowed mother who earnt 40p for every pound that a man doing the same job would earn. Sally Hawkins shines as Rita OGrady, the reluctant leader of the women who grows in confidence through out the film.
It has sparked loads of conversation with my daughter about the unfairness of the situation. I am sure it has raised awareness about something that people in Britain now take for granted.
It should be seen by as many people as possible. It is wonderfully uplifting and it does restore your faith in human nature. Plus the soundtrack is brill.