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Writing in the Sunshine. Writing in the Shadows.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Peer Review

I spent a lovely day last week with the ladies of the Marcher Chapter of the Romantic Novelists' Association  at The Courtyard Theatre, in Hereford. As usual the company, the gossip, the laughter and the food were good - I love the fish pie for lunch and this time people also had cake! I was too full of fish pie to have one of my own but got fed slivers from other people's and very nice they were too. Next time I'll save some space.

This meeting was a bit different from usual, though, as it was a critique workshop, and instead of making ourselves at home at a couple of tables in the cafe, we'd actually got a room. This is the second time I've done this - so not as scary as last time, but a bit scary, because I don't do much in the way of critiques - I don't have a critique partner and no one usually reads my stuff until it goes to the publisher. The first time wasn't too bad - lots of confidence building comments on a romantic suspense that I wasn't too sure about. I'm working on it again, but other things keep elbowing it out. It will happen.

This time I took the first pages of what might be the next Riviera Rogues book.  There were seven of us, and part of the fun is trying to match the writer with the critique piece, as they are anonymous when they arrive. Some were fairly easy to guess, but there were a couple of surprises from people writing outside their usual genre. I have to say they were all fabulous. I wanted to read them all and comments seemed like nit picking. Happily the other felt the same, but we soldiered bravely and everyone got feedback, and we had a lot of fun. I'm not going to divulge details, but I really hope all the books make it into print, because I do want to read them all.

And mine - well the feedback was positive, but the big question was - how are you going to work the plot out? And thereby hangs the tail, because although the book is finished it's the one with the plot that is ... well, let's say at the moment it needs a lot of suspension of disbelief. I will sort the bugs out, because I want Nadine and Ryan to have their story and also to catch up with what has been happening to Cassie and Jake two years into their marriage.

I'll have to give the matter deep thought. Very deep. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Writing for the seasons.

But I don't do mists and mellow fruitfulness!
As you know, I like to write books where the sun shines. I'm very loud about that. Except that the one I have just turned into to the publisher has snow in it. (That last sentence has to be said in a hushed amazed whisper, by the way.) It's a Christmas novella so it's not really surprising that there might be some snow, even if I had to make it a freak blizzard in the Brecon Beacons - one of the super powers of being a writer is to control the weather. If it makes it thorough the publisher's reading panel - fingers crossed, it will be out for - drum roll - Christmas!!!

Of course, once a writer has a book off the runway they are usually thinking about the next one. As you know, if you have been paying attention, and if I've remembered to tell you, I have two new romantic suspense books half written, so the logical thing would be to finish one of them. But when did logic have anything to do with it? I took  an extract from one of them, the one with the highest body count, actually, (5 by the first page) to a workshop with the lovely ladies of the Marcher Chapter of the Romantic Novelists' Association and they made some helpful and encouraging  comments and generally gave it the thumbs up (I didn't mention the bodies.) so I could get going on that one, but I have another idea gnawing away, and I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to get rid of the little blighter, and horror of horrors, it's trying to set itself in Wales in the autumn. Which is not a recipe for sunshine. Although I am toying with the idea of a St Luke's Summer*. Got to get  my fix somehow.

But where is it coming from? I do not like autumn. I have a problem with September especially, for personal reasons, but nothing of the season particularly appeals. So why is the book insisting on it? I have no idea. It just seems to fit the atmosphere of the book. At the moment it has a Beauty and the Beast theme, with a house that has wandered in from Portmeirion in North Wales and an overgrown garden that has some big surprises under the weeds and brambles. And some spooky ghostly stuff. Will it go any further, or will it wander off to the back burner and wait its turn, letting me get back to the two half written ones, both of which are set in the summer.

We shall see.

*St Luke's summer is good weather around 18th October. I have to thank Suzette Hill for that little gem which, like a good little author,  I squirreled away for future use - like getting ambushed by autumn setting books.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Read a book day.

Did you know?

That today,Wednesday 6th September, is Read a Book Day?

I didn't - so many thanks to fellow Choc-lit author Victoria Cornwall for mentioning it.

So, what are you waiting for? Go and find one, buy one, borrow one. I won't say steal one because I'm very law abiding - I leave the nefarious stuff to the characters in the books. Choc-lit has a great selection to chose from. We write in a wide variety of genres so you're bound to find something you fancy and quite a few are £1.99 or even only 99p, if you read on Kindle. Or you can support your local library. Authors get a small payment for the books borrowed, so it's all good. The only place the author gets nothing from that particular sale is the second hand book shop, but if you must ...

Actually the expression 'Read a book day' begs a few questions. Do you have to read the whole book today? Do you start the book today and it's OK if you finish it later? Should you read just part of a book? Is that OK as long as you are reading something? An old favourite or something new? An author or a genre you haven't read before? I naturally think of fiction, because that's what I like to read and write, but does any book count - cookery, motorcycle maintenance, Gray's Anatomy? And what about poetry. You could certainly read bit of a poetry book today and get a complete experience, unless it's something like Paradise Lost, which might take a bit longer.

You can tell I'm an academic crossed with a novelist, can't you - always asking questions.

Having done some in depth research on your behalf - alright, yes, I googled it - apparently anything goes, as long as it's reading - and reading aloud and involving children is also a good idea. Reading apparently reduces stress. It certainly does mine, and I get quite twitchy when I don't have a book on the go, and my mum was the same. Is that learned or inherited, I wonder? At the moment I'm trying to avoid starting the latest Karen Rose - Monster in the Closet, because I know that if I pick it up there's a good chance that none of the things on the to-do list will get done, but I know I'll give in eventually. Anything to stop that twitch.

So - have a happy day reading a book. There's even a hash tag so you can tell us all about it.  #ReadABookDay 

Enjoy your choice - whatever it is.