Sunday, 11 December 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Jess and Kyle's first meeting


The final excerpt from my 2011 release of 'His Leading Lady' about the first meeting between Jess and Kyle.

“Oh, and by the way,” Kyle added, as he reached the door and looked back at her, “there’s one more difference between you and your sister. You have far more spirit and I like a feisty woman.  Au revoir, Ms. Harper.”

“Goodbye, Mr. Drummond,” Jess said very firmly.

The door clicked shut behind him, and she let out a short grunt of exasperation, followed by a sudden wry smile. At least he’d conceded that she’d given as good as she got.

Thanks to everyone who has followed this series of excerpts and left comments for me.
I'll be back in the New Year with an excerpt from  my new book 'Fragrance of Violets' which will be released by Whiskey Creek Press in February.
Meantime, you can read the whole of Chapter 1 of 'His Leading Lady' at the Whiskey Creek website, or at Amazon 
www.whiskeycreekpress.com or http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Jess and Kyle's first meeting


Another six-sentence excerpt from my 2011 release of 'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week when Jess told Kyle she had no idea where her sister Lora was.

Kyle walked towards the door, then turned.  “If she contacts you, remind her that if she isn’t at the television interview on Friday, her contract will be terminated.  That will blacklist her at every West End theatre.”

Jess stared at him and knew he meant it, but she kept her voice steady. “I’m sure she realises that, and I’m sure she’ll be there.”

“I can only hope so."

Thanks to all who've been following these excerpts. There'll be the final excerpt from this first meeting next week!

'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Third Novel Accepted!

Today I received the contract for my third novel with Whiskey Creek Press, and I'm over the moon!

'Her Only Option' is set in Egypt, which I visited, and fell in love with, just over a year ago. Visiting Luxor and the Valley of the Kings was a dream come true. Seeing the sun rise over Lake Nasser and illuminate the massive statues of the Abu Simbel temples was one of the most memorable experiences of my whole life.












One afternoon, I was relaxing on the sundeck of our Nile cruise ship which was moored at Aswan. There are so many ships that they have to be moored four abreast, and the sundecks of neighbouring ships are more or less level with each other. I started to wonder if it would be possible to vault across the short gap from one sundeck to another. Not that I had any intention of trying it, you understand!


That evening I put the question to one of the friends we had made on the trip.  He walked across to the rail, studied the gap for a moment, then said, “Well, I wouldn’t try it now, but I could have done it easily when I was in my twenties or thirties.”

First piece of research completed - it was possible. And I could see my hero doing his death-defying leap (slight exaggeration!) to be with the heroine.

So now what? Are the hero and heroine guests on different cruise ships? But the cruises only last 5 or 7 days, so what would happen when they returned home?  No, I needed to have them both living in Egypt, so maybe the heroine could be a tour guide on a cruise ship.

What about the hero? On a flight from Luxor to Cairo, I read an article in the flight magazine about an archaeologist who had explored a hidden tunnel leading from the burial chamber of one of the Pharaoh’s tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Hmm, maybe my hero could be an archaeologist in the famous Valley.


With the setting and the two main characters in place, it was time to start thinking of the complications and conflicts that would prevent the course of love running smoothly. I wrote the first two chapters at the hotel in Luxor where we spent a week after the end of our cruise. Writing in longhand again in a notebook (which the very nice Egyptian in the hotel bookshop acquired for me) reminded me of my early (pre-computer) writing days.

When I got home, I tranferred my scribble to the computer, and got on with the rest of the story, which ended up with more twists and turns than I'd first envisaged, including a Nile boatman who sang Elvis songs, who invented himself part way through the story!

Here, then, is the blurb for 'Her Only Option':

Neve Dalton loves her job as a tour guide on a River Nile cruise ship as much as she values her independence. She isn’t ready to settle down with her Egyptian boyfriend, despite his repeated proposals and his father’s desire to see him married.

Nor is she ready to meet Ross McAllister, a compelling and fascinating archaeologist. She struggles against her growing attraction to him until she can no longer ignore what her heart is telling her. This is the man who sets her soul on fire.

After breaking up with her boyfriend, she starts receiving cryptic messages, and Ross’s work in the famous Valley of the Kings is threatened. Neve has to make a heart-breaking and life-changing decision which seems to be her only option.

Can Ross discover whose enmity is forcing them apart before it’s too late?

Oh, and by the way, I never did manage to bring in the scene where the hero vaults the rails between the two cruise ships. But I did call my hero Ross, after the cruise-ship friend who told me it could be done!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Jess and Kyle's first meeting


Another six-sentence excerpt from my 2011 release of 'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week when Jess told Kyle she had no idea where her sister Lora was.

“I’ll have to take your word for that,” Kyle growled. “If she contacts you, find out where she is and call me.” He withdrew something from the back pocket of his jeans and handed it to her.

Jess glanced briefly at the expensive-looking embossed card. Again he had irritated her with his curt order and she fought back the temptation to click her heels and salute.

“If Lora contacts me, then I will ask her to call you,” she replied coolly.



'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here.



Friday, 25 November 2011

I'm a Winner!


Yay, my NaNoWriMo 50K words were validated and I got my winner's certificate and badge.

Now I'm trying to re-invoke my inner editor (which I abandoned during NaNo) as I return to the re-write of my 'work in progress'. I'm leaving the NaNo novel for a while, until I've completed the WIP.  Returning to it later, hopefully with fresh eyes, will either reinspire me or make me cringe at the sloppy sprint write style I used.

Meantime, at lunch with a friend yesterday, she gave me another idea for a novel.

So many ideas, and not enough time to write them all!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

NaNoWriMo Update


Yes, it's done. 57,380 words in 21 days. Phew!  Hero and heroine have overcome all the obstacles and conflicts I threw at them and reached their 'Happy Ever After' ending.

But when I say it's 'done', all I really mean is that the FIRST draft is done. I still have a lot more work to do.

In this month’s UK ‘Writing’ magazine, one publisher says that most aspiring writers make their first error by submitting far too soon without realising how much re-writing needs to be done.

He lists a ‘10-draft’ process: typing out a rough draft, tightening the structure, developing the characters, improving the dialogue, working on the language, restructuring some parts, adding layers of conflict, improving crucial opening pages, more work on character development and finally proof-reading for mistakes.

A pretty scary list, right? I’m not sure it would actually take 10 drafts, since some could be combined. But the important point is that a first draft is very much a ‘first’ and can’t be considered as a manuscript which is ready for submission.

Normally, even in my first drafts, I tend to agonise over language and dialogue, trying to get it right the first time. However, having taken part in NaNowriMo for the first time, I’ve surprised myself by being able to abandon my ‘inner editor’ as I sprint-wrote the whole story in 21 days.

Okay, so it was pre-plotted (unlike my normal pantser method) as I was trying a rewrite/updating of a novel I wrote in the 1970’s. It did require some serious updating, especially my style, and also some of the content, since the world has changed since the 1970’s. Cell phones and email probably present the trickiest problem in updating, it’s so much easier now for characters to contact each other.

Even so, I’ve been aware that it was what I call ‘lazy’ writing. I ignored my usual careful honing of words to convey the exact meaning I wanted, I let adverbs and speech tags slip by, I repeated my favourite words and phrases (probably ad nauseam), my heroine’s heart did so many jumps and jerks, she’s  in danger of an imminent heart attack. I also ignored the detailed research which can often hold me up for a long time. My mantra became ‘I’ll fix that later.’

But, at the end of 21 days, I have a first draft. The hero and heroine finally got to their happy ever after ending. However, I’m nowhere near that ending.

Could I submit this as it is now? No way. It’s the first time I’ve ever written a real ‘rough draft’ and, believe me, it IS rough! I know I still have a HUGE amount of work to do. 10 drafts? Maybe that’s what it will need.

How many drafts do you write, and what do you concentrate on improving with each draft?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Jess and Kyle's First Meeting from 'His Leading Lady'.


Another six-sentence excerpt from my 2011 release of  'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week when Kyle told Jess her sister had disappeared, the week before rehearsals were due to start for the West End Show in which Lora had the lead role. Jess felt smug when she matched his patronising tone.

Her victory was short-lived. “You must have been a wow with the drop-out kids at school,” Kyle said dryly. “I’m glad I wasn’t one of your students.”

“And I’m glad I’m not one of your actresses,” she countered and regretted it when she saw his lips tighten. She didn’t usually indulge in stupid back-biting, but then she’d never met such an infuriating man.

After she’d deliberately drawn in a deep breath, she said coolly, “However, as that’s not likely to happen, maybe we should confine our conversation to my sister, although I can’t assist you as to her whereabouts." 


'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky
And see the latest review of His Leading Lady at http://words2follow.blogspot.com/

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Jess and Kyle's first meeting


Another six-sentence excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week when Kyle told Jess her sister had disappeared, the week before rehearsals were due to start for the West End Show in which Lora had the lead role. He's trying to find her because they have a promotional event in two days' time.

He spoke to her as if she was a complete idiot and Jess’s hackles rose again.  “Yes, Mr Drummond,” she replied in exactly the same tone.  “I understand perfectly, and I wish I could help you, but I hope you now understand that I know even less about Lora’s whereabouts than you do.”

Kyle Drummond raised his eyebrows briefly and, despite her simmering anger, Jess smirked inwardly, knowing she’d scored a small victory.  This arrogant man wasn’t accustomed to being spoken to in his own condescending manner.  He was probably far more used to fawning starlets gushing ‘Yes, Mr Drummond – no, Mr Drummond’ at everything he said.

More next week.



'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky
And see the latest review of His Leading Lady at http://words2follow.blogspot.com/

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here.

Friday, 11 November 2011

NaNoWriMo Update

Another week, and tonight I hit and passed the halfway mark.  Currently, I'm at 26,853 words, so I think I'll probably make the 50K target.

More important than the target word number, though, is what I've realised this past week. This novel is a "re-write" of a novel I wrote thirty years ago. I have put re-write deliberately in inverted commas, because it's becoming far more than that.

First, I've had to update the story itself. Set in a High School in the 1970's, I've had to change the issues in the school. In the original the hero was trying to introduce something new at the school based on Equal Opportunities which was the 'in' thing at the time. Obviously it no longer applies, so I had to find something different. I've been out of teaching now for nearly 20 years so had no knowledge of current initiatives. Fortunately, one of my daughters is now a teacher, so several phone calls to her gave me new ideas, supplemented by some online research. And how much easier it is now to do that research now compared with the pre-internet era.

Other 'updates' have included the use of mobile phones and computers too. Communication is so much easier these days, which sometimes works to our disadvantage when writing romance novels, since we have to find alternative reasons why our characters can't contact each other to sort out some misunderstanding (losing phone, internet down, even dead batteries on phone or laptop are options).

Another update has simply been the language. Reading through my original story, I decided my characters tended to talk like people in a 1940's movie. Totally unrealistic and not how people talk in 'real life' today. Updating their dialogue has been fun.

The other great 'learning curve' with NaNoWri Mo has been to turn off the inner editor, and to accept that this is very much a first draft, concentrating on quantity rather than quality. I had my doubts about whether I could turn off my 'inner editor' - and there have still been times when I've agonised over the right word to use. But, during this past week, I've realised I actually CAN do it.  It doesn't actually matter, at this stage, how many time the heroine's heart jerks or the hero raises his eyebows. I'm aware of my repeats and I can sort those out later.

That's been the biggest lesson I've learned. Get the actual story down in a first draft.  Time later to edit, revise and refine. I know already how much work I'll need to do after the end of November. I've read recently that a first draft is where you draw the outline, and then, once that draft is done, you can then colour in the whole picture. Since I've always said the editing process is the part I really enjoy, NaNoWriMo has taught me the value of getting that outline or draft done first, without agonising over the details.  Then, once it's done, the real work starts.  

  

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting


Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week when Kyle told Jess her sister had disappeared, the week before rehearsals were due to start for the West End Show in which Lora had the lead role.

“She’s probably gone away for a holiday somewhere before rehearsals start next week,” Jess said, more calmly than she felt. “I’m sure she’ll be back in London for those, wherever she’s gone.”

“She’d better be back before then.”

A bolt of alarm shot through her at the implied threat in Kyle Drummond’s voice. “Why?”

“Because, Ms. Harper, she’s under contract for various appearances as part of the advance publicity, and one of those happens to be the day after tomorrow, so perhaps now you understand why I’ve been trying to find her.”

More next week!

'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky 
And see the latest i.e. yesterday's review of His Leading Lady at http://words2follow.blogspot.com/

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here.

Friday, 4 November 2011

NaNoWriMo Update

So it was going well - with last night's total of 6200, I was well over the average needed per day.

Today I had to drive up to Preston (about 30 miles away) to start clearing my step-mother's apartment  (she died last May but, due to various complications over her estate we've been in limbo since then). Anyway, I spent the day sorting through her living room while a couple of friends tackled the huge amount of clothes in her bedroom and bagged them, ready to take to the charity shops.

Back here, after a few traffic jams, on the way at 5pm, and soon I start writing again.  Then, after I'd done about 1,000 words, I hit some key and the whole thing disappeared!  What????  When I finally found it again, it was at the point I'd left it last night!  What on earth happened to autosave, set at 5 minutes? 

After half an hour of trying to find and restore the updated document with no success, I gave up and decided there was nothing else for it but to rewrite those 1,000 words.

This kind of thing would be annoying enough (hmm, that's putting it mildly - and politely!) when you're writing anything, but with NaNoWriMo, where every words counts, it was nothing short of disastrous. But, with the bit between my teeth (and after a few swear words), I started writing those 1000 words again.

Fortunately I was able to rememebr most of what I'd written (cue for loud cheer that my short-term memory still seems to be functioning okay), but really, one does not need this kind of thing during NaNoWriMo! I've checked that Autosave is set to 5 mins, but I don't trust it because some key on keyboard bypasses that system somewhere, so I'm hitting save virtually every 10 words.

So- tomorrow is another day :-)

BTW anyone know what key I could possibly have hit to delete today's update on a document without some pop-up box askijg me if I wanted to save it???

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

NaNoWriMo


Today is the first day of the National Novel Writing Month. The aim is to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. This works out at 1,666 words per day.  In theory it sounds fairly easy - about three Word pages, single spaced, per day.
Easy?  Sometimes I can agonise over a single sentence for an hour or more - in between munching wine gums, staring into space, playing another game of Pyramid (my excuse being that it's 'thinking time'), checking emails, Facebook and Twitter, writing a blog (just like I'm doing now) and otherwise procrastinating. 
The trick, or so I've been told, is to turn off the 'inner editor' and simply write.  Revision and editing can come later.  That's going to be the hardest part for me, since I edit constantly.  I also research as I go along, since that's so much easier to do than it was in pre-internet days.  Already I've broken off from writing to research courses in French culture at the Sorbonne in Paris.  Then, drawing in a deep breath, I forced myself to bookmark a website so that I can look at it in more detail later.
Usually I'm a pantser, but in this case my NaNo novel is already plotted, as I'm rewriting one of my early novels, published in 1981.  Is that cheating?  No, not in this case.  The novel needs serious updating - technology has changed, for one thing. Mobile phones and email make it easy for the characters to get in contact with each other.
The story is set in a school and they've changed too.  Educational issues in the late 70's when I wrote this novel are completely different from school issues today. As a former teacher, I knew what those issues were when I first wrote the story, but I've been out of teaching now for nearly 20 years.  Fortunately my daughter is a teacher, so I grilled her last week about current issues, and she came up with one I think I can use.
Quite apart from the background and setting, I'm already cringing at my early style of writing.  So much telling instead of showing - ouch! Long, unwieldy sentences, speech tags, far too many adverbs, and, oh dear, exclamation marks galore (my friend Michelle will laugh her socks off at that last statement).
So I'm treating it as a partly pre-planned novel because I know I'm going to have to make a lot of changes as part of the updating process. In fact, it wouldn't surpise me if, at some point, it took off in a different direction than the original story. We shall see ...  

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting



Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week but one, when Kyle demanded to know where her sister was. Jess told him she didn't know what he was talking about.


“Your sister disappeared last weekend. I’ve contacted everyone in London who might know where she is but no-one does. Today I’ve visited every school in this god-forsaken Yorkshire town looking for you, but now you tell me you don’t know anything?”

“I’m sure Lora will have some reasonable explanation,” Jess replied, as much to reassure herself as to convince him. Her twin sister had disappeared and it obviously didn’t occur to him that his news would shock or worry her. 

How insensitive was that?

 
More next week!

'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Take Me to the Movies

For Writer's Post Blog Hop #19.

I have a lot of favourite movies - 'The American President' (Michael Douglas and Annette Benning) is a feel-good movie which makes me laugh, 'Apollo 13' always makes me cry (with relief, not sadness). Love Hugh Jackman in 'Australia' (even though it was panned by the critics) and in the time-travel 'Kate and Leopold' too, and adore Colin Firth in whatever movie (but especially as Darcy in the BBC's 'Pride and Prejudice').

In the end, however, I have to go with my all-time favourite Martin Sheen. I fell in love with him 30+ years ago when I first saw him playing John Dean in 'Blind Ambition' and then playing JFK in the 'Kennedy' mini-series in the late 70's - and, of course, more recently as President Jed Bartlet in 'The West Wing' TV series.

However, my favourite Martin Sheen movies are those from the 1980's when he was a VERY attractive 40+ year old. None of them particularly well known, but all worth watching - Judgement in Berlin, The War at Home (with his son Emilio), Shattered Spirits (heart-reading portrayal as an alcoholic) and Wall Street.

My favourite from this time is a low-budget but delightful movie called 'Da' which I have watched countless times. Martin plays Charlie, a New York playwright who returns to his Irish home when his father dies. Much of the movie shows flashbacks from Charlie's thoughts, about his sometimes difficult relationship with his father as he reminisces and eventually finds reconciliation. It alternates between sadness and humour and can have you laughing and crying at the same time.

It was filmed in Ireland, with most of the location filming being done in the small towns of Dalkey and Bray, a few miles south of Dublin. I had a lot of fun tracking down some of the locations - here are some of them (with a screen shot from the movie, and my own shot of the same location):


If you can't find the DVD of 'Da' someone has put the whole movie (in instalments) on YouTube - it's well worth watching for a real feel-good movie.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Lake Garda, Verona and Venice

Sharing a few photos from last week at Lake Garda in Italy:

The view of the lake from our hotel room at Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda
Lake Garda at Limone
Malcesine
Juliet's balcony in Verona
The Arena at Verona

Venice, of course!

St. Mark's Square
Sirmione at southern end of Lake Garda
And finally - ice cream!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting


Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week when Kyle told Jess that her twin sister Lora had disappeared, just days before rehearsals are due to start on his new West End show.


“Excuse me, Mr Drummond,” Jess said, more calmly than she felt, “but before you start issuing your orders and threats, I repeat – I simply don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

She met his gaze steadily although her heart had started to race.  She wasn’t sure whether it was sudden concern about Lora, or whether it was more to do with those dark eyes that still rested on her.

His brow furrowed as he looked at her, almost as if he was trying to read her mind, and then he shrugged slightly. 

Jess had forced herself not to flinch under his scrutiny.  When she let out the breath she’d been holding, she cursed inwardly as that same amused look crossed his face before his eyes bored into her again. 

More next week!

'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here.

(Apologies in advance that I won't be able to answer any comments because, by the time you're reading this, I shall be enjoying the sunshine at Lake Garda in Italy, probably with no computer access.  But I still hope you'll leave your comments for me, even though I can't reciprocate on your blogs this week.)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting


Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week when Jess was thrown off-balance by Kyle's abrupt demand.

“Your sister – where is she? I’ve spent the last three days trying to track her down, and then trying to find you

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

Kyle Drummond fixed her with an intense gaze. “Don’t cover for her, Ms. Harper. If your sister thinks she can play silly little games with me, she’d better think again – and so had you.”

More next week!

'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting


Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week when Kyle said he'd seen Jess watching him from the back of the shop.

“Oh - I - er ...” she stuttered as an embarrassed flush crept to her cheeks. 

“Don’t apologise and I won’t either."

Quickly she reverted to the cool approach.  “Obviously I don’t need to introduce myself, and I assume you’re Kyle Drummond.”

“Yes – and where the hell is Lora?”

 The abrupt demand threw her off balance again. 

More next week!

'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting


Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady' with the first meeting between Jess and Kyle. This is a continuation from last week when the last thing Kyle said was: "So how many points did you give me?"

“I beg your pardon?”

“How many points?” he repeated. “When you were inspecting me from the back of the shop?”  Amusement flashed in his eyes. “You must have stood there for a good two minutes watching me.  I could see your reflection in the shop window.”

More next week!

'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting


Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady'. For those who've read my excerpts about Jess and Kyle's first kiss, I'm now showing you their very first meeting. This is a continuation from last week when the last thing Jess said was: "I don't like being inspected, Mr. Drummond."

“Why not?  You’re a beautiful woman.  Why not be proud of that?  Your sister certainly is.”

“Lora and I are two very different people,” Jess said coolly, “and I don’t take kindly to a complete stranger assessing me on some ten point scale.”

“So how many points did you give me?”

More next week!
'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here

Also I'm chatting with Katheryn Lane about 'His Leading Lady' if you'd like to visit  http://bit.ly/rtILMe

Thursday, 15 September 2011

One Year Ago

'One Year Ago' is the topic of the week for the Group Blogging Experience on Facebook (GBE2).

So, one year ago, what was I doing? 

Revising/editing my novel 'Fragrance of Violets' which is set mainly in England's Lake District before moving to London and Paris.  I think, by September 2010, I had decided on the title, which comes from a quotation by Mark Twain:  Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

The story is about two people who need to forgive each other and also deal with other issues in their lives:

Abbey Seton distrusts men, especially Jack Tremayne who destroyed their friendship when they were teenagers.  Ten years later, they meet again.  Can they put the past behind them?
Abbey has to forgive not only Jack, but also her father who deserted his family when she was young.  Jack holds himself responsible for his fiancĂ©e’s death.  He’s also hiding another secret which threatens the fragile resumption of his relationship with Abbey.
Will Abbey ever forgive him when she finds out the truth?

('Fragrance of Violets' was accepted by Whiskey Creek Press and will be published next February.)

While I was revising it, I ws already thinking about another novel which was written but which still needed a lot of work.  What I didn't know (a year ago) was that the following month I would get an idea for a completely new novel.  I went to Egypt, did a Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan and visited some amazing places that I never thought I would ever see.  I KNEW I had to set a novel there, and now, almost a year later, I'm in the process of revising and editing that story.  It took a very different course from the very vague outline I had in my mind while I relaxed on the sundeck of the Nile cruise ship.  The characters took over, leaving me with some headaches at times as I tried to sort out the intrigue which crept in!

But here's my current problem - I need a title!  I abandonned my original title of 'Romance on the Nile' (too reminsicent of Agatha Christie and Poirot!) so it's had the working title of 'A Nile Romance'.  Now I want something less bland.  There's an archaeologist exploring a tunnel leading from one of the Pharaoh's tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and there's also a long-standing feud between his ex-fiancee's father (who withdrew his funding of the excavation) and the current fund-provider.  That enmity drives a wedge between the hero and heroine.  

So - any ideas for a title?   

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting


Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady'. For those who've read my excerpts about Jess and Kyle's first kiss, I'm now showing you their very first meeting. This is a continuation from last week.

“You thought I was Lora.”

The man’s gaze slowly travelled the full length of her body and Jess glanced down at her short peach skirt and her silky cream top.  Suddenly she wished it wasn’t quite so low-cut and didn’t reveal so much of her cleavage. 

“Yes, you’re definitely twins, but you’re slimmer than Lora, and your hair’s longer,” he said candidly. 

Her natural cordiality cooled at his blatant appraisal of her figure.  “I don’t like being inspected, Mr Drummond.”

More next week!

'His Leading Lady' available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Childhood Experience

When I was nearly two, I was admitted to hospital. 

Evidently, I limped badly when I started to walk.  The local hospital diagnosed this as weak ankles and my mother had to do massage exercises on my ankles.

A chance meeting in a local park changed all that.  The woman who sat near my mother was a nurse at an orthopaedic hospital.  She watched me walking and said, ‘That child has a dislocated hip.  Take her to see …”

The upshot was that I was taken to the specialist she had suggested, and the diagnosis was confirmed.  I had been born with a congenitally dislocated hip.  This was in the 1940’s, long before any post-natal checks were carried out for the ‘clicking’ sound of a dislocated hip which can now be easily resolved..

The specialist who saw me was experimenting with a new method of correcting this kind of dislocation.  Prior to WW2, the method had been to cut open and manually put the joint into place.  The new experiment involved manipulation by putting the joint into plaster to ‘force’ it back into place.

I was a ‘guinea-pig’ in this experiment. I went into hospital in July, a month before my second birthday and came out 15 months later.  For 12 of those months, I was in plaster (in a frog-type position) to correct my hip problem.

This, remember, was the 1940’s.  At that time, parents were considered a nuisance.  Their visits caused the children to get upset when they left. 

My mother was allowed to visit for one hour once a month (yes, really!).  On each visit, she had to take 4 stamped addressed postcards, and each week the nurse in charge of the ward where I was wrote a brief summary of my progress.

My mother saved all those postcards.  I still have them.  Very brief and mainly meaningless.   ‘She has had her operation and is doing well’ – ‘She continues to do well’ (several times).

The best one was ‘She has been very naughty this week.’ How on earth could I be naughty when I was in plaster from waist to ankle and confined to bed?  Hah!

I have absolutely no recollection of this time in hospital. Maybe I’ve blanked it out.  I was 3 years and 2 months when I came out of hospital in October and my first memory comes from the first Christmas back at home. 

But some of those postcards make me weep. ‘She is chattering away to everyone and anyone’ – ‘She is very curious and asks lots of questions.’  Yeah, well, I still do that!

It was only when I had my own children that I realised just what my mother and I had missed during the third year of my life.  The year between a child’s 2nd and 3rd birthdays are probably the most formative years.  The child learns to talk, the mother starts to see the real personality of her child.

I honestly don’t know how my mother managed to cope with that.  If anyone had taken my kids away from me at that age, I would have been totally distraught.

But she thought she was doing the right thing – and in that era, she probably was.

I know now that separation from my mother during my third year resulted in a lack of real bonding with my mother.  My father was away in the army until I was nearly four, so there was no bonding with him either.

I often wonder what long-term effects that separation from my parents has had on me as a person.  I’ll never really know, will I?

Just as a postscript, I was hailed as one of the specialist’s ‘successes’ for his new method and when I was about eight, I remember being paraded in front of several American doctors as proof of his success.  Over sixty years later, having been plagued by arthritis in my hip for over 30 years, I have to wonder about that ‘success’!  

This post is in participation with the Group Blogging Experience, and this week’s prompt is children and/or parent(s). If you want to blog with us, go to the GBE2 Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome. 

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting


Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady'. For those who've read my excerpts about Jess and Kyle's first kiss, I thought I'd go back to show you their very first meeting.  This is a continuation from last week.


Realising that she didn’t usually stop to survey men’s bodies, she moved forward through the racks of clothes.  “Mr. Drummond?”

He turned towards her and Jess’s breath caught in her throat.  Broad forehead, high cheekbones, wide mouth and strong jaw all combined to make him the most devastatingly attractive man she had ever seen.  She saw that her own astonishment was reflected in the dark eyes that met hers.

“Good lord,” he said.  “For a moment I thought you were—”

More next week!




'His Leading Lady' (#4 in Whiskey Creek Press bestseller list) now available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

Check out the other 'Six Sentences' here


Friday, 2 September 2011

10 Fun Questions (and my answers)

Many thanks to Sylvia Ney at Writing in Wonderland for awarding me a Blog on Fire award, for which I have to answer some interesting questions!

 1.  Are you a rutabaga?
Here in the UK we call them swedes.  So the short answer is, no, I’m not a Swede.  Never even been to Sweden!


2.  Who is your current crush?
Colin Firth comes high on my list at the moment, but my long-time favourite is Martin Sheen, especially as Jed Bartlet in ‘The West Wing.’



3. Upload a heart-warming picture that makes you smile.

This is one of my daughters with her new kitten.


4.When was the last time you ate vine-ripened tomatoes?
Erm – I have absolutely no idea! 


5. Name one habit that causes people to plot your demise.
Not exactly a habit, but I do devise quizzes which drive people crazy, they blame me when they become addicted to working out the answers, so I guess that’s when they’d love to kill me!  

6. What’s the weirdest, most disgusting job you’ve ever had to do?
About 30 years ago we had a caravan (trailer) on a site in the English Lake District.  Actually it was just one of five caravans in a field, which had no modern facilities.  So we had to have a chemical toilet, and had to empty the contents into a manhole in the field.  I leave it to your imagination the smell from the manhole when we lifted the lid.  It was the job we always dreaded at the end of any visit to the caravan!

7. Where da muffin top at?
Not sure what this actually means!  But enough to say I don’t really like any kind of muffins!  Weird, aren’t I?  But I don’t have a sweet tooth at all. 


8. Which author introduced you to your genre?
I think maybe it was Charlotte Bronte, since I’ve always loved ‘Jane Eyre’.  I’ve read lots of other (modern) romances, of course, but I don’t have any special favourites. 


9. Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.
Eheu, fugaces labuntur anni  - Alas, the fleeting years slip away
(And the older you get, the faster they go – but I can’t translate that into Latin!)


10. Who else deserves this award?
Do I really have to choose?  I know so many bloggers whose posts I enjoy.
So anyone who leaves a comment for me is entitled to this coveted award (and do let me know when you’ve posted your answers!)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Desperately Seeking Susan - no, I mean Votes!

August 31st is the last day for voting for the cover of my novel 'His Leading Lady' for August's Cover of the Month Award.

I'm in second place, but need a lot more votes to catch up with - or rather overtake - the one in 1st place.

So I'd be more than grateful if you could visit http://tjbook-list.blogspot.com and vote for my book, and for the great design by Kendra Egert.

You need to wait for the page to load (which can a few seconds as there are so many graphics on the page) and then scroll down to the poll on the right hand side.

I don't think I have a chance of catching up, but I'll persevere until midnight tomorrow - a sign on my optimistic (or stubborn? nature maybe?


Anyway, please vote - and if you add the link to your blog/Facebook page/Twitter/whatever, I'll be forever in your debt. 

You see, I'm Desperately Seeking ....!!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - First Meeting


Another excerpt from my recently released 'His Leading Lady'.  For those who've read my excerpts about Jess and Kyle's first kiss, I thought I'd go back to show you their very first meeting.

From behind the racks of multi-coloured leotards, leggings and cat suits, she had a clear view of the man who stood near the glass display counter at the front of the shop.  

He had his back to her, but the outline of his broad shoulders in a pale blue polo-shirt gave an impression of hidden strength.  His slim waist and hips in well-fitting dark blue jeans only added to the impact of his tall figure.

His thumbs were looped casually into his back pockets and Jess’s eyes rested momentarily on his firm hands and long slender fingers.  A pianist’s hands, she thought, then let her glance travel up his tanned arms to the back of his head.

His dark hair wasn’t exactly curly, more like a mass of waves that were layered casually into the nape of his neck, which somehow emphasized the ruggedness of the rest of his very masculine body.
More next week!


'His Leading Lady' (#4 in Whiskey Creek Press bestseller list) now available as e-book and paperback from www.whiskeycreekpress.com or from Amazon http://amzn.to/opp1ky

P.S.  While you're here, I really would appreciate your help in my last-ditch effort to get more votes for the cover of 'His Leading Lady' as August's Cover of the Month at Alternative-Read.com. Click here http://tjbook-list.blogspot.com/, wait for the page to load then scroll down and you'll find the poll in the right margin.  Many thanks!



Monday, 22 August 2011

Growing Wild


This is the picture prompt for the GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience) this week, with the theme ‘Growing Wild.’  You can find links to the other blogs here.

It was the topic rather than the picture which made me think of other flowers which grow wild.

In 1915, a Canadian doctor, John McCrae was in charge of a field hospital during the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium, tending hundreds of soldiers who were wounded in the carnage of the Western Front.

One of his closest friends died and was buried in a makeshift grave with a simply wooden cross.  Wild poppies were already starting to bloom between the many crosses marking the graves, and this inspired McCrae to write what is probably the most famous poem of that dreadful war.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

The poppies still grow wild in that area of Belgium, but now in peaceful meadows where it’s difficult to imagine the mud, bloodshed and horror of the war which destroyed almost a whole generation of young men.  And, of course, the red poppy became one of the symbols of remembrance of all those who died.