Thursday, 28 February 2013

Random Thoughts


My Thursday challenge to myself is to click ‘Random Article’ in Wikipedia, and write about whatever article comes up first, and also link the topic in some way to writing.
 
Today’s article is about the ‘Eparchy of Pathanamthitta’ – can these random articles get more obscure than that?? I read on to discover this is a Roman Catholic diocese in Kerala, India, which was created by Pope Benedict two years ago.
 
Maybe that’s appropriate in a way because Pope Benedict’s resignation takes effect from today, the first time a Pope has resigned since 1415, when Pope Gregory XII resigned. The 1415 resignation was the Roman Pope’s way of ending the Schism in the church caused by the setting up of the rival Pope in Avignon. Pope Gregory didn't retire, but was appointed Bishop of Frascati. The rival Avignon Pope was deposed, but a new Pope was not actually elected until Gregory’s death in 1417.
 
Obviously this isn’t going to happen this time. The Pope is literally going to ‘retire’ and a new Pope will be chosen within the next month. I am not Catholic, but I do admire Pope Benedict for having the courage and honesty to admit he can no longer do the job because of his age and health.
 
So how do I connect all this with ‘writing’?
 
I don’t consciously bring any religion into my books, but it does creep in at times. In ‘Her Only Option’, I did mention some of the Ancient Egypt beliefs – how the artists who painted the wonderful pictures in the Pharaoh’s tombs (by candlelight or oil lamp) considered it a ‘sacred duty’ to help their ruler find his way through the underworld.
 
One of my current ‘works in progress’ takes place in a small village in the English Lake District during the Christmas period. The hero and heroine go the Christmas Eve service in the village church, but the emphasis is more on the traditional aspect of this rather than specifically ‘religious.’
 
I know some authors write ‘Christian inspirational’ novels, but apart from those, I wonder how many other writers bring some aspect of religion into their novels, apart maybe from a customary visit to church on a Sunday morning?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Misdirections - and Signs


For The Writers’ Post topic this week, Michelle Lieuw has challenged us to write about ‘Being Misdirected’.
 
I could write about the times in my life I’ve been ‘misdirected’, either by myself or by someone else, when I’ve been faced with a choice. Instead I’m going to write about one of my ‘works in progress’, namely a novel I started back in November 2011.
 
It seemed to be going well – until I got to Chapter 13 about 3 months later. By that time, I knew various things weren’t working.
 
First sign: the relationship between the hero and heroine was developing over too short a time, since they both had reasons not to want to be involved in a new relationship.
 
Second sign: there was too much introspective thinking by both hero and heroine.
 
Third sign: I’d decided the heroine was going to break her ankle so that she’d have to stay at the hero’s house – but this was creating more problems than it solved.
 
It was time for a rethink! I put the story on one side for a couple of months, and then started a rewrite, using some of the original, but extending the time frame.
 
By last November, I had got to Chapter 15 – but… the big but… now it was going too slowly. To my mind it was dragging! Not enough was happening. It was boring (etc etc etc). Totally frustrated, I vented on Facebook: Do you ever get to the point where you feel like deleting the whole of your 'work in progress' and forgetting you ever thought of this story in the first place? That's where I am right now!”
 
I had masses of replies, some commiserating but most telling me not to delete but to put it on one side, start something else, come back to it later etc.
 
One writer friend offered to read it and give me her honest opinion. Her response: “Don't you dare dump this story. It's fantastic. I think it's wonderful and very, very polished. I love it and can't wait to read more. The characters are well developed and even the minor ones are well done. This is really, really good.”
 
So – was that a sign? Were my inner feelings about the story simply a misdirection? I’m still not sure, but in the end I put the story on one side and started another one, which (so far) is going okay. When I’ve finished it, I’ll go back to the old one. Maybe, after leaving it alone for several months, there’ll be some ‘sign’ to tell me whether it’s worth battling through to complete it!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors


Many thanks to everyone from Weekend WritingWarriors (#WeWriWa) and/or the Snippet Sunday group on Facebook who has visited and left comments for me.

Here are eight more sentences from my contemporary romance 'Dream of Paris'. Anna and Matt have shared a kiss but Matt suggests they’ve been swept away by the magic of Paris.

“Has it just been the magic of Paris for you?” Anna asked in a low voice.

“No.”

“So what has it been?”

The candle on the table sent flickering shadows across Matt’s face and she knew he was deep in thought. She looked down and, as she took another sip of wine, she saw her hand was trembling.

“If you want the honest truth, I’ve wanted to kiss you for weeks.”

Her head shot up. “What?

Dream of Paris can be downloaded for Kindle at Amazon USA, Amazon Canada and Amazon UK
Also available in various formats from Smashwords for Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, etc
Paperback version also now available on Amazon.

Blurb:

Anna Richards has a dream of going to live and study in Paris, but when Matthew Carlton comes into her life, her dream changes direction.

Attraction sparks between them, but Matt’s behaviour is strangely inconsistent. Anna is shocked when she discovers the reason and is sure there is no future for them.

Can Paris work its magic and make her dream come true?


 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Where do your characters live?


My Thursday challenge to myself is to click ‘Random Article’ in Wikipedia, and write about whatever article comes up first, and also link the topic in some way to writing.
 
Today’s article was about Nea Chalkidona, which apparently is a suburb of Athens, urbanised from farmlands and forests in the early to mid-20th century.
 
As I’ve never been to Athens, or even to Greece, I started to wonder what I could possibly write about this, until it occurred to me that this kind of urbanisation was happening in many places in the UK at the same time. The whole area where I live now was built in the 1930’s, and is typical of the suburbs of many of our cities and towns. The thirties was a decade of house building, helped by land being cheap and also by a huge demand for ‘smaller’ houses because of the shrinking family size. Mortgages were readily available and so a large proportion of the population were able to afford home ownership.
 
A large majority of the new homes were the traditional English ‘semi-detached’ houses, i.e. two houses joined together. Each had a living room, dining room and kitchen, and upstairs a bathroom and three bedrooms, one usually very small. They usually had a small garden in front, and a larger one behind.
 
They are a very familiar sight in the UK, and I hazard a guess that about 50% of the population today live in semi-detached homes.
 
All this led me to think about where the British characters in my books live. Do any of them live in semi-detached houses? The short answer is no! Well, maybe Jess and her friend Kathy shared such a house in ‘His Leading Lady’ but I didn’t actually describe it, and when Jess goes to London, she has an apartment in a converted Victorian house. Kyle, the hero, has a large Victorian house in the London suburbs—and also a renovated tower house in Scotland.
 
Although some of the small towns in the Lake District do have some semi-detached homes, I chose stone cottages for my heroines in ‘Fragrance of Violets’ and ‘Changing the Future’ as these are very typical of the area. In the former, the hero is living in a large stone house owned by his parents, and in the latter the hero is renting a single storey house on the outskirts of the town.
 
In ‘Her Only Option’, Neve’s father has a Victorian house in London, and in ‘Dream of Paris’ Anna shares an ‘old house’ with her friend.
 
I seem to be drawn more to the older houses, but maybe one day my characters will actually reside in what would be considered a very typical British house!
 
Do your characters live in a house similar to your own, or do you ‘invent’ something totally different for them?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

My Life's Passions

For The Writers’ Post topic this week, Kathy Thompson Combs @The Giggling Trucker’s Wife has challenged us to write about our life’s passions. At the same time, the topic for the GBE2: Blog On group is ‘Gusto’. Since that means an enthusiastic enjoyment, I can combine both topics in one post!
 
I’ve had a lot of ‘passions’ at different times during my life, but I’m going to pick out the main three:
 
1. History
 
When I was thirteen, we had a new history teacher at school. Unlike the old fuddy-duddy we had before, who simply wrote notes on the blackboard for us to copy down, this new teacher encouraged us to think, not simply to write down facts. With her, history came alive as we discussed causes and effects, not just facts and dates, and pondered the ‘what ifs?’ of history, as well as some of the unsolved questions.
 
As a result, history has continued to be one of my lifelong passions. I studied history at university, and went on to teach the subject for over twenty-five years. I hope I managed to pass on my passion to some of the students I taught!
 

A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of my history teacher when the momentous news came from Leicester that the bones discovered below a car park were indeed those of Richard III. It was my history teacher who first introduced me to the fascinating subject of this much maligned king. Indeed, she insisted we should all read Josephine Tey’s book, ‘The Daughter of Time’, and I remember we spend many history lessons discussing the evidence for and against Richard.
 
About 12 years ago, a friend and I, being newly retired, decided we needed a focus for our ‘days out’ and as a result we spent about three years visiting many different places in England that were linked in some way with either Richard III, or the fifteenth century – battlefields, castles, churches, cathedrals, and other medieval sites and buildings. I shall be writing about this during the April A-Z Blogging Challenge this year.
 
2. Musical Theatre

My parents were great fans of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and I was taken to see these each year from being about nine. Sometimes my mother also took me to the plays put on by the repertory company in our town, and so I was ‘stage-struck’ from early on. Then, when I was in my teens, I saw a production of ‘Oklahoma’ by our local amateur Musical Theatre group, and I was hooked. I’ve loved musical theatre ever since. However, although I can act (a little!), I can’t sing or dance, and so my involvement with musical theatre has been ‘behind the scenes’. I worked with both wardrobe and props with two local societies, and I think anyone who has been involved with amateur theatre will agree there is absolutely nothing to compare with the backstage atmosphere during ‘show week’. So many panics, so many laughs, and above all, the sense of everyone working together.
 
For about 10 years, I directed musical shows, first with my girl guide unit, and then with the junior section of our local musical theatre group. It was hard work but I loved it, especially seeing the shy ten-year-olds gain in confidence until they were taking lead roles a few years later. Several of my ‘juniors’ later went on to work in the professional theatre.
 
3. Writing
 
I’ve written stories almost since I first learned to write – first school stories, then, when I was in my teens, cheesy – and very chaste – romances! In my twenties, I wrote my first full-length  novel, and decided to send it to Mills and Boon. To my amazement, it was accepted, and I had three more novels published during the 1970s. After that, apart from writing several short stories for magazines, I was too busy with ‘real life’ – two daughters and a full time teaching career (plus directing all those shows in my ‘spare time’).
 
I came back to writing fiction about five years ago. Hardly surprising that the heroine in my first novel was given the opportunity to start in aWest End musical show!
 

Some of my other ‘passions’ have appeared in my novels – particularly in the settings: the English Lake District and Paris, especially. My love of history features in ‘Her Only Option’ in which the hero is an archaeologist.

My current ‘work in progress’ also reflects some of my other passions, as it is set in Ireland, and the hero and heroine have to explore their family history to solve a mystery!

Monday, 18 February 2013

A Very British Blog Tour


Author Jenny Twist has invited me, and a group of British authors, to take part in ‘A Very British Blog Tour’ by visiting and supporting the websites of authors who are involved in the tour, and who are dedicated to turning out some of the finest books available in Britain today. Each author, named at the bottom of the page, has been asked the same questions, but their answers will obviously all be different. You merely click on the author’s link at the bottom of the page to see how they have answered the same questions.

 
So here are the questions from Jenny, together with my answers:
 
Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?
 
A. I was born in Preston in Lancashire, and now live near Manchester.
 
Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?
 
A. I’ve always lived and worked in North West England, and have actually been in the same house for 46 years now.
 
Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?

A. Definitely the Lake District, especially the southern part of the area which I know very well, as I had a caravan there for about 20 years. It’s about 80 miles from where I live and I used to go up as often as I could (whatever the weather!). I love the valleys, fells and lakes, and also the small towns and villages.
I love our historical cities too, especially those which still have the castles, cathedrals and other buildings from our wonderful British heritage.
 
Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?
 
A. My novel ‘’Fragrance of Violets’ was set in the Lake District. I used a ‘real’ village, but gave it a different name and moved some of the buildings around. However, anyone who knows the Lake District will probably recognise it. Another novel was set on the edge of the Lake District, one was in London’s West End theatre world, and my most recent release was set in an imaginary small seaside town in Kent (mainly because I wanted my characters to be able to travel across to Paris fairly easily).
 
Q. There is an illusion - or myth if you wish - about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?
 
A. I think it’s partly true, although less so than it used to be. As far as I know, it dates from Victorian times when it was considered ‘unseemly’ to display any emotion in public My father, although not born in the Victorian era, was a prime example of that. Whatever problems he might have had, he always had a ‘public face’ which precluded showing any feelings.  My own generation, growing up in the years following World War II, has seen a change taking place and I think we are less reserved than we used to be, although we may still not be as outwardly emotional as some other nationalities.
 
Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?
 
A. I don’t think any of my British characters are the ‘stiff upper lip’ types. My heroes are modern men, a mixture of alpha and beta. They have strength of character without being domineering, self-assurance but in a non-aggressive way, and of course that indefinable charisma which makes them stand out in a crowd. On the beta side, they are sensitive and caring, and not afraid to show their feelings.
 
Q. Tell us about one of your recent books?
 
A. Here’s the blurb for my latest release, ‘Dream of Paris’.
 
Anna Richards has a dream of going to live and study in Paris, but when Matthew Carlton comes into her life, her dream changes direction. Attraction sparks between them, but Matt’s behaviour is strangely inconsistent. Anna is shocked when she discovers the reason and is sure there is no future for them. Can Paris work its magic and make her dream come true?
 
Q. What are you currently working on?
 
A. I’m working on a novel set in Ireland. The English heroine and the American hero meet when they discover they have jointly inherited a house in Ireland from someone neither of them have ever heard of before. Even more surprising, they are told they are ‘family’ and so they then explore the family history. They uncover some surprises and, in the process, fall in love.
 
Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
 
A. I enjoy doing trivia quizzes online, and I run a social group for over-50’s, with local visits, pub lunches and social evenings. I used to travel a lot, but unfortunately, arthritis is now restricting me from doing as much as I would like.
 
Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
 
A. I write the stories I want to write, but at the same time I write because I want other people to enjoy my stories, wherever they might live.
 
Q. Can you provide links to your work?
 
A. Here are the links to my Amazon pages, where all my books are displayed.
 
The following British, not necessarily British-based, authors have been invited to join in the fun. Once they’ve agreed, and set up their own answers on their respective websites/blogs, then clicking on their name will take you there. Also, if you are a British author and would like to join in, please leave a comment below with your email address.
 
Rosemary Gemmell
Janice Horton
Hywela Lyn
Sherry Gloag


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors

Many thanks to everyone from Weekend WritingWarriors (#WeWriWa) and/or the Snippet Sunday group on Facebook who have visited and left comments for me.

Here are eight more sentences from my contemporary romance 'Dream of Paris' (now released!)


In last week's excerpt, Matt gave Anna a very passionate kiss, but then broke away. They leave the banks of the Seine, and he takes her to a small cafe on the Left Bank.

He studied her for a long moment, and then said, “We’re playing with words, aren’t we? All I hope is you won’t hate me when you look back at this.”

She frowned, not understanding. “What do you mean?"

“I’m worried you might think I’ve been taking advantage of you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know how much you love Paris, Anna, and Paris is a very romantic city.”

“And you think that’s why this has happened, that we’ve been swept away by the atmosphere here?”

Dream of Paris can be downloaded for Kindle at Amazon USA, Amazon Canada and Amazon UK
Also available in various formats from Smashwords for Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, etc
Paperback version also now available on Amazon.

Blurb:

Anna Richards has a dream of going to live and study in Paris, but when Matthew Carlton comes into her life, her dream changes direction.

Attraction sparks between them, but Matt’s behaviour is strangely inconsistent. Anna is shocked when she discovers the reason and is sure there is no future for them.

Can Paris work its magic and make her dream come true?


Friday, 15 February 2013

Crowd


This week’s prompt for the GBE2: Blog On Facebook group is ‘Crowd’ and, coincidentally, this fits with my weekly challenge to myself of clicking ‘Random Article’ on Wikipedia and writing about whatever article comes up first.
 
The ‘Random Article’ this week was ‘Live at Squamish’ which evidently is an annual music festival in British Columbia. It started in 2010, and last year there were 19,000 attendees. I’ve never been to a music festival, and have absolutely no desire to attend one! The thought of being in such a crowd holds no appeal, particularly when, as often happens in the UK, the heavens open, everyone gets soaked, and the whole place turns into a muddy, soggy mess!
 
About 20 years ago, I went to an event in the middle of my home city. It was in a large open area, but at the end, everyone was trying to leave at the same time, and there simply weren’t enough exit streets. We were ‘funnelled’ into one of these exits, and people were being pressed together and pushed along by others. It didn’t develop into a dangerous crush, but I admit I was frightened that it might and was so relieved when we finally got away safely.
 
Less frightening, but maybe more frustrating, are the ‘crowds’ we meet in everyday life – in the supermarket, on the trams and buses, and in the shopping malls. Today I went to a museum, and in the lobby area there were crowds of school children (especially in the shop part of the lobby). Fortunately the museum was a big one, and so we were able to get away from the crowds.
 
At one time I didn’t particularly mind crowds, but the older I get, the more I dislike and avoid them.
 
Maybe the only time I wouldn’t mind a crowd is if I was holding a book-signing somewhere and there were crowds lined up waiting to buy my book! Well, I can dream, can’t I?
 
P.S. If you’d like the chance to WIN one of my books, scroll down to yesterday’s post and tell me which one you’d like and why!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day Giveaway!


Valentine’s Day – and I’m a romance writer!
 
February 14th – 1 plus 4 equals 5, so I’m giving away a PDF copy of one of my novels to five – yes five! – people who leave me a comment. For a chance to win, all you have to do is say which novel you would like – and why!
 
Here’s some information about each of them:
 

‘His Leading Lady’: Jess Harper's predictable life is turned upside down when she discovers that Lora, her twin sister, has disappeared. It's just a week before rehearsals are due to start for a new West End musical in which Lora has the lead role. Jess decides to pose as her sister in order to save Lora's career. This brings her into close contact with arrogrant theatre director Kyle Drummond. Attraction sparks between them but there's also evidence that he had been dating Lora. So is Jess simply a substitute - in real life as well as in the show? And what will happen when Lora eventually returns?
 
'Fragrance of Violets' is set mainly in England's Lake District, a beautiful area which I know and love. The latter part of the story moves to London's theatre world and also to Paris.
The title is derived from a quotation by Mark Twain - "Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it"
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 fiancée’s death. He’s also hiding another secret which threatens the fragile resumption of their relationship. Will Abbey ever forgive him when she finds out the truth?
 
'Changing the Future': Lisa Marshall is stunned when celebrated volcanologist Paul Hamilton comes back into her life at the college where she now teaches. Despite their acrimonious break-up several years earlier, they soon realise the magnetic attraction between them is stronger than ever.
However, the past is still part of the present, not least when Paul discovers Lisa has a young son.
They can't change the past, but will it take a volcanic eruption to help them change the future?
 
'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.
When 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 she feels is her only option.
Can they discover whose enmity is forcing them apart before it's too late?
 
Dream of Paris: Anna Richards has a dream of going to live and study in Paris, but when Matthew Carlton comes into her life, her dream changes direction. Attraction sparks between them, but Matt’s behaviour is strangely inconsistent. Anna is shocked when she discovers the reason and is sure there is no future for them. Can Paris work its magic and make her dream come true?
 
 
The winners will be chosen on Saturday February 16th, and you can enter more than once by leaving more than one comment, but don’t forget to say why you would like the novel – and please leave an email address too, so that I can contact you if you win!
 
Good luck! 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What's My Song?

This week's topic for The Writers' Post group on Facebook is 'What's My Song?' and is hosted by Suzie Que.

I’ve liked a lot of songs at different times of my life, but my favourite of all time is ‘A Certain Smile’ by Johnny Mathis. It comes from the film of the same name which was based on Francoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse.
 
The film is about a young French student who falls in love with an older (married) man, but in the end has to accept that he doesn’t love her. The older man, Luc, is played by Rossano Brazzi, who certainly has a wonderful ‘certain smile’ (remember him as Emile de Becque in 'South Pacific'?)
 
The song is both romantic and bittersweet – the beginning of love with ‘a certain smile, a certain face, can lead an unsuspecting heart on a merry chase’ – leading to ‘you love awhile, and when love goes, you try to hide the tears inside with a cheerful pose' – but ‘in the hush of night, like a bittersweet refrain, comes that certain smile to haunt your heart again.’
 
I first saw the film and heard the song when I was in my teens, and it has remained a ‘special’ song for me ever since. I can’t really define why, but now, as a romance author, I find my heroines invariably go through this kind of experience. However, for them, everything eventually works out happily!
 
Here's the clip from the original film when Johnny Mathis first sang it:
 
 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors


Here are eight more sentences from my contemporary romance 'Dream of Paris' (now released!)

Thanks to everyone from Weekend WritingWarriors (#WeWriWa) and/or the Six Sentence group on Facebook who have visited and left comments for me.

In last week's excerpt, Matt gave Anna a very passionate kiss, but then broke away. They leave the banks of the Seine, and he takes her to a small cafe on the Left Bank.


“Paris has gone to our heads, hasn’t it?” he said with a small smile.

She lowered her eyes and stroked her fingers up and down the stem of her glass. “Is that all it was?” Slowly she returned to reality, even though she tried to cling to the dream.

Her heart jerked when he put his hand very gently around hers. “Do you want it to be any more?”

She raised her head again until her eyes met his. “Do you?”

Dream of Paris can be downloaded for Kindle at Amazon USA, Amazon Canada and Amazon UK
Also available in various formats from Smashwords for Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, etc
Print version will also be available very soon!

Blurb:
Anna Richards has a dream of going to live and study in Paris, but when Matthew Carlton comes into her life, her dream changes direction.
Attraction sparks between them, but Matt’s behaviour is strangely inconsistent. Anna is shocked when she discovers the reason and is sure there is no future for them.
Can Paris work its magic and make her dream come true?
 
 
 For a chance to win a copy of 'Dream of Paris', leave a comment for me at http://catemasters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/day-9-celebrate-amore.html

Friday, 8 February 2013

Dream of Paris - Released Today!


This week's ‘prompt’ for the GBE2: Blog On group is ‘Dream’ – which is a very easy one for me, since my new novel ‘Dream of Paris’ is released this week. It’s now on Amazon and also on Smashwords
 
It is a contemporary romance, set partly in an (imaginary) small seaside resort in South East England, and partly, as the name suggests, in the beautiful city of Paris.
 
Anna Richards has a dream of going to live and study in Paris, but when Matthew Carlton comes into her life, her dream changes direction. Attraction sparks between them, but Matt’s behaviour is strangely inconsistent. Anna is shocked when she discovers the reason and is sure there is no future for them. Can Paris work its magic and make her dream come true?
 
Here’s an excerpt – Anna and Matt's first kiss as they stand on the path by the Seine, in the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral.
 
They slowed to a standstill as they drew level with the south transept of the cathedral, with its huge rose window. The streetlights reflected like silver pools in the river and, under the floodlights, the towers, spires, and flying buttresses of the cathedral stood in sharp relief to the dark sky.
 
Anna gazed across the river. “It simply defies description, doesn’t it? All that stonework and carving, all done by hand.”
 
Matt’s hand tightened around hers, but when he didn’t reply, she turned to him. The soft heat which simmered in his eyes made the hairs on her skin stand on end. Everything inside her did a double somersault, but she stayed motionless, mesmerised as he leant towards her.
 
Slowly, almost hesitantly, his lips brushed hers, in a brief and tender connection. Warm pulses of pleasure danced through her. When he moved fractionally away, she brought her hand up to grasp his arm. He let out a quiet groan and his mouth returned to hers, now intense and hungry.
 
Stunned for a split second, she clutched his shoulders as her whole body weakened. He wrapped one arm around her while the other slid into the hair at the back of her head, pulling her closer to him. The tip of his tongue explored her lips and ignited every nerve in her body. Closing her eyes, she returned his kiss, relaxing her mouth and letting her tongue meet his in a sensual union.
 
A raucous car horn sounded from the street above them and he broke away.
 
“Oh God,” he muttered.
 
Her heart beat like a tom-tom as he stared at her with what seemed to be a mixture of desire and contrition. After a few seconds, he shook his head. “You shouldn’t have let me do that.”
 
“Matt—” But no more words would come.
 
He let out a deep breath. “Let’s go for a drink.”
 
They didn’t talk as they climbed the stone steps back to the road, but his hand gripped hers tightly. Her mind reeled and she was unable to latch onto any coherent strand of thought. Everything seemed completely surreal.
 
When they reached the Café de l’Espérance, Arnaud brought them a bottle of wine without Matt having to order it.
 
She looked across the table at him, afraid he would tell her the kiss meant nothing.
 
“Paris has gone to our heads, hasn’t it?” he said with a small smile.
 
She lowered her eyes and stroked her fingers up and down the stem of her glass. “Is that all it was?” Slowly she returned to reality, even though she tried to cling to the dream.
 
Her heart jerked when he put his hand very gently around hers. “Do you want it to be any more?”
 
She raised her head again until her eyes met his. “Do you?”

Dream of Paris can be downloaded for Kindle at
Amazon USA, Amazon Canada and Amazon UK
Print version will also be available very soon!
 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Stories - and Mothballs?


My Thursday challenge to myself is to click ‘Random Article’ in Wikipedia, and write about whatever article comes up first, and also link the topic in some way to writing.
 
These random articles are definitely becoming more and more obscure. Today’s article was headed ‘Xenothictis’ and contained one sentence telling me it is a genus of moths belonging to the subfamily Tortricinae of the family Tortricidae. Bet you didn’t know that!
 
I must admit I was tempted to ‘cheat’ and find another article – but my challenge is to write something about the first article that comes up.
 
So what do I write about this moth, or indeed about any moths, apart from saying I really hate having moths in the house. If they’re not fluttering around the light, they’re zooming around my head. They also seem to have an amazing sixth sense, enabling them to hide somewhere the minute I pick up the fly-swat.
 
We don’t have very large moths in the UK – I think the largest only has a wingspan of about 4 inches and most are only about 2 inches. If the Atlas moth, with its wingspan of about 10 inches came anywhere near me, I’d run away screaming my head off! Fortunately for me, it lives in South East Asia.
 
Writing about moths has reminded me of mothballs, those pungent chemical balls my mother used to put in the suitcases where she kept our winter clothes in the summer, and vice-versa. That was in the days of natural fibres, such as wool and linen, whereas today, of course, many clothes have some synthetic fibre in them (which the moths don’t seem to like)
 
The term ‘mothballed’ comes from this storing of clothes, and refers to anything put into storage or whose operation is suspended. How many of us have stories (either finished, or started and never finished) we have ‘mothballed’? About 5 years ago, I decided to open the box where I kept mine (dating from about 30 years ago!), and have since rewritten three of them, all of which have been published. So it’s worth bringing your old stories out of their ‘mothballs’ and seeing if you can bring any of them to publishable standard.
 
I also have another story ‘mothballed’ here on my computer. I wrote about 13 chapters, decided it wasn’t working, so started rewriting it. This time I got to Chapter 15, before I began to feel the same - something, somewhere wasn't right with it. I couldn’t face the thought of starting it again, so I’ve put it into temporary storage, and started a completely new story. Maybe when I’ve finished that one, it will be time to bring the first story out of its mothballs!
 
Do you have stories you've mothballed? Or any that you've brought out of storage and rewritten?

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

My BIG Smile


The week’s topic for The Writers’ Post (on Facebook) is ‘Little Things That Make Me Smile’ and the host is Corinne Rodrigues.
 
I started thinking about this topic when it was first posted, and decided there were various things I could list – like the sight of the first daffodils each spring, a funny joke or picture on Facebook, seeing the cover picture for one of my novels for the first time, and my grandson coming round to see me.
 
Instead, I’m going to tell you about something that brought a BIG smile to my face at exactly 10.40 yesterday morning. I can’t call it a little thing – because in fact it’s been called the biggest archaeological discovery for a generation.
 
First the background for those who may not have followed the story: in August and September last year, Leicester University Archaeological Department started an excavation in a car park in the city centre. This was where the Greyfriars priory had been until it was destroyed in Henry VIII’s reign in the 16th century.
 
Tradition said the choir of the Greyfriars Church was where King Richard III’s body had been buried after he was killed at the battle of Bosworth in 1485. The archaeologists didn’t even know if they would find remains of the priory, let alone any human remains, but in the first trench they dug, by some amazing chance, they found bones. Further investigation showed this trench was exactly where the chancel of the church would have stood. Also, perhaps more weirdly, it was under the parking place labelled with the letter R.
 
More excitement arose when it was discovered the spine was twisted with scoliosis (curvature), and also the skull had evidence of battle wounds, which fitted with contemporary accounts of how Richard was killed by a severe blow to his head.
 
Like many people last September, I was 90% (or more) sure this had to be Richard III – it seemed too coincidental not to be him. However, the archaeologists don’t stop at circumstantial evidence. They want proof, and so the bones were subjected to a whole barrage of scientific tests, notably carbon dating and DNA. The historians had found a direct descendant of Richard’s sister Anne who was willing to be DNA tested.
 
We had to wait until yesterday morning for the results of all those tests. At the end of a 40 minute press conference, it was announced there was a DNA match and therefore the University Archaeology Department said it was "beyond reasonable doubt the individual exhumed at Grey Friars on September 12th is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England".
 
I had a grin a mile wide as I punched the air and yelled ‘Yesssss!’

Here's the most well-known portrait of Richard, painted after his death but said to be based on earlier portraits of him.

And here's his face reconstructed from his bones found at Leicester:
 

 
 
 
I’ve been interested in Richard III since I was a teenager, but, for those who want to know more, check out the Richard III Leicester facebook page, or the RichardIII Society website.
 
And maybe this picture of a Leicester City Council parking sign will give you a smile!
 
 
 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors


Welcome to all, whether you’ve found me via Weekend WritingWarriors (#WeWriWa) or the Six Sentence group on Facebook. Sunday wouldn’t feel like Sunday without the six sentences – or, in my case, now eight sentences, as I signed up for WeWriWa.
 
I’m continuing my excerpts from ‘Dream of Paris’ which is due for release later this month.
 
Anna and Matt accompany a group of senior students (from the school where they both teach) to a weekend conference in Paris. On the last night, they stroll along the pathway by the River Seine, stopping when they reach the southern façade of Notre Dame Cathedral and Matt kisses Anna for the first time, a long sensual kiss…
 
Her heart beat like a tom-tom as he stared at her with what seemed to be a mixture of desire and contrition. After a few seconds, he shook his head. “You shouldn’t have let me do that.”
 
“Matt—”
 
“Let’s go for a drink.”
 
They didn’t talk as they climbed the stone steps back to the road, but his hand gripped hers tightly. Her mind reeled and she was unable to latch onto any coherent strand of thought. Everything seemed completely surreal.
 
'Dream of Paris' blurb: Anna Richards has a dream of going to live and study in Paris, but when Matthew Carlton comes into her life, her dream changes direction. Attraction sparks between them, but Matt’s behaviour is strangely inconsistent. Anna is shocked when she discovers the reason and is sure there is no future for them. Can Paris work its magic and make her dream come true?

'Dream of Paris' will be released later this  month.

Check here for more excerpts from the 'Weekend Writng Warriors'
 

Friday, 1 February 2013

Paradise or Hell?


Today’s picture prompt for GBE2:Blog On prompted me to write my first ever haiku:
 
Isolated cottage,
No power, no internet.
Paradise - or Hell?
 
At first glance, this small isolated cottage seems idyllic, a place to escape to when everything gets too much, a welcome respite from everyday life and the demands that other people put on you. No phone ringing or television or music blaring, just the sound of the surf and the sea birds.
 
I’m already imagining that many people who respond to this blog prompt will wax lyrical about the prospect of being alone, of having time to think, of finding themselves again.
 
For me, it holds no attraction whatsoever. Ten minutes in that confined space, which is probably cold and damp (and full of spiders and cobwebs), and I’d be screaming to be let out.
 
Maybe I’m fortunate that I live alone, and so I can escape into myself in comfortable surroundings. I want my home comforts, my central heating to keep my warm, and my television and my computer to link me to the outside world.
 
No, you can keep your tiny cottage, however beautiful its surroundings might be. I’m happy right where I am!