Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Muddled Writing Progress Update

I have a hectic evening tomorrow, so thought I would blog about my progress now.

Today I've closed my manuscript down at 31,705 words. I don't think I'll do any more tonight - I've written 1210 words today. That means I'm 7 days a head of myself. But considering I'm going on a 2 week holiday soon, then I will soon be 7 days behind (if you take in the words I've accrued). When I return from my holiday, my novel should have been sitting around the 40k mark, as it's 40 days into the challenge! Gosh, 9th June is half way, girls (and boys)!

But I'm not panicking about that. I've already proved I can write more than 1000 words a day if push comes to shove, so I'll reach my 80k in 80 days. The thing is, have I got a 80K story?

I've started struggling in places, and I do wonder if it's because I've written this story a bit more 'seats of pants' style with not doing much research beforehand, or even planning. The good thing is, I'm noting down every time I come up with an idea and bash it away in my story, what I need to research (and highlighting the text to remind me). Things like does the Hilton Hotel on the M5, near Bristol, have a suite, and if so what does it look like? I need to phone them, and see if they'll let me take a look... maybe they'll give me a complimentary nights stay... (I am dreaming now). So doing the research alone, might help fatten up the story - but only a bit.

I know how I wanted this story to start, I've got an ending in mind... it's just getting to it, I'm struggling with.

So I've been feeling a bit crap about my writing actually. I'm worried I'm repetitive, not fresh enough, in fact downright boring with my story telling, worrying I fall into the trap of 'amateur'. Which I am really. Have I even got Steve right? How do I find out how an A-Lister really is? Would reading Hello and OK help me?

I'm taking my notebook on holiday - yes, I think I'll use my present - and will be using this time to think about this story further and put it into logical scenes. This I am lacking at the moment.

Steve playing action hero where he gets to kiss the girl!
When I wrote The Wedding Favour, my organised brain had the scenes planned well. As far as I can see I don't need to jig chapters/scenes about. Whereas with Perfect Isn't An Option I'm not even creating chapters, just putting scene breaks in where I think there should be one.  And bashing out scenes as they come to me, and not necessarily in chronological order. And this leaves me worried I don't quite have enough for 80,000 words. Hence, I need to brainstorm.

So my writing progress is a muddled one, and I'm wittering again...  

Monday, 23 May 2011

This Is What A Romantic Novelist Looks Like...

...or at least an aspiring one.

Some of you may or may not have read this article from Claudia Connell at The Daily Mail. Apparently, all romance writers are little old biddies with blue rinses, twin-sets (whatever they are, I'm not even sure) and pearls.

Well, it's got some romance novelists riled. And quite rightly so, because they are far from getting their blue rinse yet! (Do hairdressers even do that any more... surely it's got to be a dying fashion?). So much so Kate Johnson aka Cat Marsters urges us to post photos on our blogs and to advertise it everywhere!

So this is me.

My name is Teresa Morgan. 

I'm 37 years of age, and my hairdresser reassures me not a grey hair in sight! 

Do like the odd pink bon-bon though.

I get to use my lovely headshot photos again... thought I'd pick a colour one to emphasis the no grey hair bit.

So if you're a romance writer and the Daily Mail has got you riled, post your photo and share with us all!

Do You Need Romance Writing Advice?

Liz Fielding is giving advice on writing romance over on her blog, first post Ask An Author and I thought I would share!

Liz provides some really great advice and if you've never read one of her books I urge you to! Liz has a way of making her characters sizzle, they're so sensual and the tension mounts between her hero and heroine... and because she writes for Cherish/Sweet genre for Mills and Boon, you never see the bedroom! It's fade to black, or the door closes. But with Liz's stories, you don't need to - the sexual tension and the frustration is the interesting bit and she has the reader hooked fabulously.

I'm waiting for my Tempted By Trouble to arrive! And can't wait. Liz's latest book. The Riva's I've so far read have had some hot bedroom scenes, so I'm interested to see how far Liz has taken her 'romance'. 

I do worry The Wedding Favour doesn't quite put Sophie and Adam together quick enough, and so I did make Adam show up at the pub in chapter one, before James finds Sophie's wedding invitation. Will definitely go back and see if I can get to this sooner again... sometimes the setting can come a little later. I do need Sophie to jump off the page, and get the readers hooked.

Steve doesn't meet his love interest until later on in Perfect Isn't An Option. And Ruby, his sister, plays a heroine type role of her own. But the key is, when I go back to the editing, that the reader falls for Steve and wants to continue reading his story... right?

Neither of my books fit Mills and Boon genres but I'm hoping they'll find their place in the romance/contemporary world of fiction... one day.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Book Review: Cupcakes And Killer Heels by Heidi Rice

Cupcakes and Killer Heels (Mills & Boon RIVA)Cupcakes and Killer Heels by Heidi Rice

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first of Heidi Rice's I've read and it didn't disappoint. It starts off fast paced and sexy, and this Riva goes all the way.

The writing is sassy, sharp, and witty and her characters were explosively sexy. Sparks fly with Ruby and Callum, and boy, does Callum Westmore knows a thing or two!

Personally, I wasn't sure if the epilogue was necessary. It's Mills and Boon, of course it's going to have a happy ending and the heroine is going to get what she wants! I never doubted that for the second. It possibly deflated the 'ahhh' factor for me at the end.

View all my reviews
Additional note, that I won't post on Goodreads - I did enjoy the middle part of the book, because it shared a similar theme to The Wedding Favour which is my first novel (in the making). So happily took mental notes.

I think this makes it 18 books read out of my 40 now!

Friday, 13 May 2011

My Writing Progress

Tonight I started my writing staring at my monitor wondering how to piece a scene together. I'm still not sure I've got it right, but the best bit about writing is editing... editing makes writers look so clever. I've learnt that much. (Although I wouldn't say editing is easier! Far from it.)

Then, events that lead from that scene flowed beautifully.

Steve does something utterly stupid, because yes, his brain is back down in his pants - he might be a celebrity, but he's also male, and Ruby goes off the wall at him. And I thoroughly enjoyed writing that moment.

I am slightly worried that the story, albeit a romance, isn't very romancey at the moment. Ruby is really the heroine of the story, and she's Steve's sister. Lydia, Steve's intended love interest is the secondary heroine. I've not even written anything in her point of view - and not sure whether to, actually. I'd say 85-90% is Steve's (I'm going to need a male proof reader aren't I, to make sure he sounds bloke-ish enough). The other 10-15% I've done in Ruby's.

But this story is about Steve and Ruby too. And I've decided that Ruby will find a love interest of her own. And thanks to my present I received yesterday (that I've now blogged twice about, thanks to blogger losing original post) I've got a visual for Brett.

I suppose when you read a romance like Mills and Boon you expect the Hero and Heroine to meet practically on the first page, or at least in the first chapter. But I'm not writing this for Mills and Boon, so hopefully it will fit somewhere. I'm going to write my story, then worry about the publishing side of things. Let's just enjoy the writing, huh?

Don't panic, I think I know what I'm doing...  

As anticipated, this story has taken over. I'm supposed to be doing my second fiction assignment, too... but have failed miserably. Maybe I'll get some extra time at the weekend, if I get my 1000 words out of the way early and all that.

Oh, and I've put a counter on my blog which I update each day with my new word count, so you can see how well (or badly) I'm doing for May - You Write Your Novel challenge.

What's Happened To My Post?

Yesterday, elated receiving this most wonderful present, I blogged about it. Someone (Sarah) even commented. I can't reply to her comments or anything, because Blogger has eaten it.

So, for the record I'm posting it again.

Look, the best present ever from my friend Becky!

I've decided it will sit on my desk to provide constant writing inspiration.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Had To Share My Present

Today I met a very good friend for coffee up at Sainsbury's. It's the great thing about being a full time mum and not having to work. There are perks!

Anyway, my lovely friend gave me this present. She's read the first draft of The Wedding Favour, and gave me some useful feedback. It's a notebook, the pages inside are blank. But the cover of it is just great.

I haven't decided whether to put it up by my bed, so if inspiration strikes there, I can write in it, or keep it by my PC as a motivator. Plus, the young man in this picture has given me some inspiration for Perfect Isn't An Option. I needed a visual for a character who I would like to become the love interest for Ruby, who is Steve's sister. At the moment his name is Brett. I think this man may be him, the more and more I look at him.

Thank you, Becky, for the best present ever!This really did make my day, plus, obviously, meeting up with you and your two handsome, well dressed boys.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Look At Me!

Kerry ready to pop, I had 2 months to go!
You may or may not be aware that I went home in the Easter holidays to see my mum, and arranged to meet my friend Kerry and her family. Kerry and I have been friends since we were 8 years old. (So that's not very far off thirty years now!)

The last time I'd seen Kerry, we'd both looked like this <--- she carrying Erin, and me carrying Kieran. That was over 4 years ago!

Twitter Face
So it was time we met up again!

Facebook Pose- I'm not up to mischief, honest!
I also arranged for Kerry, now a professional photographer (Kerry J Photography) to do some headshots for me, as I use my blog and Twitter for my writing, and would like to be seen to be professional... plus the only decent picture I could find of me was with the hair covering my face - that was deliberate! 

Most Intellectual!
Kerry likes to get the light right, apparently it's important! And we went to some woods local to her (I can't remember the name of them). And these are the results! Seriously, I've never looked so good... except maybe on my wedding day!

I kept my make-up to a minimum, though I can't leave the house without foundation, because I didn't want pictures of me so glammed up that if you did bump into me in the street, you'd think I looked washed out. Admittedly, I still won't look this good!

Kerry also advised the best clothes to wear, and after bringing practically a wardrobe load with me, we went with this blue, (fake) woolly top, because the texture comes out brilliant in black and white photographs - as you can see!

Kerry gave me eleven shots to choose from, and I couldn't decide between two, so I've picked six. The one I use for Twitter, is my favourite colour photo. I'm not saying the others weren't good, but you know how you just like your own pictures and the faces you pull, right? And now seeing it on Twitter it looks fab! It's perfect.

I've used a bit more of a cheeky photo for Facebook, because really a lot of close friends and family are there, and although I have writers friending me now, so I tend to be less ranty than I used to be, I wanted a more 'me' photo as my headshot.
Ultimate favourite... might become blogger pic.

I've chosen a black and white picture for my blog, so if I change my blog colours, the black and white will always go. Though, I am wondering whether to save this picture, it might make a great book jacket cover, don't you think?

The fourth picture is my favourite of the lot. I asked a friend to look at the photos and give me her opinion on the ones she liked. And like she said, 'it's the one with my most natural smile.' Looking at it now, I'm tempted to make it my blog profile picture. What do you think?

All I can say is, if you want a photographer to put you at ease (I'm extremely nervous when it comes to photos) and is friendly and fun, look up Kerry J Photography. Look at her photo blog... her pictures are amazing!

I just hope Kerry doesn't have to wait too long to see one of her photographs inside a book jacket.

(p.s. I'll save the other two photos for another day).

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Book Review: A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse)A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book contains five short stories and they are entwined in the series of Sookie Stackhouse - so they are set at different stages of Sookie's life and where she's at with various different characters.

Having been waiting for the release of Dead Reckoning (book 11) it was nice to have a reminder of what being inside Sookie's head was like. It took a while getting used to, but it was fun.

My favourite of the five is One Word Answer (I'd give it four stars), mainly because it gives us a bit more background to Sookie's cousin's (Hadley) death and it contained two favourite characters Bill and Bubba. I do love Eric but for me, there is something about Bill. You just know he'd do anything, absolutely anything, for Sookie his love runs that deep. I wonder if this (scene) was cut from the book, because I always felt Definitely Dead missed something - it was this short story!

My second favourite was Gift Wrapped but I don't want to say why. I don't want to give spoilers.

Worth dipping into this book if you're a Charlaine Harris fan... however, might want to make sure you've read up to books 9 or 10 before doing so.

View all my reviews

Now I Am Worried - 1000 books?

Today, in my tea break at work I was able to read my May issue of Writing Magazine.

I know, I know, my June issue has already arrived and I'm not even half way through this magazine!

I managed to read the article on Lee Child. It was very interesting. I do tend to like reading about different authors, it actually makes me go buy their books, (or follow them on Twitter and add their books to my to-read list). That's how I came about to read Gerald Seymour's The Collaborator and stumbled across Sue Moorcroft.

I liked Lee Child's ideas about language and even agreed with him. He raised good points about characters too, and I even would now like to read one of his books. I'm interested in his 'Jack Reacher'. (Which one should I read first?)

What worried me is that he said, "If you are starting to write and you haven't read a thousand books first, you're not ready." 

Maybe I need to up my forty books a year challenge? I've read far from 1000 books!

I agree that you need to read, but do I have to wait until I've reached a thousand?

Thursday, 5 May 2011

W.O.W. - Writers Group

This is it! This is it! I am now, officially, a writer. Because, yes, I attended a writers group.

Okay - I am a writer, because I write. But it really was lovely to meet fellow writers and talk writing, and not feel like I was crazy. Bit like when I met Becky Black last Thursday!

Tonight there were seven of us, with a couple of apologies, so not a bad size.

And no disrespect to any of the members there tonight, but I did feel very newbie to it all, being one of the youngest. There was another woman of similar age and she had two children, a bit older than mine, but the others did seem like veterans. Some of them wrote poetry, a couple had self published, and two others particularly, like me, are trying to go down the 'traditional' route.

We're going to meet the first Thursday of every month. Unfortunately I won't be able to make the next one, as I'll be on hols, but I'll be sticking the rest in my diary.

I must admit I do value my online writery friends and their feedback, and I don't ever want to lose that. There are two people in particular I trust vehemently. I know how I'll receive feedback, (and it's not always good, but it's honest). It sounds daft, but we've learnt to work with one another, we work really well, bouncing ideas off each other etc. So, it will be interesting working with writers face to face, and I definitely want to contribute - but there is that worry how my contribution will be received? 

Suck it and see, as they say :D

At the moment, we're trying to come up with a name, and we've got Word-smiths of Weston (as we can't have Worle Writers) - hence WOW!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

My Weekly Pocket Novel Review

Shame these things don't count towards my Goodreads book count lol! But I've read another pocket novel - slowly, it's been in my handbag.

Review: Rescue My Heart by Carol MacLean 

It's not a bad story, Kate is the eldest of four siblings, and seems to keep the family going etc. especially after their father's death.

Callan is the hero. But I just didn't like that they weren't on the page often enough together. He seemed to announce he loved Kate after one day of meeting!

There were a few knots to tie up, and a couple of them I felt were a bit too 'happy' ending. I mean, would you really want to be Godmother to your ex-boyfriend's child? The history is that her best mate run off with him, but even so. There is burying the past, and then there is burying the past. I could believe that they'd become friends again, but not the Godmother part. I wanted to stick my fingers down my throat!

And the story doesn't really resolve what Kate is going to do in the end either. I would have preferred that tied up. 

A little too much telling for me in this story, and not enough showing. It has a nice element and back story with the rescue centre and the family, but not enough showing of the romance blossoming. For me, out of the three pocket novels I've read, I enjoyed this the least.

And if you're wondering why I'm reading pocket novels, it's all for research. Just seeing what types of stories get published, and to give me a feel for short stories and the types of story lines that get accepted.

Monday, 2 May 2011

I've Started My Second Novel!

Badge courtesy of Dawn Amos
I've joined Sally Quilford's challenge May - You Write Your Novel. And it's not too late to join in. Basically, the challenge is to write 80,000 words in 80 days. 1000 words a day - easy!

I set off well last night, writing a whopping 2,400 words (approximately). And with my NaNoWriMo (2006) experience, I'm just carrying on - RUE -  resist the urge to edit. (RUE also stands for Resist the Urge to Explain, too).

I tend to have a read through bits of the chapter before, to get me back into full swing with the characters, and did fiddle and add a bit more today. But otherwise the editing (and some additing) is for after the first draft is finished.

I have got to do some research for this novel, silly things really. But I want to make him as real to an A-lister celebrity as possible. But for the challenge, I'm just punching away at the keys, and writing up notes when I think I will need to research something, unless I can do a quick check on the internet... (like looking at flight times from LA to London, and how long it is).

The working title is 'Perfect Isn't An Option.' So if you see me mentioning this title, you know it's my #MYWYN challenge. (That's the official Twitter hash tag!)

Would you like to meet the inspiration for this book?

Yes, it's Bradley Cooper. (This man will be a lot of 'hero' inspiration for me, I think!) Meet Steve. You can see writing this book is going to be really hard work. Not.

Steve's an A-lister celebrity, just hit the big time in Hollywood and he wants to find love. His sister convinces him to go 'normal' for a while. Ruby really is the heroine of this story - as it will be a little about the relationship of sister and brother. I realise I will have to work on his love interest (Lydia) playing a bigger part - I've decided she will need to be in the background from an early stage. If I can pull it off, I'm hoping this book will be a comedy romance.

Although I will be taking this challenge very seriously, I have to realise I have other writing stuff I need to do. I've written a list of competitions etc. I would like to enter, one being The Wedding Favour into the Yeovil Prize. So need to work on the synopsis and the first three chapters for that. And that's due end of May. I would also like to get another Writers Bureau assignment under my wing.

So busy girl, but going to try and get as much of this novel written per day, at least a thousand words where I can, bearing in mind I do have a two week holiday rapidly approaching.

Let's hope my moleskin notebook arrives from Writers' Forum, and I can do some writing in that on the beach!

*please note, all names are a work in progress, and may change. 

One thing I have noticed - I keep wanting to type Sophie instead of Ruby! I can't have two heroines called Sophie, I just can't!