Saturday, 31 March 2012

Book Review: The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

The Marriage BargainThe Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one HOT read. The author had the heroine and hero sizzling.

It's the perfect marriage of convenience story, where they fall in love in the end. I just love this plot, with relationships where they think they are acting on a lie - it's my favourite kind, and this story echoed ideas I've put in my own novel - although I fear that Jennifer Probst has written it better than me!

If I had one nit pick, I felt that sometimes what the characters were wearing was over described at times. But it's romance, so I accepted it. It's not that annoying that you won't enjoy the book. 

But I love Nick for being this sexy, strong man, determined not to let Alexa get to him. And fail.

There is some great passion and sexual tension in this book. Loved it. Hated putting it down.

If only men like Nick existed in the real world. *sigh*

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I bought this book after reading a blog post that Rachel Lyndhurst shared. A very inspirational tale by Jennifer Probst. I recommend all aspiring writers to read. Can't promise we'll all be that lucky, but it's a nice carrot to wave in front of us.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Glad To Be Back Writing

Last night I started working on Perfect Isn't An Option - my second novel. I've read through what I've written so far and liked it! (Can I really be that clever? Well, I think it's clever :D)

My next Writers' Bureau assignment is either to send off the first chapter of a novel or a short story, so I thought I would send off a first chapter of this novel and get a professional opinion for it. (It's about time I sent off another assignment, too!) This is the novel I do want to send to the RNA New Writers' Scheme too.

I am rather excited about this novel. I really like the concept for it, and just hope everyone else does too. It's sort of Clark Kent meets Notting Hill. It's about a developing relationship of a sister and brother as well as finding love. But the hero has to hide his true identity to do it (hence the Clark Kent). I don't know, I've just got a good feeling about this story - I just hope I can pull it off and do it justice.

Tomorrow night I'm also dead excited about, as I will be going to my very first RNA Chapter meeting, which is organised by Rachel Brimble. I met Rachel last year at the conference (we were on the same dorm), and can't wait to catch up with her and fellow RNA members. 

So next steps? Once this chapter is sent off to my WB tutor (which is hopefully tonight), I will start trying to write 1000-1200 words a day towards finishing this manuscript. Can I do it by the end of April?

I just thought I'd share that it feels great to be writing again. I know how some writers love the editing stage, I much prefer the writing part. I find it much easier to make time to write and bash a thousand words out. But don't panic, I haven't forgotten about The Wedding Favour. I will load that on to my Kindle and start reading through after this weekend and look to submitting very soon. I need to give it a bit of a break so that I've got fresh eyes looking over it. It's too easy to skim when you're so fed up with the damn text!

Steve - doing a photo shoot for a magazine
It's really hard not to feel positive while the sun is out. Are you enjoying the weather or stuck in writing? This is the downside to being a writer...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Lucky Seven

Cherie Nicholls tagged me for this Lucky Seven Meme and I thought I'd play along.
Here are the rules:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 other authors

So as I don't have Perfect Isn't An Option in chapters yet, I've just bashed out the first 33,000 words, I thought I would take this from The Wedding Favour. So here goes. 

(Typically, page 77 is the end of a chapter, and as I then put a page break in... I'll take from page 78 - imagining no page break - which is funnily enough chapter 7. I've taken from the 7th paragraph, rather than line - not sure if that's right or not lol!). 

He was glad she’d insisted on him sleeping in this comfortable bed; it was large enough he'd felt like he had it to himself. A first, too - sleeping with a woman and not expected to perform, even if she had made a joke about it. Maybe that was why he’d slept so well.
She looked pretty and peaceful sleeping. He studied her face more than he'd have to dared if she were awake. Her long, dark eyelashes, and her brown eyes hidden. His mind travelled back to their kiss.

And my seven are (and only play along if you want to), in no particular order: 
  1. Rachel Lyndhurst
  2. Morton Gray
  3. Annalisa Crawford
  4. Sarah Pearson
  5. Becky Black
  6. Sally Quilford
  7. Talli Roland

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

One Novel Down

By Jove, I think I've only gone and done it!

Yes, I've finished editing The Wedding Favour! There is probably more work that could be done to it, but it could go on and on forever. And I've got to the point, it's polished, let's see if someone actually likes it - I'll be glad to see the back of it! If it is successful, I'm pretty sure an editor will want their say in some of the editing. I think I've taken it as far as I can basically.

Sort of Adam... I've found it harder to find a visual
So now?

Well, I'm going to let it rest for a couple of weeks, then put it onto my Kindle (very useful for writers are ereaders!) and give it one more read through. Just to make sure I've crossed all the T's and dotted the I's. Then I will start submitting. (I'm very nervous about this bit). I've listed and looked at some publishers that I think it fits. It's a contemporary romance. There are a couple of sex scenes, but the heat level is nowhere near erotica.

I know that it will get rejections, and I am fearing this. Maybe mainly, with everything else going on in my life, I really would like to achieve something with my writing, to know that I'm on the right path, I'm doing the right thing, and my future will seem a whole lot brighter. This might be that light at the end of the tunnel I really need to see.
Steve - Perfect Isn't An Option

In the mean time I will carry on writing Perfect Isn't An Option (which I'm rather excited about), targeting myself 1000 words a day. If I start 26th March latest (as I have my son's birthday coming up this weekend, I need to focus on that - plus it gives me time to read through what I've already written), then to add another 45-47,000 words to my so far 33,000 word total, should take me to beginning of May.  So watch the counter to the right, I'll be updating again with my word count as it increases!

This is the novel I want to send to the RNA NWS - so it will have to get polished up, in making sure it reads well by end of August. But I might go with the approach of "chucking it all at the wall, and seeing what sticks."

Gosh, I feel like I want to crack open the champagne just for finishing a novel. But I'm saving that bottle in the fridge for my first paid published piece. Will it be The Wedding Favour?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Book Review: Lexy's Little Matchmaker by Lynda Sandoval

Sorry! Another book review, but I've just finished this one rather quickly. (It was only 210 pages).

Lexy's Little MatchmakerLexy's Little Matchmaker by Lynda Sandoval

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm in two minds about this book. Although I did enjoy it, and the conflict in it was different, I wasn't sure if I liked the hero and heroine not always being on the same page together.

I'll let it off at the start, (Drew and his son Ian are hiking, and an accident happens, Lexy is the person who answers the 911 call and helps Ian save Drew's life) because it's how they become acquainted. But I think I would have liked to have seen more of them on the page together than I did, and their relationship grow that way.

It did put a lump in my throat at times during the end of the book, so I'm giving it three stars. Two feels a bit mean.

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But this quick read has put me back on target with my 40 a year challenge - Yay!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Book Review: Ex-Girlfriends United by Matt Dunn

Ex Girlfriends UnitedEx Girlfriends United by Matt Dunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Being a romance writer who likes to get inside the head of her heroes, I decided to read a 'Matt Dunn' for the perspective of the male voice.

This was an incredibly funny, light-hearted, entertaining read. It's in first person, and you're in Ed's head. It's got great pace and there are so many laugh out loud moments.

This is book two, and I really wish I'd read The Ex-boyfriends Handbook first but you don't need to read that to follow this story. You get the idea.

I actually thought this book would be much more about Dan, Ed's womanising, bed-hopping best friend, as it starts out with him having the problems, but really it turns out to be more about Ed and Sam, and Jane, Ed's ex.

I will definitely be reading more. It's not really chick-lit (although I have a hard time knowing what really is chick-lit) in the sense it's more about romance than anything, and I don't want to categorise it as Lad-lit because this book really is written for women to read, though I think men would enjoy this book too, (they would find it hilarious) as long as romance is their thing.

Definitely an enjoyable read.

(I would have read this quicker but with reading Harry Potter with my son, I'm having to split my reading time).

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I'm a bit behind on my reading, with regards to the challenge, but it doesn't help I'm reading Harry Potter to my son, too - although I am enjoying rereading the books! Might need to read some short Mills and Boon types to catch up.

As a writer, I have to read as much as I write. And to kill two birds with one stone, some books are read for research as well as pleasure. What are you reading at the moment? Is there a reason for reading this book, or was it the next one to grab off the top of the to-read pile?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

It's Wobble Time, I Mean Submission Time

I've only got one chapter to edit! Then it's submission time. And I'm not nervous at all.

Yeah, right.

Gosh, The Wedding Favour started as a chapter in the Mills and Boon New Voice competition, in September 2010, and here we are, approximately 18 months later with the finished product. To be honest, it should have taken me less time, but occasionally I concentrated on other writing assignments, such as my Writers' Bureau (and being a full time mum, the kids would get in the way). And I wrote 33,000 words for Perfect Isn't An Option. That was a month.

My inspiration for Steve.
Anyway, watch this space. And watch my word count to the right. I'm going to start writing more of Perfect Isn't An Option very soon. I want this to be the novel I submit to the RNA New Writers' Scheme. So I want it finished, and edited (though probably won't be as polished) by end of June. End of July - latest! Because I don't want to be one of those people who hand it in last minute. I've estimated that if I do 1000 words a day (which is doable) it should take me just over a month to write. If I start writing from about the 24th March I could be finished by mid May.

I'm going to put what I've written so far onto my Kindle and read through, so I can brainstorm what gaps need filling, what scenes need adding. 

Buff firemen with tattoos!
And then, while I wait to hear the verdict on that with the RNA, plus the rejections flowing in for The Wedding Favour (ever the optimist), I'll be writing my third novel.

It doesn't have a title, and needs serious amounts of brainstorming. But the hero is an ex-fireman, come now a landscape gardener (I'm imagining him nice and big and buff, and with tattoos). The heroine needs some more thought. But they're going to be neighbours who can't stand the sight of each other, because really they fancy the pants off of each other. And when her house catches fire (need to decide to what extent) and she moves in with her buff neighbour while her house is renovated, that's when the fireworks really start.

This story idea has stemmed from one tiny scene I had in my head. A man picking up a hysterical woman, slinging her over his shoulder in a fireman's carry, to get her away from a scene that's distressing her.

Anyone else get these silly little scenes and feels the need to make them grow?

I also want to try and find some homes for some shorter pieces that I've written. I need to get more stuff out there. It's juggling the time to do it all though.

Right, back to the grindstone ... And buy that second diary so I can block out work time for different pieces.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Books?

Not sure if my Kindle is a blessing or a hindrance. I bought another ebook the other day as it was only 72p - Jane Lovering's Please Don't Stop The Music.

The problem is when I see it so cheap... I can't help but click 'buy'. 

I'm a bit of a fan of the Choc Lit authors (and secretly dream - though not much of a secret now - of being one myself. I just fear I'm not quite right) and would like to read as many as possible of them - eventually. So far I've read all of Sue Moorcroft's and one of Christina Courteney's (with another on my shelf to read).

I have quite a collection of books, on my bookshelf and on my Kindle, and wondering if my target of 40 a year should be upped! However, if I read more, I'd write less. And it's all about finding a balance. Well, I assume. Doesn't help I'm reading Harry Potter to my son, but I'm enjoying that too much to give up on (and the books count to my yearly total :D).

The thing is, with Choc Lit novels, I quite like having the physical book because their covers are lush! But until I'm a paid writer, I can't justify buying lots of books - plus I have so many on the bookshelf to read, I really, really must not buy any more.

One messy, cluttered bookshelf.
At least when I buy an ebook it's not taking up any more space (that I don't have) on my bookshelf. This is the plus side to a Kindle. I can treat myself to a book occasionally and it's hidden away electronically.

Currently I am reading Matt Dunn's Ex-Girlfriend United (in paperback not ebook) - which is really funny. I can't stop smiling as I read. I wanted to read a romance written by a bloke. And the story is in male first person. My next book I will be writing will be more about the hero than the heroine, so I wanted to get the 'male voice' in my head and hope reading things like Matt Dunn will help me. See it's all research.

I think the best thing about writing is that it has made me read more. 

What are you reading right now? Do you own a Kindle/eReader? Do you have to stop yourself from buying more books?

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Another Blog Award!

I have been meaning to blog for a couple of days now, but I'm so desperate to get the last few chapters of The Wedding Favour edited, I've sort of put all else aside.

Yesterday, however, I was awarded by Annalisa Crawford over on her Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep blog the Dream Launcher award! Thank you so much.

I won't lie, Annalisa did the research. Apparently the award was instigated by Doctor Faerie Godmother to thank people who'd made a difference in their writing/blogging. So I feel quite honoured that Annalisa has awarded me this. Not sure how I've helped... maybe all those hot men, inspirational photographs did it.

It's not obligatory, like some awards, but I would like to award the Dream Launcher to a couple of bloggers/writers who've inspired and encouraged me.

So drum roll please. 

Firstly, I would like to award the Dream Launcher to Becky Black, because I just wouldn't be here without her help, encouragement, support and general honesty to me as one of my Beta readers. I just wouldn't have the confidence to do this.

Another is Morton Gray. I met Morton through the Mills and Boon New Voice competition in 2010 and then physically met her at the RNA Conference last year. And even now I remember her saying, we must try to get into the RNA New Writers' Scheme - this will be us next year. And we both did! On 1st January 2012, the pair of us were messaging each other, saying our emails were ready and at 1 minute past midnight, turning the 2nd January, we both pressed the send button!

Morton also has a competition going on, so get in fast and have a go! You have until the 16th March.

And last but not least, (I would award Annalisa as she's equally as supportive but she already has this award and was the one to give it to me), I would like to award Sarah Pearson as she is always commenting and supporting my blog. And it sounds daft, but we all like to see comments on our blogs, it confirms that it is in fact being read for a start!

So these are some flowers for you all - my miniature daffs that are out at the moment!Next blog post I promise hot men inspirational material.

Thank you to everyone who leaves comments on this blog, and supports me with my writing and blogging. This award is for everyone really. Without you I wouldn't have the confidence and determination to continue writing.