Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ever Been To Lacock?

If you haven't, well, you should!

I've been meaning to post about this for what feels like ages now.

Last week I went to Lacock for my RNA Chapter meeting. I drive the furthest, about an hours drive compared to everyone else, who all live roughly 20-30 minutes away.

I used the "sat-nav" on my phone, and followed the directions... a lot of M5, M4, then down the A350. Well, then she told me to turn left, and I thought I'd gone through some wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing. (That's a nod to Doctor Who).

I was speechless and gawking a lot as I drove through this antique village.

Like a tourist, I took photos while it was still good light - it was about 7.15pm. I only had my phone on me, so I'm not sure if it does the place justice, but it was magnificent to be in such an untouched part of England, if you exclude the cars. (If I had my way, I'd ban them!)

Now, I've been to Stratford-upon-Avon and loved it. The odd 'old' house dotted amongst the new, including Shakespeare's home. But this is a whole village! A whole village, I tell you!

I'm going back - before our next chapter meeting! Already promised my dad that I'll take him. I want to walk around and soak it all up! Gosh, could even envisage writing a historical romance, this place is just so inspirational.

Harry Potter, and Pride and Prejudice, to name a couple have been filmed here, and you can see why. Rid the streets of cars, and you're back in time. Perfect back drop for a historical film.

It fascinates me that if these buildings could talk, they'd have so much to tell us. What has gone on inside their rooms? 

This is where we had our chapter meeting, The Sign of the Angel.

I don't actually think my photos do do it justice. But I had to share. If you're interested, to find Lacock you need J17 on the M4, and head down the A350. There is a National Trust car park a walking distance out of the way, if you have difficulty parking in the village itself.

Oh and the Chapter meeting was really good too. Brilliant sitting around a table, talking with like-minded (and more experienced) people, discussing the thing that connects us and we all love. Can't wait for the next one!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Book Review: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is certainly not the best book of the series. It's probably closer to 2 and a half stars from me. The murder doesn't happen until chapter three! The pacing was slow in places, and the author does have a habit of providing so many character names you can lose track. I think some characters can remain nameless - really they can!

However, the ending did redeem itself, and I do enjoy Sookie's thoughts. This book is brain candy like all the rest. I just wonder if Charlaine Harris has tried too hard to please the readers by stretching it out too much - this book is like some of the others, a filler.

And there certainly isn't the same level of sex. (This may disappoint some).


I love that Bill loves her no matter what - and yet would never ever convert her to a vampire (not that she would beg for it). Have I said before how much I LOVE Bill?

But I also love Sam, too. Just because he's a good guy and he's a breather.

I am hoping Sookie gets her wish, and will get married and have children, and lead a normal-ish life. She will get her happy ever after basically. I'm hoping this will be with Sam. If book 13 doesn't deliver this, I will be disappointed. lol!

I'm all for the romance and happy ever afters me.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Day Dreamer or Realist?

Okay, so it's the weekend, I've been up since 5.30am and I have another early start tomorrow. Every weekend that I work, it is always unproductive when it comes to my writing. So why tonight, am I feeling frustrated, annoyed and even guilty that I've opened up my Word document, and, staring at the words, I just can't write it. I can't concentrate.

I want to listen to music. I want to chat on Twitter and Facebook, because that's about as much my brain can handle.

So I've closed the document, and I'll go to bed in a minute, but thought I'd blog. Because blogging is writing, and sometimes, it's a bit like therapy, it helps.

Real life is getting in the way too. Yet another major barny with my 'husband' (can I call him Ex yet?) has left me feeling soooooo crap about myself. He's been chipping away at my self-esteem (if that's the right term) for longer than I probably realise, but now he's just coming out with stuff that makes me want to punch him! I've actually just typed up why I think I'm actually a damn good mother (Okay so I have my crap days, but don't we all?) - for some strange reason I fear they're going to take my kids away from me!

I came out of my appointment with my solicitor feeling empowered and confident. He has said he came out of his feeling more positive. (He was being smug with me that's for sure). What have they told him different to me?

He harps on that I'm such a dreamer. I know I'm a dreamer. I've had so many ideas, plans, dreams of what I would like to do/see/become. I wanted to open a cafe - a proper coffee shop/ice cream parlour. I wanted to work in Marketing (I did actually get a qualification in that too). And I do worry that this writing malarky is one of those dreams that I've got inside my crazy little head, that as per usual won't get realised.

But I'm also a realist. I know we all die in the end. I think I am so determined on this, it will happen - the writing, not dying... though that will come to me too at some point, lets hope not just yet.

I have finished a novel! I have one more 57,000 words through. I've got more stories inside my head - which may need more brainstorming, but they are there! If it doesn't happen this year, or next, it will one day. I'm not going to give up! Right? Some one please tell me I'm not a dreaming...

Well, at least I can blog...  and leave inspirationally material for all you other writers out there...

Nothing like a good snog!

The thing is, I do get an idea in my head, and a bit like my dad, I react and want it. We are doers! And I'm not patient. I want it like, YESTERDAY! The solicitor has told me what I can look to have. And I'm out to get it now. 

However, I worry, too. I worry a lot. About all sorts of things. From have we got enough milk to when will the world end. But if I was such a terrible person, would I have the friends that I have? I've been overwhelmed by the amount of friends that have supported me over the past few months, online and in reality. And to all of you, I hope you read this. Because thank you. You keep me strong, and motivated, and I will become a writer.

I'm in the mood for a bit of Dirk, too.

Actually, I am a writer... I'm just not published - yet.

(Sorry a bit wittering there... but like I said, I needed some therapy).

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Word Struggle

I thought I best report in. Real life is getting in the way, but I am trying to get some writing in where possible. The problem I have is that I've got to the end of the book and it's around 57,000 words.

Now I don't want to just pad the thing out, because that will be so boring for the reader, (and would get cut out again in the edits lol!) but I think I do need to go back into the story and expand some stuff.

Actually, now looking at my time line, there is potential for some fun with Halloween, Thanksgiving and even a Christmas office party.

But this book really needs to be around the 70,000 word mark. How have I failed to fall so short?

I thought it was going to go on forever. Now, with The Wedding Favour, I thought I was going to struggle, and ended up bashing out 90,000 words initially, (editing it down to about 84,000).

Perfect Isn't An Option felt like a more complicated plot, with a developing relationship between sister and brother, hero and heroine, and the sister even finding romance.

I also keep telling myself that I don't have to panic. It doesn't need to be sent off to the RNA New Writers' Scheme until August as a last resort. But June is not that far around the corner, and as I mentioned earlier, real life really is getting in the way! (Trying to get the house on the market and push a separation/divorce through as quickly as possible - mainly because I'm fed up with sleeping in the spare room on a hard futon).

Complimentary eye candy... my inspiration for Steve.

I really love this story idea, and with such positive feedback about the first chapter from my Writers' Bureau tutor too, I felt encouraged with this book. It's about a new, up and coming Hollywood A-lister struggling to find true love, and with advice from his sister, disguises himself as 'Mediocre Man' in attempt to find the right woman. It's like Superman does Notting Hill. I even have a Notting Hill moment... though I don't have a Welsh guy in grey underpants.

But I'm worried with the interruptions, my motivation and inspiration for it have been waning, and it's not reaching its full potential... I'm just writing drivel.

Or am I being a typical writer, and worrying that the word content is crap, but actually it's not that bad?

I have research to do, and this might help with increasing the story. Any tips how to improve plot?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Doris O'Connor Shares Too Cold To Love

Creative Inspiration
Today I have Doris O'Connor touring, to talk about Too Cold To Love. I met Doris through the Mills and Boon New Voice competition in September 2010. Unfortunately we haven't 'physically' met yet, but I'm sure we will one day. We belong to an online writing group - though I feel terribly guilty because I hardly contribute. But I try to give some input from time to time. Usually a "Phoarrrrr" to some hot half-naked picture posted of Joe Manganiello... I mean tick *like* to photographic inspiration...  

So here goes. This is what Doris has to say about Too Cold To Love.

1)    Give us your elevator pitch (to the reader) for what your book is about? (i.e. if you were stuck in a lift with a publisher/agent and they said, what's your book about? You've got two minutes till the door pings).

*panics* oh golly you do realise that I am absolutely useless at these things. I'm the quiet one in the corner, you know. Really, stop laughing. I am!

Okay- Too Cold To Love is book two in the Giovanni Clan series, a trilogy about a wealthy Italian family, living in the UK. If you like hunky Italian heroes, sassy heroines, hot sex, lots of heart wrenching emotions, twists and turns, secrets, scandal, and some hard hitting issues all wrapped up in the multicultural dynamics of a huge Italian family then this series is for you. The Giovanni are ruled with an iron fist by Mamma Stella Giovanni, who caused all sorts of problems in book one, when she meddled in her son's Alex's love life. In book two she's on her nephew's Marco's case. He doesn't take kindly to his Aunt's interference, because Marco is a man on a mission. Deeply hurt by his ex-wife he does not trust women, and pours all his energies into his business and his small daughter. What he doesn’t count on is his attraction to the new nanny. Elise has secrets of her own, secrets that eventually threaten to destroy her new life with Marco. Can love conquer all? Well, you have to read the book to find out ;-)

2)    My 'Twitter' question - Describe your heroine in 140 characters. (you can always check it on Twitter rather than count the 140 characters lol!).

Elise is passionate, loyal, with an inner core of steel, and an incredibly tough past. She fights for the ones she loves, including Marco.

3)    Obviously you're in love with your hero - you wouldn't have written him otherwise - but why do you love him, and think your readers will too? No character limit this time lol!

Ah, now you're talking, lol. Well for starters my visual inspiration for Marco Giovanni is Joe Manganiello. What's not to like, lol? Well, actually, that's not strictly speaking true. Physically speaking Marco is easy to swoon over, but the polished exterior hides a damaged man. Marco was a very strong voice in my head from the first page, but I didn't like him very much to start with. I know—gasp, horror! But bear with me. On the face of it Marco is ruthless, arrogant, single minded, and at times he doesn't treat Elise very well at all. I was quite worried that he was too unlikeable. About the only redeeming feature at the beginning of the book is the love he has for his daughter. With Mimi he is infinitely patient and kind, and you get the first glimpse of the passionate man he really is. As the story unfolds and we get to see past the mask, and the very real demons that Marco wrestles with on a daily basis I fell in love with him probably at the same time Elise did. Marco was my first truly tortured hero and he undergoes an incredible journey in this book.

Elise and Marco are a very special couple and if ever two people needed each other it's those two J

4)    And can you prove that all published writers are really human? i.e how do juggle writing with real life?

Ah, the dreaded juggling act. I think it helps that I'm used to juggling. Hubby and I have a brood of nine children, ranging in age from twenty one down to just eight months, so over the last twenty five years I have truly perfected the art of multi-tasking, and not sleeping, lol. The vast chunk of my writing takes place late into the night when the house is quiet, and whenever I get a few minutes I am usually either writing or reading. It also helps that I'm  no domestic goddess and I have a very understanding and supportive husband.

I always say that if writing truly is your passion then you will find the time to write somehow, because you simply have to make it your priority. In my case that means that all of my 'free' time is taking up with it. I do not watch television for instance and when I'm in the middle of a story and the words are flowing I simply can't stop writing. I've been known to write whilst cooking dinner and I reckon the baby will always associate feeding times with the tap of the keyboard. He was two weeks old when I got my very first set of edits and has been on my lap through it all ever since, lol.

It's certainly not easy and you need those around you to be supportive and understanding, but writing, for me, is like breathing.

Too Cold To Love blurb:

Marco Giovanni has shut off his emotions, following a messy divorce. His small daughter and his chain of bakeries are all he needs in his life. The string of nannies are an unfortunate necessity he could well do without. So why does his body have to remember its needs now with the latest and most unsuitable nanny ever?

Elise has always been the responsible one, so when she receives yet another SOS phone call from her wayward twin, she does the only thing she can do, she steps into her shoes. Having to go back to nannying is hard enough, the unexpected attraction to her arrogant employer impossible to deal with. Especially when she is forced to agree to a marriage of his convenience to pay off the debt her twin accrued.

In a marriage based on blackmail can passion turn into love, or will secrets and lies destroy all?

You can buy To Cold To Love at: 

Evernight Publishing
All Romance Books

You can find Doris here on Twitter, Facebook, Blog, and Website.

Thanks Doris for popping by, and good luck with Too Cold To Love. That is one hot book cover. Phew!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Mandy Baggot Takes Charge

I was fortunate enough to meet Mandy last July at the RNA Conference, and we have been 'friends' ever since. I'm pleased to have Mandy over to talk about her new book, Taking Charge.
Mandy Baggot writes strong contemporary romance and characters you’ll fall in love with. She is the author of five novels Excess All Areas, Breaking the Ice, Knowing Me Knowing You, Strings Attached and Taking Charge. In January 2012 she signed with Sapphire Star Publishing and joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
1)      Give us your elevator pitch (to the reader) for what your book is about? (i.e. if you were stuck in a lift with a publisher/agent and they said, what's your book about? You've got two minutes till the door pings - but imagine instead your selling to a reader, not a publisher - as you've already done that :D)

Feisty lead female and hot, gorgeous, intelligent and sensitive ice hockey player. Secrets, drama, fun, humour, love, all wrapped around characters that will stir your emotions.

2)      My 'Twitter' question - Describe your heroine in 140 characters.

Strong on the outside, vulnerable on the inside, loves beer, monster trucks and junk food, gets things done, can’t stop talking, fixes cars.

3)      Obviously you're in love with your hero - you wouldn't have written him otherwise - but why do you love him, and think your readers will too? No character limit this time!

Cole Ryan
Well, what can I say about Cole Ryan? He’s as gorgeous as they come for a start. He’s tall, athletic, has glossy black hair, dark dark eyes and resembles a young Freddie Prinze Jr. But he’s more than just a hot guy, he’s a sensitive soul with strong morals. When we first meet him he’s been through a very bad time and he’s letting those memories cloud his judgement on his future. He’s a deep thinker, he’s extremely intelligent and there is no hidden agenda with him, he’s a straight up kind of guy. Are you in love with him yet?

4)      And can you prove that all published writers are really human? i.e how do juggle writing with real life?

Oh yes we’re human! I am writing this while waiting for my washing to finish so I can hang it out to dry. Then because I spend so long with my bum on a chair I need to do some exercise so will be attempting boxercise a little later. Then at 3.00pm it’s the school run and I turn into mum, you know, cooking tea and washing up and doing spellings and reading (all at the same time!). My main writing time is between 11-3 each day but often it’s a case of fitting in ten minutes here and there!

Taking Charge blurb: 

Is going back Robyn’s only way forward?

American-born Robyn Matthers is going home. With her dad in hospital, his roadhouse in ruins and the ice hockey team slipping down the league, she needs to take charge. But does she have the strength to do it?

Cole Ryan is a hockey player on a personal mission. He’s tall, dark, hot and Robyn’s noticed! But can she trust her feelings - or his? And what will Cole do when he finds out the truth about her?

Robyn returns to Michigan and things aren’t quite the same. Her best friend has grown up and is thinking about marriage and babies, the ice hockey team is no longer the life blood of the community and her father is engaged!

When Robyn’s twin cousins drag up past events that hold painful memories for her, she and Cole are forced together. But are either of them ready to start something new?

With an ill father, a trailer trash almost step-mom and ex-boyfriend Brad desperate for another chance, does Robyn have time to contemplate a relationship? Does she really want one? And is it physically possible for two people to fall in love in just three days?

Buy here: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Thanks Mandy for popping along and sharing Cole Ryan with us! (We all approve of a bit of eye candy, I mean creative inspiration...). Good luck with your book. 

You can find Mandy on:

Monday, 7 May 2012

Book Review: Flirting With Italian by Liz Fielding

Flirting With Italian (Riva)Flirting With Italian by Liz Fielding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As per usual, Liz Fielding does not disappoint. Engaging, charming characters with a flavour of Italy.

Even without the sex on the page, this sweet romance has sizzle factor. A sensual, flirty and fun read. There is a gentle comic element that Liz does so well - there is some great dialogue between her two characters.

Liz manages to get the emotions and passion and all those tingly feelings that go with romance and love amazingly on to the page.

View all my reviews

Next book!? I'm afraid Charlaine Harris' Deadlocked is going to have to jump the to-be-read queue!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Two SQUEES In A Week!

Seriously, I didn't expect the second squeeee! but I got asked by another publisher for the full manuscript of The Wedding Favour on Monday. (I know, I know, I'm sorry I'm telling you about it now!)

They sent the email around 3.05pm - just as I'm about to do the school run, plus I was taking the kids to Puxton - and all I wanted to do was send the manuscript off! However, I did have a submission form to fill out, and that took some time and care, and I hit the send button sometime Tuesday morning.

So that's it now. All four publishers have the full manuscript. I imagine I won't hear anything till July or August. I can't crack open the champagne yet... there still maybe disappointment at the end, but there is some relief that I've done things right so far! I need to just crack on with Perfect Isn't An Option and not think about it too much.

I will give one word of warning to you all thinking of sending off a synopsis to a publisher. DO NOT do it until that manuscript is finished. I mean truly finished, polished, you feel you can do no more to it.  THEN send the synopsis out, or whatever the submissions guidelines state.

In January, I was thinking, shall I send it off, while working on the editing of the last few chapters, because it will be weeks till I hear something.... No, it was days! Now the MS is sent, I might have to wait weeks...

If a publisher only requests a synopsis or the first few pages as part of its submission guidelines, they will get back to you quickly to say whether they want to see the full or not. And then they will inform you how long you may have to wait.

So glad my betas talked me out of that one! (Yes, I'll mention good old Becky Black again! I would not be here without her and another good beta friend!)

In other news, I will be hosting a blog tour for Doris O'Connor and Mandy Baggot over the next week. Both have new books out! Mandy's is actually out today - so congratulations, Mandy!

I need to get back to writing, but my RSI has flared up, which is really, really annoying, as I don't want to stop the momentum of Perfect Isn't An Option. However, I might have to sit back a couple of days until it's settled. Really annoying! Grrrr...

Here's Bradley Cooper to ease my pain....

See I always reward you in the end! There's something about a man who can handle heavy artillery :D