Sunday, 29 July 2012

Does Romance Exist Only In Books?

Are we holding out for a hero?
I was feeling, as per usual lately, a bit melancholy the other day, (I promise I will snap out of it one day) and posted on Twitter whether romance existed outside of books. With my head and heart ready to move on, I get these thoughts/ideas/feelings, and wonder if it's just romantic rubbish that others will just roll their eyes at.

Maybe I shouldn't be thinking this yet, but I can't help it. I ponder on who the next man in my life might be, and what he will be like... and will I be too choosy. Are my expectations as a romance writer too high?

I know I'm going through something very un-romantic at the moment, but I do believe I am a romantic. (Or a dreamer lol!) It's possibly why I have moved on. My life lacked the romance I crave. I like little intimate moments, cuddles and kisses, and gestures.

I believe romance is like writing. You need to show someone how you feel about them every single day, not just tell them.

With a new relationship, once the "can't get enough of each other" phase passes, does the romance still exist? How do you keep it alive? Is there a natural chemistry or such a thing as a soul mate? 

Are some people just more romantic than others? Do some feel it's just mumbo-jumbo?

Do people really have candle lit dinners, and write love letters?

Admittedly, I do feel the romance is taken out of a meal in a restaurant on Valentine's day.  All sitting in rows, eating from the same set menu. But to come home to a house lit by candles and dinner on the table...

Before the days of email, I did used to write to my first boyfriend a lot. He joined the army, so my letters were very important to him. And he would even write back. I also used to write to my husband when we first met and lived across the country from one another.

Have letters been replaced by texts, emails and direct messages?

Will a knight in shining armour ride in on a white horse and save the day?

I always remember the episode of Will and Grace where Leo (Harry Connick Jr) arrives on a white horse to save Grace. (Could I find a clip or photo on the internet - sorry, guys, no! - but it's season 5 episode And the horse he rode on.) Does it only happen in fiction, or do real life heroes sweep us off our feet? Not necessarily on a white horse...

Do perfect strangers kiss, drawn by sexual chemistry and attraction? (Actually I can answer that one as a yes... it usually all starts with that first kiss).

Is there such a thing as love at first sight?

I do worry that because I am a romantic novelist, that some of the romance does only exist in books, even though I'd like it to happen in reality, will the guys I date get 'it'? Or do I day dream too much?

Should men hold doors open for ladies? It's not sexist, it's romantic and a gentlemanly gesture in my eyes. But how do others feel?

I suppose I worry that when I do get to start dating again, will the (new) man in question look at me as if I'm odd if I make a romantic gesture? Or will he feel daunted that I might expect them? I don't believe you have to be 'in love' to love.

Favourite Love Actually moment.
Do you tell someone that you love them, or care, whether they want to hear it or not?

How does romance exist for you, outside of books? What do you believe?

I'm looking forward to my new romantic adventure(s) and hopefully will gain good writing material if nothing else from the experience - I'm eager to try speed dating!

Sorry, there are an awful lot of questions in this post, but interested to know your thoughts. Why do you write romance?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Holidays Start With A Crash

Yes, that would be my glass lamp broken. It was one of those vases, all mottled and cracked glass, with little LED lights in it. It looked so pretty. I'd bought it from Next ages ago.

So, technically first day of the summer holidays - first day of me having the boys all day as they'd been at their Nan's - and they've broken something of mine! Not theirs, MINE! And I'd asked them to play outside in the sunshine. The swear words I mumbled under my breath as I swept broken glass can not be repeated. The boys stayed out of my way for a while, too.

I love that the kids are home and we get to do fun stuff together, but I am fearing the lack of writing and running time.

I really want to get Perfect Isn't An Option finished by the end of July and sent off to the RNA NWS. But I might have to eat into August a little. And I don't think it's going to be 'polished'. It's going to be a case of chucking it all at the wall and see what sticks. I think. *worries*

I have got to send them something otherwise it's a waste! Just got to work out how I'm going to post the damn thing - it's around 250 pages! I've now fixed the solution of printing it - I bought a new whizzy, three in one printer. But it had to be done, my other printer started failing to feed paper through even though it had a wodge of it stuck in the back - it would never have coped with 250 pages!

And (I'm sure you realise this already) I am a worrier when it comes to my stories! What if I've forgotten to add this, or this needs tweaking? Admittedly, I want to send them the best I can, but it doesn't mean I still can't improve it later if I do run out of time. With modern technology, it's so easy to do. I don't know how these writers who still use notebooks do it actually. They must be very talented, because my first drafts always need a lot of editing.

Anyway, I hope the summer holidays start better tomorrow. We're off to Portishead's open air swimming pool. It is heated :D But Dad and I decided it would be too hot to cycle the Strawberry Line from Yatton to Winscombe, and Kieran might not make it - he got very tired last time. And to be honest, we're not sure how long this weather is going to last, so want to make the most of it.

Lots of swimming on the agenda this week!

Friday, 20 July 2012

A Special Award For Friends

I was awarded this award by Annalisa Crawford for my love for Footloose. That's the original by the way... none of this remake stuff. You can not beat Kevin Bacon! Thank you, Annalisa, for this award.

You can read here  why the creator, Michelle Gregory, created it.

It is interesting, because if you look back into your past, you can see how many people you've met, that have been friends. From going on holiday and making friends, to a new job, people touch your life. And being the sentimental fool I am, I try to stay in touch with as many as possible (thank God for Facebook now!). But some do leave our lives and we do lose touch. It is physically impossible to stay in contact with everyone.

Anyway, I thought I would carry this little award on to those that are helping me currently with my journey, on life and writing. There is by no means any obligation to continue this on. There are no rules.

But a few people who stick out for me are:

Morton Gray - we both joined the RNA NWS this year, and both got in! We were up till midnight on the 1st of January messaging each other. And she's been generally encouraging about my life and writing

Helen Collard - we met through the Writer's Bureau and have been encouraging each other. She's helped me with both editing and research, and helps to keep me motivated. Thank you.

Becky Black - I have to always mention Becky, because without her I never would have been writing. I just wouldn't be here, right here, where I am now.

Rachel Lyndhurst - because she inspired me to post hot pics... I mean inspirational material for heroes. And she too has been a great boost to me lately.

Actually there were loads of people who stuck out. But I couldn't list them all. Everyone who reads my blog, chats to me via Twitter and Facebook are all special friends.

Only fair I finish on a Footloose-Kevin-Bacon picture.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I Wish I Was There

Roughly, this time last year, I was preparing like so many others are now, to attend the RNA Conference in Caerlorn, Wales. I was deciding on shoes, comfortable clothes for during the day, evening wear, what if it's hot, cold, or raining? How many pens, notepads? Would I need one bottle of wine, or two?

This year the conference is in Penrith, Cumbria, and just with everything going on in my life, I knew I couldn't get my head around going. It's further away, so I knew I'd need to organise childcare - the logistics of getting them to school etc. Would I drive the four hour plus journey, or was it cheaper to train it? And I didn't know where I'd be. (As it is, I'm still in the same house, stuck under the same roof with a certain person). I wasn't sure what my financial situation would be like either, so to remove that stress I decided very early on that I wouldn't go. 

I got to sit next to Sue! *squeals*
Now I am watching on Facebook and Twitter rather enviously, as I read fellow writers are packing and heading off to the conference this weekend. My dear friend Becky Black is going for the first time and it's such a shame I can't make it to meet up with her. 

Last year I met the lovely Sue Moorcroft - and I promise I will read Uphill All The Way soon! I still haven't read half the books that I got there - some bought and some free in my goody bag.

I made friends with Vanessa Savage, who hadn't travelled too far to get to Caerlorn, and we buddied up so that we never had to enter a room on our own. Which when you're a newbie, is quite an important thing, especially on the first day! But it meant that I knew I always had someone to go to dinner/breakfast with and wouldn't be sat on my own. But to be honest, I didn't have to worry. Everyone is just so lovely.
I made so many friends, some I'm fortunate to see in my RNA Chapter meetings (Rachel Brimble, Alison Knight, Lisa Bodenham). 

Vanessa and me - I don't think we've had wine yet!
So this is a little blog post to all those fabulous romance writers out there, aspiring and published, who are attending this wonderful event.

Remember to pack teabags, coffee (I bought those Kenco 2 in 1 sachets so I didn't have to worry about milk) and some snacks for your room. Oh, and a bottle of wine, so you can congregate somewhere with others and share. It is also important to have a posh frock and shoes - you're a romance novelist after all - for the ball on the Saturday night.

I really hope you don't have to wear your wellies and the sun shines for you all. 

Have fun! Hopefully I'll be joining you all next year. In the meantime, I will sit by my Twitter and Facebook station, and wait patiently for RNA Conference updates. 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

My Writing Therapy...Blogging

I am so tired I can't see me editing tonight, however much I feel guilty that I should. So I thought I would at least blog instead. (It's sort of writing therapy I find).

I have a plan, you see. July will be spent editing Perfect Isn't An Option to the best I can get it (which might still appear to be a first draft in the RNA New Writers' Scheme hands), then send it off, so that August can be used to concentrate on editing The Wedding Favour to under 60,000 words for the 'interested' publisher.

Also, I always feel guilty when I'm not doing something writing related, just because I feel I ought to otherwise I should be out doing a 'proper' job. But I find, like this weekend, when I do a 'proper' job (i.e. I get paid albeit just over minimum wage) I am so tired, I can't write. Just tried reading two chapters of a book (as reading is classed as WRA), and my eyes felt heavy and itchy, wanting to close.

I've put myself down for some overtime, but I know that my writing will suffer for this. One, it's evenings I'm doing - and that's when I do my most writing related activities (WRA), and two, I'll be tired the next day, or whenever, and that just zonks me out.

I'm even failing miserably at the moment reading my Writing Magazines. But I won't cancel the subscription. I just find it hard to sit down and make time for magazines at the best of times - hence I stopped the non-fiction side of my Writers' Bureau course, and swapped to the fiction. I find if I have time to read, I want to be reading a book. (I'm even lacking a bit on my Goodreads target, though I've read a book that actually hasn't been released yet, so can add that later). 

Anyway, I am trying to stay positive with everything else that's going on around me. (Not always easy with this bloody weather!) I vowed it on the 1st July. The next 6 months would be positive. I do have wobbles, but I give myself a mental kick when I find myself spiralling downwards. I yank up Maroon 5 on my PC (found a fab remix of Payphone and I'm loving their new album Overexposed) and that usually helps. Music really does help my moods. It always has. Especially stuff that makes me want to dance like a loon. That's why Kiss FM is always on in my kitchen on my digital radio!

So by typing this I've had some writing therapy. It makes me feel I've done some WRA.

And now for something romantic and inspirational....

Don't you just love this picture? Isn't it gorgeous? It was on Facebook and I shared it there, too.

I do wonder if it's an odd camera angle or something, but that third arm must be her right arm tucked across her body so they could fit in the bath. (The photographer should have told her to keep it in the water!). It just looks long.

Feel free to give me a kick! 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Lasting Memory

The picture I have attached I also shared on Facebook because I thought it was beautiful. I decided it sort of fits a subject I wanted to blog about.

Do you ever think about the last time you saw someone, and if you'd realised it would be your last time, what would you have done differently? Would you have said more? Or not changed a thing?

Does it make you cry? Laugh?

Are you happy or sad about the memory?

Last year my Grandma died, and although this was very sad, she was 89 years old (nearly 90), and it was what she wanted in the end. And we all know we've got to go in the end. I knew one day I would lose her.

She didn't want anyone seeing her as she got sick. In fact, in the past few years, she worried about seeing people and what they thought, with her ageing. I learnt that I had to just turn up to visit her (considering she lived on the Isle of Wight it took a bit of planning - but the boys enjoyed the short break!) because she would fret if she knew you were coming, if it was planned. Whereas if you just showed up, she was absolutely fine.

Luckily, the year before she died, I'd done just that. My husband and the boys stayed for a bit, then they went and watched the boats (she lived in Cowes) while I stayed with my Grandma for another hour. We talked about all sorts, about my dad (her son) and just things. But I remember her face, her voice, her mannerisms, and I'm sort of glad I never saw her sick, because I have a healthy memory of her. I remember her how she was. However, I do think about that being the last time I saw her alive, and if I'd realised then, would I have stayed longer? Should I have stayed longer? At the time I hadn't wanted to outstay my welcome. I didn't want to tire her out.

Now, I wished I'd just spent a tiny bit longer with her.

This applies to friends, lovers, anyone... sometimes you just don't realise that that last time you saw them, would be the actual last time for whatever reason. And depending on those reasons, do you think you would have done things differently?

You might be thinking what has this got to do with with writing. But the sentimental fool that I am often ponders over this feeling, especially with my Grandma as it sticks in my brain poignantly, and it is something I would like to explore in a story. In fact, everything we do, feel, experience, ends up in our writing whether we realise it or not.

To live and experience enables us to write, right?

So is there someone in your life, good or bad memories, that if you'd realised it would be the last time you saw them, you would have done or said things differently?