Friday, 6 March 2015

five friday favourites...romcoms

Here are my five favourite romantic comedy movies. I included the movie summaries I found on google, just in case you have no idea what I'm talking about. Enjoy! :)

1. Bringing up Baby (1938)

The best screwball comedy of all time. It has a leopard, a dinosaur disaster and a stint in jail. Even I haven't managed to get all that into one of my books!

  1. Harried paleontologist David Huxley (Cary Grant) has to make a good impression on society matron Mrs. Random (May Robson), who is considering donating one million dollars to his museum. On the day before his wedding, Huxley meets Mrs. Random's high-spirited young niece, Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn), a madcap adventuress who immediately falls for the straitlaced scientist. The ever-growing chaos -- including a missing dinosaur bone and a pet leopard -- threatens to swallow him whole.

2. Groundhog Day (1993)

What every man needs - lots and lots of chances to get the romance right! If I ever write a book with an immortal hero I'm definitely going to include some suicide scenes, oh and a driving groundhog. Every romantic comedy needs a driving rodent. It should be a rule. :)
  1. Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets caught in a blizzard that he didn't predict and finds himself trapped in a time warp. He is doomed to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right.

3. Notting Hill (1999)

The Welshman steals the show. I have decided that every romantic comedy also needs a dodgy Welshman. A Welshman and a groundhog... I still crack up at the scene where the hero is pretending to be a journalist for horse and hound. Fantastic dialogue and timing. BRILLIANTLY funny!

  1. William Thacker (Hugh Grant) is a London bookstore owner whose humdrum existence is thrown into romantic turmoil when famous American actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) appears in his shop. A chance encounter over spilled orange juice leads to a kiss that blossoms into a full-blown affair. As the average bloke and glamorous movie star draw closer and closer together, they struggle to reconcile their radically different lifestyles in the name of love.

4. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Love this movie, I even love the muscial remake High Society - but then who wouldn't with Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby crooning away. But the original is still the best. Although it doesn't have Louis Armstrong. Damn, I can't decide which I love more...
  1. This classic romantic comedy focuses on Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), a Philadelphia socialite who has split from her husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), due both to his drinking and to her overly demanding nature. As Tracy prepares to wed the wealthy George Kittredge (John Howard), she crosses paths with both Dexter and prying reporter Macaulay Connor (James Stewart). Unclear about her feelings for all three men, Tracy must decide whom she truly loves.

5. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This is one of those movies that outshines the book, and it's because of the acting. Fabulously funny, irreverent and touching. I thought the scene when he throws the book out the window was brilliant. How many times have you been irate because you stayed awake to finish a book that didn't end well? I've lost count. There are quite a few books I'd like to lob out of a window!

  1. After losing his job and wife, and spending time in a mental institution, Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) winds up living with his parents (Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver). He wants to rebuild his life and reunite with his wife, but his parents would be happy if he just shared their obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles. Things get complicated when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who offers to help him reconnect with his wife, if he will do something very important for her in exchange.

Okay, so that's it for romantic comedies. I might try and write a post on what I've learned from them to use in my writing. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

a rant about heroines...

I'm mad. You have been warned! I've read three books this past week with terrible heroines. In one, the author completely changed the personality of a heroine who'd appeared as a supporting character earlier in the series. In another the heroine was so horrible I couldn't find anything to like about her and seriously wondered why she was attractive to the hero. In the third the heroine was so insipid I had more fun staring at wallpaper than reading about her!

I read a lot, I read fast and I read across many genres. I also spend a LOT of time thinking about what makes a good heroine. And a LOT more time trying to get that into my books. 

So, here are my thoughts on heroines:

  • There has to be a reason for the hero to like your heroine. It has to be obvious, so that the reader can see it and they can like the heroine too.
  • The heroine has to have depth. By that I don't mean a clichéd angst ridden past that she needs to get over in order to enjoy her life. She needs to be well rounded. People have many complex reasons for why they make the choices they make. Your character has to have that too. A conflicted thought process is much more believable than having her traumatized by the death of her pet goldfish when she was ten.
  • The heroine needs character. I don't mean personality. Writers think that if they add little personality quirks to a character it gives them depth. It doesn't. It just makes them annoying. Chewing her lip every time she worries does not make a heroine believable. It doesn't make me care about her. I want to see her have genuine needs and concerns. I want to see her have values and beliefs that influence her life. I want to believe she has a world view that's unique to her and affects everything she does. I want to see her come to life on the page.
  • Being pretty is NOT a reason for me to have empathy with a character. One of the books I'm ranting about went on and on about how unusual and beautiful the completely unlikeable heroine was - as though that was enough to justify her behaviour and the hero's love for her. It isn't! It's shallow, annoying and boring.
  • Your heroine needs to be consistent! If, for twenty books of a series, a support character behaves one way, she has to behave that way when she becomes the lead character. I don't mean you can't develop her, or bring out qualities we haven't seen before. I do mean you can't completely change her then make up some pat reason why she's so different! If you do you've broken trust with the reader and they may not want to read you again. 
  • There has to be character development in the book. The heroine has to have changed in some way by the end of the story. We have to see how the plot, and her interaction with the hero, have had an effect on her. Otherwise she may as well be a plastic Barbie doll.

Writing any character who has depth, and is well rounded, is hard. Damn hard. It isn't something you can do to formula. It isn't something you can even achieve every time you write. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try! A great character that breathes on the page, that is so well developed they almost live, is someone a reader never forgets. It's the reason people reread books. It's the reason they care about your work. It's the reason I'm angry with offerings of half-baked heroines who are made up of cliché and shallow affectations! 

Okay. Deep breath. I feel better now. This rant is officially over! :D

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

ten reasons you'll wish you were Scottish...

1. The men wear kilts. And yes. They ALL look like this guy... ;)

2. The place is full of castles. More than enough for one each. Of course once you have one YOU get to pay to heat it!

3. You get to experience 4 distinct seasons - because everyone gets fed up with too much sun. Right??!

4.You can wear your tartan with pride. And if you don't want to wear it, you can force your pets to do it for you.

5. We're the only people in the world who know how to bring in the New Year properly! ;) It takes a massive street party, lots of fireworks and far too much whisky...

6. And after Hogmanay what better way to deal with your hangover, and bring in the new year, than to take a nice wee dip in a frozen Scottish river?

7. We have our own genuine monster. And no, Donald Trump doesn't count...

8. We have the sexiest accent on the planet. Here's an example. Gerard Butler could be talking about anything and you wouldn't care. Or possibly even notice!

9. There are never any queues for a toilet in Scotland and here's why:

10. And no matter what happens, we can always watch the historically accurate movie, Braveheart, and renew our sense of national pride! ;)

Friday, 13 February 2015

five friday favourites...romance novels

Decided to start a new series on my blog - five favourite things every Friday. I had this idea at 2 am this morning, when I couldn't sleep, so it must be brilliant! ;) I'm going with it anyway. 

So in honour of Valentine's day, I'm starting with my five favourite romance novels of all time. Enjoy!

In no particular order:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Okay, so this pick is a no brainer - who doesn't love Pride and Prejudice???! It's the first line that gets me every time: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." It sets a wonderful tongue in cheek tone and propels you right into the middle of the story. That's all the set up she needs. And it also gives you the theme of the book. That's a helluva first line!! I'm drooling with jealousy over it...

2. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Apart from the terrible casting, I didn't think the movie was that bad. Never mind that, we're talking about the book. No one, and I mean no one, does comedic timing like Janet Evanovich. If you want to write comedy study this book. She's a master at propelling you in one direction and then, with a short sentence, bringing you up short where you least expected to go. That's skill.

 this book on amazon

3. Dream a little dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

This book has it all - humour, heartbreaking emotion, great characters, entertaining plot and fab dialogue. The heroine is so well rounded that you feel you know her by page two. How many other writers can pull that off?! 

 this book on amazon

4. A hunger like no other by Kresley Cole

Love, love, love this book. It's so well written that I almost pass out with envy every time I read it! The characters are unusual and have depth - I mean who wouldn't want a man who rips off his own leg to get to you?! (Okay, I'll admit, that sounds disgusting, but the hero is a werewolf so we'll let him off this time...) The humour is fab too. I love the dialogue and the secondary characters. If you haven't read it, you really should! 

 this book on amazon

5. Lucky's Lady by Tami Hoag and French Silk by Sandra Brown (couldn't decide between them, so I'm putting them both in!)

These books have two things in common - amazingly drawn setting that's so atmospheric it sucks you into it and you feel you're right there with the characters. And great plotting - the kind that leaves your head spinning. Lucky's Lady was Tami Hoag's breakout novel and you can see where she's still learning the ropes. But it's all there - fab atmosphere, great characters and good plotting. You can totally see that she's finding her way forward as a crime writer, while still focusing on romance. A great book.

 this book on amazon 

Sandra Brown's French Silk is set in the same region as Lucky's Lady - the luscious New Orleans - and again uses the setting to layer atmosphere and depth throughout the story. A fabulously rich read that's halfway between romance and crime. I love it! 
 this book on amazon

So there you go - five (six!) favourite novels that I reread. They say that the sign of a great book is the fact you go back to it. I guess that makes these great books (in my humble opinion!)

So have a great Valentine's day and remember:

see you next week for more Friday favourites.

Friday, 6 February 2015

I'm giving away books!

Magenta Mine is out in paperback and I'm giving away 5 copies on Goodreads. 

To sign up click the cover image. Good luck! :)

 click to go to the giveaway page
click image to go to the giveaway page

Sunday, 1 February 2015

last week of the school summer holiday - a summary...

Two days until the new school year starts in New Zealand. After six weeks of hot weather and wall to wall kids, I'm more than ready for term to begin! Here are some events from the past week - just to explain why I'm desperate for school to start back:

My five year old got a hold of some facepaint and dyed her face green. So far I've tried soap, cleanser, eye makeup remover and washing liquid. Her face still has a green tint.

she won't let me take a photo of her, but this is pretty close!

My nine year old decided to make a spider's web out of duct tape in her bedroom doorway - to keep her sister out. Her hair got tangled in the tape and we had to cut her free.

again, not allowed to take photos of the damage

The cat brought in a new mouse every night - I think there may still be some hiding in the house. I spent hours trying to find them before giving up. If the mice want to be here that badly, then they can stay! Haven't told hubby though. He's still traumatised from the time the cat dumped a rat on him while he was sleeping. (Forgot to mention that the reason the cat was getting into the house with all the mice, when I'd locked him out - my nine year old felt sorry for him and unlocked his cat flap!)

One of the girl's friends left the gate open and the horses escaped. We spent an hour chasing them up and down our road.

A horse in Germany, doing some shopping.

I got distracted when taking about a million kids out for lunch and accidentally locked our sneaky pet chicken INSIDE the house while we were gone. I then spent the next day cleaning the carpet...

We're not are bad as this. Usually when a chicken is in my kitchen it's in a package!

My five year old keeps waking me up during the night to tell me that her stuffed toys are having a party. Apparently she can't sleep for the noise.

I wrote a whole chapter of my new book where I called the hero Lego...

My hero is a woman magnet just like this guy...

The kids were teaching the dog how to be a circus performer. I had to rescue her from the "trapeze" she was tied to. They were hoping she'd swing from tree to tree.

I'm NOT showing this to the kids!

I invited the girl's friends around to keep them occupied. One of the friends spent the day following me around talking to me instead of to my daughter. I now know more than I need to know about things you can do with Barbie's hair.
So tempting to shave all the Barbies...

My children wrote lovely little messages all over the white boards I use to plan my novels...

I love my kids. They're funny, entertaining and smart - amongst other things. But they need to go back to school!!! :D ;)

Monday, 5 January 2015

some things that make me giggle...

For no reason whatsoever, here are some things that make me giggle! Happy 2015. Hope it's a great year for you. :)

1. The Australian army! (not the whole army, but this is funny!) ;)

2. William Shatner and literal thinking, what more could you want?!

3. The worst bank robbery ever - and it was in Scotland!

"Robbing a bank isn’t quite as easy as it might look in the movies. That said, the three men involved in the attempted Rothesay bank robbery of 1975 probably handled the situation in the absolute worst way possible.
Upon first entering the bank, the unarmed trio managed to get stuck in the revolving doors after trying to push them the wrong way. At this point, it wasn’t clear that they were robbers, and the bank’s staff kindly helped them out of the predicament. Shortly afterwards though, they returned and demanded five thousand pounds.
Unfortunately for the robbers, they caught the staff at a bad time, who were still laughing among themselves about the revolving door incident. They thought that the robbers were just playing a practical joke, and didn’t take the demands seriously. Puzzlingly, the ‘gang’ leader lowered the demand to five hundred pounds, which was met with further laughter. To show he was serious, the leader jumped over the counter, fell, and twisted his ankle. In a panic, the others ran out of the revolving doors… only to get stuck again in the exact same way."

4. The french munitions guy who took over the ammunitions dept as a protest to get his job back...

This one boggles the mind. Did he honestly think the government would say, "give that guy his job back, let him take care of all the weapons, he's so stable..."???!

5. Tattoos that haven't been spellchecked...

6. Some contemporary art.

Okay, so I know this is off the wall and most of you are just shaking your heads right now and wondering if I need some medication! But this work is hilarious and I love it. I first saw it in an exhibition of contemporary Italian art at the Tate Modern years ago. In the corner of the vast gallery, was a tiny scene with a squirrel who'd had enough. You have to wonder at the workings of a mind that finds a dead squirrel and thinks: "I know exactly what to do with that." !:)

7. Photography accidents...

8. Animal photobombs...

world's worst wildlife photographer??

9. spelling mistakes tickle my funny bone.

10. headlines that really should be checked before going to print.

That's it for now. Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year's. :D