Wednesday, 24 June 2015

diary of a novel being written...

Day 1 - Last night I had the most amazing idea for a book. I woke my husband up with my laughing. The characters were chatting away in my head and they were hysterical. Can't wait to write it!

Day 2 - Can't remember most of the idea as I was half asleep when genius struck, but I have the gist of it. The characters are still chatting in my head, which helps. This book is going to be so much fun!

Day 10 - I have the plot and characters all worked out - I think! I wrote a detailed outline and I'm ready to start the actual writing. Can't wait.

Day 21 - Feel like I've written this already because the outline was so detailed. I'm a bit bored and worried the reader will be too.

Day 30 - Having a few plot problems and one of the characters isn't behaving the way she should. Added something else to the story and had to go back and rewrite chunks to make it work. Still going strong though.

Day 35 - The plot isn't working. There are huge holes in it and I don't know how that happened. I'm about halfway through the first draft, I've rewritten it about a million times and I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever finish this book.

Day 38 - I hate my Heroine. She's insipid.

Day 40 - This book is so shallow. It needs more depth. The plot has gone to hell in a hand basket. I have no idea what's going on or how to fix it.

Day 43 - This is the most stupid idea for a book that I've ever had!! Seriously. A chimpanzee with an iPad could write a better book than this. The characters suck, the plot is ludicrous, there are holes everywhere and as fast as I patch one up another one appears. I've taken out the sub-plot because I don't think it adds anything to the story and now the book is 20,000 words shorter!! I'm actually going backwards in the writing process. At this rate all I'll have left is a title. And, FYI, the title is crap too.

Day 44 - Couldn't face the book so I spent the day 'marketing' instead. It mainly involved liking all the cat videos on Facebook.

Day 45 - Made the mistake of reading reviews for my other books. Some of them are lovely making me think that I'll never write another book as good as the ones I've written. Then I reread the bad reviews. I DO SUCK!!! Why am I even writing???? WHY??? I don't know what I'm doing. I have no qualifications in this. What's the point??

Day 58 - Need to get back to the book. I took a few days off to think about it and spent my time watching Buffy reruns and reading books by people who actually can write. I will never write as well as Kresley Cole. Is there any point writing at all when other people do it so much better?

Day 60 - Okay. My husband has told me to get out of bed and get dressed. Apparently my angst is scaring children and animals. He says I'm overreacting. He says it's ONLY A BOOK??!!! Yeah, unfortunately, he has a point. I'm awake, I'm showered and I'm going to reread what I've written to see if it's salvageable. Deep breath. I can do it!

Day 61 - Relief. It's not as bad as I feared. There are some good scenes in the book and the structure, overall, isn't bad. It's going to take a lot of work and won't be brilliant, but I'll plod on and get it finished. I can't stand the thought of it hanging there. Plus the characters are still arguing in my head and the only way to get any peace is to write their damn story!

Day 70 - Feel like I've been beaten up. Every waking minute has been spent wrestling this book into submission. I'm making slow progress, although the writing quality still needs work - I used the word 'just' 17 times in one paragraph! Will fix that on the second draft. If I ever get there.

Day 80 - FIRST DRAFT DONE!!! It still needs a lot of work, but overall it isn't bad. It won't win any prizes, but it's possible I won't die of humiliation when its published.

Day 94 - Working my way through a second draft. Laughed myself silly at one scene. That's a good sign - right?

Day 98 -  Really pleased with the hero. The sex scenes aren't too cliched, which is good and the ending is a blast. Feeling cautiously optimistic about this one. Emphasis on the cautious.

Day 110 - I have a second draft!!! Now I need a bottle of wine and a bucket of chocolate.

Day 121 - Got the final draft done. Yay me!! Sending it to my editor.

Day 129-  My editor didn't vomit when she read the book so that's good. Not many changes to make. Really excited. Hoping people enjoy it. I would enjoy reading it and that says something- right?

Day 140 - The book is off to print. I think it's best if I don't read the reviews. Not sure my heart can take it. What if people hate it? What if they think its silly or stupid? Just expressed my anxiety to hubby who informed me the world would not end if people didn't like my book. I'm toying with writing a crime novel next, just so I can off him in it every time he says something stupid.

Day 141 - Time to forget about the book. It's out of my hands. Onto the next project. Last night I had the most amazing idea for a book...

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Calamity Jena out now!

It's release day and Calamity Jena is now available pretty much everywhere! If you've bought a copy then THANK YOU!!! I hope you really enjoy it. If you want a copy, there are links below. :D

amazonbuttonbn buttonBUY-NOW-Button-Kobodownload-on-itunes-button

let's talk about sex...

Lately, the sex scenes in the books I’ve been reading have annoyed me—and not because of the usual clich├ęd language and twisted attempts at coming up with new ways to describe nipples! They’re nipples people. We all have them. You don’t need a new way to describe them!!! And for the love of all things alcoholic, they are nothing like cherries. Please. No more cherry similes. Please... :D

Anyway, I’m straying off point here. The thing that annoys me most is the complete lack of purpose in the sex scenes I’m reading—other than the need to titillate. (Titillate! Funny word. Moving on…) It seems to me that a lot of writers are shoving sex scenes into their books just for the hell of it. Sure sex sells, but unless you’re writing straight erotica, where the intention is to titillate then there should be a reason for putting the scene in your novel.

So here are my thoughts on the matter. A sex scene in a good romance novel should do at least one, preferably more than one, of the following:

1. Move the plot forward

The scene isn’t there just for the sake of cramming some sex into the book, it’s there to build the story. If you can take the scene away and the story isn’t affected in the slightest, then you don’t need the scene. In that case, either you need to rewrite to get some plot into the scene or get rid of the scene.

2. Develop the characters

The scene should reveal something about the characters—and not just what they look like naked! It should give them emotional depth. It should reveal a little of what motivates them, or what they believe to be true about themselves. A sex scene is a good place to reveal a character's weakness or need. It’s also a good place to make them vulnerable, not necessarily to the other character in the scene, but definitely to the reader. If by the end of the scene you don’t feel you know the character better than you did at the start, then you don’t need the scene.

3. Deepen the relationship between the characters

If two characters have sex, it should change them in some way. Whether the scene causes a positive or a negative affect in the characters depends on what kind of book you're writing. Sex scenes are a good way to deepen the conflict in your story, or to deepen the emotional content of the relationship the characters have already established. We should see the impact they have on each other, and the affect that has on the story overall.

4. Enhance the love

Unless you’re writing erotica, romance novels are about love and happy endings. Every action in a sex scene should be constructed in such a way that it tells the reader that these two people are either falling in love or are already in love. Their passion should have depth and meaning.

5. Be character and story appropriate

I’m not against graphic descriptions or down and dirty language—if it fits the overall story and character development. If you have a Disney princess for a heroine and she suddenly starts behaving and talking like a porn queen then you have a sex scene that doesn’t fit your characters or your book. Put yourself inside the character’s head. Make the whole experience unique to them and don’t worry about squeezing in the language and description you’ve seen other writers use. Write to suit your story, not to suit what’s hot in the market right now.

6. Concentrate on emotion not description

Your reader knows that tab A fits into slot B. They know what nipples look like. And for the love of all thing chocolate please stop using the phrase ‘velvet over steel’ for anything to do with a penis!!! You aren’t writing a sex manual. You’re writing a love scene, an experience between two people that’s charged with hidden meaning, vulnerability and raw emotion. What’s more important? That the reader knows how big the hero’s dick is—in graphic detail—or that the reader knows how vulnerable he feels when he’s holding the woman who means more to him than any other?


7. Be unique

And I don't mean that you've to opt for descriptions of whacky situations or more extreme kinks. Having the hero and heroine get it on while flying on trapezes without a net isn’t going to make your scene stand out. (Well not in a good way anyway!) It isn’t the logistics that need to be unique; it’s the experience as seen through the eyes of those particular characters. Writing a sex scene isn’t one size fits all. Each character will react differently to each situation. What one person thinks while being intimate is different to another person’s thoughts. You need to make the experience unique to the characters. And in doing so you’ll give even the most boring missionary sex depth and sparkle.



Okay, that’s my thoughts on sex scenes.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Magenta Mine FREE on Amazon

Just a quick note to let you know that my Invertary novella, Magenta Mine, is FREE to download on Amazon over the next few days. So if you fancy trying one of my Scottish romantic comedies, now is the time! It also contains a sneak peak of the first chapter of Calamity Jena. Enjoy!



Tuesday, 9 June 2015

a rant about sleep deprivation

I’m in a mood. I can’t get any sleep and I’m like the Cranky Bear in the book. Yes, I’m referencing a kid's book. That’s how cranky I am. It's winter. I should be allowed to hibernate. At the very least I should be allowed to sleep!!!! This is the night I’ve just had:

10.30 pm I try to go to sleep. Husband's snoring sounds like a freaking fog horn. I try waking him by poking him in the side, tugging his duvet off him, coughing loudly and eventually get through to him by lobbing a pillow at his head.

11.15 pm Peanut cat wakes me up. She's sitting on my shoulder, giving my ear a wash. Get up. Wash ear. Turf cat out of room.

11.45 pm The dog is barking outside. I get up, drag on my gumboots and coat to investigate. The dog has taken offense to a possum in the grapefruit tree. The possum barks at me. The dog barks at the possum. I take the dog in the house and lock it in the laundry.

12.35pm I wake up to shouting. I rush into my five year old’s room. She’s put the light on and is standing in the middle of her room shouting at the ceiling. Apparently there’s something in the attic that’s scraping around and the noise is annoying her. I listen for the noise, half thinking she’s been dreaming. Yes, there’s a noise. No, I’m not going to crawl into the attic in the middle of the night to see what’s making it. It takes a while but I eventually get my irate girl back to bed.

1.25 am Just get to sleep, again, when there is howling in the kitchen. Charlie cat has brought in a mouse that’s now hiding behind the cooker. I throw Charlie in the laundry with the dog and shut the kitchen door. I don’t give a crap if the mouse eats its way through the pantry, I need to sleep.

2.05 am Five year old shouting at the ceiling again. Have explained, at length, that she needs to stop doing that.

3 am Husband is snoring. I’m visualising ways to shut him up that will involve a lengthy prison stay if I go through with them.

3.15 am Phone rings. Hubby’s work has called him by accident. Seriously!!!! The nurse manager on call says: “don’t worry, go back to sleep.” I WOULD IF I COULD!

4.20 am The cat and dog are fighting in the laundry. I’ve lost the will to live.

5 am My five year old wakes me up to tell me she’s solved the problem with the noise in the attic—she’s wearing earmuffs.

6 am Husband gets up. HE’S well rested. He wakes me up to give me a morning kiss. I think I hate him.

7.20 am My five year old wakes me. She wants me to plait her hair. I want to feed her the hairbrush.

8.30 am Hubby trying to get the kids out of the door for school. They all shout, repeatedly, outside my bedroom door. It goes like this:
Hubby: get your shoes on.
5 year old: I don’t know where they are
Hubby: how can you lose your shoes?
5 year old: I think the goat took them
Hubby: well wear your gumboots
5 year old: there’s a mouse in them…
I put my head under the pillow and scream. Loudly. No one seems to notice.

8.40 am They leave. They also don’t bother to shut the front door. The neighbour’s dog comes in and jumps on the bed beside me. I’m past caring. Let it jump. It eventually gets fed up and goes to find our dog. I drag myself out of bed to close the front door.

9.05 am Hubby comes home from the school run. He wakes me to tell me I can sleep.

I have now given up and I’m sitting her writing this while my eyes feel like they’ve been taken out and rolled in sand. The dog and Charlie cat are curled up around each other sound asleep. Hubby is in the attic hunting down the monster that’s making my daughter grumpy. I’ve told him that all creatures must be out of the attic by bedtime or I won’t be responsible for my actions. And as soon as I finish this, I need to go find the mouse that’s loose in the house. The animals have lost interest in it, so that leaves me to get the thing out of here.

If I’m lucky, I might get a nap later. With the mood I’m in, people better seriously hope I’m lucky!!


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

a guide to Scottish food

Found this quote on the internet:


 my theory is that all scottish cuisine is based on a dare

I agree with that 100% ! So here is my guide to Scottish cuisine.

Haggis


Scotland's national dish. Here's the official description:

"Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck; minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal's stomach and nowadays often in an artificial casing."

Doesn't that just scream "yummy in my tummy"??!!

Deep fried mars bar


"EATING a deep-fried Mars bar can raise the risk of having a stroke within minutes, doctors claim. Scotland’s unhealthiest snack – a whopping 1200 calories – is so full of fat that it slows the supply of blood to the brain. Experts say that men who already have narrow arteries are most in danger."
Well, duh!! I think it's especially funny that the article goes on to say it's mainly tourists who buy deep fried mar bars. Wonder if they mention the risk on the Scottish tourism website... 


Scotch pie


Bet you didn't know a pie could be political...

"Also known as mutton pies, these have a very long history. In the middle ages, they were frowned upon by the Scottish church, viewed as luxurious, decadent English-style food."

This is Betty's favourite snack in Lingerie Wars. 


Black pudding


Blood sausage. Need we say more. Yum. Yum. Best served fried in a vat of fat...


Potato scone

Also known as the tattie scone. Again, best served fried. (Are you picking up a pattern here? There's a reason the West of Scotland is known as the heart attack capital of the world!)


Scotch egg

Take a perfectly healthy freshly boiled egg. Wrap it in sausage. Coat in breadcrumbs and...you guessed it...deep fry it! 


Tablet

And for desert you can eat yourself into a sugar coma. Tablet is made from condensed milk, butter and a tonne of sugar. Always book an appointment with the dentist before consuming. 


Shortbread

Flour, sugar, butter. Heaven. A crisp, buttery biscuit that melts in your mouth. Perfect with a cup of tea. Right, I'm getting hungry now...



Irn Bru

Scotland's other national drink. There used to be an ad on TV that said: "Barr's Irn Bru, made in Scotland from girders." I suspect it wasn't just a marketing slogan. I suspect it was truth! It also stains everything it touches. There is no stain remover alive that will get rid of an Irn Bru stain. Trust me, I've tried them all!

Whisky

What can I say? After you eat all the stuff on this list you'll need some alcohol!


And that's it for my short guide to Scottish food. When trying to decide if a foodstuff is Scottish ask these questions:

Is it beige?
Is it full of butter or sugar?
Has it been fried?

If the answer is yes to more than one question, you've found another Scottish foodstuff! ;)







Wednesday, 27 May 2015

my mum


My mum wasn't much of a cook. If it wasn't frozen, came out of a can or could be fried, we didn't get it. I remember her joy in the 80s when individually wrapped cheese slices first came out. We got cheese burgers that night - from frozen of course - which would have been a lot tastier if she'd remembered to take the plastic off the cheese before grilling it! She was also a voracious reader, which often got in the way of her terrible cooking. Hence the years of kitchen fires and burnt offerings we were served for dinner.

When she wasn't reading, she was talking. She could talk to anyone, anywhere, asking questions no sane person would ask. She'd pry into their lives with a grin and a twinkle in her eye. A person's status in life meant little to my mum. When I graduated from art college in the fine art photography department. My mum handed the head of my department - an internationally renowned photographer - her tiny, cheap camera and demanded he take her picture with her daughter. He did it with a grin.

It was easy to make my mum laugh. We did it deliberately to get out of trouble. But if you didn't manage to make her laugh at your bad behaviour you had to move fast, or a flying slipper would get you. My mum had opinions on everything - even if she had to make one up - and she wasn't shy in sharing them. She also loved colour. Her wardrobe looked like a rainbow exploded in it, then a unicorn farted glitter all over it! She said black was for goths and satanists - which was a dig at my pretty much all black closet.  In her later years she was a Trekkie, a computer game addict and shameless evangelist. People on buses all over Glasgow heard all about one wee woman's faith - usually in a cheeky, irreverent manner.

My mum's sense of humour was wicked, often inappropriate and deeply hilarious. Laughing at the absurdity of life is something my sisters and I got from my mum. I have to say that there are very few situations where I can't find something to giggle about. Although, unlike my mum, I tend to keep a lot of these thoughts to myself. Which makes me look like a silent, grinning fool!


As you may have guessed, my mum passed away this month. As a writer I work through things with words. My words become little memorials to a time, a place or a person. That's why I'm writing this post. As a min-memorial to my mum. Her attitude can be summed up with this: in her last week in hospital, her room was flooded. The story made the newspaper. Instead of being irritated that her room had been filled with water and workmen while she'd been shifted about for the clean up, she was ecstatic about making the paper! She thought it was hilarious and hoped we'd frame the story after she was gone. I haven't done that yet, but I plan to. Unfortunately, the ability to procrastinate with flair is also a trait I inherited from my mum, so who knows when that will happen!