Saturday, 23 January 2016

new book out leap day!

Here Comes The Rainne Again will be out Leap Day. You can preorder it now, there are links below, as well as a bit about the book. Happy reading when you get it!!
Kirsty has planned the perfect Leap Day wedding.
And it’s all falling apart…
The Scottish Highlands are in the middle of the worst snow storm in decades. Cell towers are down, electricity is out and roads are closed.  In true Invertary style the town’s folk have decided to ignore the weather and carry on with the party. Kirsty is at the castle, in the middle of her hen-night and having second thoughts about the wedding. Lake is enduring his stag-do at the town’s only pub, helpfully organised by his ‘best man’ eighty-nine year old Betty. Rainne, Lake’s sister, has come back to town after three years away to not only attend the wedding, but to see if Alastair will give her a second chance to love him. Oh yeah, and a whole bunch of men with guns have surrounded the castle!
The castle is under siege. The town is under snow. The men are stuck at the pub and the women are on their own. With emotions running high, snow falling hard and lives on the line, the residents of Invertary are about to stage the wedding of the century.
PLEASE NOTE: Unlike the rest of the books in my Invertary series, this one isn’t a standalone novel. Here Comes The Rainne Again follows up on the characters in the first book in the series—Lingerie Wars. Because of this, I recommend that you read Lingerie Wars before Here Comes The Rainne Again, otherwise you might get a bit lost—and we don’t want that. Lucky for you, Lingerie Wars is currently free to download!
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Monday, 14 December 2015

writing advice from Sarah Waters

I like these rules for writing. Some good advice in here, courtesy of Sarah Waters. Enjoy! :D

1. Read like mad. But try to do it analytically – which can be hard, because the better and more compelling a novel is, the less conscious you will be of its devices. It’s worth trying to figure those devices out, however: they might come in useful in your own work. I find watching films also instructive. Nearly every modern Hollywood blockbuster is hopelessly long and baggy. Trying to visualize the much better films they would have been with a few radical cuts is a great exercise in the art of story-telling. Which leads me on to . . .
2. Cut like crazy. Less is more. I’ve ­often read manuscripts – including my own – where I’ve got to the beginning of, say, chapter two and have thought: “This is where the novel should actually start.” A huge amount of information about character and backstory can be conveyed through small detail. The emotional attachment you feel to a scene or a chapter will fade as you move on to other stories. Be business-like about it. In fact . . .
3. Treat writing as a job. Be disciplined. Lots of writers get a bit OCD-ish about this. Graham Greene famously wrote 500 words a day. Jean Plaidy managed 5,000 before lunch, then spent the afternoon answering fan mail. My minimum is 1,000 words a day – which is sometimes easy to achieve, and is sometimes, frankly, like shitting a brick, but I will make myself stay at my desk until I’ve got there, because I know that by doing that I am inching the book forward. Those 1,000 words might well be rubbish – they often are. But then, it is always easier to return to rubbish words at a later date and make them better.
4. Writing fiction is not “self-­expression” or “therapy”. Novels are for readers, and writing them means the crafty, patient, selfless construction of effects. I think of my novels as being something like fairground rides: my job is to strap the reader into their car at the start of chapter one, then trundle and whizz them through scenes and surprises, on a carefully planned route, and at a finely engineered pace.
5. Respect your characters, even the ­minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story; it is worth thinking about what your minor characters’ stories are, even though they may intersect only slightly with your protagonist’s. At the same time . . .
6. Don’t overcrowd the narrative. Characters should be individualized, but functional – like figures in a painting. Think of Hieronymus Bosch’s Christ Mocked, in which a patiently suffering Jesus is closely surrounded by four threatening men. Each of the characters is unique, and yet each represents a type; and collectively they form a narrative that is all the more powerful for being so tightly and so economically constructed. On a similar theme . . .
7. Don’t overwrite. Avoid the redundant phrases, the distracting adjectives, the unnecessary adverbs. Beginners, especially, seem to think that writing fiction needs a special kind of flowery prose, completely unlike any sort of language one might encounter in day-to-day life. This is a misapprehension about how the effects of fiction are produced, and can be dispelled by obeying Rule 1. To read some of the work of Colm Tóibín or Cormac McCarthy, for example, is to discover how a deliberately limited vocabulary can produce an astonishing emotional punch.
8. Pace is crucial. Fine writing isn’t enough. Writing students can be great at producing a single page of well-crafted prose; what they sometimes lack is the ability to take the reader on a journey, with all the changes of terrain, speed and mood that a long journey involves. Again, I find that looking at films can help. Most novels will want to move close, linger, move back, move on, in pretty cinematic ways.
9. Don’t panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends’ embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there’s prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.
10. Talent trumps all. If you’re a ­really great writer, none of these rules need apply. If James Baldwin had felt the need to whip up the pace a bit, he could never have achieved the extended lyrical intensity of Giovanni’s Room. Without “overwritten” prose, we would have none of the linguistic exuberance of a Dickens or an Angela Carter. If everyone was economical with their characters, there would be no Wolf Hall . . . For the rest of us, however, rules remain important. And, ­crucially, only by understanding what they’re for and how they work can you begin to experiment with breaking them.
(This was first published in the Guardian)
Sarah Waters' FingersmithAbout Sarah Waters
Sarah Waters was born in Wales in 1966. She has written five novels: Tipping the Velvet (1998), which won the Betty Trask Award; Affinity (1999), which won the Somerset Maugham Award, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday / John Llewellyn Rhys Prize; Fingersmith (2002), which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize, and won the South Bank Show Award for Literature and the CWA Historical Dagger; The Night Watch (2006), which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize; and The Little Stranger (2009), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the South Bank Show Literature Award.
She was included in Granta’s prestigious list of ‘Best of Young British Novelists 2003’, and in the same year was voted Author of the Year by both publishers and booksellers at the British Book Awards and the BA Conference, and won the Waterstone’s Author of the Year Award. Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith have both been adapted for BBC television.

Friday, 11 December 2015

book news!

There’s been a change of plans! I was in the middle of writing Mitch’s story, when Kirsty and Lake from Lingerie Wars (Invertary Book 1) decided it was time to get married. To be fair, they have been engaged for three years. ;) They’re getting married on Valentine’s day and Lake’s sister Rainne is coming back to the Highlands for the wedding. It’s been three long years since Rainne walked out on Alastair. I wonder if he’s still there waiting for her? And I wonder if they’re still the same people who fell in love the first time around? mmmm….
In the meantime, all I can tell you is that the wedding is chaos, Kirsty is keeping a secret and Betty has a big part to play on the day. Keep an eye out for more news soon. Preorder links coming your way as soon as I’ve sorted them out!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Bad Boy - early release!

Bad Boy will be out this Saturday the 14th. That's 14 days early people, which I think deserves a round of applause! wink emoticon Here are the preorder links:
B+N should be up soon.

Happy reading when you get it! grin emoticon

Friday, 6 November 2015

Book Makeover

One of my older romantic comedy books, The Davina Code, has received a makeover. It's now called Action and looks like this:

It's on sale for 99 cents at Amazon right now. So if you haven't already read it, now's a good time! :D

Monday, 5 October 2015

writing advice from my kids...

As you know, I write contemporary romance novels with a humorous bent. Obviously, I don't let my ten year old and six year old daughters read my work - as I keep telling them, the books are for grown ups. The fact my kids haven't read anything I've written doesn't stop them from giving me "helpful" advice and I thought it was selfish of me not to share it.

So, if you're a writer, listen up! Here are some conversations I've had with my kids (most of which have appeared on my Facebook page. If you want to read about these as they happen, go over and "like" my page. No doubt the advice featured below won't be the last I receive!)

Choose your genre wisely

My 10 year old daughter:  Why do you write books?
Me:  It's my job.
10 year old:  What do you write about?
Me:  Boys and girls falling in love.
10 year old, with look of disgust:  Why are you writing about that? Can't you get a better job?
Then followed a half hour lecture on why I should write books like Harry Potter... 

Think carefully about the words you use

6 year old:  My teacher told me that you need to use fast words to write a good story.
Me:  What are fast words?
6 year old:  "and" "the" "it"  - that sort of thing. Are you using them?
Me:  Yes.
6 year old looking over my shoulder and pointing randomly at the screen:  Put another "and" there. That bit needs more "the"s.
Me, picking up six year old and depositing her outside my office door:  Thanks. I'll keep that in mind.
6 year old shouting through closed door:  Don't forget to use a full stop. Put one at the end of your story. You need one there.

Ask yourself, is the romance genre really enough?

Ten year old:  So they just get together and kiss and stuff. Is that it? That's the story?
Me:  There's a bit more to it than that.
Ten year old:  Like what?
Me, head beginning to ache:  They deal with their pasts, issues they may have and they deal with the trials that come up in the story.
Ten year old:  That still sounds boring mum. They need to go on an adventure. In the books I read they always go on an adventure.
Me:  Thanks for the input.
Ten year old:  And solve a mystery. They need to solve a mystery. In Famous Five they always solve mysteries. Have you added one?
Me, gritting teeth:  Not yet.
Ten year old:  And a dog. If you add a dog he'll help your characters with their mystery and their adventure. Just make sure you don't write in any wells. Dogs are always falling down wells.
Me:  You must have time on your hands. Have you cleaned your room yet?
Ten year old disappears...

Book length is important

6 year old:  How many pages are in your book?
Me:  About 300
6 year old:  Is that a lot?
Me:  It's about average for a book like this.
6 year old:  Are there any pictures?
Me:  It isn't that sort of book.
6 year old with look of utter disgust:  Mum, I thought you said you were a proper writer. How can you write proper books if it's just lots of pages filled with words? You need picture in it or nobody will want to read it. I thought you knew that!
6 year old stomps out of my office. Half an hour later she comes back and dumps a pile of paper in front of me.
6 year old:  I made you some pictures for your book. I have to do everything around here.
6 year old rolls eyes and stomps back out. 
The drawings were of hearts, elephants and trees. She's still upset they aren't in my books.

Question your motivation

Ten year old:  Mum do you have to be a writer? Is papa forcing you to do it?
Me:  This isn't homework. I want to do it.
Ten year old:  Why? Hardly anybody reads your books anyway.
Me:  Thanks for the chat. Now I need to go put my head in the oven...

If all else fails...

Ten year old:  What's your book about?
Me:  An ex-footballer trying to live down his past and a single mother who is starting over.
Ten year old:  It sounds awful serious, mum.
Me:  No, there are funny bits too.
Ten year old:  Are there any platypuses in the book?
Me:  ?????
Ten year old:  I'd love to read a book with a platypus. But it would need to be the hero, or something important. Maybe you should add a platypus? I'm telling you, mum, people love to read about them. It would make your book great.
Me:  I'll think about that...never...
Ten year old:  Are you worried that you won't be able to explain why there's a platypus in your Scottish town?

Me (ushering her out of the room and far, far away):  Yes. That's "exactly" what I'm worried about...(???)

That's it for now. I'm sure if you follow all of that advice you'll be a much better writer. Oh, and if you have some wonderful advice you've been given, don't forget to let me know! :D

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

I'm coming out of the closet...

...about my taste in music! 

According to pretty much everyone I know, I have terrible taste in music. Last week someone asked me what I listen to while I write. Apparently this is the in-thing right now, having a playlist for your characters or books. I fluffed an answer, something I thought might be current enough that it wouldn't get me booed out of the cool author playground. Then I realized, I'm not cool enough to be in that playground in the first place! I should hold my head high. I should own my own damn taste in music - hence this coming out! :) 

So what do I listen to that is so embarrassing? Well, according to a survey I did on Facebook the other day, while I was *ahem* researching, I have the musical taste of a 96 year old! (It was one of those surveys where they guess your age based on what you read/listen to/eat - you get the idea. And for the record, I have the reading habits of a 20 year old, so I guess it evens out!) 

So here it is: I am currently listening to Julie London's greatest hits, a Doris Day compilation album and Dusty Springfield, when the mood strikes.

Yes. I am really this sad.

I'm not even one of those retro music buffs who extols the virtues of Dinah Washington or Ella Fitzgerald. I'm not that cool. There aren't many hip blog posts about Bing Crosbie, yet I could probably name everything he ever sang! (I've just realised my use of "cool" and "hip", might have given away my taste in music anyway...I suddenly have the urge to google whether young people these days still use those words... The survey was right - I am 96!)

As an aside here,  Calamity Jane is still one of my all time favorite movies and I don't care who knows!

Okay, moving on...

Sometimes, just to prove I live in this century I listen to Adele, or that one song by Hozier. But to be honest I only noticed the Hozier song because it came with this video.

A while ago I started listening to U2's Joshua Tree Album. My sister said: "Congratulations. You've discovered the 80s." Up until then, ABBA was probably the most current music I'd noticed. And yes, I did just put ABBA and U2 in the same paragraph. 

So that's it. My big confession for this week. I am a closet easy listener. There. I've said it. There's no taking it back now... I am officially out of the closet.

p.s. while I'm in confessing mode. I also love Michael Buble. And yes. I am a middle aged housewife... (hangs head in shame...) ;)