Sunday, 30 April 2006

And now for something completely different...

I’m a huge fan of Strictly Dance Fever. For those of you not in

the UK, this is a show similar to “Dancing with Stars” only there are no professional dancers and no celebrities. It’s just raw talent.

After rounds of auditions (think Pop Idol/American Idol) dancers are put into pairs and ten couples go to live in a mansion for the duration of the show (or until they are booted out). Each week the couples learn one of two dance styles for the Saturday show. The styles are broader than the ballroom dancing version, with many great dances to choose from: the jive, jitterbug, rock and roll, charleston, argentine tango, hustle, lindyhop, salsa, lambada – you name it, they try it.

The rest of the format is fairly familiar. The couples dance; the judges give their verdict (the judges get booed.); the public vote, and someone goes home in tears. £50,000 and a professional dance contract is the prize everyone is hoping for.

It’s totally addictive. This show isn’t a way of raising their profile and getting a couple more TV presenting jobs – it’s their dream, their passion! And as the weeks go on, you start to find out why the contestants want to win this competition so badly, and their stories grip you round the throat and won’t let you go. Love it.

Anyway, this year I am cheering for Darren and Lana! I’ve been rooting for Lana from the get go, because my best friend is Lana’s ballet teacher. I was prepared to cheer Lana and partner on, no matter what, but thankfully, they are a very talented pair and deserve all the jumping up and down on the sofa I do.

So what are you waiting for?

0901 121 2408

Friday, 21 April 2006

Champagne and celebrations

I had a great time yesterday at the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year awards lunch at the Savoy. It was great to meet up with people I knew and chat to people I didn’t. And, of course, eat nice food and see the awards presented.

The main award went to Erica James for her book, “Gardens of Delight”. I was keen to see who won the “Romance” award for short romantic fiction. I was seated next to the winner, Jessica Hart (a fellow Tender romance author) for “Contracted: Corporate Wife”. I really enjoyed this book and loved the fact that the heroine, Lou, was 45.

Jessica Hart accepting her award

I also had some good news of my own. Just as well I had a glass of champagne in hand to celebrate with! I sold my monster - the Luke and Gaby book that I’ve blogged about recently. And much to my surprise, apart from dropping the prologue, it’s going through without any revisions. Seems all that ripping apart and putting back together paid off in the end. And my editor is right, I think it is a stronger book for all the changes.

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

My profile

My "new author" profile is up on!

Click here to see it it.

Friday, 14 April 2006

The birth of an idea

Many writers have likened writing a book to giving birth. My fellow M&B author, Trish Wylie, said that writing one of her books was like giving birth to a pineapple. Ouch!

My second book (still no title), while I’m not sure has been a pineapple, has been hard work. The dreaded “second book syndrome” hitting, probably. Certainly, in the end stages, I was reminded of how I felt when giving birth, and it led me to musing over the analogy further.

I see the ideas stage as the gestation period. That stage when you’re all full of hope and excitement and isn’t-it-going-to-be-wonderful, forgetting that there is some hard graft (and pain and tears) ahead. Thankfully, the ideas stage doesn’t need to take nine months for me.

I may have a handful of story embryos floating around my head, but that doesn’t mean all of them will actually make it to the fully-fledged story stage. For example, I’m whittling down the shortlist for my next story at the moment. There are three contenders:

1. A story idea I got while watching a documentary more than a year ago about people getting trapped in their cars on the motorway during a snow storm.
2. A spin-off story from my first book featuring the pink-haired best friend, Cassie.
3. Something I thought of last week while at Kew Gardens.

What generally happens is that I have other ideas floating around my head (or scribbled in the margin of my notebook) and these will lock in to the main ideas. Maybe this is the moment of conception – when the idea starts to become something more solid with a real possibility of a future.

For example, I may have an idea I want to write a very independent, feisty heroine, or I may want to do a reunion story where the couple have a shared history. Idea number one is a story line that will work with a couple getting back together. Fancy being trapped in a snow-bound car with your soon-to-be ex-husband. Think of all the conflict! Yum.

So really, I think my ideas are more like snowballs than babies as they grow. They start off with a little “what if” and pick up other little snippets of ideas as they roll down the hill and gather momentum.

My first book, Blind-Date marriage, came together in exactly the same way. I had an idea that I wanted to write a very imaginative, creative hero, who was denying that side of his personality. I also had an idea for a slightly off-beat heroine, who had an unconventional life and yearned for the kind of family she sees on TV commercials. These two people were such opposites, it seemed fitting to make them fall in love with each other and watch them struggle with how to be together.

So all this was floating around in my head when, one day, I was driving in the rain, and I went through what looked like a shallow puddle, but as the car wheel hit it, it sprayed water up in the air and soaked someone walking along the pavement. I felt awful! But that anonymous person had suffered for the sake of my art (Fiona, get over yourself!). What a great way for a hero and heroine to meet. Where would they be going? How would this affect their evening? It was at this point I knew the story had legs and I should write it.

As for the next part of the process, I’ll blog about that another time…