Saturday, 28 October 2006

First page challenge

Julie Cohen is blogging about creating character and conflict in the very first page of a book and has thrown out a challenge to other authors to show how they do it. I accept that challenge, Ms Cohen!

Silhouette Romance/M&B Romance Dec 06

Jake knew only two things about the woman he was going to meet: her name was Serena and her father had money.
We know instantly that Jake is on his way to meet a stranger. Who is she? Why is he going to meet her?

Serena. Sounded kind of horsey. She probably wore jodhpurs. Mel had refused to comment on whether she was pretty or not, so she probably looked like a horse as well. He could see it so clearly: the gymkhana trophies, the chintzy bedroom. Serena wore her mousey hair in a bun and had too many teeth.
Uh-oh. Jake has a problem with a runaway imagination. Making assumptions like this is going to get him into trouble.

He stepped off the kerb of the busy London street and weaved through the gaps in the traffic. Headlights lit up his knees as he squeezed between the bumpers. A horn blared. That’s why he liked to walk. It gave him a sense of freedom in the midst of the cloying traffic. He wasn’t about to take orders from anyone, especially not a pole with coloured lights on top.
He’s also a very self-contained kind of guy and likes to be completely in charge of his universe. He likes playing life by his own rules.

Hopefully, I've set up the feeling that Jake's blind date is going to be completely different from what he's expecting and hinted that he seems ripe to have his tidy world turned upside down.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Finally got around to reading some more of my time managment book. Now, I know I will finish it deciding I am a total convert and will never leave a speck of dust unattacked in my house for more than ten seconds, but in reality I will probably find a few good ideas that fit in with my life and take those on board.

First bit of work to do was read through all the handy little tips scattered throughout the text and find seven I thought I could put into practice. For example:
  • Exercise while you watch TV. - Yeah, always mean to do this, but my brand new squashy leather sofa is far too tempting while catching up on my regular fix of trashy TV (America's Next Top Model).
  • Take yourself off junk mail lists. - feeling very virtuous. Done this already.
  • Do small jobs as they come up; don't put them off. - Whoops. Not feeling so virtuous now.
  • Record TV programmes to watch later, cutting out the adverts. - Sorry, not that desperate (or that sad) to gain an extra fifteen minutes in each day. Will not be able to hold out during Grey's Anatomy anyway.
  • Buy a sound activated device for your keys. Think how much time you've wasted over the years looking for them.

Two weeks ago I would have thought this was wisdom itself, as I am always frantically searching for my keys at school pick-up time/leave for work time/most of the time, but when I read this tip while having a bath, I laughed so hard I almost created a tsunami.

Only that afternoon I had dismantled on of these cursed (pronounced curse-ed to get an accurate sense of my fury) things after ripping it from my keyring. I had only had it for a week and it was driving me slowly insane. Whistling set it off all right, but so did:

  • High-pitched squeaks from number two daughter.
  • High-pitched squeaks from number one daughter (slightly less frequent).
  • My laugh (anyone who has heard me in full giggle will know how loud it is).
  • Me shouting at the kids. (Of course, this is theorectical; I never shout at my little cherubs).
  • Other random noises.
  • My husband's constant whistling. (Never realised he did it so much until last week).

On the other hand, I discovered I had lost the ability to whistle and the hoarse little noise I managed to produce only set it off now and again - and then when I was close enough to see my keys anyway.

So, for a week, I put up with my pocket going beep, beep, beep-beep, beep-beep-beep on a pretty constant basis every time I set foot in the school gates to drop off/pick up my daughters. The up side was that everyone thought they were text message beeps and suddenly I seemed the most popular mum in the playground.

The final straw came when I popped into my next-door neighbour's house for a little birthday celebration for the elderly man on our road who had just turned ninety. He was very happy to be invited round for chocolate cake and a cup of tea with a bunch of thirty-something women, even if we had at least eleven children (ranging from three months to nine years) racing in and out of the kitchen and pushing each other off the trampoline/climbing frame/grass in the back garden.

At first, the beeping of my keyring was an amusing talking point but, since it was set off about once every minute for three-quarters of an hour, I started fantasising about drowning it in my tea and then stamping on it in the manner of an enraged Daffy-Duck.

I will just have to go back to the frantic key searching. It's a whole lot less stressful than saving the extra five minutes looking for them maybe once a fortnight.

Saturday, 21 October 2006


Adele and Nick's story has sold - and as the first book in a three-book contract. Hooray! I now have deadlines. Not-so-hooray.

My working title for the book was Magic Hour, but the actual title will be Break Up To Make Up. I like it - it sounds young and fresh and a little bit different. It'll be hitting the shelves next August.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Losing it.

Still haven't blogged about how I got into focus with my revisions, have I? Life keeps getting in the way of my writing. Good news is, my editor says the revisions were great. Phew.

And, kangarooing onto a different subject all together, I found my time management book. I'd actually put it away in the bookcase. Now, that would seem to be the obvious place to look, wouldn't it? But, before you all say "Doh!", I hardly ever put a book back on the shelf unless I've finished it. If I'm still reading it, it will probably be either on my bedside table, on the window sill next to the bath, in my handbag or buried under the junk my family seems to create without even trying. Must have had been inspired by the book and had a moment of uncharacteristic tidiness.

Would it be even sadder to tell you I lost a brand new pair of shoes still in their box? Not surprsingly, I found them in the bottom of my wardrobe. That's the thing about being organised. It puts my whole chaotic system out of order.

Friday, 13 October 2006

Being too clever for my own good.

Revisions on “Magic Hour” are completed. Phew!

Sections of this book were pig-awful to write. Funnily enough, those were the sections I had to revise. D’ya think I should have cottoned on to that at the time? I shall certainly watch out for that on the next wip.

In my efforts to create a multi-layered conflict I had, in fact, just created clutter. Too much bickering, my editor said. She was right. They were stuck in car arguing about who did the laundry quite a lot. Zzzzzz.

I had wanted to introduce little niggles that were symptoms of the bigger problems, but all I’d ended up doing was muddying the waters. In the end, I hadn’t spent enough time on the central issues and there were some nice things that I could have developed more, but didn’t have the space.

At first I just started going through the ms cutting a sentence here, adding a phrase there, but the whole thing felt a bit disjointed and pasted together. And the sections I had problems with were still giving me a headache. I still wasn’t bringing the central conflict into the forefront.

I was too close. I needed to get away from the words and sentences level of doing things and concentrate on the big picture. More on this tomorrow…

Monday, 9 October 2006

Revisions, revisions, revisions

I'm in the depths of revisions for Magic Hour. Brain similar to noodle soup.

I'm struggling a bit to juggle two jobs, two kids and running a household so I bought a book called "Time Management for Manic Mums". Lost it in the mess before I'd finished chapter one. Says it all, really.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

I'm not here

I'm avoiding my blog.

I'm in a post-book slump. My brain cells have all gone into hibernation and I have nothing interesting to say.

However, a new idea is staring to brew. I have a pink-haired heroine and a stuffy hero. This one could be fun...