Saturday, 27 November 2010

Almost there

Have just written 'The End' in my notebook. (Cue triumphant playing of the Hallelujah Chorus). All I have to do now is type up the last 4000 or so words of the book.

I had a writing frenzy last night and this morning, and I have finally finished. The idea for this book has been in my head for over two years now, and I've loved writing it (hope my editor likes it as much), but I am so relieved to have it out of me. Now I just need to tweak and polish and make it as shiny as can be before I hand it in.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Cover Love - round 2

I have total, total cover love for my next UK release, Three Weddings And A Baby:

How fabulous is that? For those of you who have read Invitation To The Boss's Ball, this is Jennie's story. She was the hero's sister in that book, and she left the hero in the lurch by eloping to Las Vegas, and then returns weeks later without a ring on her finger or a husband on her arm. A plot idea like that was too good to pass up!

Here are the rest of the lovely Riva covers for February 2011:

Sunday, 21 November 2010

RNA winter party

I attended the RNA's winter party a couple of days ago. This being the RNA's 50th anniversary, the party was the last in a long string of events to celebrate that fact. Since we hadn't had anything that celebrated our wonderful New Writers' Scheme, this was a theme for the party.

Anyone who had been published through the scheme was given a brightly-coloured little Christmas bow to wear, and anyone who had won the New Writers' Award (as I had done in 2006) was given a great bit sparkly bow to wear. People commented on mine all evening an then I had to explain why I was wearing it, so it was great advertisement for the scheme.

I took my camera with me, but gave up after a few fuzzy attempts. Thankfully, the RNA had hired a wonderful photographer to do the honours for us, and all the pics in this post are her work (contact details at the end).

Don't we all look as if we're having a marvellous time?

Here are the NWS Award Winners who were present at the party:

Just a fraction of the people who have been offered a publishing contact after going through the scheme:

Photos courtesy of Marte Lundby Rekaa of MLR Photo:

Friday, 19 November 2010

The First Hundred Words

Look! I found my missing blog post (it's a long story I won't bore you with), so here it is:

I attended a great workshop called ‘First Hundred Words Challenge’, given by the wonderful Julie Cohen at an RNA South East Chapter meeting. Most of us took along the first hundred words of our work in progress and Julie read them aloud and we discussed them (constructively and respectfully, of course).

We looked at whether those first hundred words conveyed the type and genre of book, who the main character was and even that short paragraph or so hinted at the coming conflict. And most of the time it did. It was amazing just how much you can pack into such a tiny word count.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about my first hundred words even before I (ver bravely) took my print out to the workshop. I’d dithered between writing my current book in the third person and the first person, and my beginning reflects that. And while I usually start my stories right in the middle of the action with one of my main characters, this time I haven’t.

I tried that approch with the very first version of scene one and it just didn’t work. It felt as if I’d arrived with a bump in an alien world, rather than getting a tantalising glimpse of a character I wanted to know more about. Too much all at once. So I tried something different: I imagined it a bit like a movie scene, where the camera starts off wide and then zooms in slowly on the heroine. (Yes, already I can hear some of you tutting and murmering ‘newbie mistake’, but even slightly more experienced writers can fall into the same old pot-holes – but that’s a whole ‘nother post…)

Here’s my first hundred words as they stand at the moment:

Deep in the heart of Greenwich, under the watchful eye of the Royal Observatory on top of the hill, is a neat row of cream Georgian buildings. The ground floor of each boasts a shop or a boutique of some sort that caters to the diverse local population.

Right on the corner, near the park, is the all-organic coffee shop where the Yummy Mummies hang out. If you go there mid-morning, the floor space is cluttered with high-tech pushchairs and the air is filled with lively debate on the merits of the local private nurseries.

It’s okay. It does what I’d intended it to do. The next couple of hundred words describe the other shops in the row until we finally focus in on my heroine. It gives a good sense of setting, a hint at my narrator’s personality, but the more I listened to other people’s beginnings, I realised the one I had wasn’t the one I wanted. I wanted a first line that grabbed. I want the first paragraph to be bursting with my heroine’s character because, for me, Coreen is this story.

Interestingly enough, as we discussed each other’s beginning paragraphs, sometimes we found that a perfect first line was hiding away further down the page. I mulled over this for a few days and then went hunting in my first chapter to see if I had a zingy first line. I found a few that might have potential:

A girl’s gotta keep herself in lipstick and stockings somehow.

In my opinion, a pinkie finger isn’t properly dressed unless it’s got a man comfortably wrapped around it—and I always make sure I’m impeccably dressed.

I discovered early in life that an ample chest and a well-timed pout can get a girl just about anything she wants.

Much better. There's a real sense of who my heroine is, and just how many men she likes to eat for breakfast, right from the get-go. Am I going to use one of these? Maybe. I’m going to go back and tinker with my beginning once I’ve finished my first draft. But whatever I end up with, I want to try and zap readers with a beginning, brimming with personality, that hooks them in and refuses to let them go.

No pressure, then. Sigh.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Me at the Pink Heart Society

Today I'm blogging over at the Pink Heart Society about my one secret obsession. Come on over and find out what it is...

Saturday, 13 November 2010


My husband has a nickname for me. Every time he sees me reading he says, "Alright, Edna?" Edna being short for Edna Book. (If you're scratching your head and saying 'huh?', let me elaborate: if you say this with a broad London accent it could be translated as 'head in a book'.)

Since I've started writing as well as reading, however, I find I am two different kinds of Edna. There's the Edna who can't hear/see anything because she's absorbed by the story she's reading, and there's the Edna who is living so much in the fantasy world of her own book that real-life details starts to get fuzzy and all jumbled up.

I know I've turned into Edna 2 recently because I've started doing stupid things. There are a couple of incidents that have already drifted into the memory fog, but I clearly remember jumping up from my desk one afternoon in the middle of a writing session, and reminding myself out loud that I must not forget to pick my youngest up from school. (Guilty as charged on previous occasions, your honour.)

Like a good little mummy, I put on my coat, picked up my keys and dashed round the corner to the local primary school.
It was only as I came to halt in the playground that I realised I no reason to be there. Yes, my daughter needed picking up - but not for another two hours, as she was attending an after-school club. See what I mean? Edna.

Now I've stumbled on another blip in the space-time-writing continuum. I wrote a blog post about book beginnings after attending a 'First 100 words challenge' workshop taken by
Julie Cohen. Thought of a sequel just now, so I went back to look at the origninal post. Is it up on my blog? Is it heck! I have no idea what happened to it! Swallowed by a black hole probably. And not the one in my head.

Sigh. I know it's not going to get any better before deadline day, so the rest of you might as well just call me Edna too.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Great Covers and Fab News

Firstly, before too many words fill the page, I have to show you this:

Isn't that gorgeous? It's the cover to Blind Dates And Other Disasters, an anothology coming out in January 2011, featuring my first ever book, Blind-Date Marriage, which was not only nominated for two RITAs, but won the RNA's New Writers' Award. Not only that, but it contains Ally's Blakes fabulous first book, The Wedding Wish (best first and last line ever!) and Barbara Hannay's The Blind-Date Surprise, with a seriously sexy professor hero.

And, in other good news, I have just discovered that Housekeeper's Happy-Ever-After has been nominated for Best Harlequin Romance in the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards!