Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I won't post any spoilers here in case others were as slow as me and haven't finished but I have to say I loved it. I loved it for many reason but the most was reading in tandem with my eldest ds who is dyslexic. Two years ago when the last book was out we read the book together - I read ten pages he read two. It was a wonderful experience that we both treasure. This year after the opening chapter he took and the read the book himself while I read his brother's copy. He didn't need me any more but still wanted to discuss everything in great detail. Last night after dinner and we sat at the table and discussed the best bits for each one of us and it was brilliant. At times like this I thank God for ds1's perseverance and not giving up on reading because it was so bloody hard. Somehow along the way he found the strength to keep going and loves books now and knows their joy. HP was a joy and even more so to share with him. So a huge thank you to JK.

Monday, July 30, 2007

RNA Conference Part 6

The sun is shining here so I am trying to post this quickly so I can take the kids to the beach! Thanks for the good vibes on the submissions and the commiserations on the hang over - it lasted until Saturday evening. Boy am I getting old.

The next session at the RNA Conference was Anita Burgh 'Controlling Viewpoint'. Before I put the summary below I will qualify that this was absolutely fabulous but as it was the last session of the day i was pretty brain dead at this point!

Anita began that controlling viewpoint is critical to success and decisions made about this can make or break a novel.

Her first points were:
- it isn't always just the main character's voice that best tells the story
- who you choose will give your books its voice

- the viewpoint give the book its Tone, Feel and Heart

- it determines readers reaction - sympathy- their ultimate response to the book
- p.o.v. can change a readers perception

The above is why choosing the right p.o.v. for a story is So important.

Suitability of p.o.v. :
-. is it a logical choice
- will it cover all we need to know
- will he/she be available at key points in the story
- are the characters in with the plot
- is the person relevant to the telling of the story
- is their another character more suited
- is the character interesting enough

She said think of getting on train for a long journey - you don't want to do it with a boring person

Remember that you can only tell the story from their character - not your own.

Anita then gave the example of a traffic accident;
1. the person hit
2. the driver
3. the witness
4. police
5. paramedic
The main character doesn't have to be the main p.o.v. but usually is. Each of the above would tell a different story - which one is more interesting and which moves the plot and which is most important to the story.
Other points :
1. Keep to the chosen p.o.v.
2. She hates switching p.o.v. in the same scene
3. hates switching p.o.v. half way through the novel - its fine if it switches the whole way through
4. wrong voice; the inability of the writer to understand it should be the characters view and not the writers

Keeping risk of telling not showing if you are consistent.

Anita then went on to discuss the p.o.v - ie. first, omniscient, and third but i won't recap that here it is readily available else where.

Her ending was to show us how she charts the p.o.v. in her novels with a coloured chart marking the changes so that she knows how many pages each character has. the picture above shows her with ones of hers.

It was a brilliant session and again I apologise if my notes are a little thin on this meaty subject but it was the end of day!

Off to the beach!!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

RNA New Writers Scheme Submission Posted

After a lost day yesterday (hang over like I have not had in years - thank God), I managed to print off August Rock and put it in the post to the RNA's New Writers Scheme. It is such a relief because I can honestly say that I am heartily sick of August Rock at the moment. The last reread/rewrite brought the word count up to 104,479! I know its a much better script than went into the NWS last year but I am suffering huge doubts. Will I get a second read this year? My head says no but my heart keeps hoping. Any way its off and I can focus on my kids who were getting very bored with my attachment to the computer.............

Still reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but have fallen seriously behind ds1 since reading was out of the question yesterday - in fact living was out of the question yesterday!

I will continue with the RNA conference write ups next week. There is more great info to come.

Hope the sun shines for you this weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

RNA Conference Part 5

In the afternoon session the next speaker was the beautiful Emma Dunford of Gregory and Company whose topic was 'Standing Out in the Agency Slush Pile.' She's picutred here with RNA treasurer Evelyn Ryle. The first thing that Emma said that was needed was to be tenacious. You had to be able to bounce back after rejection.

She then went on to say that what makes a script stands out is:

1. target the right agency
2. cover letter, synopsis, and first three chapters (just what they ask for)

3. submit to the right person

Then she addresses the three components:

1-3 chapters must be material to draw an editor in; confident narrative voice, USP - unique selling point (she noted that you can help plot but you can't help voice)

The synopsis must be double spaced and one page. It is a story summary that tempts and teases; places the script in genre; and give you a flavour of the writing. It must contain :
1. characters

2. conflicts

3. story arc

It is an extended blurb - tells the ending and uses enthusiasm; pretend you are describing it to a friend. Make sure that it just tells the important facts.

The letter must sum up the submission. Remember its the first thing they read. Sell your self. Target the letter - why have you chosen the agency - referral, web site, author -- DO YOUR RESEARCH! The letter should have a blurb of the story - no spoilers here though.
Final bits of advice were:

You must be prepared to wait; OK to check after seven weeks.

Be prepared for rejection.

Be realistic

Don't expect a personal response

If taken on it's only the first step

Remember they are looking for any reason to turn it down

They do have data base; so they know how many times you have submitted

Be tenacious (frequent submitting not a bad thing!)

Timing is all.

The rain is falling here. Yesterday was a glorious day that we spent on a beach on the river. Poor middle ds forgot the sunblock on his legs and feet and was doing the lobster dance last night! Eldest ds and I are reading Harry Potter in tandem which is great fun. The middle one has finished it already and it on pain of death if he tells us anything!!!

I have 100 pages left of the August Rock reread. I did enjoy it a bit more yesterday morning but I do want to move on!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

RNA Conference Part 4

The rain is falling here in Cornwall but not like the rest of the country. Hope everyone is afloat.

Next up on the conference was a talk by Lesley Pierce but thanks to Silverstone she was delayed reaching us. Amanda Grangestepped into the breach so to speak. She spoke about web sites and blogs. Questions flew in as people who hadn't taken the plunge into the web world saw the advantages.

A Quick summary of her key points:

Web Page Hints:
a. have a simple welcome page then add different pages for books
b. make sure you have a contact email on there and she suggested that use one of the many free ones available out there like hotmail.
c. have an amazon link so that it is easy for people to buy your books


She mentioned that blogs don't have to be maintained by just one person but could easily be done as a group so that the pressure to maintain isn't to onerous. She does a blog with several others historical writers, http://www.historicalromanceuk.blogspot.com/.

There are many types of blog formats available, blogger, wordpress and touchpad to name a few.

Newsletters are a good way of keeping in touch with readers and a sign up on both blogs and web sites is useful.

To make your web site of blog more professional looking she suggested using Slide at http://www.slide.com/ to display book covers.

Her final point was to use something like http://www.statcounter.com/ to keep track of who is visiting your site.

Eventually Lesley Pierce arrived and told us of her road to publication but the most important thing she said was 'write what your heart's telling you to do.'

On my own writing front I am just over the the half way mark of another read through of August Rock. I have had a bit more tweaking here and there. Once this read through is finished I will read it through one more time before I send it off to the RNA's New Writer's Scheme. I have to confess I am bored to tears with it at the moment which I am taking as a good sign. I am hoping it is a sign to let go.

Yesterday I finished reading Katie Fforde's Going Dutch. I loved it and it brightened a very dull day. What I loved about the book was the balance of the story of two women at different stages of life letting love back in........a deliciously satisfying read.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

RNA Part 3 - Jan Etherington

Next up after coffee was Jan Etherington of radio and script wrting fame. She has written Second Thoughts, Faith in the Future and Next of Kin with her husband Gavin Petrie. First off I have to say that Jan just made me laugh. I first took one photo and she wasn't paying attention and then she this will be better. You see the results above. The subject of her talk was 'Drunks, Wimps or Idiots -Is this the role of men in romantic comedy?'

Fellow Novel Racer, Jane Henry has blogged about the conference over on bookarazzi so I won't redo the great write up that she is done but add in a few of the other brilliant points she mentioned:

1. if they make you laugh you can forgive them anything
2. the rhythm of speech is very important to define your characters; use vocabulary, tec. speech, unfinished sentences
3. be very flexible and have several balls in the air; move on and keep going
4. good hero makes a better story
The comment on the rhythm of speech had me go back and review my dialogue sections I can tell you!
I am making slow progress on the read through and tweak of August Rock. I grab a few hours in the morning and then Mummy duty takes over full time. Fortunately this week it hasn't been too much a of a hard ship as the weather has felt like summer and the beach has been lovely. I am slowly developing my Cornish mahogany tan.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

RNA Conference Part 2

It seems a long time ago now but the good effects are still lingering from the conference. I was so pumped up from it that the vibes carried me through the move. The move wasn't too bad but by the end my nerves were pretty thin and i was more than scratchy. Anyway enough of that and back to positive stuff.

The next session I attended was by Alison Baverstock. (she is on the left and Catherine Jones the RNA Chair is on the right) Regular blog readers will remember than I attended her marketing your book session a while back. This talk was 'How Long Does It Take to You to Churn one Out? - Keeping Up Motivation and Morale.' She spoke of the long road to publication and the long task of just writing a novel. In order to survive the process she presented us with 11 tips.

1. Feast on beauty, harvest things that inspire you (ie. a collection of postcards or a copy of you favorite painting)

2. treat yourself well

3. solidarity

4. jealousy is not necessarily a bad thing

5. Community; she cited the Romantic Novelist Association here as a wonderful example (think Novel Racers here)

6. Dealing with time:
a. building blocks; allocate time for writing
b. be selfish with your writing time
c. that time is essential to allow time for the subliminal up rush which she described like projectile vomiting. Here she recommended Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer.
d. make your time at your best writing time (which can be a problem is its 3:30 and you have kids but work with it!)

7. Find somewhere to write ; allocate a place that is yours; people take you at your own estimation and your writing space can affect this

8. encourage other people to take you seriously

9. maintaining own morale; keep the room bright; encourage your own writing; develop your own feeling of being a writer.

10. preset yourself as a writer

11. the importance of being an encourager of others ( Novel Racers!!)

She finished up by saying that remember that marketing is looking at yourself from the outside! Her book Is There A Book in You sold out at the conference book shop which is no surprise. My copy is on its way to Dubai!

Tomorrow I'll report on Jan Etherington.

On my own writing I had begun tweaking August Rock to send off to the New Writers Scheme of the Romantic Novelist Association. On the reading front I have finally finished Time Travelers Wife which I enjoyed but was not what I expected. I now have four other books on the go - The Self-Preservation Society by Kate Harrison, Going Dutch by Katie Fforde, and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Just a quick post to say that I have survived the move from London - just. Now trying to sort life in Cornwall for the summer. Hopefully will be back to normal blogging from tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


About to lose Internet connection and anything to sit on! Will try and find a connection somewhere along the way this week. If not I'll be back on Monday when I'm in Cornwall.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

RNA Conference Part One

So I posted a few of the photos from the weekend and I do have few more but I thought today I would give a brief round up of session One with Jodi Thomas. Her topic was 'How to Research and Sell a Romantic Suspense.'

First I have to say her story of how she came to be where she is was fascinating and at times hilarious. I won't try and sum it up but if you have the chance to attend one of her workshops - GO.

So here are her points ( as I caught them!) briefly:

1. write an original

2. who would be the character that would never be in a suspense - use them

3. end every chapter with a hook

4. make people care about your character; don't make them perfect; let the story force her to find her inner strength

5. make us hate the bad guy

6. take what you know and twist it ; create the suspense out of the ordinary

On the market front she said that is was going crazy in the States so if you are writing from else where make sure that you tie in the US some how so that you take the reader on the journey with you.
On a personal aside Jodi was lovely and it was great to have her around for the whole conference.

Monday, July 09, 2007

More RNA Conference Photos

On Saturday night we all cleaned up rather well for the gala dinner. Bernardine Kennedy and Lesley Cookman were looking glamorous and don't worry all that wine wasn't just for them!

The next photo is of me and the wonderful Kate Walker and the last photo was of our chairwoman Catherine Jones in her little black dress not doubt in honour of her three books that will coming out with Little Black Dress soon!
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RNA Conference

Here's a picture from Friday night.....Katie Fforde and Jenny Haddon. I was cursing Katie on the tube back this morning as I was so engrossed with Going Dutch that I almost missed my tube stop!
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Romantic Novelist Association Conference

I am flying with ideas and completely exhausted. It was a weekend full of friends, laughter, wine and so much learning! I am buzzing with it all. But right now I am waiting for the taxi to take me to the station and then to face the packers as they descend on the house. I will blog about the conference in more details later but I wanted to post a few of my favorite photos of the weekend.

Beginning with this picture of the winning team of the Romantic Novelist Conference Quiz consisting of yours truly (who contributed very little) Gilli Allan, Evelyn Ryle (writing as Joanna Maitland), and Anne Ashurst (writing as Sara Craven).

The taxi has just appeared so bye for now!
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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cat Heaven

I've returned from Cornwall having left the big fat white cat in his heaven - beware all small rodents.

So with six hundred or so miles under my belt I am looking at so much to do before the packers arrive Monday. Normally this wouldn't be a problem but come mid-day tomorrow I am bound for the Romantic Novelist Association Conference and I can't wait. However I don't return until Monday morning and by then the packers will have begun deconstructing my life as I know it. Although I hate the moving process I have to confess to loving the challenge of another new 'house' to make into a home. This time it will be for a longer period. In the past I have done this for as little as three months and the longest being three years.

Now this week there are some wonderful things out on the Internet for writers. Michelle Styles is hosting a workshop on eharlequin on Goal, Motivation and Conflict. Well worth a look even if you aren't writing romance.

Also thanks to Zinnia for the link on the Novel Racers' Blog to Troubled Diva which talks about Bloggers and book deals. Well worth a read. Of course our own Caroline Smailes is one of these speacial people!

Right now off to pack for the weekend and summer!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Let Down by Amazon

On Sunday Therese Fowler's book Souvenir was released here in the UK. Knowing that my schedule is so full I did the obvious thing and ordered it on Amazon. Amazon just sent me an email saying it won't be available until the 7th!!! The cheek and I don't have time to wander into a book store at the moment.

Today the cat and I are traveling to Cornwall with much of the stuff we won't be taking to Dubai. Yes, we are taking the cat but he becomes traumatised by the moving men which will be swarming the house on Monday so his holiday in Cornwall will start today the lucky sod.

Yesterday was my last book club with my Fulham mums. I was sad and guilty at the same time. I yet again hadn't read the chosen book - Atonement. I am so behind on my reading. However as my farewell I have suggested the two summer reads for them. The first one is Caroline Smailes' In Search of Adam. My copy is beckoning me but will have to wait until the packers are through. The other read is Matt Dunn's Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook. It was Chris's delight in it that cinched for the mums. You see I grabbed the book as we left for Venice. WE had much on our mind and unfortunately it wasn't frivolous but should he take the new job and leave his old company. Matt's book did the trick and pulled him out of the heavy thoughts and made him laugh. Chris's comments aside from funny - Matt is very astute. BTW for male reader the cover is acceptable.

Summer is my reading time. I don't write during the summer as the kids are at home and still need me. However I find that by the end of the summer I am bursting to write. Each of the last two books was germinated in late August. I wonder what this year will bring?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Leaving Party

I had intended to takes loads of photos but this is one of two. It's a good photo of both Fiona Harper and I after several glasses of bubbly and wine...........

She came with her latest book, Break Up to Make Up signed and I was touched beyond words as she was writing that book when we traveled up to Penrith for the Romantic Novelist Association conference last year. We laughed so much on the journey and continued through the whole weekend. She's not coming to the conference this years as she's going to the Romance Writers of America conference because her first book Blind Date Marriage is up for a RITA. So I'll miss my giggling buddy but I know that she is off to collect another award so it's just about OK!!!

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