Tuesday, October 31, 2006

First Page Challenge

Over on Julie Cohen's blog she issued a first page challenge so I am taking it up! Albeit nervously. So here is the first page of August Rock and my thoughts in italics.


Centerville, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 4th June 2005

Judith sat watching the incoming tide lap over her red toenails and wet the brilliant white lace of her wedding gown. Tears caused it all to blur to pink. She didn’t like pink. Not that anyone cared that she didn’t like the colour. The church was filled with pink flowers. Hundreds of lilies to be precise and their scent still filled her nostrils despite the brisk breeze coming in with the tide. We know that Judith is in a wedding dress and crying on the beach. Why?

As she stood in the doorway of the church, all she could see were various shades of pink. Flowers and ribbons adorned every pew. The altar was barely visible for all the massed blooms in every shade of the wretched colour; particularly pale pink. Her fiancé, John, stood among them; tall, blond, perfect yet even he had not escaped the colour with a waistcoat matching the flower girls spinning around her knees clothed in pink dresses with pink stinking lilies clutched in their fists. We know that she had little or exerted little control over her wedding by the choice of her least favorite colour. What does that say about her?

The heat of the early June afternoon intensified the cloying scent of the lilies to overwhelming levels as the soprano in the choir loft hit high notes on some hymn she couldn’t remember. In her hands, she held a decadent bunch of lilies, carnations, roses and other pink flowers which reached the floor in their cascade. She saw her hands tremble and sweat so much that she dropped the candyfloss mess on the floor.

The salty water of the Gulf Stream took the stiffness out of the lace so that it collapsed on her legs. Now she felt at peace with the damn dress; wet and shapeless. A seagull dive-bombed in front of her forcing her to wipe her eyes so that she could see if he was successful. He was and she smiled. At least someone got what they wanted. What had gone so badly wrong at her wedding that she was alone on the beach and not with her perfect fiance? Why hadn't she got what she wanted?

I hope that introduces Judith in a way that makes one want to know more. What do you think?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Reading Again

Still no writing taking place but I have snuck in two books so far during this half term. The first one by Nicola Cornick - Deceived. I am a sucker for a historical romance. I think it is where my heart truly lies as that is what I cut my teeth on as a young reader and this one was brilliant. The heroine was feisty and not about to let the world defeat her. The hero was delicious and I wouldn't mind him for myself. The plot twists kept me glued to the end. A great read.

Next on the list was a new author to me, Marion Lennox. I read her romance Princess of Convenience. It was a delightful escape from the housework that was beckoning. I loved her characters and was willing to jump on the bandwagon of disbelief willingly with these two.

The end of half term holidays is in sight. I will miss my boys but I look forward to making progress on writing again. I bumped into friend and writer Mary de Laszlo who was happily on her way to the post office to send back her latest work revisions done. It will be out in May she said :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Fallow Time

I am in my children's three week half term time. This means that writing doesn't exist in my life. I should say that active writing doesn't exist. I have noticed that I fall asleep thinking about my characters and wake up with new ideas. My mind wanders during the few quiet moments in the day when they are not killing each other to plot twists and if I have layered enough in before I screw the punch. I still have another week and a half before I can seriously tackle August Rock again. I hope that I won't lose all this idea making in this enforced 'quiet time'.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Me and My Balls

Much to the mortification of my dh and 14 year old ds, last night I insisted on watching a programme on ITV 2 called Me and My Balls. The premise for the programme was a light hearted romp on a serious subject of testicular cancer. This was the reason I insisted we watch it. I will maintain it had nothing to do with gorgeous men talking about their bits and some time displaying them in various attires. (See photo of ever cute Craig Doyle and his gorgeous dimples) I maintain my innocence.

However much the dh and ds squirmed through the programme, I feel the point of programme did reach its target. Men check your nuts regularly :)

The whole subject of men and what goes on in their minds is still a mystery to me. Not surprising really as an only child who went through an all girls high school followed by an all women's university. However since then I have been married fifteen years and given birth to two of the creatures. Nothing should surprise me about them but daily I come across the different ways their minds work and think. I must say the programme above enlightened me a bit on men's relationship with their bits but I still feel I am in the dark and therefore must research more!!!!

Revisions have ground to a halt as I am in the middle of three weeks of half term holidays. I have been keeping notes of the changes I need to make and they are big picture things and not words here and there. Hopefully this is the right way forward.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Having read Any Human Heart by William Boyd this summer I feel closer to the protagonist more now than ever. Through out the book you get a sense of his never growing older inside even though he sees the external changes. In my mind I am perpetually 28. However the external signs of aging are arriving quick and fast. The latest is a real outward marker. Thanks to my endless hours on the computer the natural deterioration of my eye sight has spend up. No surprises there but when the optician tells you the vari-focals are the answer what do you say? In side I yelled "Hell no. I'm not that old." While I politely said, "Do I really need them?" So despite my ipod and current play list, despite my none agey clothes and hair style I am old.

On a brighter note thanks to author Michelle Styles (her web site)insight on eharlequin message boards I have had a light bulb moment. I think the reason that I had come to a grinding halt on my revisions is that although I was making the writing tighter I wasn't upping the tension as much as I felt it needed. The critique by my NWS reader mentioned that she didn't care for Tristan. He wasn't strong enough. In my heart I disagreed strongly but then I know Tristan inside and out. I clearly haven't put that on the pages.

So with Michelle's illuminating words I suddenly saw how I could up the tension and show some of the internal conflict that was happening in Tristan and highlight the external conflict with Judith at the same time. The only other problem is on a personal basis I am not one for conflict in fact I have spent my life avoiding it unless I was fighting for someone else. So I have to let go of my own feelings and let the real Tristan show through.

So crows of doubt you can fly away while I ramp up the tension in the book before I go back to making the writing tighter :)

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Having lived outside the US for a large number of years now I have been able to resist the call of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. They have been safely 3000 miles across the Atlantic. Why they have suddenly turned up in my little corner convinience store here in London I will never know. Somehow fate has conspired to drag me back into the undeniable addiction of these wicked little morsels. I can't get enough. I am hoping that their presence in the shop is a fluke; a mistake that will never occur again! However at the rate I am buying and eating them the owners will think they are on to the next best thing. However they don't realize that only American can find the mixture of peanut butter and chocolate irresistible.

For the last two days I have done everything but revise. i should be doing it now but no I am rambling here. I need to refocus but in stead i will go watch my dd's fun run on this glorious day and hope that with renewed peanut bitter energy i can tackle August Rock again.

BTW I finished The Thirteenth Tale yesterday. I loved it. I was gripped start to finish. It is a beautifully written book. Maybe the only criticism I can give is that she ties things up at the end which I loved but I know others might prefer she didn't but I am glad she did. It is a book I will read again.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Being a Bad Girl

I have discovered that I am a corrupting influence on my book club. They diligently try and remain high brow and discuss the chosen books. What do I do? Introduce far off topics like Julie Cohen's book Being a Bad Girl. I spoke persuasively enough about it that the book is now being passed around (why does on think of naughty books at school) and will be discussed at our next meeting along with The Thirteenth Tale (which I am loving). I was asked to read out some of the er um more interesting bits of Being a Bad Girl but I am afraid to said I could not. Although I had the courage to raise the topic I could not read aloud the scene with the strip go fish.......... I guess the divil in me only goes so far:)

My revisions of August Rock are moving fairly well but I find revising more exhausting than writing. I don't think its my nature to examine every word so it is taking a chunk out of me to do it. I will finish this first go at revising then re-read Sol Stein's book again. Currently the crows of doubt are circling.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gorgeous Men and Dogs

I have visited a new world thanks to a friend and her new puppy therefore I want a dog so I can stay in that world. Not that my life isn't full enough with dh, three kids and one fat white cat but as I discovered a dog would add a dimension to my life that has been lost for a long time......Gorgeous young men.

While having coffee with a friend and her puppy, Tilly, the most amazing drop dead gorgeous man with exquisite child on hip and black lab in pursuit stopped to chat to Tilly and my friend. I'm afraid my mouth hung open. He was young and fit and perfect. Even though a writer I was at a loss for words in the presence of man could only exist on the pages of glossy magazine. My friend of course was cool as a cucumber and took it all in her stride. I was speechless until he left. That doesn't happen often. So I want a dog.

On the writing front I am working away on August Rock. It is slow but I am loving the revisions. Long may it last.

I have started The Thirteenth Tale and it is so beatutifully written even in the first ten pages I am green!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Light Has Been Turned On

Sorry I haven't been back for a few days. I have finished Sol Stein's Solutions for Writers and I have seen the light. I couldn't read it quickly enough. With highlighter in hand and notebook I felt empowered and inspired. I am attacking the previous revisions and I'm excited about it. I never though I could be excited about revisions but it feels great. Best of all - it reads better!!!!!

On Saturday I went to the RNA London chapter's meeting. Julie Cohen gave a great talk on US contest and how they can work for you. I am not sure yet if I can make them work for me or not but I did learn a great deal. Also caught up with Fiona Harper. I can't believe her first book is out in December, Blind Date Marriage!

On the reading front, I devoured Kate Walker's At The Sheikh Command. Great read and as always Kate keeps you on the edge until the last minute. Love it but I am still not sold on sheikh books. Bring on your Sicilians Kate :)

The book beside my bed now is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Back to my exciting revisions - well they are to me :)