Wednesday 25 February 2015

The most wanted list?

Apparently, according to a YouGov poll, the 3 most desired jobs in the UK are author, librarian and academic. Who knew? And as I am both an author and an academic, I get two helpings of kudos. Interesting. I don't think I've ever featured on a most wanted list before.

This has, of course, led to debate among authors about why we might be so desirable. Don't answer that! It's not for the money, that's for certain. With a few notable exceptions authors don't make a lot - but as we are grouped with librarians and academics, also not particularly high on the earning scale, I don't think it's that.

My theory is that it is surroundings. All three professions have scenery that includes book filled libraries and elegantly appointed studies.Throw in intellectual debate, an aura of peace and calm and the joy of the creative muse ...

That the reality for an author is more likely to involve sitting in your dressing gown at a computer on the corner of the kitchen table, pretending that surfing the Internet for pictures of kittens is 'Research' and having meaningful conversations with the dog, is nether here nor there. Not to mention the hot water bottles and fingerless gloves when the weather is cold and the heat doesn't come on until six.

But this is the land of wish fulfilment. It's all about the image. Back to the book lined study again, with the magnificent desk. Or maybe a summer house in the garden? Stopping when the sun is just over the yard arm for the restorative glass of perfectly chilled wine. Hey, I'm almost convincing myself here!

Where I write - sometimes.
And we are all constantly told that everyone has a book in them. It's getting it out that's the problem. Take it from One Who Knows. But an ambition to be an author sounds like something attractive  and achievable. And it is, or we wouldn't be doing it. That - and providing an outlet for the voices having conversations in your head, of course. It's also hard work, frustrating and infuriating on occasions. Those are the occasions when washing the kitchen floor looks like an excellent alternative to having anything to do with the damned book. Sometimes I have a very clean kitchen floor. I don't have a study though. I write the first draft longhand - so that can happen anywhere - trains. I like  long train journeys. When I'm at home my writing spot is the corner of the dining room closest to the French doors. It's lovely when the sun is shining. You see - I told you it was all about the setting.

The link to the YouGov poll is HERE if you want to read more.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Happy Birthday to The Romance Reviews Magazine

The Romance Reviews magazine is celebrating it's 4th Anniversary during the month of March. Lots of games, give aways and participating authors - and I'm one of them. If you enjoy reading romance it would be worth checking out their site - maybe sign up for the newsletters and ezine? And with 300+ participating authors, the March party should be a lot of fun. See you there?

Find out more HERE.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

This could change everything ...

As regular readers know, I'm playing with an idea that involves a witness protection scenario. Someone who has to change their whole life. How easy would that be? New place to live, new job, etc - those are a given - and changes of hair style and colour, maybe eyes, with contact lenses, and getting more extreme, physical features with plastic surgery. But what about voice, way of walking, physical tricks and tells that might be a giveaway? Much harder, but I guess you would do it, if you were running for survival.

But what about the smaller stuff too - that thought was prompted by a sales assistant in a department store offering me a squirt of a brand new fragrance. Lovely, but not enough to tempt me away from my regular favourites. Regular favourites. And that got me thinking, as writers do. My heroine, if she is smart, and she is, will change her fragrance. And what about favourite make up, nail polish, skin care brands? All of those are intimate things - things that someone close, like a lover, might notice and remember, in the right context. Scent in particular is a great trigger to memory.  And that gave me a scene from the book - hero and heroine in conversation in my head. Which is a great distraction when you are in M&S trying to find tonight's dinner!

I didn't buy a new perfume, but I did decide that it will be the one my heroine chooses when she changes hers. My heroine. I can't tell you her name - not one is supposed to know ...

Wednesday 4 February 2015

The half read book

I'm a heavy user of libraries - both for my academic work and for entertainment. On the entertainment side, I have agreed with myself, over the years, that if I am not enjoying a book, I am allowed to stop reading it. It took a while - a deep seated 'Started so I'll finish.' ethic that is probably a close cousin to having to eat all the food on your plate. I don't always do that now either, but greed plays a part in that!

If a book is from the library it is very much easier to take it back unfinished. You didn't buy the thing, and the writer will still get the PLR, provided that library is in the current count.  This is fine for stuff that is meant to be entertaining me. Academic? Not so much. Most of them you have to finish.

Where am I going with this? Well in the last few months I have gleefully pounced on books by my favourite authors - two thrillers and one romantic suspense. I'm sorry to say that both thrillers went back half read and the romantic suspense almost did, except that the love story was good. Why? Not because they were slow, or boring, or badly written or had saggy middles. In every case  I found the plots and events so unremittingly bleak that they were depressing the heck out of me. And that's not why I read. I read for relaxation and enjoyment of a fellow writer doing what they do, with apparently effortless talent.

All three of these book featured a similar theme - so I have to wonder if it is a trend - of innocent bystanders being horribly killed, simply by being in the wrong place and time. Now I'll put my hand up here. I slaughter innocents too, but this seemed to me to be over the top. Now I'm wrestling with whether I am a total hypocrite, writing my own Shakespearean body count, while complaining about other people - but the fact remains that I simply did not want to finish those books, however well written and plotted they were. Maybe I was feeling especially sensitive, Maybe it is a matter of taste, which is why I am not going to name any names - but the books did not do the job I was looking for. Maybe I'll go back to them at some later date and read them right through? Maybe, At the moment I've given myself permission not to read them. There are so many books in the world, many of them on my TBR list, so I can move on to find something I will enjoy more. I'm disappointed as all those authors have been on my auto-read list, but life changes and people and writers too. On the plus side, I now have room to discover that absolutely fabulous brand new author and add to the list. Always a bonus.

And this is, at base, why I write romantic suspense. Because you always get a love story - so there is always something positive at the end - a ray of hope. I'm probably a soppy sentimental old fool, but that's me. A lot of critics argue that romance is unrealistic and gives too rosy an impression of life. They probably have a point - but when I'm reading for entertainment? I don't really care.

Pass the rose coloured glasses and bring on the handsome hero.