Wednesday 27 January 2016

How many words?

All sorts of word counts.
Over the holidays I have been catching up with some of the stock piled reading matter on my Kindle. A selection of Christmas romances and an assortment of others acquired over the year. As I was chomping my way through, the differences in length were quite interesting. A novella can be around 30,000 words, and I have seen definitions suggesting it is something under 40,000. Some of the novellas I read were probably 50,000 - 60,000 words, while some of my stash that were billed as full length books were not much longer, at around 70,000. I would aim for around 90,000 for a  full length romantic suspense. A family saga or historical can easily run to 120,000 words or more - and I think a lot of readers would feel cheated if they didn't. Novice writers are told not to go above this figure as agents and publishers will be reluctant to take a chance on an unknown with a very big book. Which is one of the reasons my family saga of the South Wales docklands - first of a trilogy at 140,000 and counting - is languishing in the filing cabinet in the hall. I have plans to re-use the best bits for something else - when the 48 hour day is invented, and I'm able to get myself cloned. The clone will do the boring stuff, like housework and I can write all day. Hah! Fantasy land - again.

I don't really know where this ramble is going, except I that I am currently wondering how long the new project will turn out to be, if I can get it off the grid, I'm telling myself it might be a novella, but I don't really KNOW. And with all the complications it is busy inventing for itself (See last week's post.) I have a feeling it might be getting itself out of hand. The novella that is not romantic suspense, which I really do hope will see the light of day this summer, is hovering around the 58,000 mark at the moment. At the moment. Will it grow? Maybe.

I'm predisposed to write longer rather than shorter, because of that habit of making stuff complicated. More room to develop, more chance to add layers. Layers, not padding. More fun with characters. More hair raising plot twists.

I complicate things, which means that I also write slowly. When I read of writers who manage four books a year. Four!!! I have to go and lie down for a while. Green with envy too. But if that's four at 70,000 words ... A little less intimidating. Just a little.

We're all different. As long as the story is good, it probably doesn't matter how long the book turns out to be.

I'll just have to wait and see how long the new idea wants to be. I hope it doesn't take too long ...

Monday 25 January 2016

Happy St Dwynwen's Day!

She's the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine.

Check out the Explore Wales site HERE

You have the chance to download a card from the site to give to a loved one.

Wednesday 20 January 2016


As regular visitors will know, I have a new novella in the pipeline that is not a romantic suspense. It has been there for much longer than was ever intended. The pipeline is most of the way to Australia by now, but... life happens.

I am trying hard to get a new romantic suspense off the starting blocks - not for want of ideas, just want of time and perhaps more important, concentration. But I am getting there. I think.

I keep telling myself that as long as it is romantic suspense it doesn't have to be a full length book. It could be another novella - a K.I.S.S project to get me on the wavelength again.

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Simple, scary, sexy and maybe short - or as long as it wants to be. What more do you need? But it ain't happening.

I don't know whether it is just the way my mind works - I suspect that it is - but I can't do simple.  I have the plot arc - you can't go wrong with a serial killer and a heroine in danger. But then there is the heroine. And the hero. And the first thing I ask the pair of them when they wander out of the mist (in this case a sea mist - did I mention the setting was the Welsh coast?) is 'What's your problem?' Because they have to have issues, or they're not interesting. And if they don't interest me then they certainly won't interest you. So they both have arcs. Which will probably intersect at some point. This is beginning to sound like a geometry lesson. In school I used to like geometry. Not that I can remember any of it now. Then there's the villain's arc. I know his problem - he's an evil serial killer, but he still has to develop over the course of the story. And then I had an idea for another character, who will make the thing more 'interesting'. And I want to  introduce a few of the hero's friends, who are nagging for their own stories in due course.

At least I have an idea what the setting looks like. 

And then there's the partly fictionalised setting, based on the area where I live, and some research involving folklore and Celtic myths. Which reminds me I need to research somewhere suitable in London  to leave a body  ... you see what I mean? I can't do simple how ever hard I intend to.

I'm just going to have to do the best I can to unravel all that lot. At least my mind is working. Overtime, as far as I can tell. I really do want to make this work.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Heroines rarely do housework.

Not much dusting if you live here?
Following on from last week's post, I was thinking about the list of stuff that takes up time and what a heroine would make of it. Particularly the things lower down the list. Like housework. When was the last time, outside a period set saga, that you read about a heroine hanging out washing? They sometimes put it in the machine, or the drier. But what about folding it and putting it away, or heaven forbid, ironing it! All those heroes in crisp cotton shirts. Does she realise that when he sweeps her into his arms on the final page she is probably going to be the one who takes care of that from now on? And when did a heroine last lift a duster? Actually there is an an alternative to this, which really gets me going, It's the one where the heroine, who has just been dumped by the man of her dreams, fills her empty hours by cleaning her flat, baking a cake and sorting out 14 bags of clutter to take to the charity shop and then is looking around for something else to do, as it is only 11 am. She can come round and clean my place next. It usually takes me until 11 am to find the floor and the furniture under the books and papers, never mind dusting/vacuuming. That's the peril of being a writer. The books and papers reproduce themselves at night, when there is no one watching. I'm sure  of it.

On the whole, heroines don't do mundane stuff. And of course, that's why they are heroines. They are busy working too hard at some terribly high power job, or saving the world, or something. And really,if we are looking for entertainment and escapism we don't expect to watch Ms Heroine spending her morning defrosting the freezer. Not unless there are stolen diamonds in there, frozen in the ice tray.  (I defrosted mine before Christmas - I didn't find any diamonds.)

Unfortunately the creators of Ms Heroine and Mr Hero live in the real world and all this ordinary stuff gets in the way of creating the fabulous stuff.

It's not fair, you know. But that's life.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

So - this is 2016.

A bouquet for the New Year.
I know it's traditional to make New Year resolutions - but I've never been big on that. Experience tells me that life has a habit of backing you into a corner, or kicking you in the teeth, and lots of stuff goes out of the window. I don't need broken resolutions to add to any guilt trip that happens to be passing. I can find plenty of those.

But a change of year does give you hope - that things might be different, that in the months to come maybe, just maybe ... (Fill in whatever is top of your wish list here.). Close to the top of mine is getting back to writing regularly. Hmmm. The problem is always time - a scarce commodity. The 'day job' takes up a lot, and I do like to sleep, which takes a chunk of the day.

So, while this is not a resolution as such, I thought I'd make a list of all the things that divert me in the average day, with an idea that I might be able to get more control over them, Don't ask me how, but knowing the enemy is supposed to be helpful.

Bet you recognise a few of these.

1 The Internet. Everyone's favourite time black hole. All those cute kittens ... And keeping up with social media. And my in box ...

2 Research. Now this one is OK, to a point. but it can be a place to hide. It's fine line.

3. Washing up. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time with my hands in soapy water.

4. Cooking. The cause of 3 above. I don't bake, but I do like to eat and then there's all that peeling and chopping ...

5. Reading. This is an addiction. I know. But I'm miserable if I don't have a book on the go.

6. Housework. Not high on the list of things I do, but very high on the list of pet hates.

7. Shopping. Relates to 4. If you don't count shoe shops.

8. House maintenance. Climbing ladders to replace light bulbs and stuff. And hanging out washing. They've not made a machine for that yet.

9. Recycling - another thing that seems to take an inordinate amount of time. And dangerous - did I tell you how I broke my arm...

10. Gardening. Another thing that I enjoy, but also involves a lot of maintenance stuff.

So - these are the things I will be looking at in 2016 to see if Something Can Be Done.