Wednesday 30 November 2016

Playing for Time

Time can be an issue for authors. I don't just mean getting time to write and do all the other stuff, but time as it appears in books. Even in Shakespeare it causes trouble. There is much academic debate about the fact that in the play Othello the short time span, only a few days and nights, does not allow for the wholesale infidelity of which Desdemona is accused. I always assumed that the play was just showing us scenes over a longer time-span, but what do I know?

Authors have to make decisions - is the time in the book going to be realistic or a little more, shall we say, fluid? And I don't mean the horror of your editor pointing out that you have just invented the week with three Tuesdays in it. Should characters age in real time? This can be a problem if you start something that subsequently becomes a long running series and your protagonist starts to get closer to retirement - or would in the real world.

It's slippery stuff too, when you have your characters travelling and you have to make sure they have sufficient time to do it. I've had fun with airline time tables and myriad notes on bits of paper on that one.

At the moment time is giving me pause for thought in two ways. I've hunted up the thriller I was writing in 2015, before life got out the sandbags, and I think I can do something with it. (Jacobean revenge drama, by way of Romeo and Juliet and Beauty and the Beast) But the time line is all over the place, so there is going to have to be some major re-organising before it goes much further.

The other time issue is a bit more subtle. As you know, I am really hoping that I will have a new rom/com novella out in 2017. And the novella I have just finished is next in series. It has a long way to go before it makes it to publication, if it ever does, but should it come out in say, 2018, there will be the matter of some characters carrying on with their lives in the meantime and the book being about 2½ years after the first one. You see the problem? As the plot is going to require a hefty suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, I think the timing may have to go the same way.

But that's a challenge for another day.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Party time

We scrub up good!
(Thanks to  Lynda Stacey for the photo.)

I got out of the Ivory Tower again last week - this time for a trip to LONDON. (Squeals of delight in background.)

A little trip that included many of my favourite things:

  • Staying at a nice hotel (no bed making, full English breakfast and NO WASHING UP)

  • Wandering over Waterloo Bridge at dusk,  with all the new skyscrapers in the city lit up, and St Paul's lurking like a ghost in the background. (OK, yes it was raining, but the Xmas market was in full swing on the South Bank, so it felt cosy and warm, in spite of the weather.) 

  • Going to parties in posh places (Author Trisha Ashley's lunch time get together at the top of Waterstones in Piccadilly and the RNA Winter party, plus the annual Industry Awards, at the Royal Overseas League)

  • Getting together with other Choc-lit authors and hearing about some exciting plans our publisher has for 2017. (You'll be the first to know, I promise. 😍)

  • An exhibition at the National Gallery - Beyond Caravaggio. (Some memorable art, but also research. I know I keep threatening it, but there is going to be a book with a 'lost' Caravaggio in it one day, I promise that too.)

All in all I had a very good time, but am now very tired. Lots of sleeping going on. Back to normal next week, I hope.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Getting out of the Ivory Tower.

And we wore our Choc-lit tee shirts.

I spent last Thursday afternoon at Ystrad Mynach library, in the company of Christina Courtney and Chris Stovell, doing a Q&A session. We were there as part of the celebrations for the re-opening of the library after refurbishment. And very good it looks too.

Not the stuff of romance?
We had a lot of fun, so I hope the audience did as well. The downside of the job is that writers don't get out much, so any opportunity to see a bit of the outside world is a bonus. There was chocolate, and lots of  chat about writing books, from choosing genres to undertaking research. Christina brought some of the costumes that the heroines of her Japanese novels would have worn. Somehow I didn't manage to get a photograph. Probably too busy talking. Or eating chocolate. Chris Stovell also illustrated the type of gear her heroines (who are quite likely to be involved with sailing, in her fictional coastal town of Little Spitmarsh) might wear. In the British climate you can give up on romantic images of bikini clad girls reclining on the gleaming deck - you are much more likely to be battling the elements in waterproofs and life jackets. The skill is making that the stuff of romance. I didn't have any costumes or props, so had to talk about visiting museums and art galleries instead.

The audience was great, getting involved and asking questions. Kath from The Nut Press brought Sqizzy, the famous squirrel muse, along. That's him, in his kimono, sitting on Christina's knee. There were refreshments supplied by the library. And did I mention chocolate?

It would be lovely to get the chance to do it again sometime.

Monday 7 November 2016

Library Talk at Ystrad Mynach

If you are around the area of Ystrad Mynach Library on 10th November and fancy an afternoon of books and romance, three Choc-lit authors will be there, talking about Heroes, Heroines and Happy Endings. That would be me, Christine Stovell and Christina Courtenay.
The event is part of the celebration of the refurbishment of the library and is from 2pm until 4 pm. It is free, but you need a ticket. To find out more contact the Caerphilly library service -01443 812988 or

 We'll be wearing our pink Choc-lit tee shirts and talking about writing books.

I expect Christina will mention her new time slip, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight, which is partly set in Wales and features some of the history of Raglan Castle.
 (Christina also has a pocket novella out too, Marry for Love)

Chris Stovell has a new pocket edition of her novella, Only True in Fairy Tales just out, which is a contemporary romance.

Me? I don't have a new book to talk about. Awww! Not a published one, anyway, but I have high hopes for something in 2017.

Do join us, if you can. We'd love to see you.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Writing The End on a Manuscript

Well, people, this is a new book. Actually it might be a new novella - as you can see I write longhand, so word counts can get a bit slippery until there is a typed version. At the moment I think it is about 66,000 words, so it is a biggish novella.

But whatever it turns out to be, IT IS NEW WORK. The first since caring, bereavement, surgery and all the other joys that life can throw at you erupted and took my mind to other places.

It's not a thriller - I haven't been able to contemplate something dark for a while, although I have some partial manuscripts in the tin chest. Thanks to some lovely encouragement from the Romantic Novelists' Marcher Chapter at a recent workshop, I think one of them is going to be the next in the frame - thank you ladies. I also have to get back to the day job.

Right now, this minute, there is this romantic comedy, or whatever it is, currently titled  A Wedding on the Riviera, which kind of gives you an idea of what it might be about. It's a follow on from the light novella that has got gummed in the works (See above) but which I hope will be out some time in 2017.

As you can see from the picture, there is going to be some work going on before it is allowed out on it's own. If it ever is. I've loved keeping company with Nadine and Ryan, and had a lot of fun, and some angst, with them on the Riviera and in Paris, but I have to tell you that this is the one with the very outlandish plot. It may be that the powers that be decide that it is a bit too outlandish. We shall see.

In the meantime it has got me back to writing again, and given me the boost of finishing a manuscript, which I haven't had in a long time, so I will always be grateful to it.


Who knows?