Friday, 31 August 2012

Join the Blue Moon Party

Today is a red letter day.

No it's not, it's a blue moon night.  31 August and it's a blue moon and as we all know special things happen but once in a blue moon.  Tonight is no exception.

Bourne on a moonbeam in a cloud of fairydust, something very special has arrived in an amazon store near you....

Something warm as toast.

Something sparkly as a diamond heeled stiletto.

Something as evocative as salt spray on your lips and the scent of lavender on a summer's evening.

Oh yes, the incomparable Sophie Moss has written the sequel to her gorgeous and gripping contemporary fairytale romance, the Selkie Spell.  If you're in the US download the Selkie Enchantress here.  If you're in the UK download it here.  Read about it on Sophie's blog. Join the Blue Moon Party on pinterest. Enjoy the tribute on Afsaneh's Dreaming of Stories.  Check out Liz Rancourt's interview with Sophie on her blog. Create a Blue Moon Spell courtesy of gorgeous Twixt author  Diane J Reed.

But whatever you do, read it.  Beautiful selkie romance only happens once in a blue moon.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Writing Slow

Damn, writing is hard.

No, writing isn't hard, good writing is hard.  I can write fast.  I can burn through word counts and churn out pages.  Problem is, it's a bit shit.  I used lots of tired phrases, stuff I've picked up from hundreds of other books.  It's like driving on autopilot.  I barely notice the sign posts.

So I'm trying to write slow.  To go back and re-read what I've written and actually write something meaningful.  I might only write a paragraph or two, but at least I'm not bored by what I'm written.  I know it's the absolute best I can do with my present level of skill.

And I'm trying to push myself.  I'm trying to:

  • Write tighter
  • Weave subtle clues into my metaphors and adjectives
  • Slay the demon of unoriginality
The thing I find hardest is sex.  Or damn it, even kissing.  It's hard to be original and visceral and not to descend into purple prose when writing sex.  

Find 463 different ways to describe lips without saying lips

Having said that, writing a love scene with a woman who is freaking out that she might turn into a banshee at any second gives it its own kind of flavour.

What do you find hardest?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Not flashing, but writing

Normally I'm big into flashing.

No not that kind.

The fiction kind.  For several months it's sustained a stress fragmented brain, enabled me to experiment and to keep writing even when I'm knackered and I have the creativity of a lobotomised woodlouse.  However, a couple of weeks ago I hit a new vein of gold in the mine that is my imagination and I'm writing a book again, my third.

It wouldn't be the first time I've started with a great fanfare and then failed to follow through, but I'm planning on committing and writing.  Given the paucity of time that means the hundred words or so I squeeze out in my off hours need to be devoted to that, not to flash fiction contests.  Thus I look on in envy and awe at people participating in the BlogFlash2012 and writing beautiful emotive microfictions (I'm looking at you, Cameron Lawton) but I'm not playing.  I'm trying to devote myself to pushing on deeper and harder with my current work in progress.

It's contemporary, gritty and paranormal - a far cry from historical romance (but there's a romance just the same)... for those lovely people who like reading my work, here's an extract:


“You’re going to die, banshee bitch.” 
They were close, pressing her.  Smoke filled her nostrils, her mouth, the stench of burning flesh.  In a moment their teeth would close down.
Closing her eyes, she blanked them out and focused on her own body.  In her mind’s eye she flexed each muscle, followed the blood streaming through her veins, delved deep, deeper still, reaching down, down, down.
The whispers around her grew louder and it was no longer fingers touching her but claws, gouging at her flesh.
“…Gut you like a fish..”
Down, further still.
“Die… die… die…”
She felt it.
Unlocked it.
Released it.
Her mind went black as her arms spread wide, blood dripping from her closed fist onto the circle. 
She screamed. 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Top Tips from a Comedy Writing Masterclass

At the heaving heart of the Edinburgh Fringe, snuggled up between the gleaming white towers of The University of Edinburgh's Informatics Forum sits the BBC's Fringe Festival base camp, a happy haven of table football, gin and tonics and people with big fluffy microphones. 

This was Thursday and the lovely Rachel of funny and whimsical Rachel About Town blog had secured free tickets for the BBC's comedy writing masterclass.  In the star sprinkled darkness of the BBC studio we shuffled down aisles to watch Jon Holmes and a panel of comedy writers tell us all about the dark art of comedy. 

They covered various topics.

"Which word is funnier: chicken or hen?"

(there's more to that, honest)

"Where's the best place to write?"

"How did you get into writing for the BBC?"

The topic which interested me most was "Which comes first: the 'sit' or the 'com'?" 

The answer was unanimous.  The situation is irrelevant: it's the characters that make a comedy.  All a situation should ever be is a thing which traps the characters together.  It doesn't matter what the situation is: a prison (Porridge), a space ship (Red Dwarf), a flat share (New Girl) or a  family (Arrested Development) - in fact often, the simpler the better. 

Comedian and writer Humphrey Ker highlighted that the classic beginner's mistake was to focus on a high end concept: to get side tracked by the situation, by coming up with something dazzlingly original.  Time travelling nuns go back to Victorian London and hunt vampires.  That kind of thing. 

Humphrey Ker - he's one smart cookie

Sound familiar?

I made that mistake.  It isn't restricted to comedy writers.  It applies to all writers, or at least it did to me.  My head would split trying to come up with The Unique Plot Concept when what I needed to be doing was thinking about characters. 

Characters are key.

As the panel said - put Basil Fawlty on an oil rig and he would still be funny.  It isn't the hotel that's funny, it's the way that Basil Fawlty reacts to anything that crosses his path.

Humphrey described Red Dwarf as "Porridge in space."   Apply that to novels - you could probably describe Harry Potter as Star Wars in a school for wizards.  

I write historical romance.  Or I did.  Not today.  Today I'm writing a contemporary paranormal and it's liberating.  I'm thinking less about curious situations and getting the historical detail right and thinking more about the character and what they need to have happen to grow and develop.  The story is built around that.  

So, here's the thing. 

The next time someone says:

"I've got a great idea for a book"

Don't ask "What?" ask "Who?" 

Because when it comes down to it, it's the C that's important - the character and the comedy.  Get your characters right and the rest will come. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

"Look!" tagged by @AimeeDuffyX

Watch out there's a meme about!

Contemporary romance author Aimee Duffy recently tagged me in a "look" meme.  The rules are as follows:

"In your Wip, do a "find" for the word "look." Paste the paragraph that surrounds it. Then tag some of your favorite writers to do the same."

I don't really do Facebook (at least I try not to) so, I'm blogging my meme response.  Here's an extract from my very new, absolutely latest WIP (one chapter down, nineteen + to go)... Banshee.

“Goddess preserve us, you’re going banshee!”  Sean interrupted, his eyes gleaming with interest.  The words froze her solid.  “Look at yourself.”  He snapped his fingers and a mirror appeared, dangling from his outstretched hand.  She stared.  Eyes the colour of fresh spilt blood stared back, surrounded by a cloud of ice-white hair.  Her mouth was still twisted into a silent scream.  

Paranormal Romance, Banshee,
From Freaking News:

Now who to tag?  None other than my favourite fictionistas: Ruth Long, Stacy Bennett-Hoyt, Kern Windwraith and Brewed Bohemian Jenn and magical mage Anne Meade, Sophie Moss (Selkie Enchantress coming soon - YEAY!) and Cameron Lawton.  

Friday, 3 August 2012

Summoning a Banshee... with thanks to @IncyBlack

We're lying on the beach in the sun.  Yes, you heard me: sun.  This is the ONE sunny day of the Summer.  My other half is slowly basting himself and I am sitting on a raincoat (always be prepared say I).

knitting, fashion photographer, knitwear designer
Basking... knitter Patricia Martin of Unwinding Slowly
I look at the blank page of my notebook and doodle a pale blue ink.  "Someone recommended that I try my hand at paranormal.".

He glances up.  "Paranormal?"

"Yeah, like vampires, werewolves and stuff."

"People read that?"

"Yeah it's a big romance genre.  One of the biggest.  HUGE."

"Women are weird."

"I don't want to write about vampires and werewolves though.  I want to do something different."

"Like what?"

"Well, when I first started writing I had this story about a selkie and a weather witch who was going out with a psychopathic drug dealer."

He laughs.  "Cool."

I sigh.  "It didn't really work.  She was pathetic and it was all a bit overambitious.  What do you think I should try?"

"Um."  He thinks for a moment. "This is a bit weird."

"Go on."

"A banshee.  Not sure what women would think about it, but I reckon a guy could find a banshee kind of sexy. Black hair, pale skin, kind of scary."

I look at him.  "A banshee."

"A banshee."

White Banshee by Tigerkaetzchen 

I turn the idea over in my mind and toss it in with the weather witch plot.  I add a Selkie and then take him out.  No need for that.  I play with the drug dealing idea - maybe a lover, but maybe a family member. Gangland.  Like the Sopranas.

Suddenly shadows are slipping across a storeroom and a woman is crouched in the corner.  I have my first scene.

Banshees.  Who knew?

With thanks to the fabulous Incy Black for prompting the original train of thought.  If I write a paranormal, it's thanks to you.