Saturday, March 06, 2010
Hi everyone! I'm so thrilled to be here.
In publishing, you get quite a few firsts – the first time an editor calls to buy your book, the first time you see your cover, the first time you hold that book in your hands or see it on a shelf next to book by other authors you admire. These are amazing milestones. Fourteen books in and I still squeal with joy when the box of author copies arrives at my door. That excitement and wonder just had not gone away.
This month I get to experience another first, seeing the publication of my first ever Harlequin Intrigue. I've been writing for another publisher, Kensington, for years, but this is a whole new game for me.
When I started writing for Intrigue a friend said: “Well, they're short. How hard can they be to write?” I have an answer now: hard. Packing suspense and romance into 55,000 words is not an easy task, and I decided to make my road a little tougher by injuring my hero in the first chapter. Yes, you read that right. Shot him. Made it so that rescuing the heroine was not an easy task, which is good because his heroine is the type of lady perfectly capable of rescuing herself.
Well, that's not to say she a superhero or something. She's not. In fact, she' pretty much caused the trouble she's in. Years before she left our hero Luke to marry another man. Wrong pick by Claire. Have I mentioned how cute and strong and wonderful Luke is? I'm my head he looks a little like Eric Bana but on the cover he looks more like David Boreanaz – and I'm fine with that. See what I mean? Bad pick there by Claire. She had her reasons but that doesn't change the fact she's in a mess. She's accused of killing the husband she picked over Luke and now she needs Luke to clear her name.
Now, I worried about writing Claire. She's made some bad choices (obviously the Luke thing being one of them). She's pretty imperfect. She let emotion and fear drive her. She pushed Luke away rather than fight for him. And let me go ahead and remind you how adorable Luke is. Oh, he's not perfect either. Far from it. But he's the guy you'd want on your side in a fight, injured and all. Still, Claire is human. She stumbles. For me, that's different from a heroine you want to shake all the time because you think she's an idiot.
What about you guys? Is there a line between TSTL and realistic for heroines? Are there things you'd accept a hero doing that might be sort of dumb, but you can't tolerate in a heroine? Can you forgive poor Claire for pushing Luke away if she had her reasons?
HelenKay's Intigue debut, Under The Gun, is available now. For more about her lovely self and her other works, check out her website.
Friday, March 05, 2010
I have a new addiction. Glee. And, no, I don’t mean that I’m walking around all day with a cheesy smile on my face; I’m talking about the TV programme of the same name.
We don’t have Glee clubs in the UK. School choirs, yes, but not Glee clubs. I’m not sure I’ve worked out what the difference is, except there seems to be more dancing and costumes involved with a Glee club. And lots more drama! The stigma, however, remains the same. According to Sue, their deliciously vicious PE teacher, these kids are the lowest of the low – if the popular kids are the penthouse, the Glee kids are sub-basement.
Anyway, I love a bit of OTT TV and Glee is certainly that – boys and girls bursting into song at any given opportunity, lots of bright colours, teachers that I thank heaven never taught at my school, and a bunch of cheerleaders who never seem to wear anything but their teeny-tiny uniforms.
On the romance side, there’s some definite chemistry between Rachel (Lea Michelle) and Finn (Cory Monteith), but he’s dating head cheerleader Quinn (Dianna Argon) and, frankly, over-ambitious Rachel can be a tad scary at times. I’m not surprised Finn is hesitant, even if they are perfect leading lady and leading man material when they get together.
I love the dry, tongue-in-cheek humour, the totally outrageous storylines, and most of all the songs. I’ve always wanted to sing in a musical (yeah, like that is ever gonna happen!), but second best is living it vicariously through the cast of Glee. I just got the soundtrack CD for my birthday, so you’ll have to excuse me while I plug my iPod in, turn it up loud and sing into my hairbrush…
Fiona's next book, Housekeeper's Happily-Ever-After is an RT Book Reviews Top Pick for April! It's out now in the UK (as a 2-in-1 with Jessica Hart's new release, Oh-So-Sensible Secretary) and available in North America in April.
Ellie Bond tries to escape her past by taking a job as jet-setting Mark Wilder's housekeeper. But the accident that killed her husband and daughter have left scars, both inside and out, and she worries she'll never be able to leave the past behind and find true happiness.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
What am I reading? Well, now that’s a difficult question.
If I’d been writing this blog last week, then the answer would have been . .. ‘I can’t tell you.’ You see, last week I was still working my way through the bundle of books I was sent to judge for the RWA’s RITA contest. That’s always interesting – 8 book randomly selected for me by someone at RWA headquarters and sent my way to be read and rated by March 9th. Sadly, this time I didn’t discover a new-to-me must-read author. But the reading’s done, and the judging and now my next book is my own choice.
And that’s where the panic sets in. Have you seen my TBR pile? No – don’t look – it’s totally out of control – it’s a TBR mountain. And it’s getting bigger every day. And the trouble is that when I look at it I get TBR paralysis. I mean – what do I want to read!
It’s not that I don’t have anything to read. Obviously, from what I’ve just said, I have plenty – too much to read. And that’s just it. There’s too much choice. In the film Amadeus, there is a moment that I’ve always loved where the character Emperor Joseph II explains why he doesn’t like a piece of music. Unable to come up with a real reason why, he simply declares ‘Too many notes!’ And that’s how I feel right now. Too many books!
It was actually a relief when I had to read the RITA books because then I just didn’t have any choice. It was these books – nothing else. They were the ones I had to read. Now I can choose again and I’m faced with . . . .well, too many books.
I have a selection of the most recent M&B Modern/ Harlequin Presents titles to read. But right now I’m fighting to finish my own latest story so I don’t want to influence myself – or, let’s be honest, read books that have been complete, accepted and bought when I’m still wrestling this darn Sicilian to a finish. There’s a wonderful selection of books that I was given for Christmas – yes – honest – Christmas. Life has been so hectic since then that I haven’t had a chance to open them and settle down with one. There’s a Diane Chamberlain in that pile – The Bay At Midnight – that is just calling to me but I know that if I open it, I’ll be lost – and the Sicilian won’t get his Happy Ever After.
Ditto with Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan. That combines two of my great interests – historical fiction and the Bronte sisters. It’s a fictional retelling of their life. And that one has been on the pile even longer than the Chamberlain. Jude signed it for me when we were in Haworth together, on a panel discussing romantic fiction . . .back in June last year!
Then there are the books that my friends and fellow writers send me, their own recent titles – Liz Fielding, Donna Alward, Kate Hardy, Julie Cohen - you know I mean you! And before I know it Michelle Reid and Anne McAllister will have new titles out too. I always ask, but no one ever sends along a vouched for the time it takes to read their books along with the lovely tempting brand new volumes in the parcel. More contributions for the TBR mountain . . . more choices for what to read next, more decisions I just can’t make!
Sarah Walters, Robert Goddard, Jodi Picoult . . . a biography of Billy Joel . . .Oh – help! - no – two biographies of Billy Joel. One I bought myself and one someone gave my – you guessed – for Christmas.
And I know it’s just going to get worse. It’s the UK Mothers’ Day soon and The Offspring is bound to have found something great that he just knows I’d love to read – if I had time. Ditto with a birthday looming in May. And when I’ve dealt with the Sicilian (at last!) and packed him off to my oh so patient editor than I have one particular book that I have to reread as research for the next ‘special project’ series that I’ve been asked to write a novel for. And I can’t even tell you about that until I’ve written it.
Reread – REread! How can I reread something when I don’t even have time to READ what’s already on the pile on my bookshelves. (OK – I admit it – the pile(S) on my shelves . . . the shelves full on my shelves . . .) But at least I haven’t added anything to them lately. Not like the Babe Magnet who went with me to Wales when I was teaching at Fishguard last week and came back with 12 - twelve, count them – books to add to his collection. I haven’t bought anything new recently and . . Oh dear, of course, the New M&B Modern titles are out this week and there’s .. .
No! It has to stop! I ‘m not going to add anything to this pile until I’ve taken at least 3 books off it and read them. But which ones? I want to read them all – obviously – or they wouldn’t be there in the first place. . .
I know – if you remember, I have a system for picking the winners from my contests. I write all the names of the entrants on pieces of paper, spread them out on the floor, put a cat treat on top of each one – and let my cat Sid loose on the treats. The ones he eats first are the winners. I could do that with the books … Sid would love to help me choose. It would mean there would be an awful lot of treats!
And while he’s at it, he can help me pick a winner too. I’ll offer a copy of a signed book from my backlist to someone who comments on this post – tell me about your TBR pile. How big is it? What’s it got on it? How do you decide what to read next? And if Sid picks your name then I’ll send you your choice of title from my backlist. And you can add it to your TBR pile. It won’t lessen my TBR mountain but at least it will be one less book in my house!
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
DEFINITION OF MUSE: “The spirit that is thought to inspire a poet or other artist; source of genius or inspiration.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.
The following are a few tips for tickling your muse.
Get off your duff and drag the little muse with you.
It is a well-known fact that exercise releases endorphins, which make us feel good, which helps us create. Though endorphins don’t last that long and may be released just as easily by eating protein, having sex, or taking a shower, walking is a good way to pump up the volume, burn a few calories and reap the writer’s benefits.
“Now you listen here, Tinker Bell. You work for me! If I put you on the clock I expect you to throw me ideas faster than Frisbees in the park. You got that?”
Okay, so this method doesn’t always work, but, when in a jam, it’s worth a try isn’t it?
Like any good relationship, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your muse. Do whatever it takes to stimulate, activate and perpetuate the special kinship between you and that spirit of great notions that dwells within. Otherwise, you may wind up pitifully repeating the phrase on a ribbon I once bought in Atlanta, “Has anyone seen my muse?”
As luck would have it, I’ve now spent the last half hour staring at my empty computer screen. All my brain cells seem to have fizzled out. My muse is on the lam. I’ve just about given up writing anything more today, when my dog bounds into the room and pushes his pesky pooch face into my lap.
“You want to take a walk?” I ask.
He pants his affirmation.
You never know when your muse is talking, or what form it’s morphing into, so my advice? Look, listen, and leap into action.
I follow my dog’s lead. We head out the door for that walk. I sniff the sweet afternoon breeze, and my nerve synapses start sending impulses all over my brain. I glance at my dog, he looks adoringly up at me, and I can barely keep up with the ideas for that next story taking form in my brain…
Lynne’s current story is The Boss and Nurse Albright, HMB 3/10 UK and NA. It is the first of her unofficial Santa Barbara series for the Medical Romance line.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
The kids are interested in history - especially live reenactments - and I like getting a better sense of the local area. It's too easy to live in a place and never really know it. The better you know a place, the more vivid you can make it in your stories.
Jenna has a new ebook releasing next week. Pride & Passion comes complete with a hero used to getting what he wants, a heroine determined not to give in to him, some indecent proposals, a fair amount of pride, and enough passion to burn up everyone’s control.To find out what Jenna is up to ...check out her website & blog.
Monday, March 01, 2010
In 2001 he had a role in 'Black Hawk Down' where he became friends with Orlando Bloom. He provided the voice for Anchor, the shark in 'Finding Nemo'. Then in 2003 he starred in 'The Hulk'. In 2004 he played Hector in 'Troy' (for which had had to learn to ride). Mentioning 'Troy' which gives me a good excuse to add another photo of Eric Bana without a shirt on and looking rather more appealing than he did in 'Chopper'. Perhaps we should just pause for a moment as we appreciate the joy of sword and sandal epics.
He's quoted as saying: 'I love being at home, being with friends and family. I'm of European stock, brought up in Australia. I'm a passionate guy. I just love life.'
Sounds good to me!
Annie's currently looking for inspiration for her next story after having had her 12th book accepted by Harlequin (yay!).