Saturday, 31 July 2010

Many thanks to Donna for this blogfest! To see other entrants visit Donna's website

Donnna's Milestone blogfest drew my attention, and of course prompt signing-up. All sorts of ideas leapt to the fore but none seeming to fit the criteria of a milestone of any significance. At least, not one that I could write about with deep insight and knowledge other than that of psychology or horses.  So, this is definitely an account of a personal milestone and how I set out to reach it, then sat upon it in fog of despair until the right characters finally came my way!

For so long this elusive milestone kept appearing much like a mirage in a desert, and although I knew it existed I could not yet see it for real. I never gave up hope of setting off along a road that would bring me to that milestone!

On my journey it occurred to me how others' milestones have helped numerous novelists' throughout history. After all, historians owe much to the first diarists', and I guess my personal quest to reach a particular Milestone in my writing is dedicated to one diarist and a painting, which will come later! But before galloping off to my milestone, let's applaud the Ancient Chinese and Egyptian scribes who revealed snippets of life and social structure throughout various ruling dynasties from around 2000 B.C.

Plato too, the Greek philosopher (real name Aristocles) who gave insight to life in his time: believed to have been born around 427 B.C.

And later, Samuel Pepys' Diaries (1660 he began recording times and events in London) and few people around the globe are not unfamilar with his writings: the great fire of London.

However, a man before his time Richard Symonds (Diary of the Marches and Royal Army during the English Civil War) is less known beyond the shores of the British Isles. Which does beg the question: why did Pepys' Diaries become famed and Symonds' not? Well that's another story entirely!

Whatever the reason behind Symonds' lesser recognition as a diarist, is of little consequence but he did provide a few vital dates and times regarding movement of Royalist troops. My abiding passion for history since childhood - in particular the Period of English Civil War - always such that I swore I would one day write a romantic novel set within that time period of history.

Unlike most romantic writers who create characters and then plot and plan out a sequence of events to take those characters on a journey of love and strife and eventual happiness, I am perhaps a strange individual who allows characters from another dimension to walk into my life. Sometimes a house, sometimes places (woodland/river walk/castle) the catalyst to their presence!

I cannot simply conjur characters sit and then write without previous inspiration and, inspiration sorely failed for years in providing the wherewithall for reaching that damned elusive "milestone".

Then, one day I spied a wonderful painting depicting Parliamentarian trooper and a Cavalier officer in close-combat on horseback. Something about the two men stirred my interest and my imagination and the image lodged in the subconscious. The subconscious then played devil's advocate with the conscious mind and produced a dreamlike movie overnight. The two people in the painting had effectively revealed who they were and why I'd thought them related yet engaged in mortal combat. That dream then became a novel.

I'd finally reached that damned illusive milestone with "The Lord, The Lady, And Her Scandalous Seduction!" - presently in the hands of a publisher. And, I think it will not be the last of such projects and probably just the first in a line of sequential novels. Hence, peripheral character from that same period setting has already revealed his and that of his lady love's story by way of dream movie!

So trumpet blown!!!!!!!! Fingers crossed publisher bites, but if not at least I've reached that milestone and it means more to me than accolade of seeing it in print! I'm well-chuffed!

I will be posting a scene from this novel for the High Drama Blogfest!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Getting Down and Dirty with Blogfesting!

OK, so there's a lot of people out there convinced blogfests are a bad thing for aspiring writers!

At one point I sort of sympathised with that assumption until I read an article on a lit agent's web site, in which it was stated that if an excerpt of writing or first chapter is placed on the Internet (blogoland/wherever) many newbie writers fear it might be stolen or the idea/plot stolen.

The lit agent pointed out that the author of original content retains full copyright (date/time stamp of posted content proof positive or submission of content to any central deposit agency) and, should that then appear verbatim in a published novel written by another author a charge of plagiarism will stand up in court of law!

Personally, if some saddo writer out there can't think or plot for themselves then I'll take it as a compliment that they were desperate enough to steal a piece of my action, because that would mean I'm better at writing than they are!

So, let's analyse a few reasons why people won't or are merely reluctant to publish snippets of their work on the Internet, and thereby unable to participate in blogfests!

As the lit agent said "fear" is a huge motivator for excuses to everything and anything that might imply one to be less than perfect in chosen field of writing. Perfected manuscripts are a rare commodity, hence one sees and hears tales all the time on bestselling author blogs about rewrites, how editors wanted more of something, sometimes less of something else, and many authors and lit agents alike despairing editors' sanity in some of the requests/demands made of writers.

So, according to professional opinion, your baby may be your baby and you may think it's perfect, but just wait until an editor starts hacking it to pieces - think you're a perfected writer now, think again!

OUCH! Tough words, but thought-provoking all the same.  I've been there done that, and again out in the wilderness like all newbie writers and wannabe' , not because I chose to be out in the cold but because circumstances beyond my control (riding accident) took me out of the writing circuit. So I know where most of you are coming from, and how hard it can be to motivate oneself at times. When I eventually came to (bouts of unconsciousness) I was given books to read and suddenly realised I couldn't read, that I'd lost that faculty, which took literally months to recover and I felt ashamed because I couldn't read and couldn't write. Luckily it was a temporary thing, and I'm back on form. I think - judge for yourselves by reading my material!  

Now to issue of why blogfesting is a good marketing ploy - according to lit agent!

Lit agent was quick to note blogfests as "marketing tool" = extend friend base extend fan base extend sales of book when your name finally hits the shelves whether in cyber bookstore as e-book or conventional bookstores. People you've met via blogging will go buy your book if nothing more than to critique it, bash it to shreds, envy it and swear they could have written better, or they'll genuinely love it and praise you for job well done!

Lit agent's advice was look at your blog closely, not just your bestest group buddies who post on yours and you post on theirs; so on and so forth (same old same old - limited market potential) look out for new faces (even the silent ones) and go blogging = go marketing.

Lit agent advice: stick with your own kind until you've hit the publishing wheel, hanging out on published author blogs comes across as desperate to belong and shades of willing them to help you gain entry to their inner realm. Hanging out on lit agent blogs worse still, though he did put a big smiley at this point. :)

Oh whoops, hee hee, shall have to cut back on posting to queens of romance then.

This is an add on to above: How much should one bare on blogs, snippets of WIPs that is.

I noticed on a blog (somewhere) in comments:  re posting snippets from novels is not a good idea, as some publishers may consider it be already published!!!

Well, according to quite a few publishers including Carina Press (e-book publisher Harlequin) and Avon Romance & Harper Collins ( actively look to see if authors are already promoting themselves and their work! Good news, or what?

So, what's your opinion on blogfesting?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

"Share Your Darlings" Blogfest . . .

There's a follow-up at end of this snippet in reference to publisher rejection for this specific novel. It may help you to avoid the same pitfall I dropped into without realising I had.

The lovely Michelle Gregory hosted this blogfest so please check out her url below to read other author offerings to the "Share Your Darlings" blogfest.

Ricky Lindon, engaged to Tara Portland, never for one moment thought Tara would be passing a particular New York restaurant and would see him (apparently) kissing another woman. She did, though, and ran and kept running, then eighteen-months later he sees her and cannot get to her: you'll see why! This snip taken from opening chapter to category romance novel: just completed

Island of Ste Marguerite, Cannes, France: late April.

Tethered to the mainmast of a sailing ship and fifty lashes of the whip supposedly raining down on his back, Ricky Lindon sensed something or someone on the quayside. It was just a flash in his peripheral vision.

He inclined his head to see what had caught his eye.

Yee gods.

An exquisite apparition had come to brighten his day. Well, not as such, but certainly a vision of beauty.

What with a damn cloud as black as night overhead and looking like it intended business, the director suddenly yelled, ‘Cut,’ threw down his copy of the day’s script in gesture of utter frustration, and furthered with snide comment: ‘The effing script Lindon, read it, you might get an idea of what I want from you today.’

‘And if I’d sneezed?’ quizzed Rick, thinking the ruddy director a pompous twit at times.

The director turned and stormed off, shouted, ‘Take a break everyone, and when Don Juan is ready to continue, perhaps he’ll be good enough to let me know.’

Ricky glanced over his shoulder to fellow actors. ‘What in hell is his problem?’

His co-star shrugged his shoulders, the flogging master did the sign of the cross with his fingers, and the camera crew busy scrambling to cover their kit with rain covers sniggering like idiots.

The creamy vision all the while remained on the quayside taking in the scene of irate director and entourage scurrying along behind him.

So what if Ricky Lindon was meant to look as though suffering the pain and humiliation of fifty lashes. Hell, he’d only turned his head slightly. And sure, his concentration of looking pained had lapsed into a broad grin. So what.

Damn it all, he couldn’t believe a woman like that was there alone without a man of some sort hanging out with her. She was gorgeous despite face half shadowed by wide-brimmed hat, her reflective shades purposefully fixated on his half naked body implying overt interest in what he had to offer.

If it hadn’t been for her stance of come and get me if you dare, he wouldn’t have grinned and caused the director to throw a tantrum. Seeing as he was already in the proverbial what the hell, he swung his head back round to get a better look at long slender legs and slim shapely hips.

Well if this wasn’t his lucky day.

A sudden offshore breeze whipped at her dress dragging it up her thigh, and the casual way in which she caught the brim of her hat to prevent it blowing away caused his heart to blip: several times.

He panned his eyes back to her face, the sensual sexuality of a smile bestowed upon him utterly breathtaking, not to say stimulating in a maddeningly frustrating way.

Overhead the gunmetal grey cloud stretching far distant suddenly shimmied past the sun like the gods were smiling down on him. And, lit from behind her figure turned to silhouette. A stunning figure it was too.

Something about her was damn familiar, but it couldn’t . . . couldn’t be Tara.

There it was again,  that come get me smile. It had to be her. No two women were that alike except identical twins, and Tara didn’t have a sister let alone a twin.

The fabulous vision suddenly turned about and strolled away.

He watched the gentle sway of her hips, relished the spectacle of long legs and trim ankles. She was barefoot and brazen, yet her poise sensual serene, and the way she pulled her hat from her head and shook long blonde locks loose set his pulse racing.

Was it Tara? Dare he shout out her name?

He’d look a right tosser if wrong in his thinking.

He had to know, one way or the other.

He turned to one of the sound technicians, asked, ‘Hey Ron, do you know who that young lady is?’

Ron glanced over the rim of his specs in her direction, replied, ‘Yeah, she’s with the guy who bankrolled the movie. Don’t know her name, though.’

‘What, the old guy?’

Hell, he sounded like he was well choked.

Damn it, he was choked. His heart dived. He was still lashed to the mast and not one of the bastards standing around taking a blind bit of notice of that fact, otherwise he could have legged it after her.

He noticed a man with a clipboard step toward her in a rather officious manner. Her instant gesture of throwing her arms in the air suggested she didn’t have a pass and had no right on set. And she looked like she didn’t give a monkey as though she owned the place, and that was just how Tara would have responded to a jumped up jerk.

Great, how in hell was he supposed to get near her if she was shacked up with Darrell Easterly the shipping billionaire?

The man had bodyguards galore, probably ex special-forces soldiers with sniper credentials to die for: literally.

Ricky Lindon, heartthrob movie star once upon a time engaged to Tara Portland, had suddenly found himself thrown out of her apartment block merely because he’d been spied kissing some girl in a restaurant. It was a kiss that had meant nothing to him, and bestowed in mere gratitude by his agent’s assistant. Trying to explain that to Tara had gotten him a slap to face, door slammed in his kisser and added indignity of an armed security guard hauling him into a lift before bundling him out and onto the street. Tara had then vanished within days, and now she’d popped up with billionaire shipping magnate in tow.

There was unfinished business between Ricky Lindon and Tara Portland, and the apparition on the quayside had given him the big come get me if you dare.

No way could Ricky Lindon walk away from that kind of a challenge.


Add on:

I don't mind posting rejections to subs and why they occurred - such can help others to avoid the same mistakes!!

This followed standard rejection line of not for us: quote:

"However, I don't feel this manuscript hits the right note for *******. The narrative needs to be sophisticated and serious, and that requirement more or less precludes romantic comedy, which this ms has leanings towards. The writing is florid (i.e. ' class oozed out of her like top whack champagne sizzling and brimming a cut-glass flute') and this kind of knockabout prose, while great fun and perfect for a particular type of rom com, is not what we're looking for at *******.

In general, we are looking for a greater attempt at realism in the narrative and in dialogue, as well as characters with which typical romance readers can identify, something I don't feel you've achieved here. It's also hard to create a sensual or sexual atmosphere between characters whose interior monologues are as jokey as yours, and we are looking specifically for sexy mss"

Fair enough, I expect the ed was just being nice about something she thought of as utter crap!
OK, so you've read the snippet, now read the sentence in context as referred to by the editor (top wack champagne):

When he’d first met Tara she hadn’t fallen at his feet like other young women, and he’d loved the way class oozed out of her like top wack champagne sizzling and brimming a cut-glass flute. And, element of mystery about her, too.

Smitten and intrigued he’d tried digging into her past, and she’d evaded his every question by changing the subject. He couldn’t imagine she’d had anything to hide, but there was something and it was a big deal by the way she’d gone off at him for pressing on the subject of parents. Afterwards he’d avoided prying into her life beyond that of every day acquaintance.

So, where does romance end and suddenly become chick-lit or rom com?

These two bloggers have some great chat going on too:

Karen G

Talli Roland