Thursday, 26 May 2011

Shadow is out!

My book is up! Shadows is on sale at Sapphire Blue, Amazon and All Romance Books. $6 dollars at SB and ARB, £6.91 at Amazon.com. I haven't checked other places yet.
Click here to go to Sapphire Blue's page.


A word of warning - this morning I noticed that Two Lips has a review for Shadows, but it's the old 2006 version, before I expanded the story by 30,000 words - and changed the names of the two main characters!


Here's an excerpt when Melissa has just arrived at the old mill:


The heat bounced off the pale flagstones, and bees and dragonflies buzzed the riot of flowers and weeds surrounding two sides of the patio. From the third side the patio opened out on to rough meadowland stippled with half a dozen tall trees, and a line of shrubs and bushes told her a stream bordered the property. Standing in the heat and scent of dust, lavender and geranium, listening to the delicious rustle of leaves in the tall trees, she knew she would like it here. Closing her eyes, she inhaled a deep breath of delight.


Something made her glance up to the higher level. A tall figure in black stood on the grassy patch beside the bolly, watching her. Who was he? Had someone come to visit Rory? The stranger was young, and handsome, even if he looked like a priest in that long, dark robe. As she stared, he raised a hand, palm out and strode off into the trees.
Rory’s voice called through the open window. As she trotted up the steps, she looked for the stranger but he had disappeared along an overgrown grassy track leading away through the trees. Rory walked out onto the bolly, a glass in each hand.

At the sight of him in slacks and checked shirt, a jolt of pleasure ran through her. He looked even more handsome out of the elegant suits. “Who was that man?” She accepted the glass he offered.
“What man?”
Melissa gestured to the grassy area. “The man who stood there two minutes ago and waved at me. He walked away up the old track.”

Rory frowned. “I didn’t see anyone. Jonny said the track is still a public bridleway but he’s never known anyone use it. There’s a monastery at the top of the hill. Maybe the track is a shortcut.” He smiled and raised his glass. “Let’s hope we’re not about to be invaded by holiday-makers tramping by every day. Especially not the clergy.” He pulled out a chair for her. “Dinner’s just about ready. If you sit down, I’ll bring the food out.”

The white table already held a bowl of salad, a wicker basket of bread and the opened bottle of wine. He was fast and efficient. No sooner had she taken her seat than he put a plate of steak before her and offered the salad bowl.
She tilted her head back and smiled at him. How good to have a man prepared to cook for her. “This looks delicious. Does Jonny plan to do a lot of work here?”
He picked up his cutlery and cut into his steak. “The grand plan is for two bedrooms and a bathroom on the lower level so Jonny can invite friends. The bathroom’s finished, but the rest is a muddle.”


That meant no bedrooms on the lower floor, and only one on this level. An ugly suspicion bloomed in her mind. Melissa heaped salad onto her plate and replaced the steel salad servers carefully in the bowl. “Then am I right in thinking there is only one bedroom here?”
The chilly edge on her voice brought his head up.

His peacock blue eyes narrowed. “’fraid so. That isn’t going to be a problem, is it?”

Dismay at his deception roared through her, and small flash of fear and timidity followed it. Yes, one bedroom most certainly would be a problem. She wasn't ready. Not yet. Talk about being taken for granted—the conceited ass expected her to tumble into bed with him without a second thought. She inhaled sharply. “It is presumptuous of you to assume I’ll share a bed with you right away.”

He stopped eating and stared at her, surprise etched into the lines of his face.

Had she misjudged him? Maybe she had jumped to the wrong conclusion. He'd be insulted if that was the case. So she offered a sweet smile and spoke gently. “Unless I’m wrong and you intend to sleep on the sofa?”


“Presumptuous?” His gaze darted across her face. Presumably he was trying to read her expression. He didn’t know how to answer her. Melissa lifted her brows slightly, smiled without opening her mouth and waited.
He put down his cutlery and picked up his wine glass. “What do you mean?”


She frowned. How could he pretend he did not know what she meant? “We are not lovers.” She bit off each word. “We may become so, but right now I expect a room of my own.” Heat rose through her skin, and her hand trembled on the rim of the table. She whipped it out of sight. Let him make of it what he would.

Rory swallowed too soon, choked and coughed.
He flung himself out of his chair, coughing, one fist to his mouth as he strode across the bolly. As the fit lessened, he thrust one hand against the oak upright supporting the roof and stood there, head down, breathing hard.


Annoyance did not stop her admiring the way his shoulders heaved with his breathing, or the graceful way he stood even when he was in some distress. His attention not on her. It was the first time she'd seen him rattled, and his reaction interested her. When his breathing calmed, he slowly strolled back to the table and took his seat.

His eyes still watered a little, and he blinked rapidly to clear them. “Christ, I feel as if all sorts of pits are yawning at my feet. Would you believe me if I said I honestly hadn’t thought about it?”

Melissa sipped her wine. She didn't believe him for a moment. “How could you ignore it? There is only one bed.”

He winced, as if her words pained him.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Spent the last few days preparing and sending off to an agent who shocked me by responding within the hour, requesting the full ms. I've got so used to having weeks to wait while the first three chapters are looked over that this came as quite a shock to the system.
I found it easy to take out a couple of thousand words, too, which I probably shouldn't admit, but I can't lie about it. Mostly odd words that were superfluous, little bits of repetition or bits of backstory that weren't really required.
I'm going to print the whole thing out tomorrow, and I'll probably find more to take out. Generic nouns, verbs that have adjectives and adverbs attached, for example. I think I've got out of the dreaded habit of writing "she moved slowly" and now think of "saunters, strolled, ambled." Avoiding "Is" and "are", "was" and the -ing form of the verb - these are all good things. So is eliminating "there is/there are/ it is" and all those crutch words - we've all got them and some times it's quite a surprise to realise what they are.
Now I'm going back to my wip; chapter thirty-three - possibly the last chapter, depending how my protagonist feels about it. All I have to do is write it. Sounds so easy...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Soft landing required

Choose the right option and you could be a student living in Durham Castle above the River Wear. I couldn't get in because I hadn't studied Latin, which was deemed necessary for the English Lit course I wanted to do, but that was quite a while ago and may not apply now.
I sent off a full ms for Treason today, with fingers crossed as usual. Let's hope it receives a soft landing ~ as in We Love It!
I thought Shadows was going to on the website today, but it looks as if there's a hitch, because I haven't found it yet, and even if New York is 5 hours behind me ... Duh! Arizona is possibly 8 hours behind, so that means it's only noon there. Incredible, isn't it? Especially when I think that Australia is already trotting out into tomorrow. Perhaps I should be patient a little while longer; it may yet appear.
I regret clicking the button to change to Internet 9. It may be me, but there are so many things I now find difficult to do that were easy-peasy in IE8. For example, I cannot go back, highlight Shadows and change the font to italic. It simply will not do it. Today I couldn't use red font in an e-mail. Simple things, nothing extraordinary but so annoying. Working on this blog in IE9 is a real pain. Ah well. Maybe it is me, and all will become clear in time. There's probably some dinky little button somewhere I haven't clicked, but I'm danged if I can find it. Even the usual save and delete options have vanished.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Are you being funny?

Soon the bluebells will be gone, but I've caught some wonderful sights this year. This patch, tucked away at the back of the formal gardens at Seaton Delavel, is just one of them.
The snow last winter resulted in so much glorious blossom this Spring, its just a pity that the wind has been so strong this last ten days or so that walking or cycling has been unpleasant. As far as fitness goes, that's not a problem, because we have an indoor exercise bike, and I can remember some step sequence exercises. Still, I miss the walks through the woods, fields and hedgerows.
Being indoors has resulted in lots of work on writing. I'm currently reading through Treason, to see what I think of it after a year away from it. Tweaking is mostly a case of removing odd bits of repetition, padding or bits I like but have little or no relevance to the plot. Only another fifty pages to go and then it'll be perfect - cue hollow laughter.
I've been reading Haze Osmond's blog this morning. She's talking about writing humour, which is something I'd find terribly difficult to do. Inadvertant humour is my forte; if I had to stop and think about it, I'd be lost. Hazel wonders when humour crosses the line and becomes cruel, a line that all writers must tread warily. If your writing is comedic, take a peek and see what you think: http://hazelosmond.co.uk/page7.htm

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Something new and not-so-fresh

If I discount Matho's introduction in Till the Day Go Down, which was really Harry and Alina's story, the first book of Matho's story is Treason. I'm sending Treason out to agents, and although I'm still writing the follow-up, Defiance, I'm getting pretty close to the end. It is both a relief and sad at the same time. Relief that I'll be finished with it for a while before I go back and do a second draft, and sad because poor old Matho is not in a happy place at the moment.
I have plans aplenty for what I'll do in the gap between first and second drafts. First and foremost, the tennis season is almost upon us here in the UK and I for one will be glued to whatever scraps the BBC red button allows me of the French Open, the Aegon tournament and Wimbledon. Then we have a holiday in France - though I'll take the laptop with me, and continue snatches of work, and this blog, there. (I hope the mice haven't got stuck in any more toasters during my absence.)
About three years ago I wrote a story called Keep Trust, set in late Victorian England and after a couple of refusals sent it to an Advisory Service. Their comments were so disheartening that I put the story away and now and then looked at the comments. At first they made me angry, but now I can look at them and consider how to use them. To be honest, it hasn't taken me three years to reach this happy state - after the initial six months of gradually simmering down, I forgot about it and started writing about Matho. Now, I may be able to make something of it. I still haven't decided if I shall turn it into a historical mystery, or add more social realism. Evidently if I have a main character who is Lord Blank and also a hands-on mineowner, then that makes it an uncomfortable fit in the popular genres - and a reason agents etc won't want it.
And yet, we're always being told that they're looking for something new and fresh. If I add more social realism and omit some of the romance, maybe that will slot it into a different genre. I can only go with my own gut feeling...if only I could decide what that was...
So, with a nod to the gentry mineowners of the North-East, I add a photo of the nearby Causey Arch, said to be the oldest railway bridge in the world. Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causey_Arch for more information.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Oh dear

Vera is the latest offering on tv that is set in the North East of England. I watched the first two episodes with great expectation, but gave up on the third and fourth because I couldn't bear listening to the dreadful attempts at a so called Geordie accent. With few exceptions the delivery was painfully slow, as if the actors had to frame the sounds in their heads before they attempted them in reality. The addition of 'pet' on every other sentence was an irritation. The leading actress was a strange choice, and the younger officer might have been a better leaad. Certainly he had the right sound.


Tv film makers seem bent on seeking out the locations that hark back to the North East of fifty years ago. There are no pit heaps now. The pits are long since closed and grassed over. The steel works have gone. The shipbuilding has very nearly disappeared. There are many beautiful places here, but do the filmakers seek them out? They do not. They want grim and gritty, and show them ad nauseam.


But I suppose there's virtue in their madness. Tourists won't be swarming into Northumberland and Durham on the basis of Vera, and that means we can keep Britain's best kept secret all to ourselves.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Normal service?

I'm not sure if Blogger is back to normal yet. I know there is one post missing, so I''l try this brief message to see what happens.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Upgrades are hell

I shouldn't have tempted fate when I wondered if I might receive a third piece of good news this week. What I actually got was a third rejection! Never mind - it was a very nice rejection and I got the feeling it was only just missing the mark.
My PC asked me if I wanted to upgrade to Internet Explorer 9 this week, and stupidly I clicked on the yes button. Now I find I can't do a lot of the things I used to do; whether its because I can't find the appropriate box or because they really have removed the action from the upgrade, I don't know. But it is causing me problems. I wanted to post an excerpt here from Shadows, and though I have the piece all neat and tidy in my documents file, I don't seem to be able to save, cut and paste it into here. A rather serious drawback, in my view. I'm seriously contemplating going back to IE8.
But then it is Friday 13th. Perhaps tomorrow will be better. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Good News



This morning I received news that another story - Reluctance - has been accepted by MuseItUp Publishing. The setting for this one is 1803, if my memory serves correctly (I'm not good at remembering figures. Words, yes, but numbers just go into limbo and disappear) and I took a local setting I know fairly well - Gibside Hall, now a National Trust property, and imagined my characters into it. Great fun. The story was fun to write, too, though my hero/ine both suffer till they get to the last page. In true romance style, there's a happy ending.


After a run of rejections from UK agents (well, OK, two; all very nice and polite, wishing me well elsewhere but unfortunately my story is just not for them), this is such good news. I wonder if I dare look for a third piece of good news this week?

The pic is my other half looking out over the battlements of Stirling Castle. The hills behind him are where the Highland Line begins.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Shadows

My new cover arrived yesterday, along with the final edits, and the publication date is mid-May - as long as there are no snags!
I hardly dare touch the final edits in case I hit the wrong button and skew the whole thing. I imagine that setting the novel out in it's final form takes a great deal of time and effort, so I must be careful. I like the cover, too - I've always liked purple and orange together.

This is the story of the girl and the ancient watermill in France...she thinks she's been extremely daring to go on holiday with a wonderful man she's only just met, has to keep her own secrets and convince him the mill has a pair of ghostly lovers - and then meets a Frenchman who thinks she's his soulmate.


The outline of this story was published briefly by Triskelion (for something like a fortnight!) before they went bankrupt, but since then I've re-written the story and added about thirty thousand words, so it is much better than it was originally. It was one of my first stories, and I've improved mucho as a writer since I wrote the first draft!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Publish and be damned!



Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, has recently unveiled a draft bill to the libel laws in the UK. The changes aim to protect freedom of speech and make it tougher to bring overseas claims to English courts when the matter has little connection to the UK. Clarke said the bill would "ensure that anyone who makes a statement of fact or expresses an honest opinion can do so with confidence. The right to speak freely and debate issues without fear of censure is a vital cornerstone of a democratic society," he added. "In recent years, though, the increased threat of costly libel actions has begun to have a chilling effect on scientific and academic debate and investigative journalism."

The government has also begun a consultation on issues not covered by the draft bill, including responsibility for publication on the internet.

A recent case has caused consternation because it wants to stop a writer publishing a book. Lawyers for the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien sent a cease and desist letter to author Steve Hillard claiming that his novel Mirkwood violates the Estate's right of publicity because he uses Tolkien as a character in his novel. (A US attorney considers writers and their fears: here and a comment on how things stand today here)


Amazon promotes Hillard's novel as: '...wildly original debut, Mirkwood, re-invents J.R.R. Tolkien as a man haunted by the very myths he rewove into his famous works. As much literary criticism as boisterous epic, this episodically-driven plot explores the blurred borderlands where ancient tales, lost heroines, and epic journeys are stalked by dim monsters that will not be still. In 1970, Professor Tolkien makes a little-known visit to America-and sets in motion elvish powers embodied in a cache of archaic documents. Destinies are altered, legends become real, and two heroines must race for their lives in vastly different worlds.'


I think I can see why the lawyers are protesting.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

It took nearly 25 minutes to load, but I think it may be OK. Let me know what you think!



video

Monday, 2 May 2011

Argh!

I am befuddled and frustrated. I have another version of the trailer to upload and I can't get it on here, nor can I get it on Youtube in spite of several attempts. Neither tells me why, so I'm in the dark. Yet I've made the trailer in exactly the same way as I made the earlier one, which uploaded here without a problem. All I can do is delete that one, and see if that makes a difference. Aren't computers hell when they don't do what you want and won't tell you why?


I'm one of those who spent rather a lot of time watching the wedding on tv on Friday. Can't help it - the chance to see bits of Westminster Abbey, the Household Cavalry, watch the fashion parade... my vote went to Pippa Middleton for the surprise dress of the day - so elegant and understated, yet so eyecatching. She got the vote of most from the men in the streetparty later, too.