Sunday, April 30

Bank Holiday Busy-ness

You'll be pleased to know I've calmed down a little bit now! Thank you to everyone who has left a comment or emailed me or congratulated me on various writers' boards (you know where you are) on the Moonlit contest. There truly is no end of encouragement and support in the online romance writing community -- so, thank you!

Am in the middle of a busy Bank Holiday weekend, in contrast to the last one (when I did way too much lazing around). Yesterday I went to a designer outlet village with my friend and her baby girl, who turns 1 tomorrow. I got a dress for a friend's wedding next weekend, a top, and some gorgeous LK Bennett shoes, as well as a cute little beach outfit for Friend's Baby's birthday. Today is Bloke's rare Sunday off, and we have another friend's child's birthday party to go to this afternoon and tonight we're going for a meal to celebrate my win :) Tomorrow will be full of washing, tidying, editing, etc.

In other news, I emailed The Sun earlier this week to find out what was happening with their "Get Britain Reading" writing competition, which Nell and I both entered. This was their response:

We are hoping to announce the winners in the next couple of weeks. We had a far higher response than we anticipated and therefore we are still at the judging stage.

So, now we know!

Also very excited as Bloke and I are on the verge of booking our holiday. I'm not saying where until we've actually done it, just in case we lose it. Got to wait for someone to get their passport renewed first...

Oh yes, and I've decided on my pen-name: Jessica Raymond. Raymond was my Dad's middle name.

Wednesday, April 26

My Horoscope Was Right

So there I was, logging on later than usual yesterday evening after a small delay involving my sister and some bruised ligaments in her foot (she fell down some stairs in the Underground, but she's OK). I had a short email from Nell, along the lines of "Urgent: IM me when you come online!"

My Yahoo Messenger program takes a long time to load for some reason, and once I was in, I got the news. It turns out.....


The Little Shop of Dreams won first place and will be published in Moonlit Romance's Fall in Love anthology, which will be coming out in September!


Plus, for doubly good news, skip over to Nell's blog!

I'm glad that today is a Writing Wednesday as I have loads of things to do now. I need to officially decide on a pen-name, do some research on getting a website, go through all the Moonlit documents Laura, the editor, sent me last night and prepare a blurb for my story, and lots of other things I'm sure are waiting to be done, but which I've temporarily forgotten as I've not yet written my official To Do list.

Also, here is what my horoscope for yesterday said:

You will get more pleasure than usual from a hobby or creative project. Let your work speak for itself and be more satisfied listening to your supervisor or audience. Having followed your own vision finally pays dividends.

I'll say!!

Sunday, April 23

Sunday Afternoon

Easter was good, although I must admit I didn't do as much editing as I was hoping. I can't help it when they put things like Flash Gordon, The Princess Diaries, and Teen Wolf on during the day -- I end up sitting here, endlessly browsing Expedia for the elusive summer holiday, and watching consecutive daytime movies. I also caught up on the Sex and the City box-sets that Bloke gave me for Christmas. (Berger was so wrong for Carrie.) I think I did about 5 pages over the entire 4-day break.

Bag Head

Anyway, I've done quite a bit of editing this weekend, including critiquing Nell's work that she did during her holiday, and finally painting a few patches of tester paints on the walls of the bathroom and our bedroom. I also learnt to play poker on Friday night, and although I didn't win a whole game I did win a few hands, which was good. However, it was pretty annoying when I folded because I only had 4 chips left and it ended up that if I'd stayed in the game I would have got a royal flush. Ah well, can't win 'em all.

Just finished reading: Being a Bad Girl by Julie Cohen

Monday, April 10

Music Sounds Better With You

I've pushed another bunch of pages through the editing machine (i.e. me, with my increasingly shabby-looking printout covered in scribbles perched on my knees with my laptop on the armrest).

It's going well.

In the words of an Oscar winner, I'd like to thank:

Mark Mancina
John Williams
Trevor Rabin
John Ottman
Michael Giacchino
Nellee Hooper

and... umm... Blue Oyster Cult Shocked for their part in tonight's progress. Remember how I wrote my most favourite scene of the book while hyped up on brand new music in my iPod? Well, I took a leaf out of my history book and loaded up some new tunes --primarily movie scores, my faves (no lyrics) -- when I got home from work to give me some fresh background tune-age.

And it worked! I've tackled more of my Weak Goal problem in tonight's editing and have seen a way to alter part of the heroine's emotional mindset so her motivation makes more sense. I'll go back and make those changes on my next read-through because I'm pretty keen on getting this round done.

I also think I've hit the nail on the head as to why the part I edited on Saturday felt so awful. Writing advice talks a lot about how to avoid the "sagging middle" of your book, where the action dips and it all gets a bit (unintentionally) dull. Well, I'm pretty sure my action stays on track, but I think I get a bit lacklustre with illustrating how the characters' goal progress is going in the middle section, which is why it suddenly seemed as if I had none!

So current mood regarding my book is:

Hula Girl


(Yes, I just discovered Smiley Central...)

Sunday, April 9

Composure Recovered

Sorry about yesterday. Don't know why I was so down about my writing. I think it might have been because I had spent half the morning reading Michael Connelly and then got straight into HH, thereby seeing a very distinct difference between his writing and my own, which looked very dire all of a sudden.

I finished his book at lunchtime today, and my editing this afternoon has actually been a lot better and I feel a lot happier. Reading a Michael Connelly book definitely teaches you how to tell your story without words you don't need -- he's a master at describing a scene or character in perfect detail in the least amount of words possible. A very good lesson, I feel.

So I've now updated my word count bar for HH, to follow my editing progress rather than the actual writing process, which was obviously finished some time ago.

Calling it a day now, so I can go and make jambalaya for dinner.

Just finished reading: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

Saturday, April 8


So I'm in the middle of my editing on HH, and all of a sudden I am sure that my story is weak-weak-WEAK. Although, actually, my sudden panic seems to be more to do with my characters.

I have reached this strange point of total immersion in the story where I can no longer see if they're doing something because they choose to, or whether I am forcing their hand and therefore the story. I've suddenly found it very hard to become objective.

When I was editing on Wednesday, I was pretty happy with the way things were going. But today, as I'm going through my second draft, I am having visions of an editor reading it and thinking "weak plot, not enough conflict, silly heroine -- but the hero is OK".

I'm worried that my characters have no goals. I was reading an article on conflict earlier this morning by a popular Silhouette author and in talking about the conflict of characters with opposing goals, she used the example of Romancing the Stone: a story I am very familiar with. She said, quite succinctly, "Jack Colton wants the treasure map to get the gem. Joan Wilder wants the treasure map to rescue her sister." You can't really get plainer than that.

So then I thought about my story and, quite distressingly, drew a blank. I had a niggling worry when I did my first read-through that my characters didn't appear to have very clear goals, and now I am really worried about it. My heroine's goal as far as I can see it is that she needs to know why the hero broke up with her so unceremoniously ten years ago. She's been married and divorced in the meantime, but suddenly it all smacks of neediness. She got on with her life, but now that she's in close proximity to him again, all she can think about is how to get her answers. Is that normal?! I keep trying to think of how I would act in her situation, or how I would want her to act if this was a romance novel I was reading by another author. And I thought I'd done it OK, but...

And for my hero's goal, well -- I'm not sure that he has one...

This is TERRIBLE!!

Just finished reading: Face of Deception by Ana Leigh

Wednesday, April 5

Editor's Chair

So here I am, back into the swing of editing HH now that I've finished my contest entries. It's good to be back with the book again. I felt a bit mean about pushing it to the side!

I got quite a bit done today and am now over halfway through. Hopefully it will be on its way to the RNA New Writers Scheme in about a month (need to allow time to finish this edit and do one more read-through after that). So my rough target would be... by the middle of May, say. OK, May 18th. That's the day of the RNA Awards ceremony in London, which I am going to in support of Nell, who's up for the Joan Hessayon Award with The Cinderella Substitute. I go on holiday the day after that anyway, so that would be a good point to take a little break!

Also to do with the book, I've decided to submit it to the Special Edition line when I finally get around to querying Silhouette. Originally it was going to be the Intimate Moments line (known as Sensation here in the UK), but I've noticed in recent months that SIM is shifting towards more action-oriented stories. Also, a few SIM authors who wrote the "calmer" style of stories have now moved across to SSE, so I'm guessing that these types of stories (which mine fits into) are now being bought, marketed, and sold as Special Editions. This new plan won't affect me too much as the word counts are still pretty much the same.

And that's the news. Also, I've been watching Morgan Spurlock's "30 Days" series on Channel 4 (he's the guy who made Super Size Me -- watch it and see how long you go without buying a McD). It really stimulates the thoughts and the emotions -- especially the episode where he and his girlfriend live on minimum wage for a month. Watch it if you can.