Archive | August 2010

Standoff by Sandra Brown Review

A fearless reporter trapped in a volatile siege, two young lovers turned fugitive and a hold up that transforms a small desert town into a powder keg . . .

TV reporter Tiel McCoy is driving to New Mexico for a well-earned vacation when she hears on the radio that Fort Worth millionaire Russell Dendy’s daughter has been kidnapped. Calling her editor she finds out that the girl is pregnant, the kidnapper is the girl’s boyfriend and that they may be heading, as she is, to a small town in New Mexico.

She puts her holiday plans on hold to chase the story but as she stops for gas she gets caught up in a standoff at a gas station. If she survives she knows this will be the biggest scoop of her life. But as the night-long siege continues she is forced to put aside her reporter’s impartiality and become involved . . . or lives will be lost.

This is the second Sandra Brown novel I’ve read, and although I didn’t think it was as good as the first I read The Crush, I still enjoyed it a lot.  In fact, I finished it in one day – something that I rarely get the opportunity to do, but a long train journey and gripping story gave me the time.

Practically from the first page I was drawn into the story. Tiel’s a great main character, she’s believable and  I found myself rooting for her from the off. The kidnapping and resulting siege kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole novel. I’d strongly recommend this novel!

Better Late Than Never – Fiction Friday – 27th August

Last week’s prompt had ‘homework’ which I hadn’t finished by Friday so couldn’t write this then. This is literally the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write since then.

The homework was:

Step 1. Go to a busy locale—a cafe or coffee shop would be easiest. Sit down with a notebook, and make sure you look busy, so people don’t know you’re listening. Now write down random sound bites of  conversations.Try to get at least 10 lines or snippets.

Step 2. Now use all ten in a cohesive scene of dialogue or as dialogue in a story

Step 3.  Leave a list of the lines plucked from real life at the end of the story for people to see.

Here’s my story:

            ‘Been treating yourself have you?’ Gavin looked down at the Danish pastry in his hands and hated himself for having to justify himself to her.

            ‘I haven’t had lunch or breakfast today, and the bakery was the only place on my way here. I could’ve taken a detour, but I figured you wouldn’t want to wait any longer for me.’

            ‘Ooh, bit touchy aren’t you? I was only saying. I though you were trying out that diet this week?’ Gavin raked his fingers through his hair, too late realising he had icing on them. He swore under his breath and shook it out.

            ‘That’s the tiredness, it’s really getting to me this week.’ Sammy put her hand on his arm, he left it there for a millisecond before pulling it away – just because things weren’t great at home, he couldn’t start looking at Sammy in that way again. Not now.

            ‘She still waking up all the time? Doesn’t Janie get up?’ He could hear the way she said Janie, she was trying to hide it,  but there was still spite in her voice. Janie was right, he should’ve stopped seeing her. Someone from the firm would’ve taken over. But then she’d said it was him or she walked. Her company were big time – they simply couldn’t afford to lose them. Janie understood. Somehow. If the roles were reversed he wasn’t sure he would.

            ‘Sam, we don’t have time for small talk, we need to get down to business. Have you seen the figures for last week?’ Sammy sighed. Gavin ignored it and pressed on. ‘The figures are down for the second month in a row. We have to concentrate on getting them back up – it’s an objective.’

            ‘Yeah, we’re gonna do some work on it next week.’ Sammy fiddled with her bracelet and looked bored. He had to focus this somehow, make her realise the importance of the what he was saying. ‘Sammy.’ He moved his hand towards her wrist laying on the table between them, before he realised what he was doing and snatched it back. ‘This is impor…’ The ring of her mobile broke him off. Without hesitating she answered it

            ‘Hi Mike, I’m just… Uh…’ Gavin felt naked under the look she gave him. ‘In the middle of something. Can I catch up with you later? No, it’s not that important, we don’t need to renew it just yet. Yeah, I’ll come and find you. Yeah me too.’ She giggled. ‘Here? No!’ She giggled again. ‘Ok, I love you too.’ Gavin nearly splutted his coffee on the table, had she really just said what he thought she had?

            She noticed his reaction and smiled, fluttering her eyelashes at him.

            ‘Look Sammy, where’s this going?’ She sat back on her chair, flicked her head back, and laughed heartily.

            ‘Well, well. This is a revelation. The great Gavin asking little old me where this is going! I though we were just here on business?

            ‘We are. You know that. But I know you and I know you did that on purpose. You want to make me jealous don’t you? Well it’s not going to work. I’m happy with Janie and the baby. There all I want. I don’t need you coming here, trying to win me back. I don’t need it.’ He stood up and started packing his papers away. He’d just realised the contract with her company wasn’t worth going through this for. If they want to go somewhere else, fine, at least it would get her out of his hair once and for all.

            Sammy stood up, knocking her chair over in the process.

            ‘You know the disgusting thing? Men like you! You think you can just pick me up and put me down whenever you want.’ Gavin looked round embarrassed. Sam had raised her voice and people were staring.

            ‘Sammy, keep your voice down,’ he whispered at her.

            ‘No. I won’t. You don’t care.’ She looked round the room. ‘None of you care. We’re over Gavin. Over. NEVER contact me again. Not for business, and certainly not for pleasure. You’re dead to me.’ She grabbed her bag and marched out the room.

            Gavin sunk back into his seat at the other customers turned back to their coffees and cake. He felt like a massive weight had been lifted and life could now go on.

 My ten lines of dialogue were:

  • It’s an objective
  • We’re gonna do some work on it next week
  • I haven’t had lunch or breakfast today
  • Where’s this going?
  • That’s the tiredness
  • It’s a revelation
  • I’ll come and find you
  • Been treating yourself?
  • You know the disgusting thing?
  • We don’t need to renew it just yet.

I actually chose to do my earwigging at work – I split my time between reception and sat in the post/print room so there’s always people coming in and out.  I actually wrote 13 snippets, and as I was writing tried to fit them in. It was fun – and totally not what I thought it would be (originally it was going to be a couple breaking up).

Please let me know what you think. Oh, and remember as always it’s unedited.

Just A Friday Blog

No Fiction Friday today. I will do it, but it will more than likely be tomorrow. I do have an excuse for not playing today – I’ve not done the ‘homework’ for it yet. Well I’ve started,  but not finished. We have to listen into others’ conversations to get 10+ line of dialogue then get them in our stories. I’m up to about 8 line of dialogue heard around the office, but need a few more. Other people have done really good jobs of their stories – check them out here.

Just to make all you non UK peeps jealous, we’ve got a nice long bank holiday weekend this weekend. No work until Tuesday. Total result! I’ve been up before 7 every morning this week – for someone that usually gets up after 8 that’s early. I’m sooooo looking forward to 3 lie-ins. Bliss.

I’ve hardly done any writing or writing course work this week. I blame it on the early starts and resulting tiredness (cause me being me hasn’t had any earlier nights – stooopid!). I’m going to try and get some done now of one or the other – I’ve 1 1/2 before I leave work and no work so should be able to. If I can pull myself away from Facebook (I was going to say and Twitter – but I’ve not got that open. WHAT? Why’ve I not got Twitter open? *goes off to open Twitter* )

I’ve just finished Poor Little Bitch Girl by Jackie Collins. Somehow, this is the first Jackie Collins book I’ve ever read. I don’t know how that’s possible! It’s really good. I finished it pretty quickly, but then I’ve been reading at work a lot (seriously I have NOTHING on for most of the week at the moment!).

I don’t know what to read next. I’ve got:

  • The Wedding Party by Sophie King (which I need to read for a book group mid Sep),
  • The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest (really want to read this, although slightly less having watched the movie of the first one which made me realise how much pointless stuff is in the novel)
  • Spotlight by Ilana Fox (which I won in a competition and really want to read) and
  • Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.

I’m torn. I have a feeling the shopaholic might have it. I’ll read the book group one closer to the time, I’ll read at least two before I go there, and want it to be fresh in my mind when I go. I’ll prob go shopaholic now, then next the book group one. Maybe I can squeeze another in? Hmmm.

Book group then. Not said anything about this have I? When I went to the Chick Lit evening at Brixton library a couple of weeks ago, I saw this thing about a Chick Lit Book Group. Sounds like fun eh? Brixton is totally the wrong area for me to be going to book groups, but I thought why not.

I need to look for a writing group. I’ll do it next week. Yes! Next week!

Have a lovely weekend everyone 🙂

Rowan Coleman’s Party and My Next Big Challenge

You know sometimes you have days where you just can’t be bothered? Well, today’s one of those days. Ugh. I put it down to a combination of factors: 1: Quite a late night, 2: A very early morning and 3: Too much wine last night. I didn’t have loads, but with the combination of not much sleep I’m feeling a little… groggy shall we say.

And why was I drinking on a school night? Well, that would be because I was one of the lucky few Facebook ‘friends’ of Rowan Coleman’s that got invited to her book launch party. It was great. Every Friday she ‘hosts’ a Status Short Story Competition on FB which I’ve entered many times, and so have lots of her other friends. A lot of them were there last night – it was great meeting so many talented (and nice) people. Rowan herself did a reading from The Happy Home for Broken Hearts and mingled. She’s so nice.

The big downer of  the night though, was that I forgot my copy of the novel, so couldn’t get it signed. Really annoyed about that, but someone pointed out it just means I’ll have to go to the next party so I can get it signed. Damn 🙂

Something Rowan told us really interested me. When sat at the front talking, reading and answering questions, she said how much she hates doing it. She was so good though, and looked so relaxed (maybe the glass of wine helped?). Why I find it interesting is because I think I’d be the same. When I’ve been to this kind of thing before, or heard about people reading their writing out loud, I always freak out at the idea of doing it myself. I hate public speaking. I do it, and once I get over the shakes and the red cheeks, I think I’m pretty much ok at it, but I hate it. It’s nice to know that Rowan hates it too, but does it and looks so fine doing it. It’s inspiring really.

I think the only other thing I want to blog about – is Search Term Writing Challenge II over at Ergo Fiction. I took part in ‘Challenge I’ months ago which was so much fun, so can’t wait to do it again. Although I think the deadline is October, so knowing me and how I work to deadlines, I won’t be doing anything until then!

What is it? I hear you cry! They give you eight random search terms that have been used to find blogs (really weird things people search for) and you have to use at least three in a story. Now, we all know how I like to make life harder on myself that I need to – so last time I decided I HAD to get all eight in. And this time, yep you guessed it, I’m going to try that again. Have a look at the website – it’s really good fun. Plus when all the stories are posted you get to vote for your favourite. Excellent.

Hey. Tomorrow is Fiction Friday. Woopie! There’s ‘homework’ for tomorrow’s. Eek. Well not really ‘eek’. We need to listen in to 10 conversations, or snippets of conversations and use them all in the story. This could be hard. I love a challenge.

Right. Having said I was going to do some writing about five hours ago, I really am now!

An Evening With Stylist: How To Get Your Book Published

That’s where I went last night. It was great, there were three published authors (Sophie Kinsella [debatably my favourite author ever], Lisa Jewell [I’m not stalking her honest] and Camilla), an editor and an agent.

Did I learn how to get my book published? No. But then there’s no magic formula to that, so I didn’t actually expect to. What I did learn is that my hours scouting round the internet, on blogs, Twitter and so on have taught me much more than I realised. A lot of what was said I’d already heard (read), but it was good to reinforce it into my brain.

There was some great advice given from all. I think the most important thing I took away from the talks was about finding an agent – no finding the RIGHT agent for me.

Sophie and Camilla also did a reading from their novels. Sophie’s reading was from Mini Shopaholic – which isn’t out until September! After the seminar (and before actually) we were treated to champagne/wine and canapes (apparently, I didn’t see many of those), were able to buy Sophie and Lisa’s books and mingle.

Obviously I bought Mini Shopaholic (although it’s hardback and I HATE hardbacks) and had a little chat with Sophie while she signed it for me! Woop! I now have a personalised author signed novel of hers. I’m never going to want to read it (so it stays undamaged). Best of all though, she wrote ‘Good luck with the writing’. Woop!

The thing that I took away with me though was the realisation that I’m doing pretty well with this whole writing thing. I spoke to quite a few people who want to write a novel, but only have an idea, or 5,000 words, or something. I’ve written a novel! I’m 20k into another, I write EVERY week for [Fiction] Friday and a lot of the time I write more. And because of FF, I’m not afraid to show people my work. Although I think I’m doing badly because at the moment I’m not writing every day, I’m still writing, and am scores ahead of many, many people.

Lisa said something that really made me think (and smile). Even if you don’t ever publish a novel, if you finish one that’s a major achievement. Now I may not have edited my novel, but I’ve written it. That’s 53k odd words I’ve written. That’s pretty good. And totally making me smile today.

Busy Week Ahead

How typical is this. I have a very busy week this week, and last night I got a horrible cold. I’m talking Man Flu kind of horrible (yes, I fully admit to moaning too much when ill – I can’t handle being ill, I’m really not good at it 😦 ).

I do slightly blame myself, it was going to be an ok week, but then I went and got myself some free cinema tickets (like I could not get any when they’re free!!!) which has messed up my week meaning I’ve had to change shifts and move them about meaning I’m now stressing about not having enough time to do certain things and not sleeping enough to make me better. Sigh.

Still, very exciting week coming up!

Tonight is How To Get Your Book published – an event by Stylist Magazine, featuring Sophie Kinsella and Lisa Jewell. Awesome.

Tuesday is now my free cinema visit. Even better than it just being free, it’s a Jennifer Aniston film that doesn’t come out until September – The Switch. Awesome x2.

Then Wednesday is a ladies’ night at the local Runner’s Need (free champagne and physio advice for runners which I need right now) then on to Rowan Coleman’s book launch party. Awesome x4.

The only problem is that I’m feeling so rough I’m exhausted just thinking about it all 😦

Ooh, I’m now really excited about something else too. I’ve just found out (thanks IMDB) that Getting Rid of Matthew (a brilliant novel by Jane Fallon) is being made into a film – staring Jennifer Aniston. The only problem is I never really like movies when I’ve read and loved the book before. well, I generally don’t anyway.

Speaking of which, last weekend I watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’ve had a week to think about it, and still don’t know what I think. I think I liked it, but there was just so much missing that I thought should have been in there. But then it was long enough as it was, so adding any more would just have made it too long. And missing all that out didn’t really detract from the story, which led me to question – was there too much irrelevant stuff in the novel? Hmm.

I got chatting about NaNo on Twitter last week. I’m definitely going to do it again this year. I just need a story. I like the idea of doing something YA, and I have an idea of the characters. Well one of the three main ones I want. But don’t really know what’s going to happen. I need to read more YA books. Woop! All in the name of research.

I didn’t do any writing over the weekend, so I’m going to go and do some now.

Fiction Friday #169 – Kate and the Karaoke

The note taped to the door said:

 See you at Wild Notes Karaoke Bar x

Part of me is pissed off with him, I know I said go on without me, but really, he could have waited. If I was his girlfriend he would’ve waited. How’s that going to look to his parents.

 After my shower I stand looking at my clothes, trying to decide what to wear. I’m trying to wipe the thought of Walt and Simon from my mind. American guys are so much fun. I need to keep telling myself that’s it. I just like American guys. I need to tell myself that I don’t fancy Simon. Not at all. I can’t. He’s Dan’s brother’s mate. I’m pretending to be Dan’s girlfriend. I can’t like anyone else.

It wouldn’t be so bad, but the way Simon looked at me… No, I can’t think this. Dan’s my boyfriend, Dan is my boyfriend. Simon’s just a nice guy like Walt. The fun American guys. That’s all. Me and Dan. Me and Dan. I’ll just drill it into my head.

As I’ve been for a run today I justify getting a taxi down to the bar. My irritation with Dan for leaving me hasn’t left yet. If I’m completely honest it’s probably more than that. I’m irritated he’s putting me in this position of pretending to be his girlfriend when there’s a rally nice, funny, sexy guy here too. It’s so not fair.

When the taxi pulls up I pay him, and look up at the bar. Strains of ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ come from the bar in someone’s terrible singing. At least I know I can do better than that. I walk in and see the group at the back of the room. The first person to catch my eye is Simon. Typical. He smiles at me, all the way up to his eyes, which makes my stomach lurch. As I smile back I can feel trouble brewing.

 

I had so many different ideas for this week’s Fiction Friday prompt from Write Anything. Too many that I couldn’t decide which one to use. When I finally sat down to write it, it became something completely different to all the ideas I had. typical.

If you’ve been reading my FF pieces over the last time I hope you’ll recognise this as Kate the MC from my novel ‘Holiday.’ This is a bit which may make it’s way into the novel! You might also recognise me kind of using a previous FF prompt – I’m well chuffed with myself for getting Don’t Worry, Be Happy in there too!

Walt you’re only mentioned in passing, but I hope you like your character 🙂

If you like my stuff and/or you like Chick Lit and you’re on Facebook, go have a look at Chick Lit Shorties and vote for your favourite short story for August (oh look, I’ve got an entry!). You could win yourself a book!!