Archive | September 2010

October = #NovelPI Month (Mark II)

Oh no. In a moment of madness – without thinking about it, I signed up for a Novel Push Initiative in October. I’ve signed up for 250 words a day with Nick over at 5-Rings. Part of me thinks I’m pretty stupid (I seriously did not thing about it, I read about it on Merrilee‘s blog, went over and signed up) but the bigger part of me is happy. A few months ago I said I’d like to do another one, PLUS it’s the best warm up for NaNo!

Pretty much one year ago to the day, I signed up for my first NovelPI. It was hosted by the lovely Kait Nolan, and it took a lot of talking into – both from Kait and my boyfriend. 250 words a day? For 31 days? I’d never done anything like that. It was crazy. But I think I’d written about 7k words on a novel at the time, so thought it would be a great idea to move on with it.

As it turned out, I found 250 words a day pretty easy. Most Days I churned out more, in the end I think I completed about 13/14k in the 31 days.

Halfway through that month, someone pointed me in the direction of NaNo. Now, although I was finding 250 words a day a breeze, 1,667 was totally different. But, for some unknown reason, I signed up for it. And went on to complete it. Despite not writing for about 14 of the 30 days due to a stomach bug and then an operation!

Now gets the slightly disturbing bit of this post. For NovelPI last year, I worked on… Holiday. Yep, you know the one, the one I’m still writing. In fact… the one I’m going to be working on for this year’s NovelPI. That is ridiculous! In a year I’ve not finished it. In fact, in a year, I’m only about 3,000 words further on that I was on 31st October last year. *sigh*

My boss has given me loads of work to do today – that really sucks. I was planning on reading the next modules of my writing course. Obviously won’t be now. Ah well, there’s always tomorrow!

Totally unrelated to writing, but something I’m really proud of is that I went for a run in the rain last night. I’m training for a 10km run in… *screams… runs and hides behind the sofa… in her head anyway*… 10 days! AGGGGGHHHH. Um… Yeah. In 10 days I’m running the Cancer Research Run 10k. It must be said, I’m not totally ready for it (did you guess), but I see voluntarily going for a run in the rain as a huge step forward. Yay, go me!

Mostly About Books

I had a plan today. I planned to read the next chapters of my writing course. However I stupidly left the book in the back office and I’m sat on reception. Doh! I’ll work on it this afternoon. I will, I will, I will.

I got a book in the post today. It’s only another prize from a competition I entered! This book’s really exciting for me, as it’s a) not available in England and b) an author I’ve never heard of – this could be a whole new discovery for me!

The competition was one of those ‘be the first to comment…’ over on The Lady Loves Books. The book is ‘At Home with the Templetons’ by Monica McInerney. Can’t wait to get started on it.

This may sound a little stupid, but I had a realisation this morning. I’m currently reading Husbands by Adele Parks. I bought the book a few months ago in one of those library sales I love. This morning though, as I walked between tubes (hurried should I say, not cause I was late, but cause I wanted to read more) I realised that before I started reading the novel I didn’t know what it was about.

‘Why’s that?’ you ask? It’s because I bought it without looking at the back. I knew it was Adele Parks, and I knew I hadn’t read it, so I had to buy it. It didn’t matter what it was about.

I developed the thought further and realised I’m the same with quite a few authors – if I love them, it doesn’t matter what their new book is about, I want it.

I thought I’d make a list of authors that this is true for, so here goes:

  • Sophie Kinsella
  • Adele Parks
  • Jane Green
  • Marian Keyes
  • Cecelia Ahern
  • Rowan Coleman
  • Audrey Niffenegger
  • Lisa Jewell
  • Dorothy Koomson

I’m sure they’re some I’ve missed out, but that’s pretty much my favourite author list!

I think I want a Kindle. There’s an advert at the tube station I go to in the mornings, and I keep looking at it… Anyone would think they put it there on purpose as Christmas is coming up…

I’d always been put off them, because I like books. I like holding them, reading them, turning pages etc.

But, I’ve just found a huge reason for wanting one – its size. I’ve got a few books on my TBR list that I’m desperate to read, but I’m put off because they’re so big and heavy to carry round (and I always have the book I’m reading in my bag). Although, if I did have a Kindle, I’d have to re-buy those books. I’d have more chance of reading them though.

Does anyone else have one? What do you think of them?

I’ve just had a quick look on Amazon and stumbled upon Jane Green’s Straight Talking. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite book ever, but it moved me, and actually changed my life – improved my life. I loved it. BUT Amazon reviewers didn’t as much. Out of 55 comments, 13 gave it one star, 3 gave it two stars and 5 three. What is wrong with these people??? I’m going to have to add a review of my own! *giggles to self* Well, actually, I’m going to have to re-read it, then add a review. Woo hoo – I’ve got an excuse to re-read a novel I love. Love it!

Foursome by Jane Fallon Review

Rebecca, Daniel, Alex and Isabel have been best friends since university. Rebecca married Daniel, Alex married Isabel and, for twenty years, they have been inseparable. But all that is about to change… When Alex walks out on Isabel, Rebecca thinks things can’t get any worse. But then she finds out the reason why and she’s left harbouring a secret she’d rather forget… And there’s more upheaval to come in Rebecca’s life as her emaciated, neurotic, self-obsessed colleague, Lorna – her arch nemesis at work – suddenly becomes a regular feature in her social life. Rebecca’s once-happy foursome is now a distant memory and with hearts broken and friendships fractured, it seems that change is never a good thing. Or is it?

I pretty much only do book reviews for books for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge, but loved this so much I feel like I need to tell the world (or at least my readers).

I read Fallon’s first novel Getting Rid of Matthew and really enjoyed it, so wanted to read this as soon as it came out. Months later I gave in to the temptation to buy it, then a few weeks after that I started reading it.

Less than 48 hours later I had finished it. I honestly cannot remember reading a book so fast. It was great.

The MC Rebecca is so real, she’s great. Fallon has this great way of making one aspect of her personality a bit of a bitch, but instead of not liking that you love her for it.

It’s written 1st person which I love because I think you get more into the story, you discover things as the MC does, I think it helps to draw you in.

The story is captivating. The couples have been friends since uni but that all changes when Alex leaves his wife, then more revelations come out.

About halfway through I thought there couldn’t be that much more to it, but then there was a twist that took it off again. I was really worried the ending would be all cheesy and predictable which would’ve wrecked it, but it isn’t (cheesy that is, I’m not going to tell you if it’s a predictable ending or not!), it’s a great finish.

Basically – if you like chick lit/romance READ IT. It’s in my top five books EVER.

Mills and Boon Competition Results… And More

The results for the first round of the Mills & Boon competition are out. I’m not in the top ten. Still, with 824 entries, I didn’t really expect to be.

I am however, very happy with my result. My chapter was voted on by 8 people – that’s a pretty good number. 8 people cared enough to vote on it (some entries only had 2 or 3 votes). My score was 37%. When I first started to read them, I thought that was really low. But, the top score was only 48%. In contrast the lowest was 20%, so my story’s pretty much in the middle score-wise. As the advert (for some kind of butter or something) says – the Middle is a great place to be.

Also if you list all the entries in order of score I’m in the middle-ish. My entry is on page 54 out of 83 pages. Considering I only started writing properly 18 months ago, and considering I only found out about the competition a week before the closing date, I’m really happy with it.

It’s also another competition I’ve entered. Each time I enter one it’s going to get easier. And each one I enter and don’t win, it’s a step closer to winning. Look at me and my positivity today.

There’s a little relief that I didn’t come in the top ten and have to submit Chapter Two. That would be another week of editing. Which I will have to do at some point, but not now.

I think the best thing to have come from this whole experience, is the fact I’ve started editing Italian Infatuation. Without the push that this competition gave me, I never would have started it. Am so happy I have.

Although now, there’s only just over a month until NaNoWriMo. Where I’ll need to focus ALL my attentions on the novel I’m writing. So won’t be able to even think about Italian Infatuation.

That is a point actually, I need to start thinking about that novel. And reading about YA novels and stuff. Maybe a YA novel isn’t the greatest idea when I’ve not done that much reading of the genre. Maybe I should do another novel I’ve been thinking of for a year or so.

Grrrrr. I don’t know.

I want my NaNo novel to coincide with my writing course. In that for my next assignment I need to plot a novel. I’d like it to be my NaNo novel. Which means I should send my assignment in by mid October to get the results (up to) ten days later, to then have time to take on my tutor’s comments.

I really should get cracking on that then shouldn’t I…

Monday’s Awesome Achievement(s)

The strangest thing happened to me today. I was idly moving icons on my desktop when I stumbled across Italian Infatuation (my novel). For some reason I opened it, and decided to split it into chapters (which it wasn’t before).

I read somewhere (probably in my course actually) that the best place to make new chapters was when the scene changes. For some of the novel that’s not possible, for instance the wedding goes on for about 10,000 words – perhaps that’s quite a long chapter!

Now, most of the chapters end at the end of scenes, but there’s a few that end mid scene, but at a climax or when something exciting happens. I’ve now got a novel with 14 chapters. Result.

The problem is, a lot of the stuff in it is going to be deleted. So the chapters might change. Still, I’ve done some editing on it. That’s a real result.

I also went through and wrote down what happened in each chapter, so I get a bit of an idea on the pace etc. I don’t think I’m too happy about how it moves and where certain things are, but I’m not too sure. I guess I’ll see when I read it through again.

After I did all this, I made a plan with my next steps (don’t get excited, it’s not a great or very in-depth plan). First, I’m going to reread it. While I’m doing this I’m going to make notes on things that don’t work, where I need more of something or a description of something else etc. Then, I’m going to edit it one chapter at a time.

I did quite well with editing Chapter One (I’m totally giving that capitals like it’s its own entity!), and I think it’s because it’s just a small bit of writing (just over 4k). It’s less scary than 48,000. It’s bite size. I think it was during GCSEs they recommended we split our revision into smaller ‘bitesize’ pieces, well, that’s my plan for the novel. And I think I can do it that way.

When I woke up this morning, I had no idea I’d be so productive. Well, I did have an idea, but I thought it would be on my writing course – I even put my course work in my bag. Unfortunately it’s stayed there. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow! And I really can’t compain that I’ve done the editing.

I’ve started reading Adele Parks’ Husbands. Knowing it was Adele Parks I knew I’d enjoy it – surprise surprise I am! I was a little worried reading it straight after Foursome by Jane Fallon, because I thought it was a little unfair. I loved that one so much, is it fair for anything to follow it?? But, it’s doing a pretty good job!

I’ve decided I need to expand my reading material. Until last year I’d read my novel on the way to work, then one of the free London papers on the way home. Then they stopped making the one I like. I tried the other free one, but can’t stand it. So, I started reading my novel on the way in and out of work. Which to be honest, has been great. But, I’ve realised it means I don’t know what’s going on in the world.

My new plan is to read the Metro on the way in to work in the morning (I like that – I just hate getting the print on my hands early in the morning) and my novel on the way home. It means I’m not going to get through so many novels, but I think it’s for the best.

When one of our work computers crashed, I lost a load of files. One of which was my ‘Italy research’ file for Italian Infatuation. Last night I was tidying up my room, and only found all that research printed out. It made my day.

Fiction Friday #174 – The School Dance

It took me ages to come up with something for this prompt. I knew what I wanted to do, but not how to get it in. Eventually I started writing a story where I knew I could get it in, but it took a while. I think it works how I wanted it to.

The Prompt this week is:

Use this lyric from Shore Leave to flavour your story: “Hong Kong drizzle on Cuban heels”

Here’s my (as always unedited) story from it:

           Jessica dared a look across at Will. Although they hadn’t come as a couple, she was hoping they’d go home as one. It was the natural next step. If he’d just ask her to dance, maybe she could get one step closer to making that a reality.

            He didn’t look at her, so she looked away. Maybe she’d completely miss read the situation. Oh god, maybe she had. What if he was there just as a friend, maybe this mystical foursome she’d been dreaming of for the last few weeks was exactly that – a dream.

            He had been really quiet tonight. Not that she knew him that well to know if he was always that quiet. She’d only really spoken to him a few times. The night Tina and Alex met, the time they went to the cinema together, that time at lunch and last Friday when they’d hung out in the park. He’d not been quiet that night. But then he had been drunk. They’d all been drunk.

            Alex looked much older than 17, with his fully grown beard, so had easily got served at the local off-licence. Apparently they quite often went to the park and got drunk. Her and Tina hadn’t done it so much – they both looked 17. Maybe even younger.            

            She couldn’t handle not saying anything so tried to think of something that would make her sound clever, funny and maybe a little sexy.

            ‘The weather’s terrible today isn’t it?’

            Unfortunately for Jess the moment she started shouting over the music, was the moment the band finished their song. Her face flamed as a couple of people from nearby tables sniggered. The applause from the rest of the room muted it out. She looked up shyly from her fringe to see Will smiling kindly at her. He reached over, placed his hand on the back of her chair and leaned closer to her.

            ‘That kind of thing usually happens to me.’ Jess giggled, he was so nice. So many people would’ve just laughed at her too. Just by saying that she feel for him a little more. Plus, this close, he smelt so good. ‘You know, there’s an expression for this kind of rain. It’s Hong Kong Drizzle…’

            ‘On Cuban Heals!’

            Jessica and Will sprang apart to see Tina and Alex standing just yards from them. They both looked at Tina questioningly.

            ‘The club?’

            ‘I told you it wasn’t.’ Alex gently knocked her arm with his.

            ‘I swear it is. Jess, you know the club we wanted to go to in town. The one your sister went to with that lifeguard.’

            ‘Oh!’ Jess remembered the club, it definitely wasn’t worth interrupting her chat with Will, especially when she’d got it wrong.. ‘The Mexican Sombrero.’

            ‘That’s it!’ She turned to Alex. ‘Told you.’

            ‘You got it wrong how is that telling me?’

            Jess and Will watched them drift back to the dance floor – still jokingly arguing with each other.

             ‘Hey, I’m really hot, do you fancy getting some fresh air?’ Jess didn’t, it was probably still raining, but if it meant going somewhere with Will, she sure did. ‘We can stay under the marquee. We don’t want to get your pretty dress wet, or hair wet. He leant over and picked up a stand of her hair. She felt like she could die with happiness right there and then with his closeness.

            ‘Yeah good plan,’ she said weakly.

            They stood up and Will placed his hand on her back, leading her to the door. The feel of his hand on her body sent tingled up and down her body.

            As they got to the door, his hand dropped. Before she had time to miss it, it had picked up her hand. He span her round so she was just inches from him. He was taller than he so she had to tilt her head to look in his eyes.

            The iciness of his eyes surprised her – they were like pools, she shivered slightly. She’d never noticed the colour before. In fact, she could’ve sworn they were green a minute ago.

            ‘I’ve got a better idea. Let’s get out of here completely. You’re all dressed up so we could go to a club in town?’

            Something in his eyes scared her, she wasn’t sure she wanted to be alone with him now. She turned and looked back into the room for Tina, but Will gently touched her chin to turn it back to him. He closed his eyes and bent and brushed his lips to hers. Her legs felt weak below her. WILL’S KISSED ME she wanted to scream out loud.

            ‘Shall we go?’ He put his arm round her and all doubts forgotten, she put hers round him and walked out the room. 

So, what do you think? Please let me know. I’d be really interested to hear what you think of Will. He was supposed to be this nice kid, but at the end I thought there might be something sinister about him (if I was a vampire kind of girl that’s what he would’ve been – luckily I’m not).


If you like my writing and would like to see more of it, I’ve just entered the Mills & Boon New Voices competiton. You can go have a look at my entry here: 

Mills and Boon New Voices Competition Entry

It’s in. Oh yes, I’ve submitted my story. The deadline was 23.59 GMT last night. I handed mine in at about 23.10 BST. Gotta say I’m really glad BST is an hour ahead not an hour behind GMT, because I totally forgot we were in that not GMT. Doh!

When I signed up to the competition I used my real name. Without thinking of the implications. The implications are that I’m going to tell my readers where my chapter is, and to go read it. Thus meaning my real name can be seen. I’ve been thinking about ‘coming out’ (so to speak) for a while, but I’ve always thought I’d write Mills and Boon novels under one name, and Chick Lit under my real name. Like Madeline Whickham/Sophie Kinsella I wanted to keep a difference between the two writing styles.

Ah well, it looks like my Mills & Boon career (!!) will be under my real name too. Not the worst think in the world!

When I first logged on to the competition website this morning, I had a VERY positive comment, and a story rating of 79%. Woop! That’s really high. It came from 2 votes. I’ve now had 5 votes and my rating’s gone down to 40%. That’s still in the top half though. I’m well pleased. Even if no one else votes or comments, I’m going to be very happy because I got a couple of good ratings and one awesome comment.

So here we go, if you fancy a read of the first chapter of Italian Infatuation go take a look here:

If you like it, a comment or rating would be just fabulous!

11 Hours and Counting

Why did I ever think I could get this chapter of Italian Infatuation ready to enter a competition, and be submitted online within a week? What is wrong with me. I feel about a million miles away from it being ready, but I’ve only got 11 hours. Max. And I’m supposed to be going to some leaving drinks tonight, so really, I’ve only got 9.

Obviously that’s why I’m blogging not reading the chapter. I mean, what else would a sensible person do?

I think a sensible person would go to bed early when they a) knew they had this deadline today, and b) knew they had to get up really early for work today. But lets face it, I’ve never claimed to be sensible.

The reason I’m so worried about it is that I sent it to my mum to read last night, and she said there was a mistake on the 1st page. I was literally on my way to bed so couldn’t speak to her, and now I can’t find what it is. Agh! I may have to wait to sub it until she gets home from work.

OK, that’s not the single reason I’m worried. There are others. One is that I’ve still not done the descriptions of the villa. There’s two bits where I need to do the internal and external views. I can’t. Well, I probably can, but I just keep putting it off because I think I’m rubbish at descriptions. I make them flat and boring. Which is why I stay away from them.

Although I’m entering this competition in the vain hope I’ll win (against 300+ writers that have probably been doing it a lot longer than me and are probably a lot better? What?), I totally hope I don’t win. I actually hope I don’t even make it to the next round. In the next round you have to sub Chapter Two. Eek! I don’t want to have to do that, because, you know, it’s not really ready. Not even in the slightest.

I don’t want to win because that would mean they’d want to publish my novel, which is great and all, but it’s so not ready. Not even the idea of it is ready. I don’t have enough going on, I need to work out some more conflict and have no idea how I’m going to do that.

I think that’s why I’ve been putting off editing it for so long.

Still, if I do get to the next round (ok, it would be pretty cool) it would force me to re-write Chapter Two. That wouldn’t be a bad thing. It needs doing after all.

If I did win (I lie, I would like it – it would be amazing) I’d HAVE to get on with sorting out the problems. OR the lack of problems within the story. Again, it does need doing.

Ok, enough of this. I’m going to get some caffeine and crack on with it. Draft 4… here I come!

Getting Close

It’s just over 24 hours until the Mills & Boon New Voices deadline. Ahhhhhh. I keep saying I’m getting scared, but I think it’s just words. At the moment I’m feeling a little apprehensive, but nothing major.

I’ve finished draft three, and am pretty happy with it. Except for the fact I need to add in a description of the villa – which I’ve been putting off for ages.

I’ve spent too much time today reading again. I’m now on page 300 and I only started the novel yesterday. Needless to say I’m loving it (Foursome by Jane Fallon). I am going to recommend it to everyone I know. As long as it’s got a good ending. Which I have no doubt it will.

I’m out tonight, but when I get in later I’m going to give the chapter another read through. Maybe I’ll write these two descriptions of the villa. Maybe I’ll leave that until tomorrow. I really shouldn’t.

The last couple of days I’ve spent ages trying to motivate myself to edit, then suddenly at about 11pm I get it and rock through it. If only I could be like that during the day. I’ve been a little tired today because of it.

I got an email today from ErgoFiction to remind me about the Search Term Challenge. Closing date is 14th October… That’s getting close too.

I’m going to a family party on Sunday. I’ve been debating whether to drive over there or get the train. I think I’m going to get the train, that way I can spend the two hours each way reading or writing (maybe even doing my writing course – although doubtful!). That’s so much more appealing than driving. Although that might be because I’m reading a great book. It’ll be well finished by Sunday though!

Books: Editing and Reading

I read through the second draft of chapter one of Italian Infatuation yesterday. It’s ok. There’s a couple of bits I really like, but then there’s some that suck. Badly. But that’s fine, I’ve got two days to edit it.!!

The thing that worries me, is that I don’t really have time to take time away from it then go back with fresh eyes. I wish I’d heard about the competition longer ago, although there’s always the fact I work better with a fast approaching deadline, so would I have started it even if I knew about it a while ago?

That aspect of my personality really annoys me. It’s like I can only do something if I know I have to do it – soon. I think that’s why NaNo worked so well for me last year, I had such a small time frame to write the novel in, that I couldn’t procrastinate, or put it off till later.

I finished one of the books I was reading over the weekend. The writing really annoyed me because there were a few sections where it got the name of the person it was referring to wrong. Seriously! At first I thought it was me getting it wrong, but I checked back and it was definitely the book that was wrong. It drove me mad. I almost wanted to stop reading it because of it, but, by that point I’d really got into the story, so HAD to finish it. I don’t think I’ll be reading another one of her books though.

So, with that book finished, it was time to start another. Well actually I had a debate with myself over this. On one hand, I have two books I’m desperate to read (Foursome by Jane Fallon and Husbands by Adele Parks), but on the other hand, if I’m  not reading a book, I’m much more likely to spend time editing Italian Infatuation. With this in mind, I chose Foursome to be my next book and put in my bag when I left the house this morning. I told myself that I’d think more about whether to read it now or start on Wednesday – after I’ve subbed by chapter.

I bet you can see where this is going. I sat down on the tube and had a look at it. Just a quick look to remind me what it’s about. Then I opened it, you know, just to look at page one. Actually no! It was to see which year it was published (this year). THEN I looked at page one. And the rest as they say, is history.

The whole of my morning and lunch breaks were spent reading it – I’m now on page 73 and worried how I’m going to edit this damn chapter ’cause the books so good. As I kind of thought it would be – I totally LOVED Getting Rid of Matthew.

Foursome is written 1st person which, like I’ve said  before, I love cause you really get to know the character, how she thinks and what makes her tick; but also discover things the same time as her so it’s like you’re going through the action yourself.

I found really interesting is that it took me until about page 30 to realise it’s in the present tense. The reason that’s interesting to me is I was reading a book ages ago (can’t for the life of me remember which one) and I struggled with it being present – sometimes things sounded a little stiff, or unnatural. So, here’s a lesson to me: If I’m writing in the present tense (Holiday) it has to be good, and flow naturally.

So me being naughty and starting the book has been useful. You know, for a project I’m not actually working on at the moment. Grrrrr!

This morning instead of editing, I went through my inbox and deleted about 10k emails. I’ll be using the same email address for my new job, so wanted to clear out some rubbish I’ve had for over a year. Obviously this took time. And HAD to be done when I’ve got a deadline looming!

I’ve also made a list of the things I really need to do. Funny how I find so much to do when I should be doing something else!

If I’m like this now, I’m going to be a nightmare if/when/if/when I get a publishing contract. 🙂

Ok. Project edit – draft three here we come…